Different options for designing 3D map

October 21, 2022

In this post, we will introduce different options for designing 3D map. A map mostly serves the task of guiding people, but there are many different ways to design a map. When designing a map, a lot depends on what the map is designed for, which people use it, what kind of user experience they expect and what added value the map should create.

Detailed designing of 3D model

With 3D Wayfinder, you can design your own 3D map, but we also offer a complete solution with several detail levels. One way is to create very detailed designing 3D map. These are models where the textures are precise, so that it looks as real as possible. Such a 3D model is important for advertising apartment buildings, so future residents can get a very accurate idea of ​​their home.

Detailed_3d_model_of_apartment_building
Detailed 3D model view of the apartment building and the courtyard

It is not always necessary to create detailed models for the purpose of selling houses or apartments. For example, the building of the University of Applied Sciences in Tallinn has historical value. They wanted to bring a historical feel to the 3D map as well. Therefore, a detailed and realistic model was created for them.

different_options_for_designing_3d_map
Tallinn University of Applied Sciences 3D model view of the main building

Funway 2D map

A complete opposite to the realistic models are 2D maps. This is a map drawn using the FunWay method, which does not convey a real image, but has a nice design and is understandable to all users.

funway_2d_map_of_shopping_mall
2D map view of Beach Mall in Dubai

We have also prepared a detailed 3D model for them, which is much more realistic and the icons on the model are slightly more emphasized.

detailed_3d_model_of_shopping_mall
3D model view of Beach Mall in Dubai

Simplified map view

Everyone is probably familiar with the feeling of getting lost in a hardware store and spending time for lookinf certain products. We have prepared an interior map for the hardware store in Estonia, by shelves and departments. Pins for products from specific companies have been added to the shelves and departments, which makes it much easier for customers to search for specific products. Creating such a card is quick and easy. For customers, it makes the experience of visiting a hardware store more pleasant.

Simplified_map_view_of_hardware_store
A simplified map view of the hardware store with product brands

A similar simplified map is suitable for shopping centers, where different businesses can advertise themselves by the logo attached to the map, and it is much easier for the customer to find the desired location.

3d_wayfinder_solution_with_logos
Wayfinder solution of a large shopping center in Denmark with logos

Color based design

The designing 3D map can be based on the colors of the website or logo. For example the Kuwait Oil Company hospital map is inspired by the dark blue color of their website and logo.

3d_color_based_map_design
Kuwait Oil Company Hospital Wayfinder map

Similar to the color scheme of the Kuwait hospital, a map has also been created for IdeaPark based in Finland. The color scheme of the IdeaPark shopping center is green, and a map was made for them with the same color scheme.

color_based_map_solution
Map solution for the IdeaPark shopping center in Finland with mobile integrations

In addition to 3D models and maps, 3D Wayfinder also offers the option of creating a mobile app. The Ülemiste Center in Estonia has requested such a solution. Clients of the center can use the map application on a personal mobile device. The background of the Ülemiste Center mobile application map is displayed in a dark color to make it more visible on a small screen.

Color_based_mobile_integration
Map of the Ülemiste center with the solution of the app on the mobile device

As you have seen, 3D Wayfinder can design very unique looking maps. In addition to the big picture, there are many options for fine tuning. For example, it is possible to choose colors of the ceiling, floor, walls and other similar surfaces. It is also possible to change shapes and colors of the road guidance, shape and color of the adjacent menu and much more. All this affects the user experience and creates value for the branding of the building or company.

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New improvements for 2D floor plans

January 30, 2018

We have added a couple of improvements for 2D floor plans, that make uploading 2D floor plan images easier. We are also working on couple of new features. That will make using 2D maps much easier.

3D and 2D maps share the same data in 3D Wayfinder. This is for using 3D and 2D side by side.

As 2D maps will be shown in 3D Wayfinder editor as textures on a plain. There are couple of requirements that have to be filled, like texture shape and size.

2D floor plans

Now we have added automatic texture resizing. So 2D map images don’t need to be square-shaped anymore. The longest side should still be at least 1024 pixels, if its less, the map will be resized to this value.

We will also resize the map to the closest larger power of two when none of the sides is 1024, 2048 or 4096 pixels. The ratio between the sides will stay the same so the map image will not be distorted after resizing.

We require the longest side to be 1024 pixels. But if you want to have a large and good quality map, then uploading an image with 4096 pixel side is a way to go.

Shopping center 2D floor map.

2D floor plans are a good start for wayfinding solution since they often already exist, so no extra effort goes into creating a map.

Right now our system allows uploading only raster files like PNG or JPG. Soon we will add new feature which enables uploading vector files like SVG. This means that maps could be zoomed in as much as needed and areas can be made clickable automatically.

We are also working towards the goal that 2D and 3D maps wouldn’t need separate templates anymore. It can be specified in the settings if you want to use the map as 2D or 3D.

This means that in the future it will also be possible to use both maps at the same time. 2D in mobile and 3D in kiosks.

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Keeping floor plan editor idle in the background

August 1, 2017

The new 3D Wayfinder Administration Panel is centered more around the floor plan editor. To provide better usability we keep the 3D editor idle when moving away to other pages. So switching between editor and other views is much faster now.

The new Administration Panel has been publicly available for testing since the beginning of this year. At the end of the summer we will only support the new administration panel. Although the current administration environment will be available for some time.

Loading the 3D floor plan editor takes a couple of seconds because we need to load 3D floor-plans models and also additional editor tools. Now when the editor is always in the background. We do not need to load the 3D editor again. This makes the usage more faster and user friendly.

new 3D floorplan editor

Our new administrator panel is being built on Angularjs. To achieve loading of editor once we have created the service that holds the canvas element. It is also attached our editor API to it. Controller then adds canvas to the editor view and provides connection to API actions.

To see and test new Administration panel and floor plan editor, please log in here. If you don’t have an account with 3D Wayfinder, you can create it here for free.

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Wayfinding kiosk with Raspberry Pi

July 11, 2017

We have recently experimented with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, to see how it can work as media player for digital signage display or wayfinding information kiosk. As a result we can say, it works well with 2D wayfinding maps and with 3D Wayfinder Advertisement Module.

What is Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi is a small credit card sized linux based open source computer. It is equipped with:
– Broadcom 64-bit quad core CPU clocked @ 1.2 GHz,
– 1GB of RAM,
– built-in WLAN and BLE modules,
– HDMI output.

But everything is soldered to the board hence there is no option to upgrade, except for the microSD card. You can also have a nice box for it, so it doesn’t look like a hackers development board.

Raspberry Pi

Compared to other small form factor computers like Intel NUC or Gigabyte BRIX, it is much cheaper. Raspberry Pi with a nice case and microSD card would cost about 50..70 USD. The NUC or BRIX boxes start at 110..130 USD new, and you still need to equip them with a hard drive (SSD/HDD) and memory module(s) (DDR3/DDR4 SO-DIMM RAM) which would cost you about an extra 30 USD for a 32GB SSD and ~25 USD for DDR3 or ~30 USD for DDR4. Totalling up to about 165..190 USD.

Raspberry PI plays in Full HD, so it is not a problem to use large resolution screens.

Wayfinding with Raspberry Pi

Enable WebGL

For 3D the Raspberry is still a bit weak and by default it doesn’t have WebGL enabled. To enable WebGL you have to:
1. Open up the terminal application (or command prompt if you prefer to call it that)
2. run command sudo raspi-config
3. navigate to Advanced Options
4. enable GL support.

The GPU on the Raspberry PI 3 Model B doesn’t support floating point textures, so we cannot use transparent textures.

To build wayfinding or digital signage project based on Raspberry Pi you need to use a special linux distribution that opens a browser in full-screen mode instead of the regular desktop interface.

At the same time the kiosk based on Raspberry Pi is quite bullet-proof. There’s no need to worry about excessive power consumption as it actually only consumes about 3.7W under full load and only about 1.4W when playing a FullHD video, which is roughly 10% of the Intel NUCs ~38W while under full system load and ~18W while watching a FullHD video.

chart

It boots up fast from a microSD card which can be easily replaced when it wears out or breaks.

Although remote managing a kiosk that uses a Raspberry Pi can prove to be quite a cumbersome task as you cannot use regular GUI remote management tools like Teamviewer or LogMeIn. The fastest way to remote manage the Raspberry Pi is to use SSH, which is a CLI (Command Line Interface) and this might scare-off most of the users that are not used to poking around via a CLI.

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Towards rule-base wayfinding

September 25, 2015

Future in wayfinding includes definitely possibility to create complex rules for path finding. Now there are also node restrictions in 3D Wayfinder to specify working days etc.

One of the last addition to 3D Wayfinder was node weights for calculating optimal paths. This made possible to guide visitors in some recommended way. Now there is also possible to restrict some nodes based on time and day.node_restrictions_wayfinding_paths_by_date_and_time

In many public buildings, there are rules for locking doors, elevators or gates. There can be different areas open during working hours than weekends or night times. This is common for shopping malls, train stations, university campuses etc. Even large office buildings are keeping some doors open during the weekends as there might be service providers like dentists, children playrooms etc. When providing wayfinding to your visitors, it is important to follow the same rules.

With 3D Wayfinder, it is possible now to create path restrictions according to work-day and time. To create this kind of restrictions, just open node attributes under editor.
Under Node attributes in 3D Wayfinder Editor, there can be entered JSON. In future we will provide also special UI for that.

Here is the example that will allow to pass the navigation node from 10AM to wayfinding_paths_restriction_node_attributes9PM:

{
“allowedTimes”: [
[
10,
21
]
]
}

Adding other blocks, you can also specify by days.

We are currently developing also other rule types, like security or accessibility. These rules help to create adaptable and user-friendly way-finding applications which are useful and finally elementary for large buildings.

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Node weights in path calculation

August 21, 2015

We have updated path finding functionality and path calculation. Now it is possible to change the weights of navigation nodes in 3D Wayfinder floor plan editor.

Path-finding application calculates automatically the shortest route from the starting node to the required location. In mobile applications, the Kiosk node can be your position inside the building. With 3D Wayfinder, the shortest route is calculated in a 3 dimensional room. It means the shortest path through all the floors.

Now it is possible to change the weights of the connection nodes. With this wayfinding application calculates optimal route, which doesn’t have to be the shortest. For example when you would like to guide your visitors to use the path inside the building instead of going around the building. Then you can set the weight for outdoor nodes higher. The weight is basically virtual length that will be added to the route, when passing the navigation node with a weight.

path_finding_functionality_in_3D_WayfinderTo use the weights you have to select the navigation node in 3D Wayfinder floor plan editor and change the node weight from the text box. By default all the weights are 0.

For example lets, say that waiting for the elevator takes usually 3 minutes. Lets assume, that visitors are moving with a speed of 3 km per hour, which is 50 meters per minute. So with waiting the elevator, visitor can pass 150 meters (3*50). If we would like to take account this in path calculation. Then we can add weight of 150 to the navigation node, that is marked as elevator.

Pathfinding functionality comes bundled in an add-on you can order from 3D Wayfinder Administration panel. It is also included in the Pro plan.

Read more about 3D Wayfinder’s path-finding capabilities.

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3D Wayfinder joined the Open Design Alliance

June 19, 2015

We have joined the Open Design Alliance to develop CAD file support to 3D Wayfinder. With CAD support it will be easy to upload building drawing files and show them directly through web.

Open_Design_Alliance_logo_wayfinder

3D Technologies R&D (developer of 3D Wayfinder) is now a member of Open Design Alliance. The Open Design Alliance (ODA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of open industry-standard formats for CAD. ODA was established in 1998 and now has over 1300 members.

Most of the architectural modelling is done with Autodesk CAD software packages, where DWG files are native file formats. DWG is a proprietary and closed file format and it doesn’t have open specifications. ODA has deigned Teigha library which supports the use of C++, .NET, and ActiveX interfaces. Also it allows the exchange of data through .dwg, .dgn and .stl files.

We will search the possibilities to provide also DWG file reading in 3D Wayfinder. This will open up a whole new area for 3D Wayfinder. Architects can directly upload their building drawing to 3D Wayfinder and also real estate managers, building owners etc. For example DWG files that can be viewed through 3D Wayfinder. There will be no need for converting DWG-s to common 3D formats that 3D Wayfinder currently supports.

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3D vs 2D wayfinding

May 18, 2015

What is the difference between 3D vs 2D wayfinding and what are the benefits of 3D floor plans?

We have tested 3D, semi-3D and 2D floor-plans with our small focus-group and below is the short summary.

3D_vs_2D_wayfinding_maps

To see the 3D floor-plans in action, please sign up to 3D Wayfinder for creating your own 3D floor-plans, or see our 3D modelling services and examples.

3D Wayfinder supports also 2D images for creating wayfinding application.

Semi-3D maps are rendered or designed floor plans, that are made to look like 3D. The map is rendered on an angle, so it is possible to see part of walls also.

We are using semi-3D maps for mobile devices, where WebGL is not supported yet.

3D vs 2D wayfinding floor plans

 3D floor plansSemi-3D floor plans2D floor plans
Overview of the building
  • 3D floor plans give a good overview of your location.
  • With 3D users see the map the way they see the building in real life.
  • It is possible to show the details, that people use for orientation inside building, for example escalators, pools, statues, tables, benches, trees etc.
  • Showing walls give a better understanding of where you are and it is easier to link the map with a real building.
  • It is easy to understand which floors have atriums and distinguish between things on different plains.
  • Semi 3D floor plans give also a good overview where you are.
  • Semi 3D can be shown only from the one angle, when looking from the other side, they can be are hard to understand.
  • Limited possibility to show the walls of the building.
  • Detailed 2D floor plans don’t give a clear overview, so it is better to use simple floor plans.
  • With simple maps the amount of details are limited.
  • It is hard for users to understand where they are and linking the map with real building is not that convenient.
  • With 2D it is not possible to show the walls of the building.
Usability of wayfinding application
  • 3D floor plans are easy to use. It is always possible to limit the zoom distances and even forbid rotation if needed.
  • Pathfinding is simple and 3D gives a good visual overview for navigating from one floor to another.
  • It is always possible to use camera view for path visualization.
  • Extra dimension enables to add more info.
  • Semi 3D floor plans are also easy to use, but it is not possible to rotate the maps.
  • Pathfinding is more convenient than 2D, as users can see some parts of the walls.
  • It is possible to add more info to the maps as 2D, but it is still not possible to add as many info/layers than 3D.
  • Rotating and moving is not that convenient, especially when looking on the vertical screen.
  • It is not convenient to guide visitors to other floors.
  • 2D floor plans should be kept simple, as there is limited space for layers and info.
  • Simple maps may not provide enough information and visitors may think, that the maps are not useful for them.
Map details and amount of information on the floor plans
  • With 3D there is one more dimension for presenting details and map related data.
  • Billboards on the map don’t disturb browsing.
  • It is possible to show details for better orientation.
  • It is possible to add more details than 2D maps, but the space for information is still limited.
  • Level of details should be kept as simple as possible, otherwise they disturb the understanding of the map.
  • Illustrated details cannot be presented in real size and it can be confusing.
Impression and imago of the building
  • 3D floor plans look nice and realistic.
  • Visitors have a sense of „controlling the building”, which makes them feel good
  • Users understand, that there has been more effort to make the wayfinding for them as good as possible.
  • Semi 3D looks prettier than plain 2D map.
  • Visitors may get disappointed when they try to turn the building, as they expect it to be real 3D.
  • With too simple 2D maps it is possible, that visitors may avoid using maps not to look foolish.
  • Detailed maps confuse visitors and they feel more lost than they were before stepping in front of the wayfinding application.
Displays and future technological possibilities
  • 3D wayfinding can work also with real 3D technologies like holograms, LED-cubes and 3D displays. Unfortunately these technologies are still in prototype phase.
  • With larger displays it is possible to add more details.
  • There is no reasonable point of showing more details with larger screen.
Advertising channel and Digital Signage integration
  • More advertisements can be shown on the maps, as the ads don’t hide the map.
  • Billboard ads on the maps look cooler and attractive.
  • Better than 2D but the advertisements still hide the map.
  • Advertisements disturb the using the wayfinding.
  • Less space for advertisements, as they hide the map behind them.

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