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Virtalis Virtual Reality for Virtual Engineering Centre

Virtalis Virtual Reality for Virtual Engineering Centre

The University of Liverpool’s new Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) at Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus is to have all its Virtual Reality (VR) hardware and software supplied by Virtalis. Europe’s premier VR company was chosen after tendering to the Northwest Regional Development Agency and ERDF-funded project this summer.

The £5.3 million Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) is a University of Liverpool initiative in partnership with the Northwest Aerospace Alliance, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (Daresbury Laboratory), BAE Systems, Morson Projects and Airbus. The Centre aims to provide a focal point for world class Virtual Engineering (VE) business, research, education and skills development, best practice demonstration and knowledge transfer for the aerospace sector.

Dr. Antony Robotham, Executive Director of the VEC, explained: “We analysed a whole raft of factors when marking the tenders, but Virtalis was able to display technical competence, a great depth of support and value for money. Theirs was the most complete solution and they have come up with a refined design that builds on our original specification. We will end up with a very high resolution, bespoke, 13m2 screen on our ActiveWall, which will allow us to display engineering systems at a 1:1 scale in stereo. We’ll also have a suite of specially developed software tools that will help us to build our own interactive VR environments.”

As VEC’s objective is to use VR to improve products and processes and share that knowledge with business, it will have VR facilities that will allow it to draw on advanced 3D visualisation, full immersive tracking and real-time user interaction through virtual touch. Virtalis has designed and will supply a two channel Christie M-Series WU7 projected ActiveWall with Vicon optical tracking linked to an ActiveSpace with nVisor SX111 Head Mounted Display to allow two people to be simultaneously fully immersed. The ActiveWall also incorporates a Haption Virtuose haptic device, which will enable virtual manual assembly. Among the software provided is Dassault Systèmes’ Virtools and PTC’s DIVISION MockUp, as well as a suite of Virtalis VR device drivers, exporters and adaptors.

“Complex engineering solutions are easier to understand in 3D”, said Robotham. “We think VEC’s facilities will be used by companies and their suppliers to communicate ideas in spheres like composite materials, computational fluid dynamics and finite element stress analysis. More intuitive interaction with virtual models leads to speedier communication between different groups of people. We’ll be drawing on the University’s research base, especially in the area of flight simulation, to develop data rich VR demonstrators. We are already engaging with individual companies about specific VR applications and looking forward to working with Virtalis in the long-term.”

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