A Virtual Reality Laboratory Displays Buildings that do not Exist Yet
07. September 2017
Starting with the interior design of residential buildings that do not exist yet to visualization of whole districts – in the virtual reality laboratory of TTK University of Applied Sciences, it is possible to see and walk around in them years before excavators even start digging!
We discussed the opportunities of TTK-s 3D or BIM Cave with Aivars Alt, Assistant Professor at the TTK Institute of Construction and Egert-Ronald Parts, coordinator of the virtual reality laboratory.
How do 3D modeling and virtual reality help the builder or the contracting entity?
“The great thing about modeling is that when the contracting entity is not a professional builder and their everyday skills do not require bringing together different aspects and sections of construction stages then it simplifies their understanding considerably. For example, when officials come to inspect the substantive quality of a new building (is the logistics of the building in order, is everything located in the right place, etc.) then there lies the value of the 3D model: you can conduct operations more easily with people who are not experts in that particular field.” Aivars explains.
“Contracting entities and designers who have used the CAVE system to view the information model, have thereby discovered many places inside the building that need further development or re-designing,” Egert-Ronald adds.
“Currently, we are involved in finishing the construction process of the Embassy of Moscow. There, we are cooperation partners with the designer and also with RKAS. They are interested in displaying complicated places more efficiently for the sake of better construction. At this point, we have looked through the project information, located the more intricate parts and marked them for the builders,” Aivars gives an example.
“The goal is to identify the shortcomings in construction, to carry out the so-called ‘buildability analysis’, which fulfils the purpose of doing things right the first time,” Aivars sums up the usefulness of BIM because experience has shown that sometimes, technical systems, for example, will not match with the designed solution.
“A good tendency is that in recent years, there has been a breakthrough among builders who ask us for training courses as well as development work, to increase their BIM capability because they see the effectiveness of information modeling in connection with their work,” Aivars notes.
Children gazing at the wonders of virtual reality in the BIM Cave
What is augmented reality and how is it applied in the BIM Cave?
“Augmented reality is a technology enriching the real environment through some type of digital information,” Egert-Ronald explains. “There are different solutions for adding digital information. All in all, we have some kind of a smart device (a smartphone, a tablet computer or smart glasses) which has a digital image displayed on the screen and that enriches our environment. Whether it is displaying movement instructions, looking inside a construction, adding objects to a room you are currently in or getting additional information from the objects in the environment.”
“This principle can be applied to construction as well as interior design. Ideally, we would like to reach the point, where a worker puts on smart glasses and sees the exact location where to install a certain detail,” Aivars explains the possibilities of augmented reality.
“There is also mixed reality (or mediated reality), where you can add objects and also delete them from a real environment,” Egert-Ronald explains the context.
“We would like to reach the point with our development where you have the opportunity to see through walls. This means that while in a room, you can hide a wall layer and look behind it. Provided that the drawings have been produced and converted correctly into the machine beforehand. This would be very practical because it gives precise knowledge about where to install drywall screws, wood screws and where the water pipes are located, etc.,” Aivars unfolds the potential of the solution. “Administrative and maintenance procedures are the ones that could benefit from this at one point,” Aivars specifies.
To whom can this Cave also be useful for?
“When we ordered the Cave to the TTK, one of the starting conditions was that we would be able to see all the 3D things and today, this is possible. It does not make a difference to us whether the clients are builders, clothing designers, car technicians or road engineers because, through an intermediate format, we can produce a proper stereo photo.” Aivars says.
“In this vast plurality of programs, there is one skill that is important – the ability to take out correct information and link it between different programs. I think that over time, this is becoming more and more important. Today, it is common that programs have faulty or underdeveloped settings and people just move on to the next program. Then errors occur – after converting, it appears that some of the objects are in the wrong place or do not exist where needed,” Aivars gives a common example.
“Therefore, people who know how to handle different types of formats, convert information and transmit it in a simple way are becoming more and more valuable over time,” Aivars explains.
“Construction is becoming more and more IT-based; increasing amount of information is generated. Filtering out correct information, displaying and sharing it to whoever needs it is a kind of necessity and a skill,” Aivars says.
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