Benefits that HoloLens could provide for CAD product development
Because of Microsoft’s announcement of HoloLens technology with Windows 10, several new product development improvements and opportunities could become available to CAD designers and engineers.
For example, the partnership between Microsoft HoloLens and Autodesk Fusion 360 could create radical changes in the way that designers and engineers design products. Product iterations that involve re-design, hardware prototyping, and reliability testing could be significantly reduced, and time to market could be shortened.
Before discussing benefits that HoloLens will provide for product development, it is necessary to briefly explain what HoloLens is about.
What is HoloLens?
Microsoft HoloLens technology will enable Windows software developers to place holograms in physical environments, and to provide a real way to see virtual objects in the world.
A hologram has the following properties:
- It is a non-physical viewable object in the real world, and it can be viewed from different angles and distances.
- It is non-physical because it is made entirely of light waves.
- It has no mass. Therefore, it presents no physical resistance when it is touched or pushed.
- It can be rendered as a 2-dimensional object (as on a TV or on a wall), or as a 3-dimensional (3D) object (such as a human being in a room).
Microsoft HoloLens will produce holograms that can appear life-like, can be moved, can be shaped, and can be morphed according to interactions with users or the physical environment in which they are rendered. HoloLens is implemented in the form of a wearable helmet that puts the wearer into a true 3D environment instead of a traditional virtual reality (VR) environment.
Conventional VR is computer generated, and the person who experiences this type of VR must remain in a fixed location relative to the environment.
On the other hand, holographic VR delivers mixed reality with which a person can interact. For example, instead of watching characters in a computer game on a flat screen, the characters could be life-like 3D creatures that move around the room.
This article enumerates certain benefits that HoloLens could provide for product development.
The benefits include:
- Providing Live 3D Modeling,
- Improving interactions and brainstorming between product development teams,
- Enabling rapid visualization, modification, and prototyping of 3D models,
- Providing expanded and sophisticated design interfaces,
- Providing improved design instructional courses and training,
- Providing improved CAD design and instructional environments.
Because it is outside the scope of this article to discuss every benefit that HoloLens could provide, only a few of them will be discussed.
HoloLens Will Facilitate Live 3D Modeling
HoloLens will make it possible to render a holograms of an object (whether alive or inanimate), in 3D at true size and high definition relative to other objects and the surroundings.
Because the rendered object can be moved relative to the surroundings, the CAD engineer can obtain design feedback visually and dynamically. This means that design validations and iterations can be performed inexpensively, accurately, and in a short time.
The partnership between Autodesk’s Fusion 360 and Microsoft HoloLens should make this benefit readily available.
Hololens Will Improve Teleconferencing and Brainstorming
Teleconferencing sessions, virtual business meetings, design reviews, and events that could be performed more efficiently with collocated personnel will be enhanced and improved by HoloLens.
In the near future, CAD designers, managers and product development personnel could wear HoloLens headsets that immerse the wearers into true 3D holographic VR. This type of VR surpasses conventional VR, or what ‘Google Glass” tries to achieve.
Virtual meetings that HoloLens could provide will eliminate communication deficiencies such as inadequate lighting, poor image rendition, spotty connections, and poor audio connections. HoloLens could provide teleconferencing sessions in which participants appear life-like, in close proximity, or in the immediate surroundings.
Because gestures and facial expressions will be rendered faithfully, a conference participant who may be thousands of miles away may seem to be in the same meeting room. When combined with a cloud-based CAD package, all members of a design team could be simultaneously involved in making adjustments to a 3D model in real time.
Hololens Will Enable Rapid Visualization and Prototyping of 3d Models
Apart from making it possible to visualize 3D models and to make design improvements in dynamic fashion, HoloLens could provide the ability to create virtual prototypes and to observe test results in real time.
Currently, CAD simulations can produce 3D objects and subject them to loadings that mimic in-service loadings, so as to come up with optimum designs. Many 3D printers can produce actual prototypes that are tested under actual loading conditions.
With the availability of HoloLens, prototyping and test results could be observed and analyzed by design teams that are not co-located. Consequently, reliable designs will be easier to create, and time to market will be shortened. These benefits will be realized by both the manufacturer and consumer.
HoloLens could improve CAD design and instructional environments
A typical CAD designer uses multiple monitors for displaying a variety of CAD information at any given time. With HoloLens, a designer can recall information from a library with hand gestures and render the information as a hologram.
HoloLens will transform a CAD designer into “the conductor of an orchestra” who can address design information as if it was an instrument in an orchestra that can be featured or dismissed at will.
Another obvious implication of HoloLens is to transform the manner in which industrial design and mechanical engineering lessons are conducted. Instead of restricting students to books, traditional videos and laboratory classes, HoloLens could be used to create holographic instructional videos that teach the student how to use a lathe, a milling machine, or how to perform product assembly and maintenance tasks.
The primary benefit that HoloLens could bring to the CAD designer is an expanded and sophisticated design interface that can recall information from a library with hand gestures and render the information as a hologram.
Design classes for CAD engineers could be revolutionized to utilize holographic displays that emulate real “hands on” experience. Likewise, instructional courses in the medical field, physical sciences, detective work, and many other disciplines could benefit greatly from the ability to utilize holographic displays.