HYPER, the London-based startup born from the EIT Digital-supported “HyperCRC” innovation activity, has launched a spatial design platform that fuses virtual reality with real, motion-tracked models, enabling companies and clients to physically experience their visions.
HYPER will help them save time and money, while drastically reducing waste during the prototyping design phase.
The team are being mentored by no less than Virgin Galactic through workshops and testing of HYPER demonstrators; aspirationally, the startup’s mixed reality co-design platform could even be used to help design future spaceports.
HYPER has already demonstrated capability and successfully supported Thales Group, a French multinational company, at a customer day, showcasing leading edge technology that could be used in the evolution of the group’s world leading Maritime Autonomy Centre in Plymouth.
Thales designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for the aerospace, defence, transportation and security markets and has a large footprint in the UK.
It’s the unique blend of virtual and physical experience that makes HYPER’s design platform so attractive. The standard design package allows customers to switch between 40 materials and customise four objects, within four immersive 3D environments.
Materials and object customisation are experienced through touching physical samples and surfaces, while objects can be moved physically around the environment.
At the EIT Digital Conference in Brussels earlier this month, a demo of the mixed reality, co-design tool attracted dozens of curious technology enthusiasts to HYPER’s booth.
Sitting on a real airplane seat, users wore a headset to interact with a VR-immersive environment simulating the fuselage of an airplane. They could touch the seat in front of them, unfold the tray table to reveal a hidden control interface, move the seat, and perform other physical actions. Mixed reality programming translated these gestures into changes in the virtual scene.
For instance, by touching the different kinds of upholstery on the seat in front, the ‘patch selector’ would allow attendees to see a change in the colour or the material of the chair itself. These changes are replicated on all chairs in the aircraft cabin.
By using the virtual controls, users were able to switch the virtual environment lighting from daylight to night-time, modify the armrest measurements to test different options for ergonomics and comfort and see at once how these changes would affect the overall design in terms of space allocation and cost.
You may think it looks like magic, and indeed it does. The beauty of HYPER however, lies not only in combining VR with real world physicality, but also in giving clients the opportunity to collaborate and co-design remotely.
Customers and developers can participate remotely as VR spectators to a review session, record how people interact within the virtual space and test users in simulated customer retail modes.
By allowing participants to dial in from around the world, the platform also reduces the need for inefficient physical meetings and halves the time and effort cost of designing complex interiors, so reducing the time to market. Hyper also has the powerful benefit of interfacing real-time with a customer's CAD, so any changes made are instantly updated.
“HYPER opens new senses to the immersive design process. We can now 3D print mock versions of complex interiors and use them to make important choices for the retail, automotive and space travel experiences of tomorrow. Digitally enhanced retail spaces, self-driving car interiors and aerospace simulations can now be designed and hyper customised for customers and clients, using HYPER,” the startup’s co-founders Nathan Sparshott, Gareth Southall and Yates Buckley say.
Partners of the HYPERCRC initiative, launched by EIT Digital as part of the Digital Industry focus area, include Digital Catapult (activity leader and concept development), UNIT9 (for design production and prototyping), Viewport Studio (interior and experience design), Apptension (software development).