The Virtual Chocolate Factory:Mixed Reality Industrial Collaboration and Control

Abstract

We will exhibit several aspects of a complex mixed reality system that we have built and deployed in a real-world factory setting. In our system, virtual worlds, augmented realities, and mobile applications are all fed from the same infrastructure. In collaboration with TCHO, a chocolate maker in San Francisco, we built a virtual “mirror” world of a real-world chocolate factory and its processes. Sensor data is imported into the multi-user 3D environment from hundreds of sensors on the factory floor. The resulting virtual factory is used for simulation, visualization, and collaboration, using a set of interlinked, real-time layers of information. Another part of our infrastructure is designed to support appropriate industrial uses for mobile devices such as cell phones and tablet computers. We deployed this system at the real-world factory in 2009, and it is now is daily use there. By simultaneously developing mobile, virtual, and web-based display and collaboration environments, we aimed to create an infrastructure that did not skew toward one type of application but that could serve many at once, interchangeably. Through this mixture of mobile, social, mixed and virtual technologies, we hope to create systems for enhanced collaboration in industrial settings between physically remote people and places, such as factories in China with managers in the US.