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EnSight for Virtual Reality

EnSight for Virtual Reality

Few topics in the world of digital media are drawing more attention than virtual reality these days. With companies like Oculus Rift and Canon developing virtual and mixed reality headsets that push the bounds of what is possible from displays, and Sony and Samsung launching affordable VR options, it’s the perfect time for another look at how EnSight is adapting to new display technologies.

Where are we now?

Virtual reality has been around, at least in a primitive form, since the 1830s when Charles Wheatstone created the stereoscope. Virtual reality has certainly become more advanced over the years, and CEI has been paying attention to developments in VR from the beginning. For years, EnSight’s powerful visualization tools have been utilized on CAVE’s and power walls to give users immersive looks into their engineering data.

A user interacts with an EnSight model using an Oculus Rift headset

A user interacts with an EnSight model using an Oculus Rift headset

More recently, EnSight has expanded its compatibility to include wearable technology such as Oculus Rift. This technology covers the user’s eyes completely, allowing them to only see EnSight’s 3D geometry and annotations. Using a gamepad, users are able to interact and manipulate the scene to gain deeper understanding of any data presented. Currently, all users, including EnSight free license holders, can take advantage of Oculus Rift technology while using EnSight.

Mixed Reality

At times, users of virtual reality experience a feeling of vertigo or nausea while wearing the headset, due to the disorienting nature of a fully virtual environment. New technology, called “mixed reality” allows the user to see computer-generated images laid into a “real world” environment. EnSight is currently compatible with the Canon MR device, which uses markers placed in a room to overlay graphics into the environment.

Along with greater comfort to the user, EnSight for mixed reality allows engineers to take control over the placement of data within a physical space. For example, in the images below, the engineer has chosen to allow the vehicle to extend from the wall, and has placed a graph above the vehicle. This has endless applications for presentations, as different measurements could be placed around the room for an interactive and informative experience.

Left: Canon MR Markers Right: User Experience wearing Canon MR

Left: Canon MR Markers
Right: User Experience wearing Canon MR

Looking toward the future

Our development team is always on the lookout for ways to improve our user experience and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your engineering data. As virtual reality headsets begin to penetrate the consumer market, we will explore ways to bring EnSight models into less expensive hardware options. Currently, one of the leading models on our radar is the HTC Vive. Similar to the Oculus Rift, the Vive is a head mounted display that covers the eyes and provides the user with an immersive virtual reality experience. The sensors on the Vive can track a user within an entire room, creating opportunities for more complex VR presentations.

Another device on our radar is the HoloLens from Microsoft. This augmented reality device operates similar to the Canon MR system, however instead of using markers to determine the position of computer generated graphics, the HoloLens scans for the 3D location of objects in the room and then places visualizations into the space. This fully wireless solution currently does not have a release date or price yet, but trust that the EnSight development team will be monitoring this product closely.

VR for your visualizations

If you’re interested in exploring EnSight for your engineering data, please get in touch with us. Our team would be happy to evaluate your organization’s goals and reccommend VR solutions that will best meet your needs.