A nifty application showcased here at SolidWorks World 2011 (SWW 2011) in San Antonio, Texas, reminded me a lot of Second Life in that you have your own avatar and can enter a virtual environment with other avatars from anywhere in the world. Except the “Ultimate CAD chair” went much further to create a lifelike online "showroom." The gantry-based system is controlled by an iPhone. Bernard Charles (the CEO of Dassault Systemes, parent company to SolidWorks) had his own avatar (neatly dressed in a sharp suit) as did SolidWorks engineer Jeremy Luchini (he has a bald head and was dressed in a sloppy t-shirt and jeans). A female designer located in China joined them in the room to check-out the chair design. Each avatar could operate the lifelike-looking iPhone control.
So my eye was also caught by what WolfVision Inc. calls its Ceiling Visualizer, which hook-ups to a projector, monitor, or videoconferencing system. Just place an object in the lighted portion of the working surface and the device displays the magnified and illuminated object in high resolution onscreen. The device even illuminates hollow or complex 3D objects with no need to adjust the light. Andrea Mayer of the company explains its operation in this video: