Virtual Reality for Prototyping: Industry Use Cases, Architecture, Costs
The market of virtual reality (VR) for prototyping, estimated $210.4 million in 2017, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.4% by 2025. With 96% of enterprises, which already leverage VR, stating that they use the technology for prototyping, it is one of the key VR use segments.
Virtual prototyping allows for cheaper and faster design and modification of parts or elements and full models of products, which are to be later constructed for various industries, including:
Aerospace and aviation
VR prototyping of aircraft and spacecraft.
Virtual prototyping of automobiles and other wheeled vehicles.
Virtual prototyping of medical technical/manual equipment.
VR prototyping of facilities, houses, apartments and apartment blocks, and other structures.
Virtual product design of household appliances and tech gadgets for consumer use.
1:1 scale models
allowing for real-life prototype testing.
Dynamic prototype modification
via desktop or in-VR design tools.
for designers to work on a prototype together.
Fast online sharing of prototype iterations
with a customer for getting early feedback.
The typical architecture of VR prototyping software comprises:
for storing 3D model prototypes and data on the interactions they allow. Can be located on-premises (in case of strict data privacy requirements) or in the cloud (for convenient collaborative work and sharing). We focus on the cloud storage option.
for importing models to the cloud data storage and managing uploaded content. Can be integrated with design tools of choice for in-browser model modification.
for visualizing, testing, and modifying 3D prototypes in the VR environment. The application contains modules that enable:
- Dynamic modification of prototype models (see the process on the diagram below).
- Access to the design tools of choice in the VR environment.
- Interaction with a model based on preprogrammed scenario actions (e.g., a user can test operating a vehicle prototype).
- Application of kinesthetic attributes to 3D models.
- Feedback generation.
For a web administration panel
Cloud databases (DBaaS)
A success story of VR for prototyping
BMW has leveraged Unreal Engine to build virtual prototypes of their vehicles. Previously, the company assembled full-scale car models out of small clay elements, which required time and effort to modify or recreate during multiple rounds of adjustments. With a virtual prototype, the designers can easily modify the prototype in a few minutes and get the approval in days. It has drastically reduced the costs of BMW’s engineering processes.
Long delays in input/output can skew prototype testing results and pose significant inconveniences during in-VR prototype modification.
Minimizing latency to the recommended minimum of ~5-20ms is critical for VR prototyping. Among the feasible methods are:
- Ensuring the quality of connection.
- Choosing the nearest geographic location for 3D models storage (possible when working with a cloud service provider that provides the choice of storage geo-locations).
- Calculating the processing power necessary for smooth software performance so as to target powerful enough VR hardware.
While estimating the cost of VR prototyping software development, ScienceSoft considers the following:
General cost drivers
- Complexity of 3D model attributes (kinesthetic attributes require additional work).
- Complexity of prototype interaction scenarios.
- Number and types of targeted devices.
- Hardware (Tethered HMD: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index; Smartphone-compatible viewers: Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream View; Standalone HMD: Lenovo Mirage Solo.)
- Integrations with 3D design tools of choice (Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max, etc.)
- Cloud services (price depends on the provider’s plan and pricing policy).
VR for prototyping: consulting and development by ScienceSoft
Driven by 24 years of experience in 3D modeling and over 31 years in developing low-latency software, ScienceSoft offers VR prototyping consulting and development services.
VR for prototyping: consulting
- VR prototyping software concept finalization.
- Long-term release planning.
- VR architecture design.
- Planning of integration with various types of hardware and software.
- Technology stack definition and optimization.
VR for prototyping: development
- Business analysis.
- VR architecture planning.
- UI/UX design.
- 3D model design.
- VR development and quality assurance.
- Integration with a wide range of hardware/software.
- Continuous support and evolution.
ScienceSoft is a global software development and IT consulting company established 1989 and headquartered in McKinney, TX. By developing VR software for prototyping, we facilitate product design in various industries.