A “4D” INTERFACE TO VISUALIZE IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESSES – 4 DIVE

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A “4D” INTERFACE TO VISUALIZE IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT THE 4DIVE - A 4D INTERFACE FOR THE VISUALIZATION OF CONSTRUCTION PROCESSES – 4 DIVE CONSTRUCTION PROCESSES IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT Mario Doulis, Professor Institute of 4D–Technologies, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, Steinackerstrasse 5, INTERFACE FOR THE VISUALIZATION OF 4DIVE - A 4D Windisch, CH-5210, Switzerland mario.doulis@fhnw.ch; http://www.i4ds.ch CONSTRUCTION PROCESSES IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT Manfred

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  A “4D” INTERFACE TO VISUALIZE IN A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT THECONSTRUCTION PROCESSES – 4 DIVE      Mario Doulis, Professor  Institute of 4D–Technologies, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, Steinackerstrasse 5, Windisch, CH-5210, Switzerland mario.doulis@fhnw.ch; http://www.i4ds.ch Manfred Vogel, Professor, Dr. sc. nat. Institute of 4D–Technologies, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, Steinackerstrasse 5, Windisch, CH-5210, Switzerland  Manfred.vogel@fhnw.ch; http://www.i4ds.ch Jan Pflüger, Research Associate Institute for Research in Art and Design, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, Bahnhofstrasse 102, CH-5000 Aarau, Switzerland an.pflueger@fhnw.ch; http://www.idk.ch Marco Rietmann, Research Assistant  Institute of 4D–Technologies, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, Steinackerstrasse 5, Windisch, CH-5210, Switzerland marco.rietmann @fhnw.ch; http://www.i4ds.ch Michael Raps, Research Associate Institute of 4D–Technologies, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, Steinackerstrasse 5, Windisch, CH-5210, Switzerland michael.raps @fhnw.ch; http://www.i4ds.ch 1.   INTRODUCTION 4DIVE is a 3D user interface for process management tasks of the AEC industry using 4D models and VirtualReality (VR) technology. It is developed to support decision making processes during the planning as well as duringthe construction phase. Therefore we currently develop a mobile Virtual Environment (VE), that allows to use4DIVE directly at the construction site.Within the project we keep the focus on the design of the 3D user interface, which takes into account, that up to nowthere are only few standards concerning dataflow, applications, input and output systems, interaction techniques anduser interface design for VR. Therefore the 4DIVE project started with the development of an overall user interfacedesign that includes the definition and development of the software but primarily takes care of a high ease of use of the whole environment.In the 4DIVE concept the 4D CAD model of a building (while in this context time is the 4 th dimension) is not onlyused for architectural visualization. It also serves as a 3D interface for the visualization of multi-dimensional processes representing the state of construction at a given time. Since all the information about the building will be     stored in a single Building Information Model (BIM), this allows the presentation of a variety of information for different stakeholders, e.g. for design or redesign purposes, for the simulation of alternative construction scenariosor for the controlling of ongoing processes. Thus, in a next step we will implement a connection to an external data base, which provides additional information of the building (or product). 2.   4D TECHNOLOGY In the AEC industry 3D models are becoming well established for the representation and visualization of a project.However, 3D models do not efficiently represent and communicate other aspects of a project than geometry,especially not temporal ones. Consequently, they do not support project managers in the planning of schedules andin the testing of schedule alternatives. The extension to visual 4D models combines spatial and temporal aspects inorder to display the progression of a project over time. In addition it becomes possible to present other information,e.g. used resources, prices, contractual information and the like.4D models link components from 3D CAD models with construction activities, available resources, procurementrestrictions and project schedules. The resulting 4D models allow project managers and other stakeholders to displaythe project development over time on a computer screen. Such 4D software has the ability to start and stop thetimeline as well as to directly jump to any date requiring the attention of the user. Usually, additional informationsuch as used resources or a status can be displayed as well. In this paper we address the topic of visualizing 4Dmodels in Virtual Environments and we present appropriate interfaces supporting their visualization andmanipulation.4D models allow to review the planned status of a project in the context of a 3D model for any desired time. Thisallows project managers to check the integrity of the master schedule, reveals potential time-space conflicts andlogistical problems, supports the communication of product and process knowledge and allows an efficient trackingof the work progress (Koo and Fischer 2000). Furthermore, 4D models facilitate the communication with sub-contractors and improve the collaboration between the project team. An overview over the current state of 3D/4Dmodels in the AEC industry and how they support the construction processes is given by Hartmann and Fischer (2007). As 4D models tend to become quite massive in data to be tracked and held accurate, efforts have beenundertaken to combine 3D CAD models with databases for the 4 th dimensional data (Dawood et al. 2000). In 4Divethe 4D model is provided by the  Interactive Toolbox for 4D Modeling  (Märki et al. 2006), where the 3D data isstored in a VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) file, and attached to a structure of construction informationstored in three XML (Extensible Markup Language) files (see section 4.2).In addition to these achievements, we explore possibilities to record paths in time-space. A part of this paper istherefore devoted to appropriate interfaces and interface concepts. However, we do not address the topic of howrecorded time-space scenarios have to be arranged in order to give a lively and meaningful animation following a predefined storyboard. This will be the subject of a future paper. Here, we focus on technical and interface designaspects on how 4D models can be imported, viewed and manipulated in a VE. 3.   INTERFACE DESIGN As a concept, interface can be generally understood as meaning of the relation between human and artefact.Regardless of whether or not the artefact is an object that is physically present, such as a pair of scissors or atelephone, or immaterial information or structures of order, we always stand in relation to it. In this respect, interfacedescribes the possibilities for utilization and action that emerge from and are established by the interaction betweenhumans and artefacts. Bonsiepe (1996) describes it as the interdependency between a user, a task and a tool. A toolcan be either a physically present or an immaterial artefact.Because human experience and action cannot be standardized in the sense of a norm, interface design refuses to bereduced to the functional and formal/aesthetic design of user interfaces based on defined conditions and guidelines.Rather, relational structures are conceived through interface design, and these have a decisive influence on thehandling of artefacts – something that must be taken into consideration in their development (Doulis 2004).     3.1   3D user interface design This is especially true for interaction concepts in computer technology. They become more diverse. Supplementingtraditional WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointing device) interfaces, spatial interfaces with 3D trackers, 3D pointing devices and stereoscopic projection displays like a CAVE (Cruz-Neira et al. 1992) are becoming morewidespread. Bowman et al. (2005) and Sherman and Craig (2002) give a good overview of the state of the art andfuture trends in this field.For the design of these 3D interfaces, it is increasingly important that the aspect of spatial context is taken intoconsideration to a greater extent than currently done (Doulis 2004). Space is the basic system of relation for humans.It is probably the most important area of human experience. Humans orient themselves in and through space and itsdimensions and they locate objects according to these dimensions. Space primarily describes the arrangement andvolume of humans and material bodies. These “natural” characteristics of physical space provide an important basisfor the design of 3D user interfaces and VR applications. According to Bowman et al. (2001) the main topics of 3Duser interface design, next to visualization, are input and output devices, interaction techniques and system control.Eason (1991) recommended to include the socio-technical system into the design of user interfaces. His three levelmodel shows which factors affect human-computer interaction (see FIG. 1 ) . With amalgamation Doulis and Simon(2005) describe the interdependent connection between physical environment, input and output devices, interactiontechnique and virtual representation. This takes into account that different applications and technical setups needtheir specific interaction concepts.FIG. 1:   3 levels of analysis for human-computer interaction (Eason 1991) 3.2   The 4DIVE user interface The 4DIVE user interface is part of the ongoing development of  iRoundTable , a collaboration platform for largecomplex AEC projects with geographically dispersed interdisciplinary teams (Vogel et al. 2006). As a part of it, the iRoomImmerse concept includes the integration of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology such as 3Dtracking systems, stereoscopic displays and 3D sound, into common conferencing systems and applications.Although VEs become more widespread, we have to take into account, that they are by no means a common part of the IT infrastructure used in AEC projects. People are not familiar with VR technology and they don't want to spendtime on learning complex interfaces. On the other hand the spatial representation in natural scale provided by VR is predestined for the visualization of architecture and building processes. Therefore we decided to limit thefunctionality of the VR application to the interactive visualization of 4D models which lets the user explore the building process in 4D time-space and record this exploration (e.g. for preparing project meetings or documentation). This limitation of the VR software and the development of optimized interaction techniques andinput devices increase the ease of use of 4DIVE and permit an appropriate integration in existing workflows of AECorganizations.     Although we think of the various components of a user interface as a single entity, our current development hasfocused on the following topics: !   The integration and visualization of 4D CAD models in VR systems (see section 4.2 and 4.3) !   The development of  4Record  , a tool for recording and replaying paths in the 4D time-space (seesection 4.4) !   The design of suitable input devices and interaction techniques (see section 4.5)The 4DIVE user interface can be divided into two parts. The first part concerns the visualization of the 4D model.This includes spatial navigation in the virtual scene as well as using the play function of the 4D recordingapplication 4Record  (see section 4.4). 4DIVE uses VR properties like stereoscopic real-time imaging and 3Dinteraction (Kalawsky 1993) to increase the legibility of the presented 4D model. The user can walk through the presented 4D model like in real space. Additionally, he can use the interaction device for travelling in the virtualscene in a simple manner. Pressing the navigation button of the interaction device sets the starting point of thenavigation. The user is able to travel through the 3D model by moving the device in the desired direction. The travelspeed increases proportionally to the distance between the starting point and the actual position of the interactiondevice. Releasing the button immediately stops motion. This navigation technique is provided by the VR system andallows free movement in x, y, z direction. To prevent users from losing orientation in the virtual scene, only rotationalong the yaw axis is enabled. With the play function of  4Record  the user can move forward and backward throughthe 4D time-space along recorded paths (see section 4.5.4).The second part concerns the tool for recording paths in the 4D time-space. This allows users to record their navigation through the 4D model at a certain time. Both position of the user and schedule of the 4D model can berecorded (see section 4.4). To allow users to navigate through the virtual scene and to use the 4D recordingapplication simultaneously, we developed one input device for each task. This clear separation keeps 4DIVE easy touse even for novice users (see section 4.5). 4.   4DIVE IMPLEMENTATION4.1   Technical setup 4DIVE is optimized for the use with large scale stereoscopic projection displays. It was developed in the VR studioof the Academy of Art and Design FHNW with a stereoscopic wall/floor projection (280cm x 200cm) with 4 JVCDila sx21 data-projectors with passive image-division for image separation, an A.R.T. optical IR tracking systemwith 4 cameras for user and device tracking (see FIG. 2) and in-house developed input devices. The installation isrun by two HP 6200 graphics workstations. 4DIVE was developed on the VR framework Lightning (Blach et al.1998) of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, Stuttgart.FIG. 2:   Technical setup of the VR studio
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