If dumb data is so impressive, why bother with intelligent data?
The data you want to look at is the key component of any VR scene. In the case of engineering users, understanding the data is their sole reason for using VR software.
At Virtalis, we believe that getting 3D CAD data into your VR system intelligently is vital.
Understanding Data as Objects
A 3D CAD file contains way more information than just the shape; it contains metadata about the component itself, such as material spec, supplier etc., all of which can be very useful when interrogating the model in VR software. In order to make use of this intelligent data, you need a system that understands objects, not just the polygons that make a shape. We recognised this when we developed Visionary Render.
Once you adopt this object approach, you can not only carry with it the naming conventions, the sub-assembly information etc., but also any metadata that your CAD system stores. We recently enabled objects in Visionary Render to change colour based upon a live data feed. For example, this attribute could be the date it was last inspected, so that in a huge scene with hundreds of components, anything in red is out of date – a highly useful tool.
Retaining Data From 3D CAD Files
To benefit from intelligent objects in the scene, it is essential to read the 3D CAD file directly, like we do in Visionary Render, instead of a dumb format, or third party route. Using a third-party route like 3ds Max or similar, or a data conversion tool like Anark, or a dumb format like .OBJ, will often lose all of that ancillary data. In fact, it’s like travelling back in time to the VR Dark Ages, when all you had was a shape to look at.
However, if you read a 3D CAD file directly, you get all of that data coming across, meaning that you can start to do meaningful VR work. When you make a change in the CAD system, you can quickly reload the 3D file and start work in the VR software, without having to repeat the importation steps again each time – a significant benefit.
Benefits of Object Recognition
Having the system recognise the objects, gives the ability to do real design review work, such as moving objects within the VR scene. Or even having that data exported to the CAD designer to make changes from. Or, when importing reference objects, such as a forklift, and having that forklift behave correctly in the scene, so it steers on its rear wheels and its forks only go up and down within real-world limits.
It may seem a trivial point to raise at this stage of VR technology adoption by business, as most users are impressed merely by the stereoscopic shape and textures, but it is human nature that as you use a system more, you want to get more from it. Clearly, having intelligent objects and being able to interact with them gives a much greater return on your VR software investment.