Virtual Reality And Product Design Essay Research

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Virtual Reality And Product Design Essay, Research Paper Introduction In the not so distant past, all mechanical drawings and blueprints were created by hand. Models of the parts were then made, also by hand. Mistakes could cost a great deal of time and money. Then the design world was revolutionized by computer aided drafting. This new tool, along with the addition of rapid prototyping, has saved industry a countless amount of hours and money. As efficient as the part modeling systems of today are, a new tool is developing that may once again change the part modeling process for good. Virtual reality systems can allow a person to “walk” through a new building or examine a new part before a mock up or model is ever made, allowing changes to be implemented before anything

is ever built. Although only considered to be in its infancy stages, virtual reality will soon become an integral part of the design process. Virtual Reality Background The term virtual reality describes a computer program that stimulates some or all of the five senses in order to create an “illusion of being somewhere or doing something” (Bates 53). It can consist of programs that allow the user to “fly through” a design, or it can be a room complete with three dimensional graphics, sound, and the sense of touch. In the world of virtual reality, there are six degrees-of- freedom, or in other words, six different types of movement. In addition to the normal up/down and left/right movements, the user can also pitch up or down, angle left or right, move forward or backward

and rotate left or right. A normal drawing from CAD can become a virtual environment that can almost be percepted as real (Teschler 60). Virtual Reality Applications Numerous virtual reality applications are available on the market, ranging from a price of several hundred dollars to millions of dollars. As mentioned above, the simplest of the virtual reality programs is the fly through program. This type of application can be run from a personal computer without the need of expensive hardware. Some of these programs, such as ADAMS form Mechanical Dynamics and Working Model from Knowledge Revolution allow designs to be subjected to a kinematic analysis in order to see how parts will perform. These types of applications are used extensively in the automotive industry (Puttre 21).

Three Dimensional Graphics The next step up is to make the virtual environment three dimensional. This is done using a 3-D graphics generator such as stereographic goggles, also known as head mounted displays (HMD’s) (Derra 46). A simple movement of the head will change the perspective seen through the goggles, just as in real life. Although the use of a HMD can provide a totally unique perspective it increased cost must be considered. For complicated, 3-D virtual systems, a graphics accelerator and a six degree-of-freedom mouse are needed (Teschler 62). These items coupled with the cost of the HMD can drive the price up to around 130,000 dollars (Derra 46). Virtual Touch In addition to sight, virtual reality can also include the sense of touch. Cybernet Systems Corporation has

developed a hand held system that will give the user a sense of pressure when obstructions in the virtual room are reached (Schut 23). Prosolvia Clarus of Sweden has developed a pair of cybergloves that will produce a feeling of restraint when trying to penetrate a barrier and a feeling of weight when holding an object (Bates 54). Advanced Virtual Reality Applications The majority of virtual reality programs in industry today are the fly through programs used with either normal computer screens or goggles. However there are some advanced virtual reality systems in use on a small scale. The two systems in use today are the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (Cave) and Simulation Based Design (SBD) system. These two cutting edge systems are very expensive and in use mainly at