7 Replies Latest reply on Jan 9, 2017 2:10 PM by Joseph Dunfee

    Oculus Rift support

    Gonzalo B



      I would like to know if anyone has considered developping Virtual Reality supprt for SolidWorks. I've been following the developpement of the Oculus Rift for a little while and the promise of true practical virtual reality is about to become a ...reality. Many reviews and opinions point towards that this is it and VR will deliver the promise that failed during the 90s. While it's being developped for gamers there are many applications that are spawning from the potential of the device. For example, with the current developpement kit people are using it to watch movies in a virtual cinema. I though it might be a big thing for CAD programs.


      As a longtime SolidWorks user i was immediately sold when I first lay hands on a space mouse. The new degrees of liberty made working with CAD models that much more dynamic and interesting. I think that going into VR would be just as great. Having a sense of scale sometimes can help you figure out potential problems in a design. Often my little CAD rendition, easily zoomed in and out will not give the full impression of the actual feel of the assembly once is fabricated.


      I have seen there is an augmented reality app for ipads that let you visualize on a real environement the size of a certain 3D object. So i believe they know the need is there because the though of making this app. It would be a lot better if it was to be truly immersive.


      By the way, I haven't done any research prior to asking this. Therefor i dont know if there are current options for a virtual reality head mount display for solid works.


      Anyways, if nobody has though about it then this query might help get the ball rolling, who knows


      Any info or opinions are welcome.



        • Re: Oculus Rift support
          Kevin Holmes

          I second this. I'm also a huge fan of the Space Mouse, it will only pried from my cold dead hands.


          However - I'd go further and say VR for 3D modelling will have a much larger impact on productivity than 3D mice. I know Solidworks supported 3D at one stage and it was dropped - but I really, really hope Dassault reconsiders.


          If Dassault don't someone else will. At that point I may have to consider switching - despite the loss of hard-won profficiency in Solidworks.

          • Re: Oculus Rift support
            Joseph Dunfee

            I have written in this forum before, under the topic of Fishtank VR. Also called desktop VR. The fishtank version is just a steroscopic monitor, and some sort of head-tracking system.  Many projectors are even able to do stereo with the addistion of a LCD shutter glasses. Head trackers are available in the form of a program called Freetrack that use a web cam and some LED markers.


            I experimented with this over 10 years ago, when AutoCAD's dwg viewer supported stereoscopic displays (though they later removed that feature).  In that case, I used a program that used a web cam and allowed you to move a mouse by moving your head.  To simulate the VR headtracking, I had to invert the input direction, hold the mouse button, and then initate the view rotation sphere.  It was interesting, but far too cumbersome for regular use.


            There are also low-cost haptic feedback devices, such as the $250 Falcon by Novint. I imagine it may be possible to write drivers to allow SolidWorks to allow you to move things around and even feel the freedom of movment.


            Here is something I think I first said perhaps a decade ago. VR takes about $2000 of hardware, plus about $100,000 of programming to write the code necessary to get the hardware to talk with any useful software.  I think I underestimated the cost of the programming.



            • Re: Oculus Rift support
              Joseph Dunfee

              I attended a VR enthusiast meeting, and heard about a program called VorpX.  www.vorpx.com.  It is a 3D driver that interfaces wiht Direct X drivers, to enable VR headsets in games that weren't specifically designed to work with it.


              Unfortunately, it is my understanding that SolidWorks uses the OpenGL interface with its video card, and not Direct X.  So, VorpX is not a solution. Though, on their forum there have been several comments about the possibility of adding support for OpenGL games in the future. I have no idea how to gauge its likelihood.  I searched to see if I could find any other similar drivers for OpenGL, but without success.


              I will add, that I got to experience an Oculus Rift last week, looking at a highly detailed model of a room.  I was surprised at how impressive it was, even with its fairly low resolution (half of a HD screen).  However, I doubt its usefulness on a machine with a lot of detailed parts to look at. Architecture, or other designs that are large enough to walk into, are probably good candidates for things like the Oculus Rift. But, I suspect that machines that can fit on your desktop is too small to benefit from it.  You really need the detail, and don't benefit from the immersion of an Oculus Rift.



              • Re: Oculus Rift support
                Iain Hendry

                I found this thread searching for the same thing.  I can't imagine how incredible it would be to delve into our machines and see them in a whole new way.  Would it be terribly difficult to implement?  I hope that this is a serious consideration in the future!

                  • Re: Oculus Rift support

                    As of SolidWorks 2017, there is still no interest from Sw to implement this. Anybody ever tried a 3D monitor and glasses from Nvidia ?

                      • Re: Oculus Rift support
                        Joseph Dunfee

                        Back over a decade ago, I had AutoCAD, and their viewer.  The viewer had a setting where you could activate the 3D ability on an Nvidia card. CRT displays were also common, so you could use a $50 set of shutter glasses to view 3D.  But, you could not use it in AutoCAD.  Later versions of their viewer even dropped the 3D setting.  Apparently user's just didn't care enough about that feature.


                        At the time I said, that you could, for very little investment of money for hardware, do VR in your CAD system  However, you also need to spend $100,000 in custom programming to get the two systems to talk to each other.  That still seems true today.


                        I just came across a small blog, CAD-VR – News and information about the use of Virtual Reality with CAD He mentions that SolidWorks Visualizer offers support for VR.  So, it is not integrated into SW, but has to use a separate program.  His blog describes a way to get models into the Unity game authoring program, but of course that involves an export/import process, and does not seem to be all that much different than how the Visualizer software would be used, with the exception of needing the export step.


                        Another web site indicates that eDrawings Pro has support for VR.  http://www.engineersrule.com/whats-new-solidworks-2017-edrawings/  - but of course, that is an extra purchase  So, from Dassault's viewport, VR is not a core function and is only reserved for those willing to pay for limited usefulness, since it can only give the ability to view VR using a separate program.