Attainable virtual reality for all

Though it has been used for over 25 years, virtual reality still seems unattainable to many design engineers. Here, Mike Leach takes the guesswork and fear out of the emerging technology.

While most consider it expensive or complex, VR has become a much more accessible technology that is helping those in design and manufacturing improve collaboration across multiple locations and fail-test designs in virtual 3D to reduce costs and project timescales.

Professionals looking to improve collaborative workflows on projects can immerse an entire team of designers into the virtual engineering world to digitally create everything from a bridge, to the car that drives on it. From concept design to engineering review, qualification and quality control, VR can simplify the entire lifecycle of development. What’s more, once the design is perfected in the virtual space, professionals can present and sell to clients within the VR environment before the product is even taken into production.

To accomplish this, engineers must understand the hardware requirements to achieve the best performance and experience. VR is all about graphics – demanding much more powerful graphics cards, beyond the average 3D CAD workflow. It requires workstations with VR-ready configurations equipped to handle the most demanding graphical workloads. That said, taking the first step into the VR space can be easier and more affordable than expected. With plug and play hardware, portable, entry-level workstations and off the shelf software, professionals can easily equip themselves with the tools to view their engineering data and design in virtual reality with no rocket science required.

Mobile workstations, like the Lenovo ThinkPad P71, allow professionals to easily set up and deploy VR anytime, anywhere – either onsite or externally with clients. With VR-ready mobile workstations, users can experience a simple, out of the box solution that fits into standard IT infrastructure and can expand into a VR-ready platform wherever and whenever needed.

Gone are the days of custom software packages that consumed entire project budgets, but showcased just one element of a design. Off-the-shelf software packages from leading independent software vendors like Autodesk and Virtalis offer a true plug and play VR experience – enabling all levels of user to visualise designs together. Also, with more VR software plug-ins being released, it’s only going to get easier to add VR into your end-to-end workflow.

The bottom line: VR is not an exclusive or unattainable technology. If you’re interested, and want to learn more about enabling VR design in your organisation, checkout to learn more.

About the author:
Mike Leach is workstation technologist and business development manager at Lenovo Technology UK