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.
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.