Real Virtuality – Beyond Hollywood

Here I am at Dassault Systèmes, the company spezializing in 3D and lifelike experiences. Dare I ask:

  • How useful is a virtual experience?
  • How real is a computer generated environment?

Virtual reality has come a long way. In Hollywood for example. Think of “You’ve got mail” as a first step, a film made in 1998 with Meg Ryan getting all excited about receiving a virtual letter on her computer screen.

In “Matrix ” also made in ‘98, where Keanu Reeves is torn between the real world (not cozy) and a virtual world (the matrix), which is revealed as being the false reality.

Further back and quite visionary, Stanly Kubrick’s 1968 film “A Space Odyssey 2001” (note that we have already passed this year) presents Computer HAL with virtual intelligence and in charge of almost everything in the space ship, starts to misbehave and needs to be shut down .

Finally in “Disclosure ”, a movie from 1994 (not really a good one I think), where Michael Douglas solves the story’s mystery by means of entering a virtual library in full VR gear with data gloves and head set.

Where are we TODAY really – with virtual reality ?

To highlight this, let’s look at a recent example from the aircraft industry. Airbus’ manufacturing site for aircraft wings in the UK, Broughton, needed an immersive virtuality environment to validate methods and process improvements in manufacturing for their new A350XWB aircraft – before any physical model was built.

Their requirements included:

  • Working directly with their CATIA and DELMIA PLM data and turn them into a 3D immersive virtuality model (without any need for translation)
  • Utilizing head and hand tracking for full immersion
  • Linking into a high-end haptic system, i.e. to have force feedback in reaction to manipulations on the model
  • Making this an integral day-to-day tool for their manufacturing engineers


Airbus got all this from Virtalis, a UK-based system integrator specializing in immersive virtuality turnkey installations and a Dassault Systèmes cooperation partner in the virtual experience domain around 3DVIA Virtools, CATIA and DELMIA software. Virtalis was capable of putting this together to meet Airbus’ needs , based on the Dassault Systèmes PLM environment, all while incorporating key solution components from Haption, another member of the DS software partner community.

So this seems pretty real and useful, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile back in Hollywood: they don’t stop getting inspired and borrowing technology for their movie plots. This time they shopped at Creaform based in Quebec, a specialist in 3D scanning and reverse engineering and a solution partner of Dassault Systèmes as well.


Have fun with this detective crime-buster clip on Creaform’s website. Here’s a screenshot from it to entice you:

I’ll talk to you again soon with more cool stuff …


A scientist by education I learned to enjoy more to work with people across cultural hemispheres than in a lab. This is why partnerships and alliances has become my domain of choice. My job at DS is to help our Tech Solution Partners global ecosystem to show how they can contribute their expertise to the global PLM solution and 3D experience. Our partners are experts in their specialties which makes me learn a thing or two every day. I enjoy that too.

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