Manufacturing and Technology

Light booth compares digital and physical product samples

March 31, 2017
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X-Rite Virtual Light Booth VRB
A simulated sneaker is shown on the Virtual Light Booth's display beside a physical sample of the sneaker. Courtesy X-Rite

The color-management company X-Rite has launched a product for comparing 3D digital renderings next to physical samples.

Grand Rapids-based X-Rite and Pantone, its subsidiary, said this month it launched the Virtual Light Booth, or VLB, to allow designers, material suppliers and marketers to “accurately and efficiently” visualize and compare the samples in an environment that “controls all parameters influencing the perception of appearance.”

X-Rite introduced the VLB this month at the Autodesk Automotive Innovation Forum in Munich, Germany.

The VLB combines the X-Rite’s SpectraLight QC professional light-booth technology with a high-resolution, color-calibrated LCD display and a real-time “color-management engine.”

A digital material rendering or product simulation is shown on the VLB’s display next to the physical sample. This enables users to view both the virtual and physical samples under controlled daylight conditions in a standardized visual observation environment. 

Users can view samples under diffuse or spot light sources.

Combining embedded motion-tracking sensors, spectrophotometers and colorimeters, along with the synchronization of real-time rendering technology, the VLB delivers a 3D virtual experience that mimics real-life by adjusting the virtual representation as a person’s viewing angle changes.

X-Rite said this is especially important when evaluating materials that use special-effect pigments, whose color and appearance change based on the viewing angle.

Part of the company’s Total Appearance Capture, or TAC, ecosystem, X-Rite said the VLB ensures a “new level of consistency” between digital prototypes and final physical products.

“This helps companies reduce approval cycles and accelerate time to market,” the company said.

As companies transition to digital manufacturing processes, there’s a growing need for "physically precise virtual designs" that represent the true appearance of the final product, according to X-Rite.

To date, X-Rite said CAD and rendering software solutions have been limited in their ability to visualize physical appearance characteristics, such as texture, gloss, transparency and opacity.

“We have taken the complex process of virtual evaluation and developed a turnkey solution that can be used across any design-to-production workflow,” said Dr. Francis Lamy, EVP and chief technology officer, X-Rite.

He said customers don’t have to "worry about" color calibration, lighting or viewing angles, because the VLB incorporates them, so customers can “quickly and accurately” evaluate virtual and physical materials.

“VLB allows product teams to compare digital and physical materials under the exact same perceptual conditions — from illumination to contextual, to observational factors,” Lamy said. “Design teams can easily vary these conditions to see changes in material performance. As a result, designers can make more informed material selections and reduce approval times and improve product quality.”

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