Application of Virtual Simulation Technology on the Practical Teaching Platform for Furniture Design



Wang Zheng Zheng


Shaoxing University Yuanpei College

No 2799,Qunxian Road

Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province,China






Under the background of University-Industry Cooperation[1], colleges and universities can combine furniture design course teaching content and training objective, the virtual simulation technology is applied to the furniture design practice teaching platform, which can make the students realize 3D visualization[2] of simulation furniture and real-time interaction virtual objects in the process of project design. The students can accurately grasp the furniture product design effect and the furniture assessors or customer take an active part in immersive with the Virtual products Based on Real-Time 3D Modeling[3], which can also help the students improve and confirm the real-time 3D modeling and the final product Structure. The virtual techniques of Interactive 3D design and product exhibition can help enterprises save consumables, avoid the waste in the test progress and improve order success rate in certain degree.


Keywords-component; Application; virtual simulation; furniture design; teaching (key words)


1. Introduction


Virtual Simulation Technology is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment (image), that simulates human multiple sensory systems, including visual, tactile and force sensing etc. There are Augmented Reality (AR) that the real-world is "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information, or Virtual Reality (VR) that the real objects are placed in a virtual environment. The interaction between virtual and real environment can bring a strong sense of realism and on-the-spot experience to audience. The three - dimensional matching technology, by combination of factual information and real-time interactive, has good application prospect in many areas, such as television and movie industry, game development, real estate advertising, medicinal health, industry manufacturing, higher education, tourism, emergency maneuver, and military aerospace etc.


2. Problems in the traditional practical teaching platform in colleges for furniture design


As a professional curriculum of creative design with the need for experimental practical operation, furniture design mainly involves many critical contents: furniture function category, computer-aided design, ergonomics, furniture material and process, plastic art, color matching, structure design, environmental and spatial relation, design process management, design evaluation system, and so on.

On one side, students should understand the relation between users and furniture, i.e. the effect of human physiology and emotional needs on furniture design, and the relation between furniture product and spatial living environment. Thus, cultivating empathy and practical awareness of experiencing environment is needed; on the other side, furniture structure and its manufacturing process need strengthened memorizing and understanding through practice. Traditional teaching approach which mainly relies on lecturing by teachers or multimedia could not meet the expected theoretical teaching aims. Meanwhile, traditional teaching system could not demonstrate the evaluation on feasibility of design scheme or operability of industrial manufacture for design outcomes, and then could not meet the expected practical teaching aims.

In order to meet the teaching demand for indoor furniture design talents, it is needed to improve practical and innovative design ability of students by using experimental teaching base and a large amount of practical teaching equipment. However, it is very difficult to purchase a complete supporting facility as there are limitation of floor area, investment cost, capital and teaching area. Consequently, students can only learn basic theoretical curriculums, only understand superficial words and pictures of materials, process, modelling, human and machine, and environment. The design outcomes of students can only stay on the drawings or concept design, which is not in line with practical production. The distance between students and vocational skills requirements has been increased. The social need for innovative talents could not be met. Therefore, colleges try to integrate enterprise resources into teaching system, and use workshops or manufacturing facilities of enterprise to complete practical teaching. But the teaching schedule for furniture design is fixed and limited, which often does not match the flexibility of enterprise project schedule. Teaching process and rules could be disturbed and changed by the intervention of enterprise due to the restriction of mentality for industrial interests. As a result, it brings difficulties and obstacles for the implementation of practical teaching for furniture design.


3. Advantages of application of Virtual Simulation Technology in practical teaching for furniture design.


With the advent of virtual simulation technology, it can be effectively introduced into the practical teaching for furniture design and indoor design to improve teaching level and promote upgrade of the teaching system.


3.1. Improve safety of the practical teaching


During the study process of material application and molding process for furniture design, students have to frequently use mechanical production equipment and experimental tools. There are safety risks in misuse or malfunction of equipment. Virtual simulation technology can help students to avoid the use of high-power, high-risk, hard-to-operate equipment to protect teachers and students and reduce accidents.


3.2. Save consumables and avoid waste

In the teaching practice of furniture design using virtual simulation technology, students can use three dimensional software to establish furniture model without using real materials, select and render materials through render software, test furniture material, process, structure, functions repeatedly and compare the results through visual environment and human simulation, and complete final design under visual status. Then, use real materials to prepare the experimental project. The whole process can effectively reduce cost, avoid waste and save development cost.



3.3. Three-dimensional visual experience and real-time interaction


During the process of simulation design, students can use three-dimensional visualized technology to establish real-time three-dimensional model, visual scenes and material rendering. A series of interactions to observe and edit model structure, surface texture, and spatial scene effect can be conducted under visual environment. Moreover, simulation environment can be established through sensor or television merge software to experience all design elements, including visual sense, texture, form, structure, function and use method etc. The design effect can be observed and monitored at any time. The design efficiency can be improved.


3.4. Enhance the effect of visualized display of design results


During the R&D or visualized design process for contracted project from enterprise, Virtual Simulation Technology teaching platform breaks the limitation of time and location. The design resource and results can be shared by both sides. There is no need to prepare real thing. Design achievements in stages can be presented three-dimensionally to contractor using visual 3D technology without the need to prepare real objects. More details of the design can be viewed clearly. Reasonable and objective evaluation opinion of design can be raised more quickly. The interaction between college and enterprise can be strengthened. The workload for 3D model establishment and rendering can be reduced significantly.


3.5. Reversible revision of design results


For traditional practical design, the space for revision is very limited once error happens. Comparably, virtual simulation technology has the advantage of reversibility. On furniture design experiment, the step with observed issue can be returned and revised by computer software. It can save time and cost for design effect experiment for large furniture material preparation and complicated design.


4. Application strategy of Virtual Simulation Technology in practical teaching platform for furniture design.


Personalized customization is now focused by market for furniture. College teaching system should reform and innovate to meet market demands to let students to pay attention to customization for client during practical design, meanwhile, guide client to experience immersive interaction of product on the virtual simulation technology platform. Students can improve and optimize design scheme according to the results of their experience and go to factory for production after several experience qualifications. Under the background of integration of production and teaching, college should introduce virtual simulation technology into furniture design practical teaching platform to develop 3D contents and realize the demand for customization, according to reasonable application process and strategy management. This application strategy for virtual simulation technology not only cultivates expertise for professional talents of furniture design in college, but also, to some extent, help enterprise to reduce cost of design and production, and increase probability of success for purchasing orders.


4.1. Carry out design adjustment with introduction of 3D data into software


According to design need, seamlessly connect to 3D model establishing software technology platform, for example, Maya, Rhino, 3ds Max, PROE, UG, SolidWorks etc. Export general model format, fbx, dae, 3ds, obj, stl from the furniture design model (including structure, modelling, color, size and material) established by a 3D application program. Then, import them into the editor of virtual simulation software. The editor includes Unity3D and DVS3D etc. Data integrity should be maintained during reading and optimize data volume efficiently


4.2. Environment match and real-time render for imported 3D data


Students can preset a visualized scene with a Unity3D, DVS3D or other visual reality software according to real scene conditions for furniture. This 3D visual environment can provide sensory attributes, such as background, floor, lights, weather, and space in the real environment. Then, present the imported three-dimensional furniture model and interact. Students can measure and analyze each part and reconstruct design data including furniture material, color, size etc. and edit texture mapping, optimize 3D design model and match and integrate the whole design results with visual simulation scene to test if the ideal design effect can be reached.


4.3. Conduct 3D immersive and realistic interaction experience


After rendering, students can interact with designed furniture model in visual simulation environment using VR sensory device which simulates human sensory, such as visual, tactile and auditory. Visually inspect design parts, assembly effect and production simulation when dismantling, moving, hiding or adding parts through visual device. The presentation effect on furniture product is optimized.


4.4. Visual results presentation and scheme evaluation


After completion of design results, students should present them to evaluator or client. Students can use visual 3D technology to present design results at stages and guide them to visual experience. Then, complete feasibility evaluation on design scheme according to comments from designer and demander. Finally, perform reversible revision on design parameters through 3D software and confirm the production scheme for real objects.


4.5. Produce real object in workshop


After evaluation on feasibility of visual scheme, students can go into to factory or workshop for production. Teachers can guide, arrange and monitor implementation of teaching for furniture design practical project. Both college and enterprise can interact and feedback on teaching effect of the whole curriculum. It can promote the practical teaching platform for practical furniture design talents to be upgraded and improved.

If college has teaching equipment platform with augment reality or similar effect, students can integrate the designed furniture object with visual special environment, including background, floor, building, lights and sky, using augment reality or mixed reality technology. Simulate user’s status and behavior feedback. Edit and optimize design scheme on visual simulation platform.


4.6. Guide students to prepare visual assembly instructions for furniture product


In order to let contractor to understand furniture material source, structure characteristics, preparation process and brand visual identification information, students can prepare assembly or use instructions for furniture using simulation platform technology to complete the whole design project.


5. Conclusion


The application of visual simulation technology in practical teaching for indoor design and furniture design has become a trend. Through education system reform, furniture design visual simulation practice teaching platform can effectively integrate the up-to-date simulation technology, visual reality and augment reality, with furniture design teaching system, continuously enrich furniture design experimental content and teaching methods. Especially, enhance the cooperation between college and enterprise. Optimize experiment practice teaching system. Improve students design R&D practice ability and they can really benefit from the teaching reform. It can help to cultivate professional design talents who can meet the social practical need.




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[3] Shujun Zhang,  Wan Ching Ho, “Tele-Immersive Interaction with Intelligent Virtual Agents Based on Real-Time 3D Modeling,Journal of Multimedia, vol.7 (1), pp.57-65,2012.