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January 27, 1998

DIVISION SHAKES OFF HERITAGE TO MAKE MONEY FROM VR

By CBR Staff Writer

The UK’s Division Group Plc is emerging from the mire of its virtual reality heritage to become one of the few players in this sector who actually make some money. Having sold off its specialist hardware development arms to Hewlett-Packard Co in the US, and PixelFusion Ltd in the UK, Division has found a niche for VR that could yield some serious business, that of interactive 3D product simulation within the engineering industry. The Bristol-based company made losses of 1.8m pounds in the year to October 31 (down from operating losses of 4.5m pounds last year) on revenues that rose 36% to 6.7m pounds. But sales of its dVISE software were up by 200% in the period, and the focus on software and related services saw the gross margin jump from 40% to 58%. The company is forecast by its broker, Credit Lyonnais, to reach profits by 1999. dVISE complements existing computer aided design (CAD) software from other vendors by allowing users to build a complete interactive simulation of their product before investing in a physical prototype. Division has also developed what it describes as a web enabled interactive product browser called dV/WebFly which will allow remote users, such as mechanical service engineers, to interact via a Netscape browser with virtual mock ups of the unit being worked upon. Caterpillar Inc, the US construction equipment maker, is apparently one of the first to have adopted the technology. But in order to gain access to the big CAD users in automotive and aerospace industries, Division has licensed its software to the major CAD/CAM vendors like EDS Unigraphics and Computervision Corp, a tried and tested method for tiny players like Division to get a piece of the big player’s customer bases.

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