Virtual reality (VR) is an established technology in certain sectors of industry. But because of the cost and effort involved, VR has so far mostly been used in large companies (e.g. the automotive industry). Today, hardware price trends coupled with the availability of new, easier-to-use equipment (economical powerwalls, autostereoscopic displays) are making VR increasingly attractive for smaller firms. Despite this, the considerable effort involved in providing the necessary data and, more importantly, the lack of integration with current development processes represents a continued barrier to widespread use which would allow companies to benefit from the excellent visualization quality and ease of handling in VR models. This article presents a process integration solution in which the VR component changes its position away from a visualization solution to the basic collaboration interface of a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) environment. This allows VR to be incorporated into a landscape of heterogeneous conventional 3D-CAD workstations and simulation applications. The solution takes the form of a multidirectional connection via the PLM system which makes it possible not only to process and display geometries but also to simulate movements and depict non-geometrical product information. This concept includes the use of gestures and tracked mobile devices to interact in the VR environment and to get additional information.

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