Latest updates on our CMS

August 27, 2019

For the past few months we have been working on making content management system better and more user-friendly. There is a constant work on fixing bugs and but with this blog post we are ready to introduce you a few updates that make using our CMS easier.

1. Adding a new POI directly from editor.

Before it was necessary to add every POI under “Locations” section but with our latest update it is possible to do it directly in the map editor. Just choose the desired POI, click on “Edit” and from section opening on the right just click “Create new”. Simple as that!

Entering a new location directly in map editor

2. Hiding/showing mesh

With some models it used to be quite a time-consuming work to get the nodes in their right positions. Sometimes node appeared on the mesh and therefore it was needed to move them downwards manually. With our latest updates it makes removing mesh easy and fast. Just select the mesh you would like hide and click on “Hide mesh”. No more manual work!

With our latest updates it makes removing mesh easy and fast. There is a constant work on fixing bugs and we are ready to introduce you a few updates that make using our content management system CMS easier.

3. Connecting nodes on different floors

It used to be complicated to connect nodes on different floors due to different possibilities of stairs, escalators, elevators etc. Luckily we have removed that problem and added a pop-up box when the user tries to take the path from one floor to another.

There will be some more updates coming soon! We will let you know more on that in our next blog post.

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3D model converting problems partially fixed

November 8, 2017

In recent days, we were having problems with 3D model converter. These problems are partially fixed now, so converting non-corrupted 3D files shouldn’t cause any interruption anymore.

3D Wayfinder’s model file converter has stopped quite often lately, when converting corrupted 3D floor-plan files. Every time converter stopped, we had to start the process manually and clean the converting queue.
All 3D files are converted to JSON format, so they can be load in 3D Wayfinder. Our converter supports many 3D file formats, most common are FBX and DAE.
The problems were with couple of models, that caused invalid JSON when converting.
We have added error catching for this, so the rest of the converting process can resume and these corrupted models don’t interrupt other 3D models to be converted.
If converting of 3D floorplan model fails, you’ll get “ERROR” response in 3D Wayfinder Administration:

3D_model_converting_error

Other reasons, that 3D files couldn’t be converted are mainly caused by using non-UTF characters in mesh names.

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3D Wayfinder had guests from Tartu Art school

October 2, 2017

Our office was really crowded last week when we had visitors from Tartu Art School. More than 20 people who have just started their studies to become 3D modellers.

uus

Tartu Art School is the only school in Estonia that teaches 3D modelling and visualization as a vocation. As a part of their curriculum the students visit different companies to see how their skills could be used in the future.

Since 3D models have such a big part in our work, it is also important for us to introduce our company to potential future employees or users of our app.

photo_2017-10-02_11-59-01 visitors

So we talked about what we do and how we do it and how students could use our product. 3D Wayfinder is currently used for mostly way-finding applications. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be used in variety of cases. It’s also perfect for presenting architectural models or – why not – make a virtual art gallery.

It is interesting and useful for us to see what kind of applications the students can find for 3D Wayfinder. So we can make it more flexible and beneficial for a wider range of customers.

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Creating BIM Applications with 3D Wayfinder

June 15, 2017

3D Wayfinder is now being used for Building Information Model (BIM) applications. By creating BIM kiosk software for Estonian National Museum we have added many new and useful features to our software and improved the performance for larger models.

Estonian State Real Estate Ltd ordered Building Information Model solution from us for recently opened Estonian National Museum. Now the visitors can easily explore the 3D model of the whole construction. Also they get the overview of the building by all the details.

erm2016

What is BIM applications?

BIM model is a digital equivalent of the building. It can contain everything from doors to electric fixtures. Although BIM applications technology and methodology is more common in the design of the building. It has large potential benefits for buildings management and maintenance phase.

Estonian National Museum’s new building is meant both for exhibitions and scientific work with net area of 33 879 square meters. We received a model of a building made with Revit, Autodesk software for BIM. It contained highly detailed information – e.g. all the pipes – so it needed a lots of simplifying.

erm_wayfinder_BIM

After the adaptations we still had a huge file with close to 12 000 separate elements. It is the largest model we have had in 3D Wayfinder. It was also the reason why we changed the logic of initializing POI data to make the loading of large objects faster.

Table view for all objects in BIM model was done by using Spreadcell. Spreadcell has easy upload from MS Excel files and it provides table-view, sorting etc by webservices (in JSON format). All the objects are divided into separate groups so the final user can choose what do they want to see, hide or find.

ERM_wayfinder_BIM

Kiosk design

We also built and designed the kiosk from scratch. Since most of the modern kiosk hardware is only enough for showing advertisements or 2D wayfinding plans. The kiosk is equipped with a landscape LCD screen, a touch panel and a dedicated graphics card. It makes kiosk suitable for applications that require greater graphical computing capabilities.

ERM_BIM_kiosk

3D Wayfinder application helps to make BIM useful for those who have no access to specific softwares themselves. For example we can integrate BIM with different management softwares. Also add the ability to write comments. In this way we make it easier for different parties to collaborate on centrally shared model.

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15% performance gain for larger 3D floor plans

January 31, 2017

We have improved our 3D rendering engine. Thanks to better memory management we got 10..20% performance increase in FPS with larger 3D models.

We updated our WebGL javascript engine – FRAK – in 3D Wayfinder. Many memory management functions have been improved in the new version. With the new FRAK engine 3D Wayfinder provides better loading speed performance for larger 3D models, that use more memory. With smaller 3D models, the increase in speed is not noticeable.

Testing with one really large shopping mall floor plan we got increase in performance in average 15%. In idle mode we recorded 16 frames per second (FPS) increase, jumping from 44 FPS to 50 FPS. While actively showing path we recorded a 7 FPS increase, jumping from 38 FPS to 45 FPS. In normal use, 3D Wayfinder is limited to 30 frames per second.

3D_wayfinder_webGL_performance_gain

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Guidelines for creating 3D models

June 14, 2016

We have listed some guidelines for creating 3D models, that look nice and run smoothly in web-browsers. 

3D Wayfinder uses regular 3D models, so there is no special format or way how the 3D floorplans should be modeled. As 3D Wayfinder works in web-browsers through WebGL technology, then in order to get better results the 3D models should be optimized. Read below for some useful tips and tricks on optimizing 3D models for the best performance.

For example keep the 3D geometry simple and use textures, that can be repeated:

Guidelines_for_creating_3D_models_repeating_texture

An important element of 3D floorplans are different kinds of vegetation (trees, bushes etc.). They help to make the floorplans look more life-like and in some cases are also important for navigating on the map. It is easy to use transparent textures on the simple planes, just never model out the leaves or branches:

Guidelines_for_creating_3D_models_transparent_PNG_texture

With 3D it is possible to create really life-like buildings, but when using 3D for maps, it is always good to keep the models simpler. For this we suggest removing un-important furniture and making the walls as low as possible without losing the general idea of the height of the room. This way the visibility of the visualized path is far greater.

Guidelines_for_creating_3D_models_lower_walls

You find the full list of guidelines for creating 3D models are added 3D Wayfinder page here.

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Separating materials from geometry

June 7, 2016

Until now all the materials in 3D Wayfinder have been replaced with each 3D model update. Now it is possible to keep the materials and their attributes’ values. This will save a lot of time, when creating a nice-looking 3D wayfinding application. See how to separating materials from geometry.

Separating_materials_from_geometry_in_3D_Wayfinder_software

We have added a small feature to our 3D model converter. That enables to replace the 3D models without overwriting the materials. This means, that all the changes that were made in 3D Wayfinder for the purpose of tuning materials, are not lost when replacing 3D models. See it in user manual.

3D modelling software packages are different and the way 3D models are exported also varies. In most cases you need to change the color of the materials (diffuse and ambient color). After the creation of the model to get good looking 3D floor plans. We are now supporting specular shader, transparency etc. that might not come directly from the converted models. All these material attributes can be changed in 3D Wayfinder, but these values were replaced each time the geometry was updated. Now there is the option to keep the materials and their values, when replacing the 3D model.

At the same time we have added ambient attributes to each material when uploading the 3D model for the first time or when replacing the model. So there is no need to enter the “ambient” attribute anymore, just change the color.

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Exporting 3D models from 3ds MAX

February 5, 2016

3ds Max models cannot be used directly in 3D Wayfinder, as .max format is closed file format and our importer doesn’t support it. But exporting 3D models from Max is not complicated.

3D Wayfinder supports following formats for 3D models: .fbx, .dae, .lwo, .obj and .3ds. But as we are using ASSIMP for model converting it is possible to try also other formats. With 3ds Max, we recommend to use  .fbx or .dae formats.

To exporting 3D models from Max follow these instructions:

1. When exporting models always select what You want to export and then “export – export selected”.

export_3ds_max_selected

2. Set proper export settings.

If You want to export .fbx use these settings on the picture:

fbx_export_from_3ds_max

Pay attention that “triangulate” has to be selected and up axis is “Y-up”. Otherwise the 3D model will be flipped in 3D Wayfinder.

If You are exporting .dae then use only OpenCOLLADA exporter and these settings:

export_dae_from_3ds_max

There are some minor differences with .dae and .fbx files. You just have to test, what suites better. All the materials can be tuned in 3D Wayfinder Administration panel (see the tutorial), so you don’t have to worry about ambient colors, transparency or other material properties.

We recommend that the whole building should not have more than 100 000 polygons. For kiosk applications (where it is possible to use better GPU-s) you can also have much larger models.

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New reflection feature in our 3D engine

December 18, 2015

FRAK WebGL engine has now built in Cubemaps and reflection shader. This gives 3D Wayfinder access to use reflections of surrounding area.

We have added built in cubemaps and cubemap reflection shader to FRAK WebGL engine. In addition reflection with cubemaps is efficient way to create reflective surfaces like glass or mirrors.
Also cubemap reflection is a rendering method. It means that reflective surfaces reflect the cubemap textures.

Cubemaps_and_reflection_shader_frak_reflections_webGL

It will be available for 3D Wayfinder in near future. This will be the effective way to create large glass walls or buildings. It make them more realistic. It might be used also for expensive shopping mall floors.

Next feature in FRAK will be specular map to mark efficiently reflective areas.

Cubemap demo can be found under FRAK repository.

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3D Wayfinder is sponsoring CG Architecture Challenge

October 29, 2015

CGTrader is organizing challenge called “CG Architecture Challenge”. More than 240 thousand 3D enthusiasts and designers have been invited to participate. 3D Wayfinder has set awards for each challenge subcategory. Award will be given for the best 3D CG model or visualization uploaded during the challenge period.

The challenge will take 3 months and there will be 3 individual winners in each architectural category. Categories are: Best Architectural Interior Model; Best Architectural Exterior Model; Best Architectural Details Model and Best Architectural portfolio. Read more from cgtrader.com. In addition winner in each category will get 3D Wayfinder Pro account for a year.

CGTrader is a 3D model marketplace for computer graphics and 3D printing. For example 3D artists and designers share and sell their models. Then they get valuable feedback, learn from peers, and interact in a designer-friendly environment.

Here are 2 winning works from last year challenge:

Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014
Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014.

1st Runner-up in Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014
1st Runner-up in Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014.

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