When buildings or infrastructure are designed, engineers traditionally use sophisticated engineering software to undertake the calculations necessary to size various technical elements. While engineers are familiar with their software, clients and users of buildings or infrastructure are not trained in interpreting engineering plans.
Developed by project engineers, software development and visualisation experts, siteLab® is an incredibly powerful, interactive software that acts as a “digital canvas” for non-engineers and lay people to visualise, experience and interact with all elements of a rich built environment or infrastructure design, in a single model, which is lifelike and photorealistic.
siteLab® has been created to deliver an intuitive, app-like experience. Users log in on their desktop or mobile device and are presented with a simple, easy-to-use interface to explore the design in 3D.
siteLab® is accessible to all stakeholders. From bus drivers to c-suite executives, it has been designed and rigorously tested against human factors and user experience criteria. This contrasts with current industry solutions requiring knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD). Users can completely immerse themselves to experience a design, drill down to examine measurements, and leave comments on any aspects. This greatly reduces guesswork, costly project corrections and overruns.
As siteLab® does not require special software to run, users can load an executable file onto their device and immediately navigate their way through a building or infrastructure site. This allows for greater collaboration between engineers, the client, and end-users, which helps identify design challenges early, allows design changes to be made quickly, thus reducing risk.
siteLab® provides an enterprise-wide solution for any project to be visualised, whereas competitors produce one-off visualisations for every project, which is incredibly costly and inefficient. siteLab® has delivered full return on the initial investment, and income generated by new projects funds version upgrades.
siteLab® sets a new benchmark in terms of visual fidelity and interactive user experience. Even though the data underpinning the visualisations is incredibly large and complex, the user experience is intuitive and seamless. We invite feedback on every project and continually seek ways to improve information architecture.
To date, siteLab® has been used on more than 200 projects, including some of Australia’s largest infrastructure builds. For example, signal sighting tools developed for Metro Trains Melbourne enabled rail engineers to virtually drive the train inside siteLab®. This allowed testing for weather and other variables, enabling construction to proceed with greater confidence.
siteLab® harnesses technology usually employed by the game development industry to provide a high-performance, 3D platform. It eliminates 2D drawings, foam models, and unresponsive 3D renders that require constant translation to be viewed on different software programs.
Another innovation of siteLab® is that it renders extremely large datasets, which would crash most off-the-shelf alternatives. Engineers often use “point cloud” visualisations, which employ lasers to depict billions of separate points in 3D space and reveal the surrounding objects. It enables users to experience point clouds by streaming from the cloud directly to a desktop, mobile device, or virtual reality headset.
siteLab® accommodates additional features to be added to the virtual model.
As an example, a steering wheel was added into a model developed for the Christchurch bus terminal, to enable bus drivers to ‘drive’ a virtual bus around the terminal long before the facility was physically constructed. This allowed drivers to experience turning circles and uncover blind spots, which could then be resolved before the terminal was built.
siteLab® allowed facilities managers to “see” into plant rooms. It enabled facility managers to contribute valuable expertise to improving the design, before it was built, into something maintainable and safe.