Virtual Wind Farms and Virtual Rooms...

Bitten by the Virtual Bug

I've been getting back into graphics over the past 6 months. This has been mainly driven by my desire to get going on some VR concepts and has led to me diving into Unity3D development. My day job as a software architect means I spend a lot of time researching technologies and writing desktop applications in C# / WPF. For me, although I've coded for several years in C++, C# and by extension Unity3D are a natural choice. 

It's fab to be able to combine my skills in such a great way - graphics and algorithms + WPF desktop apps + C# + Unity + VR. I'm really excited about what I can do in this space.

VR Projects

Explore Wind Farms - Virtually

I have several VR projects in the pipeline. The first concept I am currently exploring relates to potential use cases for VR that overlap with my full time job. I work in the area of renewable energy software and wanted to attempt to do some visualisation of renewable energy plants/farms in VR on my Oculus DK2. I've written a bridge to send site data across to a Unity3D viewer, which uses SteamVR. 

These are early days, and this project is helping me get to grips with concepts in Unity - but progress is good. I've taken detailed real terrain (height) data and generated meshes in Unity, splitting them into several slices when the detail is high (to overcome the polygon limitations). I then import the turbine locations and instance a turbine at the correct positions in the site. For effect, the blades are animated. NB the turbine model is a free one I've found on-line.

Locomotion is a bit more tricky. I've implemented two basic view modes, each with its own locomotion scheme. The first is a FPS like, walk round the site mode, with a player height of approx 2m - although this is just a setting, The second is a table top mode, where the site is scaled (down) to be table top size - almost as if it is a virtual model - which you can walk round and interact with. This second mode is really compelling when it works well - but I have some player positioning problems that need to be overcome when you switch between modes. You can also only rotate the site in this mode at the moment - it's not ideal, but has allowed me to do some initial tests. 

NB all of this is not connected with the company I work for - it's work done at home for my interest.

I'll upload a video of the VR wind farm soon - showing both modes in action. Here's a first very shaky attempt!

RoomBuilder VR

The second project is more ambitious and involves taking all the work I've done on detailed room generation on RoomBuilder and using this for room scale VR on the Vive (please send me a Dev Kit!). This I believe will be a very exciting core project as it moves forward, with many potential applications from ArchViz through to games.Watch this space...


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