3D Data Immersion: Hand-Held Scans Enable A Quick Immersive Experience

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What happens when you pair a gaming headset with color point cloud data and a walking virtual reality system? You get a life-like and highly immersive and realistic experience. When the headset is the Oculus Rift Gaming Headset, the point cloud–a DotProduct scan, and the virtual environment, the WorldViz Immersive Virtual Reality Wide Area Walking System; you get unexpected reality in an affordable, configurable virtual environment.

Brian Ahern, the CEO of DotProduct, got a dose of his own reality when he took a virtual tour through a mechanical pump room that was captured with his company’s hand-held 3D scanner, the DPI-7. Instead of zooming and panning on the screen, Brian was able to duck and dodge his way around the equipment and piping in the congested virtual pump room.

The point cloud had been originally captured with the DPI-7 3D scanner to document existing equipment and piping. The DP point cloud was optimized on the tablet, saved to an ASCII export format, and then transferred through Dropbox to the waiting user. The normal workflow is to load the scans into a CAD environment using a point cloud app such as LFM Server or Autodesk Recap. Users would view the points as an overlay to their proposed design, viewing the screen in orthographic projection.

For a more intuitive experience, they could load the points in Navisworks or SmartPlant Review and perform a design review, stepping through the scene in a perspective view. If the users were lucky enough, they might even be viewing on a new Surface tablet and navigating with their fingertips. Flash forward to today’s future, and you can now step into that point cloud, actually walk around the space, and stop to inspect a problem, or review the changes your designer has proposed.

The data for this case, the pump room, was provided to WorldViz in PTX and PTS format. The WorldViz engineers quickly created a 3D polygon mesh and published into their environment, turning a static review session into a virtual experience. The accompanying images are from a video that was captured of a World Viz engineer walking through an immersive 3D simulation of the pump room.

World Viz provides the platform for creating this experience through their Vizard VR Toolkit which integrates the mesh data with their PPT motion-tracking camera system. The view of the scene is projected onto the head-mounted display. The DotProduct data, captured in a relatively close distance, had amazing detail and did not pixelate as the user stepped closer.

The Oculus Rift head-mounted display was conceived for immersive gaming to provide a more natural and comfortable experience, in a stereoscopic 3D view. World Viz has extended this natural and comfortable experience into architectural, and defense applications. In the case of architectural design, you can literally walk through your design ideas in full scale and experience a stunning sense of being there.

What is truly amazing and unique is the rapid capture of color point clouds and the quick turnaround into an immersive, walkable scene. Leading design and construction management companies have begun to use this technology to present their vision and design for a new or renovated space. But now they can inspect an existing condition and try new ideas quickly, with amazing realism. For example, this would be utilized to assess the workspace impact of adding an additional piece of equipment to a functioning hospital operating room. Or, it could be used to look at accessibility issues when adding a new filter to an existing pump station.

John Shipley has more than 15 years experience evaluating and implementing a large variety of 3D data capture technologies, and has two Associates in Specialized Technology degrees.

A 254Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE