Virtual Reality (VR) walk-through across site using QR codes

Working in a BIM environment in the B243 KAD (Kilo Apron Development) project is providing various advantages to the development of the project.

Background Information / Main Objective

In the gaming industry, there are different approaches to VR from the more complex HoloLens or Oculus headsets (which required technical experts and specific software &hardware) to the more accessible Google Cardboard. FAUK decided to start with the more accessible and easy approach to assess the suitability of using VR in the project and utilise the resources, software and models already available on the project.

To achieve an immersive experience, a series of locations were chosen to create a walk-through of the area or capture strategic point of views of the project. At each one of those locations, a static 360 panoramic view is created and a QR code generated which allows visualizing the view once scanned with a smartphone or tablet, or from a computer with an URL link. A 2D plan drawing is then put together with the different locations and QR codes for each of them which take you to the 360 view.

On the first attempt of using VR, three 2D plans with QR codes were created: for the demolition phase (existing buildings), for different construction phases and for the final design stage. These have been used in different scenarios like inductions for team members and visitors, and engagement with the client. It was used by Heathrow representatives at the Gateway G3 (Investment Decision) meeting for the engagement with the stakeholders, with great feedback from the people involved in the meeting.

Due to the positive feedback of the team and client in the use of VR for the project, other 360 views have been developed and different software is being tested.
Technical information:
• 3D models created using Autodesk Revit software which has already been developed for other purposes, not specific for VR.
• 360 panoramic views developed in-house
• 360 panoramic views rendered in the cloud – QR code generated automatically – the view is hosted in the cloud
• Google cardboard or similar headset & smartphone with a QR code reader. Alternative, a tablet could be used.

Objetivos

2D drawings used to be the method of communication between various agents involved on a project, until 3D models were introduced which meant a huge change. However, FAUK wanted to take this a step further introducing Virtual Reality (VR) to enable everyone involved on the project to feel the immersive experience and also engage with other members of the team which are not involved in the design stage and aren’t used to work with 2D drawings & 3D models.

VR allows to create an immersive experience in the different stages of the project, from the design stage to construction and then handover.
At the design stage, VR is used to check the design options. During the construction stage, it allows to bring the site to the office, creating immersive inductions before going on site, allowing the team to get familiar with their surroundings and the risks they might face on site beforehand.