Three-Dimensional Virtual Tour and Visualization
The project intends to deliver a three-dimension virtual tour of the Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) Energy Lab building. The ultimate goal is for any person to be able to use HPA’s website to virtually enter the Energy Lab and interact with the building as they would in a normal tour. This tour can be integrated with current and future virtual reality technologies such as the Oculus Rift and Mobile VR with Google’s interfaces.
Over the past 2 years, I have been gradually gaining experience with Blender (an open-sourced 3D modeling application) to construct various renders and general media projects. This also spiked my interest in real-time simulations of these 3D scenes for a person to interact with. The project presents an opportunity to combine my experience with previously obtained 3D models of the Energy Lab to produce an interactive visualization.
A 3D virtual tour of the HPA’s Energy Lab building would be an exceptional way to deliver content and experience to future or remotely located students like never before seen. Such a tour could be the first tour of a self sustaining school building and will provide yet another layer of depth to the experience of Hawaii Preparatory Academy. This project serves as an opportunity for me to gain experience and learn major concepts in the technology sector such as: programming; 3D modeling tools and engines; GUI and user interactivity; and user accessibility along with usability.
What in projects will be measured:
As with projects of this nature, there is no concrete data point measurement, however I have set a series of goals or “stepping stones” to represent at what state I am roughly with the project.
How projects will be measured:
A 3D model of the Energy Lab needs to be completed using resources from aerial scans and the building plans. Interaction could be implemented with a simple moving camera and virtual world inside of Blender’s own 3D gamespace. Later this model, along with surface materials and textures, can be easily imported into either the Unity 5 game engine or the Unreal Engine 4. These engines will allow a first-person walkthrough tour of the Energy Lab to run directly inside a web browser. Lastly, the final product experience will need to be integrated into the HPA website.
Tools and Resources:
The 3D virtual tour will require a 3D modeling tool that is capable of creating models to work with, while a game engine is needed to create a real-time simulation that is capable of exporting an embedded web version. I believe that Blender is the best way to produce such a model. I would prefer to use the Unreal Engine 4 for the porting to a web base, but Unity 5 will work much in the same way.
Impacts on Different Scales:
The3D model and tour can be successfully deployed to the school’s website, it can serve as a valuable way to represent the facilities of the institution. On a larger scale, this method of visualization can represent a new horizon of representation and interaction on a web platform applied to many different institutions and environments.
The 3D virtual tour will require greater teamwork and collaborative effort in the future as the project grows past the first tour. Otherwise, undertakings on this scale will be inefficient in the future if this concept continues to expand to captivate the entire school. As the virtual reality team will be interested in such a concept, I imagine that after the initial model is built and tested, there is opportunity for further development by next generation teams and collaboration with current interested parties. For the school, the integration of a 3D tour of one facility is a major stepping stone into the next generation of the internet where sites and location will be more easily accessible to view and experience than before. This will prove to be a major accomplishment for the institution and provide a base to which further development of such experience can be build by future students interested.