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In the future of virtual reality, a digital twin “teleports” us anywhere in the world

In 2016, Finland along with the rest of the world went crazy about the augmented reality game Pokemon GO. For many, the game was their first glimpse to augmented reality. In addition, samples of augmented and virtual reality solutions have been showcased in recent years at expos and trade shows, where companies use AR and VR to promote their products.

Still, the first wave of AR and VR solutions are just a taster of what the technologies are capable of. According to Matti Pouhakka, Sales Director at FAKE, one of the key uses of VR solutions are training services.

“The trainer and trainees can be physically located in different places anywhere in the world. In the VR world, participants dive into a virtual environment designed for the training, such as a factory or ship that is highly similar to its real-world counterpart. In the VR environment, the trainer can demonstrate how a device or machine is serviced or assembled. The trainer is able to touch and grab the parts and replace or assemble them. The participants see and hear this in real-time, and can see each other in the VR world as so-called avatars,” Pouhakka explains.

In addition to its visual aspect, the soundscape of the virtual environment plays an important role. According to Pouhakka, the main distinction between VR solutions and traditional video conference systems is that regardless of the user’s device, the voices of participants in the virtual environment are heard at precisely the distance where their avatar is standing.

“This creates a tremendous experience in comparison with traditional solutions that offer no connection to the surrounding space,” Pouhakka says excitedly.

Cost savings, climate actions and better design

Training sessions and meetings held with VR technology naturally lower travel expenses, save time and reduce the environmental impact of travel. In addition to trainings, VR can be used to illustrate any incomplete product, device or building.

“From a computer screen, it is difficult for laypersons to visualise how a device or place will look once completed, no matter how high the quality of the illustrations. In virtual reality, however, aspects such as the height and depth of a space can be understood in a much more tangible way. This also simplifies various design processes: in shipbuilding, for example, there are numerous operators involved, and designs and designers are often not on the same page. This means making compromises, such as when original designs must be changed to add additional through holes. Production can be speeded up once it is clear to all parties what is possible to fit in a certain amount of space, for example.”

Digital twins develop with 5G technology

According to Pouhakka, the hype in VR technology at the moment is around “digital twins”. A digital twin can be used to travel anywhere in the world in virtual reality and witness the same things as in the real world.

“The digital twin can be used to see views such as the ocean from the bridge of a ship,” Pouhakka illustrates. “When the ship’s location is known, a real-time view from the bridge can be visualised in the digital twin and viewed with VR glasses from the head office, for example. Based on the time of day and weather report, the correct positions of the sun and moon, wave height, cloud formations and wind direction can be created in the virtual environment. The movements of other ships can also be visualised.”

According to Pouhakka, digital twins are already a reality today. However, 5G technology will open up new possibilities for VR solutions.

“With a high amount of real-time data, a faster bandwidth is also needed. 5G will help significantly in terms of the data that can be used for digital twins.”

“In the VR world, picture quality must be as precise and high-definition as possible. At the moment, a powerful gaming PC is required to run a sufficiently high picture quality, but with the use of 5G, this will also be possible on more lightweight devices. The fast connection in 5G makes it possible to render the image already in the cloud, which reduces the load required from the user device,” Pouhakka explains.

Rendering refers to the generation of images from a 3D model, for example. In the VR environment, this must be done 90 times each second to prevent the user from feeling nauseous and ensure that the experience is as lifelike as possible. For instance, when the user moves their head to face a different direction, the changing lighting conditions must be reflected.

“All in all, 5G offers possibilities for improving the experiences we create for users. As a result, we are also a part of the Telia 5G Finland network. We felt that Telia is the partner from whom we want obtain the latest information in order to keep up with the pace of development. In this community, we always have access to the best available data, and are also involved in producing new information together with other pioneering companies. We want to be among the first to work with new things,” Pouhakka sums up.

FAKE is a Finnish startup developing advanced VR solutions for businesses. The company has over 20 years of experience in producing commercials and films from 3D models, the same technologies as utilized in Virtual Reality solutions.

5G Finland is a network for businesses, organizations and startups to collaborate in innovating use cases for 5G. Read more and join us!

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