Research Meets Chocolate

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What happens when high-tech chocolate company meets high-tech research lab?  FXPAL is investigating virtual and mixed reality systems for collaboration and control  in industrial settings. We are working with TCHO Inc., a chocolate start-up in San Francisco, to build and instrument virtual representations of a real, working factory and its processes.

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The TCHO Factory floor, in the Qwaq Forums virtual environment

Introducing our collaborator:  TCHO of San Francisco is a new kind of chocolate company, combining innovative methods and a sense of social mission with a commitment to creating obsessively good dark chocolate. Founded by a Space Shuttle technologist and a grizzled chocolate industry veteran, TCHO’s aim is to create a direct, transparent connection between cacao farmers and consumers, illuminating – and sometimes reinventing – the chocolate production process at every step to the benefit of everyone concerned.

For a process as complex as making great chocolate, this kind of clarity and accuracy is vital.  We see this collaboration as a way to apply emerging technologies in clarifying end-to-end industrial production processes. It’s also interesting from a consumer’s perspective: a way to innovate in bringing people closer to the products they consume, through combining industrial process data with social applications like virtual worlds.

We’re experimenting with new technologies for fine-grained monitoring, mobile process control, and real/virtual collaborations based on real users and real-world problems in manufacturing industries. In the process, we are finding new applications for existing technologies, as well as insight into real-world needs in globally distributed systems and ways to use new technologies to map complex, real world processes.

As our work progresses, we’ll add more specific updates here on the FXPAL blog.

9 Comments

  1. […] See more about this research collaboration in this earlier blog post. […]

  2. […] you’d like a look inside a high-tech chocolate factory, as well as an update on what’s been going on with the FXPAL/TCHO research collaboration (hey! […]

  3. […] the chocolate production process, starting with the cacao farmers in countries like Peru and Ghana. The FXPAL/TCHO collaboration, which focuses on applying emerging technologies in a real-world industrial setting (the chocolate […]

  4. […] we’ll be at SIGGRAPH 2009, giving both a long talk and a poster on our Virtual Factory project. SIGGRAPH is in New Orleans this coming August 3 – 7. This work is a result of a research […]

  5. […] can get a look at our Virtual Factory and some of our molecular dynamics animations on “The Science of Chocolate” which is […]

  6. […] time (a couple of weeks ago the show got pre-empted for a pledge drive): You can get a look at our Virtual Factory and some of our molecular dynamics animations on “The Science of Chocolate” which is […]

  7. […] work is part of our explorations in mixed reality for industrial enterprises, in particular the Virtual Factory project. Below you can see a few screenshots from the iPhone lab app (click for larger […]

  8. […] Tcho chocolate bar to anyone who can track down the source! var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = […]

  9. […] virtual realities, augmented reality, and telepresence. You can see more on the Virtual Factory work here. var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'twitter, email, favorites, digg, delicious, […]

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