SketchUp plugin has been used to visualise plans for a new community in Brighton, Canada

Technology

New Sketchup plugin powers 2D to VR in seconds

4 June 2017 | By BIM+ staff

Leading VR firm Yulio Technologies has launched a new plugin for SketchUp which is claimed to enable 2D architectural renders to be created as rich and immersive VR experiences in just a few clicks and at a fraction of the cost of anything else available.

The tool was developed to enable SketchUp users, currently estimated at more than 35 million, the ability to instantly create rich, detailed and immersive VR experiences (VREs) from their designs which can then be shared easily with clients or remote collaborators.

The ability for designers to communicate work to clients via the virtual reality medium has steadily grown in popularity due to its ability to let people experience a design rather than simply viewing it.

Although a handful of tools able to create VREs from SketchUp renders do exist, entry level costs for these plugins can be up to £500 and top out at closer to £1,500 for enterprise licences.

The Yulio plugin is free to download for all Yulio users and was designed to be fast and provide greater realism than the basic SketchUp render. It achieves this through creating the stereoscopic renders for each eye that give VR its realism when viewing designs and does it at the click of a button.

Yulio managing director Robert Kendal said: “Yulio’s goal has always been to put the tools to create VR experiences in every designer’s hands. With that in mind when developing our SketchUp plugin, we worked incredibly hard to develop a tool that’s 100% accessible to every user and lets designers transition their work from 2D renders in CAD to VR-ready files seamlessly and lightning fast.”

Yulio has elected to open source the proprietary code for its Ray Tracer tool which forms a key component of the SketchUp plugin. The decision to open source the Ray Tracer code, which enables 2D renders to seamlessly be turned into 3D cube maps and then into detailed virtual reality experiences, was taken to give back to the VR community and further encourage experimentation by its best and most innovative developers.

How the SketchUp plugin is being used to build community relations for a new development in Canada

Dream is building a massive community in Brighton near Saskatoon, Canada, with 6,400 homes, commercial and retail spaces all anchored by a large wetland. Like most such concept communities, it started as empty fields and some model homes.

While most home buyers can check out the feel of a neighbourhood by taking a walk in the area, there was nothing to show for Brighton. Traditional renderings could not have created the emotional connection the space the space. So Norm Li designers created VR experiences and equipped the sales centre with a VR headset kiosk, which quickly became a main focus and attraction to prospects.

The success of the kiosks was further enhanced by using Yulio to project what the viewer was seeing on monitors, and exposing a larger audience to the experience. It also helped reduce the isolation of the viewer.

The kiosks were so popular that the headset batteries ran down repeatedly, in spite of being charged for plugin. People weren’t buying a home, but a life in a community that didn’t exist.

Yulio’s SketchUp plugin can download here