N V Vijayakumar Bengaluru / July 13, 2016, DHNS 23:57 IST
The John F Welch Technology Centre (JFWTC ), GE’s largest multidisciplinary research and development centre based in Bengaluru, has unveiled a virtual reality lab, which is its latest innovation tool.
The company is in the midst of a strategic shift from a 124-year-old high-tech infrastructure company to one of the top software brands in the world by 2020. Behind the flurry of global marketing campaigns, the organisation is evolving into a contemporary digital workspace, and the Virtual Reality (VR) lab is one such example.
Ankur Dang, Software Director for the GE Digital team at JFWTC says, “Our vision is to form a digital thread that connects the entire life cycle of a product right from designing to manufacturing and servicing. Virtual Reality is a technology that enables one to have a real time collaboration with colleagues across the globe to build 3D CAD models for the digital thread.”
The VR lab is equipped with a 12×8 feet screen where CAD models are projected in 3D at a scale of 1:1 or greater. Interactive features using infrared trackers and a fly stick allow the user to create an immersive experience with the model. The technology allows the team to review products that are under development, displaying large 3D data sets or 3D virtual prototypes directly from the native application without any data conversion.
The GE Transportation engineering team is the first to create and use this lab, with plans to scale it up across verticals. “Engineers traditionally review products in 2D on a computer screen and manoeuvring the CAD model is a tedious and time consuming process. VR with augmentation capability allows us to make changes and interact with 3D models in a real time across different design centres and across the world, significantly reducing the design cycle time. Apart from being an engineering tool, the lab is also a great training ground for our service engineers who work on these products in the field,” says Vageesh Patil, GM, GE Transportation Engineering, India.
GE is no stranger to VR, having leveraged the technology in various global projects. In 2014, the company’s Brazil research centre created a virtual reality experience to mimic GE’s subsea oil technology. Users could strap on an Oculus Rift headset and sit in a vibrating chair while the headset simulated an underwater experience.
GE has also partnered with Reel FX to create ‘GE 360’, a VR experience that gives viewers a look at the making of GE’s Evolution Series Tier 4 Locomotive and its 9HA Gas Turbine — two massive machines engineered in some of the most remote locations across the US.