Six years ago at Columbia University, augmented reality company Meta, now headquartered in Silicon Valley, got its start with the introduction of its first AR headset prototype. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign the next year, Meta participated in a seed accelerator program, and came out with the first see-through glasses that allowed wearers to move and intuitively manipulate 3D content. Not long after partnering with Shapeways for an AR Hackathon, the company introduced its Meta 1 Development Kit, followed up in 2016 with the Meta 2 Development Kit.
Augmented reality is sort of a cousin to 3D printing, because it offers an additional dimension to the 3D design process. A few months ago at SOLIDWORKS World, Meta and SOLIDWORKS announced an integration for SOLIDWORKS “Publish to Xtended Reality,” where a model can be exported from SOLIDWORKS to a custom version of a glTF open-source file format, and then viewed on Meta’s Viewer platform in the Meta 2 Development Kit headset.
The kit, which began shipping two years ago, lets users grab, move, and scale photorealistic 3D CAD files, allowing designers and engineers to evaluate and validate their designs within context, and sales and training professionals to create immersive experiences that help others better understand their products.This week at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, Meta’s CRO Joe Mikhail introduced the Meta Viewer Beta app for 3D CAD visualization, which is a public beta version of what Mikhail showcased at SWW 2018 as a private beta…but with a few additional enhancements and future functionalities, including collaboration and voice command. Meta Viewer Beta is designed to run on the Meta 2 headset, and lets users easily open and visualize AR-ready 3D CAD models, while keeping the model and design information integrity intact and lowering design information loss that typically happens when 3D CAD models are converted into AR-ready files.
The app can connect CAD models with their physical counterparts by giving users the power to quickly and easily share design visions before the physical design stage, which can reduce and improve the product design timeline.
“The Meta 2 headset and Meta Viewer Beta combination provides our customers with the most immersive, real-time visualization and interaction with 3D designs and models. Utilizing these products drastically changes the product development lifecycle by reducing costs and saving time through quick and easy collaboration,” said Mikhail. “The result is faster time-to-market and decreased customer acquisition cost.”
Meta Viewer Beta makes it possible for even non-technical users to view, and interact with, 3D CAD models in an AR environment. From salespeople to product designers, everyone in the product development chain can use the tool without needing any special skills, which also helps to lower the production timeline; it can also improve sales conversion and lower development costs.
Those who use the Meta Viewer Beta app can actually view supported CAD model formats in real-world 1:1 scale; this includes SolidWorks gITF, SLDASM, SLDPRT, STEP, STP, and Khronos gITF 2.0 files, though more types will later be supported in the app. This will allow all the members in the product design and review chain to be able to streamline the process for more efficiency, and lower customer acquisition costs.
Additional benefits include the ability to use one’s hand to perform basic interactions with the model, such as moving, rotating, or scaling an image, along with viewing and directly applying display states and animation to the app’s supported model formats. This includes materials and colors, animations like motion study and exploded view, and display states that “allow for different material and part configurations.”
The new Meta Viewer Beta app will soon be available for download.
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