4D digital prototypes that will have texture and weight...
VR technology can be thought of as the next step that brings us from 1D data such as text and numbers through 2D drawings and 3D solid models to 4D digital prototypes that eventually will have texture and weight and be able to be held in one's hand.
Using VR 4D models has the potential of reducing the number of prototypes and engineering change orders generated during the product life cycle. This could save companies and substantial amount of time and money.
Another positive effect, is that VR can be used to promote concurrent engineering or to allow non-engineers to be able to contribute to the design process.
Current technology exists as photorealistic rendering programs, animation software, and walk-through programs that display CAD models stereoscopically to users with 3D glasses. These models allow for a less ambiguous view of a design than a 3D solid model does. In addition, photorealistic rendering allows you to visually analyze surfaces and see how a product will look in the environment in which it will be placed.
These tools are now already readily available. Four components play toward this capability such as: digital product and process modeling, product information management, computing and communications, and organizational and process change.
Product and process definition is the capability to design both the product and the process in a digital form allowing a product to exist before it is produced.
It is interesting to imagine how the metaverse will blur the line between the digital and physical worlds.