|InfoVis.net>Magazine>message nº 81||Published 2002-03-20|
|También disponible en Español|
The digital magazine of InfoVis.net
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity of being a visitor to the “Centre de Realitat Virtual de Barcelona” (CRV), one of most advanced Virtual Reality Centres of Europe and the only one in the south of Germany that owns a CAVE system for collaborative design applications. CRV is a centre created 50% by Gedas a company of the VolksWagen group and (the other 50% by) the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya.
According to Pere Brunet, manager of CRV, who was kind enough to let me interview him (see the next issue of Inf@Vis!), Virtual Reality is a kind of digital representation of 3D Geometry models that has to accomplish three fundamental requirements:
Generally virtual reality is associated with leisure and entertainment applications, but during my visit I had the opportunity to walk through the insides of a supertanker that only exists in the computer, testing where the pipes produce problems of circulation or where collisions can occur between them.
I was also on top of the tower of an oil refinery and could enter in a new model of a car, recently launched onto the market.
At CRV the industrial applications share the leading role with the medical ones. Modelling a heart with health problems that can lead the patient to a heart attack or preparing surgical intervention by means of virtual interaction with the organ to operate are just a few of the applications under research.
Remarkably interesting in this field is the training of surgeons and physicians in general that can rehearse in a simulated environment without danger for the (virtual, of course) patient…
Unlike augmented reality, which was already mentioned in issue number 11, where you “don’t let the world out of your sight”, virtual reality isolates the user from the real world. This allows you to completely substitute the real experience for one of a synthetic nature, in which the participants can be in different continents, performing cooperative design tasks and, thus, avoiding the building of costly prototypes or preparing a specially difficult surgical operation.
Nevertheless Virtual reality is costly in terms of computer time and also in money. The computer that feeds CRV’s CAVE is a parallel system that works with 16 central processing units and has a cost that exceeds well over one million Euros, and even with this powerful computer, some extremely complex and realistic simulations produce a slightly jerky movement.
For these reasons these types of installations are fundamental in order to offer the possibility of bringing these costly technologies to companies, hospitals and technologic centres.
Nevertheless the future promises to change noticeably in a not too distant time horizon, as we’ll see in the next issue, that will present the interview that Pere Brunet was kind enough to have with us.
Links of this issue:
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