Introducing a Client to VR and how we discovered a critical issue with a construction model

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Written by Jack

Jack Howell is a designer and developer living in Cambridgeshire, UK, and is the design and WordPress guru at Riselabs. With an extensive and borderline crazy interest in technology, Jack is our expert in all things web tech.

Photo by Eddie Kopp is licensed under CC0

Virtual Reality is leaps and bounds ahead again in 2019, and when we first experienced the technology using the HTC Vive headset our minds were blown.


Playing with 3D and Unity in 2017

A friend of the business wanted help introducing a client to a 3D model engineering render for an industrial heat extraction system. Their client, who was flying into the UK to discuss the installation, struggled with the concept of the height of the build where a second, lower ceiling, was proposed within the cooling rooms. On-screen, it’s hard to ascertain the dimensions of a life-sized modal building, especially with little reference material to go from; this was a new build project.

Using a little bit of hackery, we managed to get the 3D modal from CAD across into Unity, using a basic Steam VR game environment as the stage. The intention is to allow the client to walk around his own project using the controllers as teleporters.

Did it work?

Yes! The client was amazed at how he could be “in” the modal, viewing from a humans perspective in 3D space. Critically, it enabled him to come to terms with the size of the structure where the extra ceiling layer was required.

They spotted a concern with the build

Usually, a 3D designer will spend countless hours on a flat screen, constructing a model and a render. Suddenly, Virtual Reality breaks the rules by allowing a first-person view of the artwork. By doing so, my friend discovered a significant oversight in the build – which could have cost thousands to retro-fix after construction.

An out-pipe for the airflow exhaust had a user-serviceable section on the roof of the cooling unit. One of which is designed to be in reach of an engineer when servicing the building. However, in this model, the access panel was significantly out-of-arms-reach when standing on the platform – meaning a whole new maintenance platform would be needed.

A lucky review of the design allowed the 3D engineer to re-design the maintenance panel location by lowering the exhaust out-pipe slightly and rotating it. Without the first-hand first-person view of the build, the critical service point could have posed a long-term problem for the construction company.

Virtual Reality is brilliant for reviewing 3D models

It’s not perfect, but everyday there are development companies pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in VR when it comes to industrial and commercial applications.

Following on from this initial experiment, we experimented with IrisVR’s Prospect technologies below to see how it can aid in the CAD/CAM 3D modelling world.

IrisVR Prospect for the construction/building industry

https://irisvr.com/