SketchUp Viewer for Microsoft HoloLens enables users to inhabit designs

November 9, 2016  - By

Trimble has launched its SketchUp Viewer for Microsoft HoloLens. The new mixed-reality solution allows users to virtually inhabit and experience their designs to improve quality, communication and efficiency in the design, construction and operation of buildings. SketchUp Viewer is the first extensible commercial HoloLens application available in the Windows Store.

SketchUp a widely used 3D modeling software for architects, engineers, design and construction professionals as well as members of the global maker community.

trimble-sketchup-viewer-for-hololens-2-w2The announcement was made at Trimble Dimensions. During the Trimble Dimensions keynote, Trimble, Microsoft and architect Greg Lynn demonstrated how the SketchUp Viewer solution could improve design and construction processes. Using HoloLens, architects were able to experience SketchUp models in mixed reality, as holograms placed in the real world — enabling them to quickly analyze various “what if” design scenarios in the context of the physical environment. The demonstration also illustrated how using Trimble solutions with HoloLens holographic technology enables remote teams to effectively review and collaborate in order to resolve constructability issues in real time.

Greg Lynn leveraged Trimble’s mixed-reality solution and Microsoft HoloLens to re-imagine the Packard Plant—a historic, abandoned automobile factory in Detroit. The architectural project was commissioned as part of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale exhibition in Italy.

“Trimble mixed-reality technology and Microsoft HoloLens bring the design to life and bridge the gap between the digital and physical. Using this technology I can make decisions at the moment of inception, shorten the design cycle and improve communication with my clients,” said Greg Lynn.

trimble-sketchup-viewer-greg-lynn-buildings-oThe emergence of mixed-reality technology is enabling new workflow processes for the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations (AECO) market. Trimble’s mixed-reality solution gives users the ability to understand and communicate complex spatial conditions in one comprehensive and immersive experience. The combination of SketchUp with mixed reality ushers in a new paradigm: Experiential Design Review—the ability to inhabit and experience design and construction projects in the most natural way possible.

“Empowering people to design and communicate better in 3D is part of our DNA. Across the SketchUp platform, we are dedicated to the idea that technology should get out of the way of our users,” said Chris Keating, general manager of Trimble’s SketchUp. “With SketchUp Viewer, we are taking another big step toward delivering the ultimate experience for designers and their clients—the experience of inhabiting their own work.”

Microsoft HoloLens is a self-contained, holographic computer that provides a mixed-reality experience for a range of commercial and consumer applications. HoloLens extends interaction with 3D models beyond the confines of a 2D computer screen, creating new ways for the many stakeholders of complex, multi-phase construction projects to visualize, collaborate, share ideas and manage change.

“We are thrilled to work with Trimble to deliver new innovation to SketchUp, one of the most widely used applications in the architecture, engineering, construction and operations industry,” said Lorraine Bardeen, general manager of Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Experiences. “SketchUp Viewer for Microsoft HoloLens can dramatically improve collaboration, decision making, efficiency, quality, and safety by giving users the unique ability to bring digital content into the real world, real-time as part of their current workflow.”

With SketchUp Viewer, users can view models that have been published to their HoloLens device via the newly launched AR|VR Extension for SketchUp Desktop; they can browse and download models from Trimble’s 3D Warehouse or they can pull project files down from Trimble Connect, a cloud-based collaboration platform. Users then have the option to place a model within their physical environment.

In Tabletop mode, models can be scaled as needed to best fit the available space or specific design review requirements. While the experience is intended to mimic viewing a physical scale model, it maintains the flexibility and the dynamic nature of a digital model. Users can re-scale, move and rotate the model as desired. Models can be anchored and re-anchored in the physical environment, so designers and engineers can walk around the project and examine it from any vantage point.

Users can transition seamlessly to an immersive experience. Mixed reality enables unique opportunities to overlay physical models in real world environments; and as a completely untethered device, HoloLens allows users to move freely as they inhabit their digital surrounds.

In both Tabletop and Immersive mode, SketchUp Viewer allows users to do more than just look at the model. The application provides access to the most critical pieces of information for making vital project decisions and gaining consensus among project stakeholders. The Entity Info feature gives users access to important Building Information Modeling (BIM) data embedded within project components; and with the Tape Measure functionality, users can pull up dimensional information from the model. Users can also control the visibility of various aspects of the model by toggling layers on and off.

Real-time, remote and co-located collaboration are key elements to the experiential design review process in SketchUp Viewer. With multiple HoloLens devices, a group of users can load the same model, engaging a “see what I see” collaboration mode. Remote collaborators can communicate via real-time audio and use mixed-reality visualization “sight-guides” to better understand who in the group is looking at what.

 

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Tracy Cozzens

About the Author:

Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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