The goal of this project was to develop a Hololens application to do urban planning in a mixed reality environment and provide a framework which makes the process more efficient and immersive. The Microsoft Hololens is a recently developed pair of head-mounted mixed reality smartglasses, which lets the user place virtual holograms in the real world and interact with them using specific gestures. The application should display the buildings in the region of interest and let the user access the attributes of each object in an easy and intuitive way. Editing functionalities should allow the user to freely make changes to the model.
We introduce UrbanX, a Hololens application for efficient and interactive urban planning. What sets our application apart from the traditional way of doing urban planning is the combination of visual appearance and information. While looking at the model we can directly get several attributes of a building (e.g. size, height, residents, year of construction, etc.) in a popup window. To compare one feature of all buildings between each other you can color the whole model rule based according to various attributes. A virtual panel shows information about the area with bar graphs and diagrams.
We use several planning instruments for the interactivity . To remove existing buildings from the city model we implemented a gesture called TapAndHold. A ground plane will remain, to show where the old buildings were located. For adding new buildings, physical markers are used. Once the camera of the Hololens detects a marker, it places the corresponding virtual object on top of it. By moving the marker around in the real world, the building can be placed conveniently without any virtual interaction. With this solution we create an interesting mix between the virtual and real world and are thus blurring the border between the two realities. To get 3D models of the buildings we use the open data from Stadt Zurich and the ESRI CityEngine to do all the processing and editing.
Since planning projects often have to achieve a certain goal (e.g number of new residents), we integrate it into the statistical bar chart to tell the user, how far to the goal he progressed. This adds a game-like component and allows a more playful and incentive experience.
Click here to download the technical report of the work