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Distributed Virtual Workspace for Enhancing Communication within the Construction Industry

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Virtual reality in construction sites

The construction industry benefits from the significant advancements in computer graphics, simulation and artificial intelligence. VR applications are often employed as tools for the production of realistic and interactive presentation of buildings.

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Construction projects often involve a high number of different companies or professional teams working together. These companies, usually geographically distant, face significant constraints in coordination and timely information exchange, resulting in a waste of time and materials. Integrated software solutions based on visualization and simulation technologies can bring significant improvements it the co-ordination and communication between groups of project stakeholders in separate locations. This is mainly due to a 3D representation of the planned construction or other computer simulations, which allow the design team to quickly gain insight on the project. The DIVERCITY project, (Distributed Virtual Workspace for enhancing Communication within the Construction Industry), aimed at producing a prototype Virtual Workspace, which enables a better design and planning through collaborative working between all stakeholders. The project has developed a toolkit of six software applications which allows users to visualise building projects and simulate various aspects of their performance during the briefing, design and construction phases. DIVERCITY led, among others, to a Lighting Application, which provides a realistic simulation of lighting. The application incorporates a Geometry Multiresolution Module (GMM), which speeds up the computation of complex surface shapes in applications comprising glossy materials and highly tessellated models. This ability remained up-to-date a challenging open problem due to memory and time complexity constraints. The simulation is built around the radiosity method, a finite element technique that is particularly well suited for global illumination simulation. Though radiosity calculations are extensive and take several hours to run, in most cases, DIVERCITY novel algorithms allow real time simulation and only take a few seconds. Through this application, real time collaboration between different stakeholders can be achieved by sharing lighting simulations during the design process. This not only makes the virtual world representation look realistic but also speeds the design process, bringing significant value improvement and cost reduction to the construction industry.

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