division of United Technologies, the University of Michigan, and several small companies. In a recent proposal to the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the consortium predicted that VE technology would lead to improved product design, a better market response, and reductions in time or cost (Adam, 1993).

Exemplar Industries

In the following sections we provide a discussion of the potential for VE in the textile and aerospace industries. The selection of these industries was not based on an exhaustive or systematic search of industries and applications; however, both industries offer some interesting illustrations of VE technology that transfer broadly to other industries.

Textiles

VE may have very important applications in the marketing and manufacture of clothing. The concept is that customers could shop for apparel in a VE in which they would see virtual clothes on virtual images of their own bodies and feel how the clothes would fit. On the basis of this experience, customers would select and order outfits that would be fabricated on demand and sent out to them within a short time period. The result would be to significantly reduce financial losses associated with fabric waste during apparel production and with product markdown and liquidation. Moreover, the customer would be provided with a greater range of choice and an improved made-to-measure fit. This approach appears to be a natural extension of the current market trends of increased shopping through catalogs and home shopping networks and the accompanying decrease in retail outlet shopping.

Industry Efforts VE technology has captured the interest of the textile industry (Steward, 1993). In 1993, a collaborative research and development program, the American Textile Partnership (AMTEX), was initiated between the Department of Energy (DOE), the DOE national laboratories, and the fibers, textiles, and apparel industry to improve the competitiveness of the U.S. textile industry through the application of technology. The national laboratories plan to work together and coordinate with industry through major industry-supported research and technology transfer facilities. Matching funds for the partnership are to be provided by government and industry. The first joint project between the national laboratories and the industry will involve the creation of an industry model for integrating hardware and software in a system to provide Demand Activated Manufacturing Architecture (DAMA). One aspect of this



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