We've been working with David, a Research Associate in our Department of Mechanical Engineering to scan our 4 East South building and create a virtual reality model. This model can be used on desktop or with a google cardboard device. Not only does this VR model give us the opportunity to show our facilities to prospective students who aren’t able to attend open days, but we’ve also designed it to show how you’ll learn architecture and civil engineering in the building. Throughout the model you’ll see staff and students in tutorials, reviews, and developing their designs in the studio. If you click the extra information points you’ll get to meet some of them and find out more about what they are doing.
At the moment we have only scanned floors 2, 3, 4 and 5. In September we’ll add floor 1 to the model, which will feature an exhibition of student work and the workshops. The model won’t feature the computing services area of the building or the top design studio space.
What’s in the model?
If you view the model using the floor plan icon, you'll see areas have been labeled so you can easily find the information points. Please note that until the bottom the floor has been scanned the VR model’s floor numbers are out of sink with reality.
- Floor 4 (real floor 5) – individual and group tutorials
- Floor 3 (real floor 4) – 6th year architecture interim reviews and general studio working
- Floor 2 (real floor 3) – information on architecture and civil engineering placements
- Floor 1 (real floor 2) – civil engineering poster presentation and general studio working
How to navigate the model
To find the model on our website use the URL: go.bath.ac.uk/ace-vr
You’ll then need to click the big play button on the embedded media ‘explore 3D space’ to enter the model. By doing this you’ll remain on the same webpage, but you’ll be able to interact with the building.
Exploring on Desktop
Using a desktop is my favourite way of viewing the model as this offers different ways to interact with the building and displays the information points. You hold and click to move your eyeline and then single click in any direction to move that way. If you click or hover over the blue info points you get a boxout containing extra written, audio or video content.
Entering VR mode (Google cardboard)
To enter VR mode click the icon second from left in the bottom right-hand corner ‘View in VR’. You’ll need to have already downloaded the Google Cardboard App to use this and have a headset. The headset always needs a bit of adjusting by moving the phone around in the viewer until the blue hollow circles align. Once that works you can move around the model by fixing your eyes on the solid blue coloured circles so that the hollow blue circle fits around this. There’s no skipping around the model in VR mode and the info spots won’t appear, but it's fun to try it out!
What I've learnt from user testing
Navigating the model is pretty intuitive for anyone who has used google street view, but I've found people need prompting:
- to open the info spots and then enlarge them by double clicking
- to use the icons at the bottom of the screen (highlights reel, dollshouse view, floor plan view)
- to return to "walkabout" mode after using a floor plan or dollshouse view
I've also found that knowing the model well, so that you can pick out interesting scenarios to show users, helps to keep them engaged. The software also periodically crashes and the only way to deal with this is to refresh the page and enter the model again.