Real-time Virtual 3D Engineering at Coventry University
UK University students are to be among a select few in the world to have the capability to actively design in 3D using Virtual Reality (VR).
John Owen, Head of Industrial Design at Coventry University, explained: “We want to evaluate whether being able to view your design in 3D while you design it affects the decision making process.”
Coventry University took delivery of a small passive 3D stereo system earlier in the year and has now had a large-scale, active 3D stereo system installed for a 150-seat lecture theatre. Both systems were designed and supplied by Virtalis, Europe’s foremost Virtual Reality and Visualisation company. The second system also boasts motion capture capabilities. Ostensibly this is intended to give the added dimension that tracking gives to typical automotive related movements, like getting in and out of cars. In order that students can watch their tutors and counterparts design in 3D, 120 pairs of shutter glasses were supplied with the system.
Funding for both Systems came from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The University was recently chosen as a Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning for Transport and Product Design. Owen commented: “Our principal software package, Alias Autostudio, has Open 3GL coding that is stereo enabled, making real-time engineering design in a virtual environment a reality. The Christie projectors are so incredibly bright we don’t need a special screen and our students have enough light to take notes even with all the lights off.”
As a Centre of Excellence, the Department of Industrial Design has a duty to spread its VR knowledge both across other departments of the University and around the region. Although John Owen and his team are busy refining the set up and use of both new systems, they are taking this mission seriously and have already thought of a couple of areas that would not be ordinary candidates for VR technology. Owen explained: “We feel that anatomists would benefit greatly from VR, as would ballet dancers, because they would be able to archive their chorography, design better sets and even use the motion capture to fine tune training methods. These two spheres are just our first foray. We are confident that many, many different disciplines would be transformed by the advent of VR.”