Interactive virtual reality in the design office has taken a step closer to reality at automobile developer Mercedes Benz. Instead of just using two-dimensional computer screens to visualise designs, the company has developed a method with which it can view three dimensional images. The three dimensional images themselves are projected onto a diffusing screen measuring about 2m 3 1m. The designer can view the 3D images using a pair of special glasses, and can rotate and zoom in on any aspect of the design using a special pen interface device. Particulate currents and flow can also be introduced by using the pen, so that air flow in the driver’s cab or in the engine compartment can be investigated.
To obtain information on critical stress patterns in a design, the pen can be used to cut cross sections through the component in question.
Figure 1: Air flow lines can be positioned by the designer using a special indicating and marking pen