iVP - The Multiuser Virtual Collaboration Software.
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Realtime collaboration. CGI Rendering. Virtual Training and Cloud Computing.
Providing a sustainable and effective software platform with multiple purposes.
How do you avoid long planning times and high costs, as well as risks in industrial plants and/or medical facilities? iVP is a first step Use Case study in the right direction to fill this gap. iVP – intelligent Virtual Platform is taking care of planning projects of various sizes and dimensions and simulating environments in an interactive 3D and XR space together with clients and stakeholders to ensure the best possible infrastructure, layout and ergonomics. This leads to decisive advantages in terms of lower costs for planning, visualization and commissioning, as well as ergonomics and higher efficiency.
The iVP development team saw the benefits of real-time 3D and VR planning for construction purpose projects several years ago. With prototype developments and partners from the industry, architecture and medical sector, the software was developed that suits the needs of a professional visualization during the planning process in the most efficient way. Thus, coordination processes are kept short as well as waiting times and costs are saved. This means significant benefits in terms of shorter planning times, with greater reliability and higher quality for customers and employees.
Clients, Engineers and Experts collaborating as a group in real-time 3D
Allows participants to pre-experience and customize new environments and workspaces
Saving costs in terms of modification measures due to the unpredictability
Experiencing the ergonomics of the situation to avoid structural errors at a very early state
Already two years ago, the team of iVP became aware of the necessity and the potential of planning in the virtual real-time space. At that time, they were developing a framework that allowed multiple attendees to be in the same VR experience at the same time, while still in the same physical space. Challenging! That was not possible at that time - a unique development was needed. With the status quo of development in an honest prototype state at that time, they realized already how valuable the functions for industrial planning could be, if they are programmed with a proper framework. This framework should allow you to not start with a white sheet of paper for each project. Target was to create interfaces in software that will enable you to import and understand plans, objects and data while providing all the functions universally needed for any type of planning.
Collaborating with the World Market Leader
“When we had the opportunity and offered to work and collaborate with the world market leader in the production of wood processing machines, HOMAG, we don´t have to think twice”., says Benjamin Brostian - Founder of iVP. iVP was used to visualize a 6,000 square meter production facility in Poland. At that time, admittedly with limited functions and not the far-reaching functionalities and options, the iVP should experience over the next two years, but the result was already a great success at that time.
At a summit, it quickly became clear to everyone involved, that even though this was still a vision of the future of virtual planning, it had already become a game changer in the industry in 2019. “In the next five years, no architect or planner wants to miss planning and to present in an environment that does not give him direct visual feedback in 2D / 3D / AR / VR”, says Frieder Schuler – Director Technical Sales HOMAG GmbH.
“In the past five years, so much has been done in the field of computers and graphics cards as in the last 50 years. If we think only what will happen in the next five years, we will have tremendous opportunities”, adds Brostian.
Unique Development Workflow with Unity
The tool of choice to further develop and drive this software, was Unity no doubt. Not only did it give the iVP team the most flexibility in terms of interfaces, but also the vast selection of assets on the Unity Asset Store helped significantly in the rapid development. Undoubtedly the Unity Asset Store was a significant benefit and tremendous help in the development. Unity offers the possibility to react to almost to all eventualities. "Unity's easy integration with modern virtual reality devices made it a no-brainer for our project and the excellent asset store saved us a great deal of time in many areas”., says Sandro Forster.
We faced challenges that could not be solved so easily, of course. “One of the biggest tasks was the import, handling and management of extremely complex 3D models. As we worked directly from construction data like CATIA, they were very extensive, and we often found over 60 million polygons in a model”, says Kai Vermeegen – Product Manager and Software Developer of iVP. While in the machine construction, usually only one machine or object must be displayed whereas iVP has the ability to display up to several hundred devices at the same time without losing the flexibility and real-time connectivity of each device at the same time. A solution has been developed, and already today, iVP offers customers the possibility to import particular objects in formats such as. OBJ, FBX, 3ds and others to import and use in iVP. For complex objects or a more significant number of objects to be introduced, the iVP Team offers the service of professional revision and integration in the customer database.
Cloud Computing and Virtual machines
If collaboration and the sharing of project information are necessary, there is the option of either using a fixed computer network for the respective participant or working on freely scalable platforms such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. We are currently working on the interfaces for scalability of multiple instances in one of the common cloud services. The advantages are obvious - if we have the opportunity to use freely scalable resources and make fewer investments in constantly renewable hardware, this is a good service that we should use.
Sending a link via email and giving the user the opportunity to dial in to the cloud service via a mobile device and to be able to access the full performance of the cloud server on his mobile device opens up new possibilities for collaborative real-time planning.
CAT Models versus iVP Models
iVP is developed for the purpose of displaying several hundred machines as 3D models at the same time. In addition, we are developing the so-called “iVP- Showroom”, which allows machines to be seamlessly opened in a separate scene from iVP. In this scene, the machine is shown as a CAT model with all details and construction parts. Unique construction and processing features can be highlighted and displayed separately in the highest possible level of detail. "We solved the variable representability of models in the respective quality levels by intelligently reducing the polygons and materials / textures on the models," says David Kutschke - Technical Artist at iXtenda. Through this intelligent methodology and the linking of the models in the cloud stored database, we can freely choose between the required level of detail of the display.
The OFP Workflow for - Product Animation (CGI)
OFP Workflow stands for “one-flow-production”. “The re-use of 3D models, animation, camera paths etc. after they went through the optimization process was one of the top priorities when we thought about the showroom. We wanted to create a process that enables the complete workflow from the CAT file to the CGI rendered photo or product video to be displayed.”, says Benjamin Brostian. We are able to export scenes, models and camera movements from iVP to Cinema 4D and Redshift. While the textures and materials are automatically connected the meta data of e.g. camera paths are compatible as well.
It would be a waste of time and budget to start this entire process again and again from the beginning, if we could already take over this step when revising 3D models and assigning textures and materials. This resulted in a use case or prototype - which we will also provide in the next few weeks. The entire value chain was followed and covered with one approach. From CAD model to CGI-compatible object, iVP model and showroom model for virtual training and simulation.
Customers can Imagine things Better in VR or 360° Video
“When a project is coming to an end, desires are aroused, such as the export of video sequences, 360° video, screenshots or the complete 3D model of planning”, says Sandro Forster – Senior Developer of iVP. Alternatively, export in a "view only" version is possible, so that the customer does not need its license of iVP but can navigate itself through the planning. Also, export as a PDF plan is often necessary. Be it for a clear overview of which devices were used, or to hand over to a specialist planner for finishing the detailed planning. iVP does not claim to replace technical planning, but it offers enormous opportunities to clarify, discuss and correct problems in a very early stage.
An example of such an early and necessary evaluation is the Klinikum Westfalen. iVP was used for planning a new cardiac catheterization lab. Target was used to avoid mistakes from previous project planning’s of the same branch. The emphasis was on accessibility, short ways, positioning of the furniture and instruments to guarantee the best possible ergonomics and workflow. This project was nominated for submission to the Innovation Award of the Knappschaft Kliniken and won this Innovation prize. Many previous projects were planned and discussed in 2D. Of course, people who work with CAD plans daily have a different understanding than a doctor or surgical nurse. As a result, existing operation and hospital rooms needed to be rebuilt, as they could not be used optimally by the staff. Circumstances of this kind can be avoided with such planning and saving of money.
Finally, it remains to say that iVP has not yet arrived at the end of its development. It's not surprising that Unity is the development platform of choice - offering the most considerable flexibility and an infinite number of possibilities. With this infrastructure, iVP can add value to customers in the construction and design phase, regardless of the project and size.