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Bluefruit’s 3D prototyping software, Impression XR, delivers working virtual prototypes quickly and affordably.

Whether CAD designs or printed models, 3D prototypes are invaluable to device development. They allow project stakeholders at all levels to visualise, understand, and contribute to a product’s evolution. They can be used to identify previously hidden issues, generate valuable user feedback from usability testing, or even help secure funding from investors.

But, for all its advantages, producing accurate 3D prototypes is not a quick process. In our experience, such models typically take months to produce and cost £30k-100k.

The solution? Immersive technology. (If you can’t remember the difference between VR, AR, MR, and so on, take a look at our cheat sheet at the bottom of the page.)

Bluefruit’s Impression XR software grants organisations interactive virtual prototypes of their device early in their development cycle. It’s significantly faster than established prototyping, with designs delivered in a couple of weeks, not months.

It also carries several crucial advantages over established prototyping methods. Let’s take a look…

Programmable behaviour

Impression XR doesn’t just allow users to examine the device in virtual reality—it allows them to operate it. The models have programmable behaviour, meaning buttons, dials, switches, and digital interfaces all function as they would on the physical device.

We call these smart designs ‘impressions’.

For example, the GIF below shows an impression of a basic centrifuge. The user inserts assorted vials into the device and then, using the touchscreen interface, closes the lid and runs a cycle. When complete, they open the device and remove the processed vials.

The implications for user testing are significant. With prototype devices effectively running their own software, users can perform the actual workflows required of the finished device.

Mixed reality video showing a virtual centrifuge in a physical office. The user puts a sample into the centrifuge, presses a button on the virtual touchscreen that says 'Open lid', then presses a buttons that says 'Start'. The lid of the centrifuge closes and, after a five second countdown on the device screen, the lid opens again.

View designs in-situ

MR allows users to view prototypes in their intended environments. Whether the end product will be situated on a desk or in a rack, in a laboratory or assembly line, Impression XR allows users to see how the impression fits its real-world application—and identify issues that might otherwise go undetected until much later.

This is particularly useful for large devices, which are harder to build physical prototypes for.

Virtual models interacting with physical devices

Using digital twins, Impression XR can integrate prototypes with physical technology. At its most simple: press a button on a virtual device and turn on a real light, or vice versa. However, it’s more sophisticated than that.

Imagine you’re creating a medical diagnostic test. Impression XR will allow your team to marry a glossy user interface with proof-of-concept diagnostic hardware to create a prototype that functions like a finished product.

Augmented reality showing virtual centrifuge on a physical desk. A user presses a physical button and the lid of the centrifuge closes.


Colocation allows multiple users to view a prototype at the same time, whether they’re in the same physical location or not. This allows teams to collaborate, present to stakeholders, and conduct user testing from anywhere in the world.

Modern technology enables future innovation

Immersive 3D prototypes allow users to experience designs with unparalleled freedom. Designs can be viewed to scale or blown up to fill a room. With fewer barriers to exploration, designers and stakeholders alike can iterate rapidly, fine-tuning details and ensuring every element contributes to a seamless user experience.

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Commonly asked questions

What is immersive technology?

Immersive technologies merge the physical world with the virtual. The term encompasses various technologies and experiences, from full virtual immersion to heads-up displays (HUDs).

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for the main terms:

VR: Virtual Reality

An entirely virtual environment.

AR: Augmented Reality

A real-world environment, overlaid with virtual elements.

MR: Mixed Reality

A real-world environment with which virtual elements interact as if physically present.

XR: Extended Reality

An umbrella term for VR, AR, and MR.

SC: Spatial Computing

What Apple calls XR.

At Bluefruit, we primarily use Meta Quest headsets. The latest model, Quest 3, offers colour Pass-through which works well for MR applications. The older Quest 2, while offering a vastly inferior MR experience, is still perfectly adequate for VR. Using either of these headsets for extended periods of time can be uncomfortable, so we highly recommend upgrading from the default head strap.

The Meta Quest Pro is a few years old but remains the most expensive headset in the series. It has less processing power and a lower resolution compared to the Quest 3 but also boasts several advantages. It offers deeper colour reproduction, sharper lenses, and miniLED screens which can provide local dimming to improve contrast. The Quest Pro is also widely considered to be the most comfortable of the three.

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