World leaders try out VR

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For anyone who has been ignoring virtual reality as just another techie fad, there was a wakeup call last week. None other than the leaders of two the world’s largest economies took time to experience virtual reality for themselves. And in doing so they also learned about the application of virtual reality technology in automating processes.

US President, Barack Obama and Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel had a first-hand VR experience while visiting the ifm electronic exhibit at Hannover Messe, the world's largest industrial trade fair that takes place in Hannover, Germany each year.

Michael Marhofer, CEO and owner of ifm electronic, welcomed President Obama and Chancellor Merkel and explained ifm’s role in developing products and solutions that make a significant impact in the new industrial revolution. Factory 4.0 products from ifm allow mass customization in manufacturing by using a higher level of automation, better quality control, and improved cost efficiencies.

Bernd Buxbaum of pmd technologies, ifm electronic’s sister company, demonstrated a 3D virtual reality camera to President Obama and Chancellor Merkel to illustrate how the technology in ifm’s 3D Smart Sensor enables automated machines to perceive their environment in 3D with human-like vision and the impact on industrial automation and robotics.

Upon looking through the virtual reality camera, an impressed President Obama handed the camera to Chancellor Merkel, and while shaking her hand in the camera’s 3D viewer, he proclaimed, “It’s a brave new world.”

Perhaps more important than the excitement of a first VR experience is the applied use of VR technology for industrial automation, which the two leaders learned about at the ifm exhibit.

The same 3D technology demonstrated to the two world leaders at Hannover Messe is used in ifm’s O3D Smart Sensor for industrial automation applications which was introduced at the trade show. The O3D Smart Sensor incorporates special technology that quickly and accurately measures the distance of 23,232 points within its field of view. These points of data are then used to simplify complex applications used in packaging, material handling and robotic applications.

The O3D Smart Sensor includes two “pre-built” applications: Case Completeness and Box Dimensioning. The Case Completeness application can verify that a case contains all necessary products. The Box Dimensioning application help distribution centres to better maximise storage space.