Some 3D modeling programs have adjustable physics and lighting effects, but for the most part, digital objects exist in a sort of virtual vacuum. And once something is printed, it exists in real-world physics, and even though wind and gravity can’t really be seen, architects still use 3D printing to create scale models of their buildings because they can lend useful perspectives on shadows and spacing. What if they could see wind, though? That’s what a team at Inition asked, and the answer came in the form of an iPad app.
The app creates a real-time virtual overlay on the object that the iPad’s camera is aimed at, providing valuable information about wind currents, lighting throughout the day and the seasons, and even the shadows and wind protection caused by tree growth, much to the dismay of exterior designers. Additionally, the app can display color-coded breakdowns of rooms, plumbing and electrical systems, and foot traffic. Architectural masterpieces don’t just function; they function well and they look good doing it. A good architect doesn’t attempt to tame nature completely, but only enough to make people secure and comfortable. If you don’t want skirts blowing up on the veranda then it may need to face east or have a bushy wall, and if you’d like a skylight then it’s helpful to know where the sun will be in June and January.
This app could be expanded into many areas of education, like showing students the airflows and hotspots of various computer configurations, the digestive systems of different animals, or the workings of a car. Indeed, the diagnostics of a car could be made to transmit from the car to an iPad with clear visual indicators of what’s wrong and what all will need to be taken off in order to get to it and fix it. So the technology is clearly practical, and with all the buzz over Google Glass, virtual overlays will probably be trending in over the next couple years.