I think that same level of realism is really coming into play for engineering applications now thanks to a lot of the inroads made by photorealistic games. Seeing the CFD results of a air flow or water flow within the context of a realistic-looking product and against the backdrop of the environment the product lives in really changes the game and makes simulation not only more compelling, but better suited for identifying design flaws that non-CFD experts can actually understand.
Beth, your article hits an important point – the blend between accuracy of simulation, ease-of-use and quality of graphics.Enabling more realistic graphics has long been the rallying-cry for the gaming Industry, but has often been a less important driver in engineering graphics.But how much more important are accurate graphics in an engineering simulation compared to a game-?To me, accurate graphical representation is not only important for clarity during layout & design but also absolutely essential in the analysis results. Outputs are sharpened and honed with improved graphics.The design engineer can visually see results-anomalies they otherwise may have over-looked.
Beth: Would these visual capabilities benefit an aerodynamics engineer who's employing CFD to study the stresses on an airplane wing or fuselage? Or do they already have those kinds of capabilities in their CFD programs?
Naperlou: I think you are referring to the whole trend around the "consumerization of IT" or consumer-led devices and software driving the kinds of capabilities and functionality business users (in this case, engineers) expect to see in their work tools today.
I have to agree with you on that front. In this particular example, it seems like the Flow Science technology almost offers a cross between gaming and Google Earth-type functionality, providing that realism and in-context perspective consumers are so accustomed to to CFD simulation.
It is interesting to see situations like this. All enterprise software vendors are now touting the heightened user expectations driven by consumer devices such as the iPhone. This is another, very interesting example, of an engineering code driven by the success of gaming programs. Whether they are run on a decicated console or a PC with a high end graphics card, games have come to reply on complex physics processing to get the realism that people have come to expect. This is another interesting cross-over inflexion point in that whole evolution.
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