Sound Bytes with Axiom’s ‘Mr. Reality’ – Industrial Designer, Victor Fulton

Why is Virtual Reality a next step for Axiom?

If we look at Axiom’s current capabilities in design, CAD, modeling & simulation, and testing, it’s an organic progression for us to combine those elements into one platform to collaborate, create, test, and obtain physical data from samples.  We are already driving 3D content and learning about material behaviors via M&S, so to leverage virtual reality from a design standpoint is very intriguing to us. 

How will virtual change the way you design and interact with clients?

The design and manufacturing development process that exists today requires multiple concept iterations, growing and paying for prototypes, and a fairly extensive submission and approval process.  Then you get into the production and manufacturing side of things and you need molds, you need to figure out line equipment and automations, and you need logistics and packaging.  It’s really an extravagant lifecycle.  I think our plan is to condense that into an environment that allows for greater collaboration, quicker decision-making, and that enables our clients to interact with products and parts in a more natural way.  That’s the bottom line.

Why did you choose the HTC Vive as a platform?

If you go back several years, the Oculus Rift was released…and it was really cool, but you couldn’t move around in the space.  Then the HTC debuted with the new room tracking sensors and for us at the time it made more sense.  Projecting out into the future I’m sure the technology is going to change even more drastically, and there are going to be other players in the game.  We obviously don’t want to lock ourselves into one technology, but HTC is a good stepping stone to enable Axiom to start launching some of our ideas today.

As a designer, what difficulties exist in the VR landscape?

There is a lack of content from an enterprise level; enterprise meaning group collaboration at a technical level including the math behind shapes and things like that.  Right now it’s easy to play a game and score points in VR, but content creation in the sense of placing an object in an environment and interacting with it, that’s pretty limited.  The primary hurdle is lack of content for professional users outside of gaming.  At Axiom, we are cognizant of how we develop our products in 3D and their potential translation to VR, but it is important for others to understand the background work and understanding of material properties that needs to happen in order to make the environment and products look visually realistic.

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