The Background.

The challenge was thrown out to the members of the Innovation & Digitalisation strategy pillar to canvass how we could use our digital technologies to design a virtual layout of the new demo hub.

One of the main objectives of the new Digital Centre is to encourage local businesses and academia to collaborate and experience the ‘art of the possible’ and what digital technology, and its deployment, can do to enhance their business. There are many new emerging technologies becoming widely available and most are relatively easy and cost-effective to deploy compared to 5-10 years ago.

At Booth Welsh, we view ourselves as thought leaders in the development and deployment of digital solutions within industry.  This challenge provided an ideal opportunity to showcase our expertise in this area by ‘virtually’ transforming the existing dead space within the office into an innovative space for all to use.

The project scope was to create a Virtual Reality (VR) mock-up of the Digital Demonstration Hub layout and what it would look like within the Head Office warehouse area.

The Client

This project was part of  an internal initiative and challenge to convert the warehouse area of the Head Office facility into a Digital Demonstration Hub that Booth Welsh could use to collaborate with the staff, clients & academia to showcase and develop our digital technologies for industry.

The Solution.

Industry-standard gaming and CAD software was combined with internally developed methodology, knowhow and experience to create a virtual Digital Innovation Centre.

This was achieved as follows. Using an existing 2D CAD layout of the office, a large 3D Model of the Warehouse area was created and filled with various objects. The brief given suggested an “Apple Store-like layout”, which led to a large, open space segmented into a few sections. This included a new mezzanine floor with a café and meeting pods, a lecture/video theatre area, an engineering area, lab area, collaboration area, various work areas, and multiple computer stations. The area was designed to enable people to ‘play’ or work with all the different technologies while also collaborating with other businesses or academia to find new use cases for the technologies.

The virtual 3D model of the new innovation space was created specifically with VR headsets in mind. On adoption of the headset, the user is immersed in the virtual world and experiences a dimensionally accurate 1:1 visual representation of the new facility.  The combination of the VR headset and hand-held controllers gives the user the ability to move freely throughout the space, including opening doors and navigation of floor levels.

The VR experience was then adapted extensively so that it could function on an Augmented Reality (AR) platform via an AR Headset – the Microsoft Hololens. AR technology takes the immersive VR experience to the next level by giving the user an appreciation of how the virtual design interacts with the (actual) existing space. When wearing the Hololens headset, the user can physically walk around the actual warehouse and see the complete structure and contents of the new, proposed Digital Innovation Centre superimposed over the existing space. This gives a far more real, interactive and impactful experience for the user who can easily see and visualise what the finished space could truly look like.

Deployment of these technologies at the beginning of a project can enable the client to make effective changes to the design of the proposed layout before any building work commences, eliminating errors and saving cost & time at a later stage.

The Benefits.

Showcasing multiple immersive ways of visualising possible layouts of the new facility by creating a digital twin and multiple methods of display for a number of users are available across many peripherals.

Supports and adds more strength to the project proposal by showcasing the proposed build in the virtual world. Could be the difference in winning the job or being awarded the funding.

Enables the client to design the use of a space more efficiently eliminating costly changes further down the line.

The virtual simulation could be viewed in Augmented Reality enabling the user to walk the physical space whilst seeing the holographic design of the proposed building –very powerful for any end user.