This paper discusses the properties of possible virtual prototyping systems using finite element analysis and reports on a prototype implementation of such a system in order to illustrate the concepts.
Virtual reality user interfaces will improve some existing applications and lead to new application domains. Several crucial points such as overall system architecture, speed and intuitivity of interaction, and visualization quality of results are identified and possible solutions are suggested. This includes a flexible virtual hand interaction with adjustable finger size. In particular a level of detail technique for finite element data based on element shape functions is presented which can greatly improve visualization quality as compared to common visualization approaches. This level of detail technique provides a flexible tool to adjust the exactness of visualization to rendering time (i.e., degree of interactivity) constrains. The concepts are currently being implemented within a testbed called VEIFEL (Virtual Environment Investigation of Finite ELement data). A report of this work and of resulting experiences is given.