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Rhymu: A Virtual Project Space for Location-Independent Workshops

Project meetings and innovation workshops nowadays either take place in person or virtually through video calls. While in-person meetings can involve significant travel, the attention of participants in video calls is often limited. The research project "Virtual Project Spaces – Conducting Location-Independent Project and Innovation Workshops in Virtual Reality" combines the advantages of in-person meetings with those of location-independent video calls.

The "RhyMu Multi-User Project Room" is the centerpiece of the project. While specially developed software runs in the background, workshop participants gather in the virtual room regardless of their physical location.

Participants enter the virtual space using VR goggles, which resembles a conventional seminar room with various elements, including a virtual whiteboard, a training area, and a feedback wall.

RhyMu has already been successfully used in RhySearch events and meetings with regional and international project partners. Based on feedback, RhyMu is currently being further developed and will be introduced to a larger circle of regional industry companies. There is also consideration of introducing the concept of a VR-supported workshop format and making the "RhyMu Multi-User Project Room" accessible to schools and educational institutions through an open-source model. This would simplify international projects, reduce travel costs, and save CO2 emissions.

Overall, the research project offers the opportunity to combine the benefits of in-person meetings and virtual meetings, creating more efficient and environmentally friendly collaboration options for projects and workshops.


Digital Twin for the Manufacturing Industry

In the innovation project "Virtual Reality Extension for Digital Twins of Machine Tools (VREX-DTMT)," ETH Zurich, industrial partners Siemens, Reishauer, and VR startup Sensoryx, along with RhySearch, collaborate to develop a digital twin for machine tools.

Digital twins, which virtually represent processes, products, and machines, offer new value creation opportunities, particularly in the manufacturing sector. With support from Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Promotion Agency, which provides nearly CHF 460,000 in funding, this project aims to unlock these potentials for the Swiss machine tool industry. The project not only increases the maturity of digital twins in the machinery industry but also examines specific benefits through collision avoidance and training for service technicians.

Manufacturing complex geometries on machine tools requires careful selection of tools and equipment. However, increasingly compact machine tools mean that active components are closer together, increasing the risk of collisions that can lead to machine damage. Current simulation tools reduce this risk, but new manufacturing processes still need to be manually fine-tuned at a slow pace. The digital twin being developed in the project simulates the entire manufacturing process before production starts. This is expected to not only completely avoid collisions but also significantly simplify and shorten the laborious process of introducing new processes.

The second use case, based on the aforementioned digital twin, focuses on training for service technicians. Currently, maintenance and repair processes, which are typical tasks for service technicians, are trained on real machine tools. This means that a technician often has to travel to a training center located thousands of kilometers away, and operational machines must be disassembled and reassembled for training purposes. With the digital twin, which not only looks like the real machine but also has the same functionality, the high opportunity costs of current training can be drastically reduced. Service technicians can conduct location and time-independent training using VR goggles.

The implementation partners expect the project's results to yield not only competitive and cost advantages but also energy savings, as the energy consumption of the digital twin is negligible compared to a real machine tool.

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