Virtual Reality and Engineering?
I ran across a product recently called Google Cardboard. It’s been around for a few years now, but it never crossed my path until recently. Google Cardboard is a very inexpensive virtual reality (VR) platform. It’s a very ingenious device to bring VR to the masses. Google doesn’t actually sell the device, but makes their specifications available for anyone wishing to construct one of their own. It just so happened that when I discovered this cool device, I had a very bright high school intern in my office. I challenged him to make the 2.0 version of Google Cardboard. We only found the templates for the 2.0 version online, but had trouble locating the instructions on how to piece it all together. Like I said, he is a very bright individual and was able to construct the device. Although our home-made version doesn’t look as fancy as some that can be purchased through 3rd party vendors, it worked just perfectly and only cost us $6.00. So, what does all of this have to do with an engineering firm? In the not too distant future, imagine being able to take your client on a virtual tour of their building and seeing how that window looks at a certain time of day or getting the feel of a room layout all the while the project is in the design phase? OK, those things are more architectural in nature, but the applications could easily cross over to engineering applications. For instance, industrial engineers could use this tool for equipment room layouts. Structural engineers could use it to walk their client through trouble areas discovered during structural investigations especially when VR is coupled with 3d scanning technology. This technology isn’t years away from being developed but just around the corner. There is a company called IrisVR that is already developing an app that will turn your 3d model into a VR walkthrough. Too bad I can’t show you what Google Cardboard and the other professional VR headsets can do, but 2016 may be the year of VR as there are a number of reasonably prices VR headsets out there selling for the upcoming holidays.