During my internship at 219 Design, the company acquired an HTC Vive virtual reality system in the hopes that the emerging trend of Virtual Reality could be used to improve collaborative decision making, help identify potential issues early in the development process, and more. Fortunately, these hopes were completely justified. All of the engineers and designers there were immediately blown away by just how immersive the experience was, and soon ideas were flying back and forth as to how the company could turn this new technology into something useful for them and their clients.
As a product development company, they wanted something that could tighten the product design loop, and help quickly and intuitively evaluate mechanical and mechatronic designs without having to build time-consuming and expensive prototypes. Being the new intern, I was lucky enough to be tasked with making this idea a (virtual) reality.
After a month spent developing the skills needed to build a virtual reality experience, and then applying these skills to this specific project, I ended up with a fully functional VR app, called Interact VR, that lets users upload their 3D mechanical and electrical designs and interact with them in intuitive and unique ways. User feedback and testing was an important part of making the app as robust and usable as possible.
This tool quickly proved its usefulness in the product development setting of 219 Design. They used it to perform mechanical design reviews, compare alternative design solutions, and quickly visualize the impact design changes have on existing assemblies. The app made it easy for their engineers to check clearances and tolerances, explain how an assembly was going to be assembled, and gave clients an intuitive way to quickly check project work to ensure that their designs directly matched their expectations before a physical prototype was built, saving clients both time and money.