A Virtual Reality app for designing wind engines

user-centered design
design strategy
virtual reality
renewable energy

The challenge

Develop a Virtual Reality app that helps engineers design offshore wind engines in a more efficient and collaborative way. The goal is to enable engineers to immersive themselves in a virtual environment where they can “preview”, inspect, annotate and optimise wind engine designs.

Currently the process for designing wind engines is very time-consuming, inefficient and complex. Engineers are using construction plans on paper which are annotated by hand and then discussed in meetings. This is not ideal for several reasons: Firstly, It's quite difficult for engineers to visualise the design of a wind engine based on abstract 2D construction plans. Secondly, there's no possibility to quickly try out different design options in an interactive way to check which works best. Thirdly, working with paper plans is quite cumbersome and outdated. For these reasons The Garage partnered with the energy provider innogy to develop a new Virtual Reality solution that improves the design process of wind engines.

Re-inventing the wind engine design process

VRenewables is a new immersive VR tool that completely re-invents the way wind engines are designed. It enables engineers to import 3D models of wind engines into a virtual environment and virtually “step inside” the models. This provides huge benefits for engineers, as they can more easily inspect and assess the models, interact with them and test out new design options efficiently in real-time, and generally get a better understanding of the spatial conditions and the design. In addition, engineers can annotate the models by way of a speech-to-text system and share the annotations with colleagues. This new approach revolutionises the process for designing wind engines, making it a lot more efficient, flexible and collaborative.

In-depth user research and & iterative design

In order to create our VR design tool, extensive design research was necessary. The key challenge was to get a deep understanding of the needs, requirements and pain-points of the wind engine engineers. These insights were vital in order build the right features & functionalities and optimise user experience. To this end we conducted in-depth interviews with wind engine engineers and analysed design processes and regulations.

The insights gathered formed the basis for the design concept of our VR app. In order to validate our solution, we followed an iterative design approach with frequent user tests. This user-centered design method allowed us to incrementally improve our design concept to achieve a very high degree of usability, utility and user satisfaction. The result is a VR solution that is truly transformative and drastically simplifies & streamlines the wind engine design process.

Promoting green energy by reducing costs

Green energy must be easily implemented and cost-effective in order to be a viable alternative. VRenewables leverages new immersive technologies to significantly reduce time and money spent on designing wind engines. Our new design tool makes the design process more efficient and helps reduce design mistakes. The VR environment makes it a lot easier for engineers to detect flaws and errors. This is extremely helpful because even minor design mistakes can entail huge costs and delays when they have to be fixed down the line. Additionally, VRenewables allows engineers to collaborate remotely, which speeds up the design process even more and reduces travel costs. By streamlining processes and driving down costs, VRenewables helps foster the adoption of wind energy as it becomes an economically more viable alternative.