A WORLD-first augmented reality tool is being expanded into Europe to create designs for everything from hospital emergency departments to factories.
Building upon a regular Computer Aided Design (CAD) plan, the patented CADwalk system uses software to display an image of a room on to a large wall screen and project the floor plan on to the floor in actual size.
First developed with the help of the Wearable Computer Lab at the University of South Australia, CADwalk Global was previously known as Jumbo Vision International. The company originally used the software to design control rooms, but has now expanded it for use in almost any mission critical environment.
Chief Operations Officer at CADwalk Global Lena Kimenkowski said the system gave users a physical sense of a designed space before the building process began.
“It’s all about getting the key experience of the space, especially for people who aren’t designers, but can walk through a space and know if it feels right,” she said.
“A lot of the time these sort of industries create mock-ups using wood or cardboard, so CADwalk is a big cost saver, and it’s also more environmentally friendly.
“You bring in the sort of people who know their environment and they can then play through different scenarios or get a sense for what kind of impact a change such as adding new machinery is going to have and optimise from that.
“You would probably focus on separate areas in the design, so it might be multiple rooms with different areas, so for example an emergency department, surgeries, and so on.”
Because CADwalk relies on specialised hardware, expanding its physical offices worldwide is an important part of bringing the service to more designers.
Last month CADwalk launched its first international office in Munich, Germany. The Munich office will open fully next month as a central location to provide design services for Europe
The opening of the Munich office was aided by an Australian Federal Government commercialisation grant, with the Germany based office planned to tap into factory design in the region.
“What we’re doing is we really looked for subject matter experts in each field, because there are already experts out there designing factories and so on,” Kimenkowski said.
“Then we provide CADwalk to them as a service so they can work with their clients, the big thing we want to do is show people that it’s here and that other people can use it.
“It doesn’t have to be us leading the consulting or the design process, we can just make it available for other people to utilise as well.”
Each of CADwalk’s offices feature a 200sq m floor that can be used to display floor plans. By panning or scaling, the floor can display larger designs, with some of CADwalk’s biggest projects approaching 2000 square metres in size.
Since expanding on its initial premise, CADwalk has been used to design several towers for Airservices Australia.
CADwalk was also used to test and approve a shop-refit in a single day workshop between an external designer and their client in Western Australia.
“We think that there’s a lot of interest for people to look at their designs in a different way in advance, rather than going ahead with the building side of things straight away,” Kimenkowski said.
“I think that people have to look at manufacturing in a different way.”
CADwalk’s main use to date has been to facilitate and optimise the design of technical rooms all over Australia and New Zealand, and has been especially useful for the design of control rooms and air traffic control towers for companies such as Airservices Australia, Chevron and Transpower. However the applications for CADwalk extend to a diverse range of applications where the optimisation and design of spaces is critical. One of the new applications showing very exciting potential is ‘Retail fit-out’. Optimising retail space for smooth traffic flow while maximising shopper exposure to products has very clear financial returns on the investment in the CADwalk process for retailers.
After discussions with Diverse Shopfitters, Australia’s leading independent shop fitting company and winner of three awards at the 2015/16 ASOFIA National Interior Fitout Awards, CADwalk was engaged with a client of Diverse Shopfitters for the design of a new gourmet grocery, fresh food, delicatessen in the affluent suburb of Floreat in Western Australia. The fit-out consisted of a deli section (smallgoods, cheeses etc), areas for fresh fruit and vegetables, dry goods, dairy and meat, with the back of house involving office space, cool rooms & freezers, and a food preparation area.
All of the project stake holders were present on the day of the CADwalk workshop, including the shopfitter, the client and the designer, and after a brief presentation from the CADwalk team, the group were asked about their concerns. As the discussion unfolded the CADwalk team were able to step back and simply facilitate the operation of the system to reflect the group’ conversations and ideas. The group moved around the space, walking up and down the simulated aisles, moving shelving and equipment to assess the consequential impact on the overall space. The CADwalk team even provided 2D shopping trolleys for the group to push around the store!
The layout was discussed, alternatives were assessed and a final layout was decided on, validated and approved at the CADwalk workshop in one day by all of the stake holders. The clients walked away with a greater understanding of their space and how it was being used. The shopfitter walked away confident that the client was happy with the proposed design and would not be causing concerns midway through construction, that may otherwise have been painful and expensive for all. The designer walked away happy that the proposed design and layout was in fact the right solution all along and happy that their client now had a greater level of trust in their recommendations.
The designer said “It was a great presentation and I know my clients had a lot of value from this. I’m looking forward to showing more clients!”
CADwalk allows clients to understand plans and space in a new and exciting way by using the latest in advanced visualisation technologies to create an interactive, life-size design experience.