From animal anatomy to digital twinning and mining simulations, this Canadian company is bringing game development know-how to VR experiences
After meeting Charles Lavigne and Kevin Oke at the BCTECH Summit last month, we were enticed to visit their headquarters on the beautiful Island of Victoria and try out their latest VR demos. But it wasn’t just the prospect of the beautiful seaplane ride from Vancouver that hooked us. Rather, it was the fact that Oke and Lavigne, after working for over a decade in the video game industry with companies such as Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft, had applied there combined experience to found LlamaZOO and produce what sounded like an incredibly eclectic range of VR applications under the name.
MineLife VR, for example, manages to synthesize large, complex, and vast spatial data into a life-sized, interactive, VR experience. The platform fuses complex geospatial and mine planning data into an interactive, 1:1 scale virtual reality replica of the planned, current, and future states of a mine site.
“It enables mining companies’ engineers, executives, and external stakeholders to immerse themselves in a mine plan, and interact with it through all the years of its life cycle from any angle, whether thousands of feet up in the air, or down on the ground, virtually walking through the mine site,” explains Lavigne.
The mining VR tool is fantastically flexible and enables you to fly and move around an accurately mapped countryside while adding and removing layers of info like roads, waterways, mining trucks, current installations and geographic data. This allows you see the actual size and position of underground mineral deposits to enable the planning of surface infrastructure as well as below ground extraction techniques.
“By making this information easier and more efficient to access, transporting the data into high resolution 3D, and unifying it all into a seamless experience, it can be used in a variety of applications across community relations, resource management, mine planning and reclamation, and business development,” adds Oke.
The sheer scale of it felt extremely impressive, as was their management of the VR sickness factor as I flew into the air to drop down a mine hundreds of feet below. This was done via a nifty trick where as you flew around, your peripheral field-of-view moved in and blacked out a little, much like blinkers on a horse. It worked surprisingly well.
Key to this functionality is the concept of 3D “digital twinning” which turns a companies existing data into a remotely accessible, real-time visualization. Digital twins are ideal for overseeing and optimizing machine, equipment, personnel, and site-wide operations. With Clarity 3D, LlamaZoo can provide a wide range of their mining clients with centralized real-time tracking of equipment and vehicle positioning, health, and productivity, as well as planned vs. actual dig progress.
“They can avoid unplanned maintenance by remotely monitoring machine and equipment health and data and gain centralized data oversight by integrating any number of datasets into one centralized interface,” says Oke. The platform enables users to visualize the digital twin’s real-time and historic data, drill-down for detailed information on any part, machine, or process, and provide immersive cost-saving training.”
But as a pet owner the most fascinating experience they showed off was EasyAnatomy, an award-winning 3D canine anatomy study & reference app powered by Apple’s ARKit platform. Built in partnership with leading universities and anatomists using MRI and CT data as source files, the experience features incredibly accurate and complete 3D canine anatomy linked to over 750 adaptive quiz questions. It has so far been adopted by veterinary students, professors, and professionals in over 120 countries.
“While textbooks present anatomical structures in 2D images, the VR app enables users to visualize the anatomy in lifelike 3D. EasyAnatomy enables endlessly repeatable dissection practice unlike cadaver dissection, which is complicated by ethical challenges, significant costs to universities, and limits students’ opportunities for study,” explains Lavigne.
The veterinary app has been so successful, in fact, that the company is now working on a human anatomy version. As more medical schools continue to embrace immersive training in recognition of its greater effectiveness, especially in fields such as surgery and healthcare training, there’s no doubt the complex application will prove most useful in the coming years.
Image Credit: Llama Zoo