VR Tool

VR-header.png

Table of contents

1. Objective

2. Tool description - Set up pages

3. Tool description - Execute VR Co-Design

4. Modes

5. Library management

6. VR experience

1. Objective

The High-end VR tool for Co-Design provides the capability of using high-end consumer grade HMDs such as the Oculus Rift© or the HTC Vive©.

VR-user.pngA user wearing a HTC Vive HMD.

The main objective of the tool is to let a limited group of citizens (“Focus Group”) to build a common design proposal using immersive tools from a set of constraints and a predefined object library. This tool will be used during the co-design phase of the project in the context of a focus group. The SuMo sets up the physical Co-Design space in space and time. The required inputs and constraints are defined by the SuMo with project initiators and optionally professional experts. The SuMo then invites professional experts that applied for project call and a selection of citizen that have been highly engaged in previous Design Storming phase (or the ones that earned the highest votes).

VR-collaboration_space.pngVirtual Reality VR Focus Group - Collaboration Space

2. Tool description - Set up pages

What

  • SUMO provides design constraints from authorities and experts for the co-design phase using communication tool
  • list of experts
  • list of citizen participants

How

  • SUMO sets up project focus group by defining the timetable and localization of local group co-design sessions and invites citizen and experts co-designers
  • SUMO sets up VR Co-Design space by defining environment (terrain, infrastructure, etc.), design constraints, design objects (library of objects) and design tools (activities, procedures, etc.)
  • SUMO opens Co-Design Space

Output

  • timetable and localization of VR Co-Design sessions
  • Co-Design groups
  • invitations for citizens and experts
  • instructions for Co-Design
  • configuration for VR Co-Design
  • objects library for VR Co-Design

VR-navigation.pngVirtual Reality VR Focus Group - World In Miniature Navigation

At any time, users can switch to visualization mode. When activated, the application will switch from the WIM edition mode to a scale 1 exploration of the proposition. In exploration mode, the user is teleported on the ground and the design proposition is displayed at scale 1. The user can then explore the proposition by navigating, as in real life. While navigating, the immersed user can annotate the proposition or associate feedbacks to it.

3. Tool description - Execute VR Co-Design

What

  • Co-Design group, location and time table
  • instructions for Co-Design
  • configuration for Co-Design
  • objects library for Co-Design
  • optional VR design proposal

How

  • Co-Design session animator starts up the VR Co-Design tool, set up the tool configuration and create or load a VR design proposal
  • citizen and experts co-edit the design proposition using edition functions and objects library
  • citizen and experts co-experience their design proposal at scale 1 using the visualization function and are able to give feedback
  • citizen and experts agree on the final design proposal to publish as a result of the co-design session

Output

  • design as a result of the co-design session with feedback and annotations

VR-world_miniature.pngVirtual Reality VR Focus Group - World In Miniature Metaphor

All participants of the VR Focus Group Co-Design session will gather in the same place, around a collaborative screen while one of them gets immersed using an HMD system and build up a design proposal together. All the participants can always follow the viewpoint of the immersed user on a collaborative screen. Co-Design session animator (SuMo) starts up the VR Co-Design tool, set up the tool configuration and create or load a VR design proposal.

4. Modes

An edition mode allows co-designers to build up their design proposition. In edition mode, the application will provide a World In Miniature (WIM) interaction metaphor. The design proposition is seen at the scale of a mock-up, the user is like a giant, or a mock-up builder and can see the design proposition in its whole. The edition will start from an accurate representation of the real terrain presenting the result of urban planning (roads, streets, etc.). The immersed user is then able to drag’n’drop basic shapes, predefined 3D models or metaphoric service items from an objects library. Once dropped in the proposition, the shape can be edited in position and appearance. To guide citizens towards a realistic proposition, the application will also include a set of constraints defined as an input on the tool.

VR-feedback.pngVirtual Reality VR Focus Group - Feedbacks

At any time, users can switch to visualization mode. When activated, the application will switch from the WIM edition mode to a scale 1 exploration of the proposition. In exploration mode, the user is teleported on the ground and the design proposition is displayed at scale 1. The user can then explore the proposition by navigating, as in real life. While navigating, the immersed user can annotate the proposition or associate feedbacks to it.

VR-annotation.pngVirtual Reality VR Focus Group - Annotation

The produced design proposition is the result of the exchange among all the participants of the focus group. The design proposition is then annotated by the different users, and exported from the tool and uploaded into the U_Code Platform as the result of the focus group session.

5. Library management

Ahead of the planning of co-design focus group sessions, the Optis software (VRXPERIENCE) allows the SuMo team to import and process 3D objects into library items and upload them on the platform. The supported 3D data formats are: 3dxml, fbx, obj, 3ds, Collada, AutoCAD, Catia, Solidworks, STEP, Siemens JT, Parasolid, CREO and NX files. The user can then define the origin of the library item (important to correctly manage the snap on ground), adjust the scale, define UV mapping, add lights and apply textures. Once done, the file can be exported as a U_CODE library object and uploaded on the U_CODE platform.

VR-libraryItems.pngLibrary items being prepared.

Following the same process, the user can import and prepare the terrain corresponding to the area to design. This terrain can contain ground items, on which co-designers will be able to drop library items and static objects representing the urban context around the area to design (existing buildings and infrastructure or areas that cannot be modified). In Figure 7, the area to design is depicted in pink. Once prepared, the terrain is exported and uploaded on the U_CODE platform.

VR-exampleTerrain.pngExample of terrain being prepared based on gmp inputs.

The service library is also built using VRXPERIENCE. Each service is based on a name associated to a material (color and texture).

Once all the material has been prepared and uploaded on the U_CODE platform, the front-end website will allow the SuMo team to customize a single set of data for each urban project. The items library is common to all projects but can be filtered according to each urban project specificities. The same applies to the service library but there is only one terrain per urban project.

VR-exampleOfDesignProposition.pngExample of a design proposition.

When setting up a co-design focus group session, the animator will be able to connect to the U_CODE platform from the High-end VR tool for Co-Design using his or her login, password and urban project ID. The platform then generates the appropriate dataset and send it to the High-end VR tool for Co-Design. Based on this content, the animator can then create new design propositions, save the result of each session and load existing design propositions. At the end of the session, the resulting design propositions can be exported from the High-end VR tool for Co-Design and uploaded onto the U_CODE platform associated with an intent textual description and a screenshot.

6. VR Experience

The High-end VR tool for Co-Design provides several features to help the participants of the focus group create a design proposition.

The tool is divided into 2 modalities:

  1. The World In Miniature (WIM): the scene is scaled down the size of a mock up so that the whole proposition is visible with one look. We use this metaphor to encourage user to design as they would do using toys or building bricks to model a city. The edition mode (with the items library) is only available in WIM. A dedicated navigation metaphor allows the user to rotate around the mock-up, get closer or get away, gain or lose altitude.

    VR-designSpace.pngDesign space seens as World In Minitature.

  2. The scale 1 virtual visit: in this mode, the user and the scene are at the correct scale so that the user can visit his or her city as he or she would do in real life. Dedicated navigation metaphors allow the user to walk on the ground or fly around the city. This navigation metaphor is linked to an elastic control: around the point of activation of navigation mode, the speed and direction of movement is controlled by an elastic, the more the elastic is stretched, the more the speed of movement increases.

    VR-virtualVisit.pngVirtual visit in scale 1

    In scale 1 visit, users can control the lighting conditions directly from the immersive menu (see next figure). In this way, they can experience the impact of their design proposition on the lighting of the surroundings.

VR-lightningConditions.pngLightning conditions control from the immersive menu.

To switch between those 2 modalities, the user has access to a “You are here” metaphor. This metaphor is materialized by a virtual doll visible only in WIM. This doll can be grabbed, displaced and rotated by the user to define the position in which the switch to Scale 1 visit will bring him or her. In this way, the user can control the starting point of his or her virtual visit of his or her design proposition.

VR-youAreHere.png"You are here" metaphor materialized by a virtual doll.

The High-end VR tool for Co-Design is controlled using an immersive menu. This menu is represented by a flat image floating around the user. This menu is attached to the user referential so that it is available even when navigating around the virtual scene. This menu appears at the coordinates of the virtual controller when called, the user can grab it to adjust its position, and hide it using a controller button. The content of the menu is divided in several pages giving access to a different set of features.

When in WIM mode, the user has access to a menu page for the items library, as depicted in the figure below. The library items are sorted by category.

VR-immersiveMenu.pngImmersive menu page dedicated to the items library.

From this menu page, the user can directly drag any item of his or her choice using the virtual controller ray and a button. When dragged, the library object is created live and is automatically attached to the controller ray so that the user can drop it anywhere of the ground, as depicted in the figure below.

VR-libraryItem.pngA library item being dragged.

To facilitate the positioning of the library items on the ground, a virtual helper is in place to align the vertical of the object with the ground plane when getting closer to the ground. This vertical alignment is based on the origin and axes of the library item defined during its preparation. When approaching the ground, the library item is automatically snapped to the ground plane. In this way, the user does not have to precisely align the object with the ground manually. The whole alignment process is depicted in the next figure.

VR-dropBehavior.pngDrop behavior sequence of a manipulated library item.

When dropped, library items can still be grabbed and manipulated by the user using the virtual controller ray and a button, as depicted in the following figure.

VR-1handedManipulation.png1-handed manipulation of a library item.

A grabbed library item can be removed using the virtual dust bin attached to the immersive menu. The user only must touch the virtual bin with the grabbed object and release the grab. A colour highlight and blinking helps him or her identify when the grabbed object can be released and removed.

VR-virtualDust.pngVirtual dust bin and colour highlight when deleting a library object.

To facilitate the rotation adjustment of library items on the design proposition, the High-end VR tool for Co-Design also supports 2-handed manipulation of library items using VR controllers. A specific category of the immersive library is dedicated to services. Once dropped, the library items can be “specialized” by a service. Using the service library, co-designers can add meaning to the created shapes in the design proposition.

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