Virtual Reality to Aid CXOs

by Sonal Desai    Nov 14, 2008

Basically, a decision making tool, the virtual reality centers are now being used by the automotive and defense, as also various museums across India. The centers have attracted attention of CXOs in the healthcare segment, said M.M Prasad, general manager and head-India Business, Systems Integration Services, Tata Elxsi.

A lot of people are involved at various stages before a product is actually launched in the market. For example, in the auto industry, an image is created, data is stored, and the image is then converted into 3D and circulated among the stake holders. Compared to past when people had to fly from distant places for meetings to discuss changes in design or other technicalities, virtual reality is enabling a lot of industries cut down on the travel cost.

It enables a virtual touch and feel effect among stake holders. Senors are used to enable the experience. For that, an enterprise has to set up virtual reality centers at various sites, or alternately, employees can view the changes on their computer screens.

So how is it different from the tele presence and video conferencing concepts? Said Prasad, You do not need any additional infrastructure. The data in VRs is used for decision reviews, and the products are also offered for a touch and feel, which gives the stake holder a real life experience. An example of the use of VR is its use in health care.”

The human body is zoomed in a 3D position. The surgeon conducts a surgery in a virtual mode, and then enters the actual operation theatre. It is the same as getting practical training before entering into a new venture. However, the concept is yet to gain traction in the healthcare segment in India. It has kicked-off with the automotive and defence verticals.

Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have already established the VR centers. Abroad, auto majors such as Honda are using the concept to cut costs.

In defense, the concept is to train airforce pilots. Trainers use satellite data to enable pilots fly on real terrains, and target practice. The centers is used for ship building (design), submarine data (show and avalanche department in Chandigrah), and by the aeronautical agency in New Delhi, at present.

Curators from museums and forts have also shown a lot of interest in the technology. For example, the Golconda in Hyderabad and the Red Fort in Delhi can be recreated, and the VR centers can rebuild the events around their history, etc. A VR center is also being set up by the Science City in Kolkata.

Prasad said that the technology and the concept will find a lot more traction in India, since the cost of building a VR center has reduced to about Rs 25-30 lakh as against Rs four crore a decade ago.

“We want to popularize it, and are investing in developing skill sets. As of today, the virtual reality market is very small and stands close to Rs 10 crore -Rs 15 crore. But there will be an explosion in the next two years. Besides the automotive and defence labs, the VR centers will be used by oil and gas (control room), science labs and a lot of R&D centers. It will gradually penetrate other sectors.”