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How To, Remote Meetings

Remote meetings – design reviews with 3D CAD data

A design process is normally accompanied by many meetings. CAD files are created and then revised and adjusted again and again. The constant need for consultation is expensive and costs a lot of time. A virtual reality conference can provide a remedy to this. The realistic representation in virtual reality turns 3D CAD files into digital prototypes that can be discussed immediately.

How were 3D CAD drafts discussed before?

Maybe you know this: several colleagues get together in a room to look at a 3D CAD file together. All of them look at the monitor and one of them is holding the mouse in their hand: “Turn it around, the corner, no the corner so we can look at it from the left, no tilt it a little more, yes like that!” Now imagine that you have to include colleagues and stakeholders from different locations. There are still companies who send PDF files for this purpose. Unfortunately, that is not the most convenient option, because few people can see a 3D object just by looking at a 2D drawing.

In a video conference, you can at least share your screen and present the object from different perspectives. This is an option for simple agreements, however, not for more complex tasks. Because often people with different professions come together. Somebody who works daily with CAD data can grasp a CAD model much easier than, for example, a customer who is not familiar with the topic or a colleague from the marketing department. This often leads to misunderstandings. 

Virtual reality can close these gaps in communication, because 3D CAD data is observed as real objects in the virtual space. Data is made tangible through this. It is “understood”. Furthermore, working together in VR spaces strengthens ream spirit. Everyone feels like they are brought along and up to date, those who participate see exactly what happens.

How does a design review work in VR?

Preparation of the design review

After the purpose and objective of the meeting have been defined, the time and duration determined and the participants invited to the corresponding VR meeting room (see article for the preparation of remote meetings), you can upload the corresponding CAD file through the dashboard. Simply select the corresponding meeting room and drag your data into the file manager via drag & drop. To ensure that the 3D CAD object is displayed correctly, enter the meeting room beforehand and drag the file into the meeting room.

The user menu of WeAre in VR.

If necessary, you can prepare the 3D object, for example, by changing the colors of the individual parts. Simply leave the object open when you leave the room so that this information will remain for the next meeting.

Execution of a design review (based on a fictitious example)

A toy manufacturer assigned a designer to create a locomotive for production. After a small check-in, he presents his 3D CAD draft in the VR.

Presentation of a CAD File in Virtual Reality.
1.) The designer presents the draft of the toy locomotive to their customer.
Explosion mode of a CAD file in VR.
2.) He dismantles the object into its individual parts to show which components it is made of.
3.) He uses the measuring tool to show the proportions of the components.
Coloring individual 3D CAD parts in VR.
4.) Individual components are colored to define the coloring at a later point in time.
Pin notes to a CAD object in VR.
5.) The comments from the participants are recorded in the form of speech and written notes.
Take pictures in VR.
6.) At the end, a photo of the 3D object is made with notes as well.
7.) Any notes on the whiteboards are exported as a graphic.

Follow-up for a design review

The VR is complete, but the development process is not. The discussed content, images and recordings should be gathered into a document and provided to all participants afterwards.  If there are any questions left unanswered in the meeting, these will be transferred to a protocol so that solutions can be found in the meantime that will be discussed in the next meeting.

The communication may continue between meetings as well. However, you don’t need the whole team all the time; often all you need are just a few. All participants can return to the VR meeting room at any time to look at 3D objects, notes and drawings. Ideas for the next review can be shared and prepared for the next presentation. The VR room turns into a living document that supports the team throughout the entire product development process.

Icon WeAre Redakteure
written by
Bernhard Schaefermeyer & David Frühauf
Bernhard was responsible for the research, the editorial work, and the rough draft. David transferred the text into the final version. (Translation: TextMaster)

You want to know more about collaboration in virtual reality?