Fraunhofer IPK

Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology

Virtual Reality Solution Center

Over the past few years, virtual reality has proven its value as a key tool for product development and presentation. The Virtual Reality Lab was established in 2001 to tap the potential of this technology, create new fields of application and drive forward development of existing technologies.  

Today the lab has turned into a competence center for the on-going further development of cutting-edge basic technologies like projection-based 3D visualization, 3D interaction technologies and haptic interaction solutions. It develops applications based on these technologies in the classical CAD / CAS domain, and also engineers new uses for virtual reality in fields such as fly-and-walk-through for technology and architecture installation /extension analysis, training platforms, prototype development, and telepresence machine control.

Expertise

  • Distributed VR Visualization
    An OpenSG-based VR visualization system and configuration software has been developed for easy, flexible and efficient control of a variety of immersive display units. Our advanced server-client approach ensures strict separation of I/O tasks, application and visualization, all three of which run as independent processes on separate servers.
  • Rapid Prototyping of 3D Tools
    The VRIB project evolved a new methodology for the faster, easier development of 3D interaction tools. The work aimed to realize the vision of making the virtual tools thus produced as intuitive and natural to work with as tools in the real world. Three exemplary integration tools for various fields of application have already been developed.
  • VR I/O Management
    More often than not, integrating new interaction devices in VR applications is a tedious, time-consuming process. Our hardware integration platform drastically simplifies this process – both for commercial and self-developed interaction devices. Flexibility is ensured by uniform XML description of components and interfaces, and the system enables a new connectivity configuration to be made on-the-fly without any need for a new start or compilation.
  • Kinesthetic 6-DoF Interaction
    We have developed a new kinesthetic force feedback system based on two actuators with which nearly any type of interaction device can be endowed with physical attributes like weight, inertia and collision force and momentum. Specific integration devices may be used in line with application requirements, like real world medical instruments for virtual simulations of surgical operations or technical aggregates of the type needed in the automobile industry. Minimum friction loss and an optimal balance in load distributions enable users to get a much more realistic touch and feel when handling virtual objects.
  • Dynamic Installation /Extension Simulation
    Today’s real-time simulations frequently neglect the physical characteristics of the objects to be simulated. Even so – to give but one illustration – the elasticity of a component needs to be factored into a simulation when cooling or hydraulic hoses are to be handled in the simulation environment. We have developed exemplary methods for the virtual handling of flexible components like hydraulic pipes and hoses and have implemented them as prototypes. The installation and extension analysis which our methods allow enable identification of motion paths and volumes which can then be used in subsequent phases of development.
  • Immersive Styling
    A highly interactive modeling tool is needed to turn 2D sketches into CAD models. We have developed immersive sketching and “virtual clay modeling” techniques which have strong similarities to conventional modeling. These techniques offer industrial designers modeling tools which enable them to interact with a sketch or a virtual clay model.
  • Immersive Machine Tool Construction
    In conjunction with other Fraunhofer institutes, IPK is developing a VR-assisted modular solution for the end-to-end construction of machine tools (www.vrax.de). This pioneering system – called VRAx after standard CAx tools – treats machine elements as components in a modular system and aggregates their geometries, parameters and functions. By holding special individual modules for tool, and clamping devices as well as components and basic structures, VRax substantially simplifies the composition of new machines. VRAx also makes unprecedented use of VR technologies as a proactive construction and development medium for immersive modeling – in other words, data generated in VR are fed back into the overall development process.

Services

  • Development of VR software solutions:

    • VR interfaces for existing customer applications
    • Application development for:

      • Lighting and
      • Kinematic simulations
      • Interactive industrial design
      • Immersive construction

  • Interactive installation / extension analysis
  • Mixed reality-based prototype development
  • Telepresent machine control
  • Turnkey solutions:

    • Turnkey solutions comprising multichannel projection technology, 3D interactive tools, and VR application software

  • 3D interactive device development
  • CAD/VR data integration
  • VR modeling
  • VR consulting