Holograms in CAE

The latest trend in visualization of CAE models is mostly about Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets, such as the HTC Vive. It’s still under discussion though how much sense it makes to use VR in the field of CAE or whether it is just a similar, illusionary trend as 3D caves have been in the past. This article wants to take one step further though and look at the possibility to use holography for CAE postprocessing.

Hologram of princess Leia in the movie Star Wars.

The idea of a hologram is to view a model in 3D space by using a holographic projector. There are many ways to actually make this work. A simple way is to view the model in a holographic box, which uses reflection to make the model look 3D. You can already do this in combination with a smartphone and there are also many maufacturing companies offering biger boxes (see here on Alibaba).

An impressive demonstration is the holographic table from Euclideon Holographics, which does not use a box anymore, but still requires 3D glasses. The table is announced to be available in 2018. Unfortunately it looks really expensive, due to its high graphical processing power.

The most advanced technology (which we found) were Volumetric Images from Bigham Young University, which transcends holograms and is instread called volumetric images. It traps a particle in space and moves it around to draw real 3D images. For this technology, no glasses are required anymore.

The main question everyone is asking at this point is: how much sense do holograms make for us CAE engineers? In general it makes sense to display a 3D object in 3D to provide a sense of depth for the model. I can remember many meetings, where people get confused which spot of the model the colleague actually means and simply pinpointing the location can prevent such misunderstandings, which are caused the 2D projection. Since no concept of editing such 3D CAE models exists yet, it is hard to tell how effective it would be for CAE preprocessing. In conclusion, it makes sense to use holograms for at least viewing CAE models, thus I’d welcome holographic postprocessors soon. Editing models for preprocessing is still open for discussion, since no real concept exists yet. Beating the productivity of a screen will definitely be a tough challenge, but we engineers wouldn’t love our job if it was easy.

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