Virtual Reality demonstration for local businesses

Local manufacturers were recently invited onto campus to discover how Virtual Reality can help them develop their business.

Keele University has been using the technology for a number of years as part of the Keele Active Virtual Environment (KAVE) – an immersive 3D-environment for clinical simulation which enables students to undertake scientific training and experience virtual patients in virtual hospital wards.

Organised by the University in partnership with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, local businesses were invited to don 3D glasses and experience this unique health training facility in order to prompt thoughts on how such technology could be used in their business.

Attendees were also shown how the University is using similar technology on a smaller scale, in the form of Augmented Reality, to demonstrate how comparable results can be created on a smaller budget using tablets and apps.

Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies are starting to revolutionise complex product development and production processes across the world.  It is an exciting area that is currently impacting many high-tech industry sectors, but is also increasingly filtering down the supply chain to SMEs too.  Companies are able to review, interact and immerse themselves with virtual prototypes, highlight manufacturing issues at earlier stages and project the digital product onto a real world background.

Benefits to industry include:

  • Improved product build quality
  • More efficient manufacturing
  • A reduction in the number of errors and levels of rework
  • Reduced risk
  • Cost savings

Neil Morrey, Production Manager at WWRD, attended the demonstration and commented: “I came here with an open mind and was impressed with what I saw.  There are many product development aspects that can be potentially improved with this type of technology and I look forward to seeing how its use can be developed further.”

Also speaking after the event, John Carr, Board Member of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is a great facility that Keele University have and I can see why the students and staff rate it so highly.  

“Looking beyond academia, I think these kinds of technologies can play a large role in a wide range of industries in the near future, whether it is to improve the manufacturing process or enhancing the way that training can be delivered.  I think that it is definitely something that can benefit businesses in Staffordshire, and I encourage our local businesses to consider how Virtual and Augmented Reality can be used within their organisations.”

The event, which was organised by the Directorate of Engagement and Partnerships in association with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, was well attended and is part of Keele’s ongoing relationship with the local business community.