November 3, 2014 | Written by: Anna Thomas
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For the ETS hack day, the team of Peter J, Markus, Hamish, Yi and I experimented with the Oculus Rift (OR) which we had been lent.
We started by deciding the goal for the project – To create an interactive virtual environment that assists in controlling the real environment (including display of real-world data in the virtual world).
The aim would be to help
- Trainee engineers – they could learn how to maintain buildings to some extent without having to be in the building
- Emergency services rescue planning tool
- Engineers to peel back the building to see locations of pipes etc
- ETS – gaining experience in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and 3D Models
There were 5 activities that needed to be done:
- Get the 3D model showing in the OR.
- Change the socket based interface to the client centre for an MQTT one
- Publish MQTT messages from within virtual environment
- Allow highlighting of objects from within the model
- Create a control menu within the virtual environment.
By the end of the first day, the 3d model was working reasonably well in the OR, and the MQTT interface to the lab was ready to test. MQTT messages could be published from within the environment. There was a lot more work to be done to embed html within the virtual environment which did not move around with the world.
By the end of the second day, the five activities were complete – but did not all string together seamlessly.
Markus and Yi (and a bit of Peter) have since spent a couple of days ironing out the bugs and improving the performance – and this led to its first customer demonstration to a large energy company, in the context of Building Information Modelling, on Wednesday. A nice demonstration is now packaged with start-up script, and available for lab tours in the ETS lab.