The new virtual reality design tool raises the communication between shipyard and customer to the next level. By the new design tool we can now combine our customer’s visions with our ship concepts and agile engineering tools to show how a new building will really look, before production has started.


A new design tool, “Oculus Rift” integrating 3D modelling, virtual reality (VR), user testing and gameplay mechanics within one platform was developed. Connection with the engineering model using the new virtual reality tool “Oculus Rift”, enabling communication between shipyard and customer to be raised to the next level. During a realistic 3D experience it is possible to walk in a 3D virtual environment and to interact with the model, for example by changing colors. With 3D experience it is easier to make decisions and to save money.

Oculus Rift

The ideal situation of providing a common platform for planning, design and simulation was reached by applying principles from the well-developed but new discipline of game design. The Oculus Rift, virtual reality headset development kit was released in 2013, and the 3D experience concept was included in the Oculus Rift development version. 3D experience concept using the “Oculus Rift” virtual reality headset was introduced at the Cruise Shipping Miami fairs in 2014.


Passenger ships are nowadays small, modern cities naturally connecting the latest technology, newest business models and recent design. As the ships gets ever complicated, the need for different professionals from different disciplines in the ship industry increases, Complicated passenger ship interior increases the need of realistic visualization and a design site that enables collaborative work of different experts in the ship industry. Our aim was to deliver a typical game design process workflow and toll for the needs of passenger ship GA and interior design, along with user testing.


The new tool enhances the understanding of design decisions by offering the ability to observe 3D ship models in real scale instead of the limited scale available through a 2D computer screen or projector. Exploring a 3D model in virtual reality improves the user testing as the design can be experienced in real-scale while the designer can actively communicate with the user and manipulate the environment according to given feedback.

The early phases of design process are improved as early ideas can be tested right away with the users through fly-off simulations and rapid prototyping. While virtual prototyping is cost efficient, it also provides a richer and more flexible design workflow for cross-disciplinary collaboration. In the future, education can also be realized in a truly cross disciplinary form, as students with different background are able to collaborate inside the same design site and reach a comprehensive understanding of design challenges. Additionally, ship design research (and others) can benefit from sophisticated user testing features which provide rich and detailed information about the user’s perceptions and behavior. 


Markus Ahola, Aalto Univeristy

Pekka Puranen, STX Finland Oy


    STX Finland Oy, Aalto University,