NRC opens virtual environment centre

September 24, 1999

(London, Ontario, September 24, 1999) - The Virtual Environment Technologies (VET) Centre of the National Research Council's (NRC) Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute was officially opened today by the Honourable John Manley, Minister of Industry.

The VET Centre operates under a unique relationship between the National Research Council of Canada and its industry collaborators and contributors SGI Canada, Electrohome Limited/Fakespace, Inc., the Diesel Division of General Motors, and the University of Western Ontario. It houses the world's most extensive and innovative collection of virtual reality equipment: an immersion room, immersive design rooms, immersive power walls, work stations and head mounted displays, all driven by powerful graphic computers and visualisation devices.

Virtual environments help shorten development time in manufacturing, simulate a new assembly process, provide insight into medical procedures and preview in a very natural and accurate way the functioning of a wide assortment of applications -- without building expensive and less useful mockups and models. This technology literally puts medical specialists into a diseased human artery or allows civic designers, architects and politicians to walk around in a virtual city before they build it.

Virtual Reality is a world that exists inside a computer yet gives researchers a clearer picture of how the real product will function. In manufacturing, it can take the form of a single mechanical part or an entire manufacturing process. By putting an engineering team inside this 3-D environment, they can literally visualize their projects for testing and design purposes.

Researchers at the Virtual Manufacturing Environments Laboratories, part of the NRC's Integrated Manufacturing Technologies Institute, are working to tailor the research, demonstration, application and training aspects of the centre to the needs of its industry members. Other Canadian manufacturers and organizations that participate will be part of a world-leading technology that will make them competitive on a global scale.

National Research Council of Canada

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