A contact of mine a while back told me how he was struggling to explain the idea his West Coast design team had come up with to his Chinese manufacturing team. So he jumped on a plane with a laptop and a VR headset and took the design to them in VR.
Upon seeing, examining and interacting with the prototype design, the entire Chinese team immediately got it, despite only speaking limited English, because everyone understands the 3D model when you see it in front of you, no matter what language you speak.
At Virtalis, our clients have not been bothering with plane journeys for some time. Case New Holland successfully collaborates internationally in 3D via different VR systems, every day. Right now, our technology supports a designer in an HMD, like a VIVE, at their workstation, working in real-time alongside a team in an ActiveCube or CAVE, or perhaps with another designer in front of an ActiveWall. The collaborators see each other as avatars, but they can all work together, despite being a huge geographical distance apart. The cost and time savings are immense.
By cleverly portioning up the data, we can send real-time communication between systems, so that each system reflects the other without lag, allowing you, for instance, to pass objects to each other. This interaction mimics the kind of collaboration experienced when a person is standing next to you exploring at the same model. This isn’t science fiction, but mature technology that is breaking down communication barriers and shrinking the globe.
Once you remove the need to always jump on a plane/train in order to meet and discuss and idea, it means that you can communicate more. In fact, several of our customers host several collaborative VR sessions between teams each day.
Not only is real-time collaboration good for refining and developing the design, it also reaps benefits when it comes to selling that idea to a customer, who again may not speak the same language as the design team. Allowing that customer to truly experience the product, maybe even a customised version, during the sales cycle, builds the confidence required to close the deal. Sales teams armed with laptops and HMDs, like our ActiveMove CVR system, will soon become the norm.
I firmly believe that collaboration between engineering teams, or communication between engineering and sales teams/customers, will make VR mainstream for engineering, becoming as standard a part of the workflow as a Skype or WebEx meeting.