A Closer Look at IQ3Connect’s Virtual Reality Platform for Engineers
Andrew Wheeler posted on February 26, 2018 |

For CAD designs to be reviewed by a distributed team in the best manner possible, two things must happen. First, the designer must be able to explain how this project meets a certain criterion set out in the beginning of the projects development. Second, the team must see the presentation up close. There are many advantages to having a distributed team, but design reviews are not one of them.

Whether you’re a large corporation or just a distributed team of redditors trying to fulfill Elon Musk’s Hyperloop dreams (rLoop design pictured here), you will need environments that allow you to collaborate and perform design reviews in the best way possible. (Image courtesy of rLoop.)
Whether you’re a large corporation or just a distributed team of redditors trying to fulfill Elon Musk’s Hyperloop dreams (rLoop design pictured here), you will need environments that allow you to collaborate and perform design reviews in the best way possible. (Image courtesy of rLoop.)

IQ3Connect has a virtual reality collaboration platform for distributed teams to enter a virtual reality and perform product reviews as a group. The startup was founded in 2016 by a group of engineers with experience in manufacturing, aerospace and automotive industries using CAD and CAE software. Mentored by MIT Venture Mentoring Service, they now are working with a few industrial clients in aerospace, automotive and semiconductor manufacturing.

Engineering.com corresponded with Michael Bloor, former COO of ESI North America, who is now a communications consultant with IQ3Connect about his current line of work.

Bloor first commented on his background and why he joined IQ3Connect: “I was working with a company that used to sell CAVE and POWERWALL Systems, and we saw a need to make this technology more accessible to more people within companies to do organized review meetings. We wanted to enable people to have an immersive view in VR, so they could give collaborators a better understanding of their designs by communicating to others about them in the same language they use to build them. The goal was to make collaborative VR design reviews available to a distributed team.”

Today, design reviews are mostly done on 2D displays screens, and it doesn’t allow people to see the 3D dimensional version of the product design, which can be important for critical design decisions.

How IQ3Connect Works

A team leader sets up a meeting and invites everyone. They need a browser, a VR headset (Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality device are supported), a workstation or laptop that supports VR devices, or a VR-enabled smartphone. If you do not have a VR device or supporting hardware, you can still join the meeting with your browser. (Image courtesy of IQ3Connect Inc.)
A team leader sets up a meeting and invites everyone. They need a browser, a VR headset (Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality device are supported), a workstation or laptop that supports VR devices, or a VR-enabled smartphone. If you do not have a VR device or supporting hardware, you can still join the meeting with your browser. (Image courtesy of IQ3Connect Inc.)

Bloor said, “IQ3 is a web-browser based VR platform. On the client side, you don’t need any special software. Your computer must be powerful enough to run a head-mounted display, but you don’t need to install our software. You just log in to a meeting on your browser, and you’re in an immersive virtual reality environment. The other challenge we address in VR is ensuring that high quality 3D content is rendered beautifully in VR.”

IQ3Connect is set up either on internal servers or through an external cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services. Engineers and designers can also collaborate with distributed teams before design reviews to tackle any issues or concerns with a given project.

Types of Compatible 3D File Formats to Port into IQ3Connect

Interoperability issues can sometimes plague certain sectors of engineering such as aerospace, and when you begin a VR platform for distributed teams, being as inclusive as possible is important. In October of 2017, IQ3Connect partnered with 3D scanning company DotProduct and announced that users could now drag and drop DP point cloud files into IQ3Connect’s VR platform.

According to Bloor, “If you have a CAD file, a CAE results file, or a point-cloud data file you can drag and drop it into our software, and IQ3Connect automatically optimizes the file for VR at the highest quality possible."

Another use for IQ3Connect’s platform is engaging in architectural design at a 1:1 scale with clients and teams. The ability to have people on a team and clients walk through different 3D drafts of building or other architectural structure can help reduce labor costs for rework that occurs because a design wasn’t understood thoroughly enough in 2D.

If you are a purveyor of complex products, providing support in an immersive 1:1 virtual environment could save costs of travel to various locations for on-site training. For example, a customer could need products that fit to very specific specs on a factory room floor or other manufacturing facility. If they scanned the facility, and your company has 3D CAD data files of a complex product, you could superimpose them at a 1:1 scale. (Image courtesy of IQ3Connect Inc.)
If you are a purveyor of complex products, providing support in an immersive 1:1 virtual environment could save costs of travel to various locations for on-site training. For example, a customer could need products that fit to very specific specs on a factory room floor or other manufacturing facility. If they scanned the facility, and your company has 3D CAD data files of a complex product, you could superimpose them at a 1:1 scale. (Image courtesy of IQ3Connect Inc.)

Bloor spoke about one of IQ3Connect’s customers in the automotive industry, Austria-based AVL. “AVL will laser scan a facility, port the point-cloud data into IQ3, drag and drop 3D CAD files of the equipment they’re going to install for a customer, and then the customer can walk around the scanned facility and see the CAD equipment at a 1:1 scale.”

The ability to port in point-cloud data offers a multitude of opportunities for industrial customers, including the ability to immerse clients and members of a distributed team or prospective customers in the digital version of your physical facility.

IQ3Connect and Adhoc Industries partnered to create a true scale VR experience of a Bus Rapid Transit bus station design concept located in Boston’s south end.  According to Bloor, "We took data from Google Earth and superimposed their CAD data at 1:1 scale in this 3D environment.  This provided a significantly richer visual experience over static 2D displays in evaluating future concepts for similar projects funded by the Barr Foundation as well as for cities exploring feasibility of transportation and urban mobility options."

Since IQ3Connect is data neutral, your clients or partners can see any CAD file type you might use at your company, but everything is viewed in a temporary conference site, so your data is not accessible by a potential customer or vendor.

Bottom Line

Any company with a vested interest in performing collaborative design reviews, architectural reviews, site visits or training in an immersive environment with a distributed team could try IQ3Connect’s virtual reality platform.






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