Augmented Reality a Tool for Urban Planning
Mobile computing tools for urban and construction planning have developed dramatically over the past few years. Combining technology originally developed for video and mobile games with positioning software has created new areas of application that include urban and construction planning, as well as interior design.
Even at the planning stage, augmented reality technology is enabling the placement of office and residential construction in appropriate environments, as well as on-site study of the overall concept -site utilizing a tool such as a smart phone display.
Would you like to know what kind of view you will have from your back garden, or your balcony, of the neighboring block when the planned housing is eventually completed? And how will that yet-to-be-built office building look standing on that empty plot you can see on the screen of your smart phone or iPad?
This is the cue for a few of the augmented reality applications developed over the past decade or so by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The practical applications developed by VTT are the first of their kind in the world, and have caused a considerable stir both at home and abroad.
Examples of recent Finnish applications are virtual presentations to city officials for a tower block and a projected hotel in demanding decision making cases. In both cases, the VTT-developed technology was used to place a sketch of the building in its natural environment. The same images could be examined on site by using, among other means, a smart phone camera display.
According to Charles Woodward, Research Professor for VTT’s Augmented Reality field, the new virtualization technology brings broadened perspectives not only to the work of architects and planners, but also to the full range of urban planning and related decision-making.
“Using this technique, the overall concept can take shape at the proper scale and far more realistically than with the 3-D imagery and modeling of traditional design software. Although principally a design tool, augmented reality is also a tool for communication, one that can be used to disseminate a more realistic picture of construction projects in support of resident feedback and decision-making,” says Woodward, in summarizing.
Apart from its benefit to design and planning professionals, VTT’s Augmented Reality technology also offers advantages for interior designers of the average household, enabling the complete redesign and furnishing of an entire living room, for example. In this case, the software application based on VTT’s technology has been developed by VividWorks, and is already in use on the Web site of Vepsäläinen, a Finnish furniture chain.
Woodward says that commercial interest in the VTT innovation will grow in response to discovery of new applications for the technology. Potential areas include property maintenance and services, while the technology also is awakening interest among construction companies and software houses in the field of design.
“The technology, for example, enables a “see-through” application for mapping the position of plumbing and ventilation systems behind walls and panels,” says Woodward. “In this way, we can observe any changes by comparing the prevailing on-site situation with information that has been recorded previously.”
For related videos, see: http://www.youtube.com/user/VTTAugmentedReality