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Laval Virtual was a chance to see the very latest VR/AR tech in one show

Laval Virtual. Image: Tom Lansford.
3 minute read
Laval Virtual. Image: Tom Lansford.

For the 23rd time, VR & AR experts came together in Laval. This year Laval Virtual was a hybrid event – both live and online. As Europe’s first and prominent VR/AR trade show, Laval Virtual deserves the attention of anyone working in, researching, or studying virtual and augmented reality.

The event had meat. 300 exhibitors and 150 speakers representing 50 countries are present online and in the 9000 square meter event hall. The trade show historically draws key actors as well as innovative start-ups in virtual and augmented reality.

This year was no different. 

Laval Virtual – VR for industry

Laval Virtual addresses industrial, educational, and consumer VR. None-the-less, the show floor for the professional days is packed with goodies for industrial VR/AR users.

Do you need a high-end XR HMD? You’ll find multiple options. Are you planning to use VR/AR for training or safety analysis? No problem. How about a high-performance tracking system for a production line? Easy. Oh, and what about top-of-the-line workstations and GPUs? Of course.

On the workstation front, two players stand out. HP is a favorite supplier of multinational companies, and CARRI Systems, on the other hand, is a French specialist in workstations and servers.  

The NVIDIA RTX A6000 from PNY
Weapon of choice: The NVIDIA RTX A6000 from PNY drives many VR workstations.

For graphics hardware, PNY presented their high-end NVIDIA professional graphics solutions. Along with PNY was a European newcomer, the American workstation specialist, Silverdraft.

For their part, PNY had the latest Ampere RTX architecture products on display including the 48GB RTX A6000 GPU. Silverdraft demonstrated their workstation cooling prowess with the Demon liquid-cooled system. 

HP's Reverb Omnisenct Edition
Mimbus used HP's Reverb Omnisenct Edition to demonstrate their industrial training solution.

Solution specialists abound at Laval Virtual. Immersion is a French technology company that glues together VR technologies in order to provide unique solutions to problems that customers face.

One such product, Shariing, has been developed over the years as a collaboration tool. In our pre-COVID world, Shariing connected multiple conference rooms and provided a rich toolset for collaborative work.

With the onset of COVID and working from home, the company added a web version and a VR client. These additions extend the rich conference room to conference room collaboration. The new features enable full participation in Shariing’s rich, collaborative environment for remote workers. 

HP partnered with Immersion at Laval. Multiple HP Z workstations were present in the booth as was the HP VR HMD, the HP Reverb G2 Omnicept. I had the chance to test the HMD in the Immersion booth with a training demonstration from Mimbus using a 17-inch ZBook mobile workstation.

CARRI Systems presented their new Desktop Online service. Purchase your CARRI workstation and let CARRI host it. Then the company adds a high-performance connectivity solution. The connectivity solution is provided by their French partner, Scalable Graphics. 

Immersion showed updates to their "Shariing" product.
Immersion showed updates to their "Shariing" product.
ART developed a tiny optical tracker that tracks at 500 Hz.

Getting on track with VR and AR

Tracking is critical in AR and VR. ART (Advanced Realtime Tracking) have been known for its optical tracking solutions for VR for over 20 years. The company showed a recent advancement in this product line, the ARTTRACK6/M.

It is a remarkably small, high performance optical tracking device. It can track with a performance reaching 500 Hz which enables accurate, low latency tracking of fast-moving objects. It is small, too. At 100 mm by 30 mm, it can fit in tight spaces such as product mockups in automotive or aviation.

The company has extended tracking technology to track objects in manufacturing and it can do so without markers. The system uses machine learning for rapid object recognition. This enables accurate, realtime tracking during production. 

Medical treatment using VR

It’s not the same kind of training as industrial training, but Virtualis is a French company that applies VR technology to physical rehabilitation – both in the evaluation and in the treatment of patients.

The founder, Franck Assaban, is a physiotherapist and had the idea to use virtual reality technology to treat many of the problems his patients faced.

The solutions range from a standard configuration with an HMD and controllers to an amusement park styled platform for rehabilitating and improving balance and equilibrium.  

Virtualis uses VR to diagnose and treat patients
Virtualis uses VR to diagnose and treat patients.

A Final Perspective

The 2021 edition of Laval Virtual was a hybrid event – online and in-person. While some companies were not able to attend in-person due to continuing COVID restrictions, Laval Virtual delivered that familiar level of expertise in AR and VR. The ability to see the newest developments in augmented and virtual reality technologies was refreshing. 

Tags: VR & AR News