Digital visualisation company Soluis is offering construction and architecture clients a mobile, virtual reality dome that is available to rent as a “BIM cave”.
The dome allows highly realistic and accurate 3D content to be viewed in 360-degree full field-of-view, through the use of four projectors mounted at the top of the dome.
The company already has one mobile dome available to rent, at a cost of around £10,000 a week. The system fits in a long wheel base transit and can be erected by a team of three in-house.
However, due to demand the company is already building another two domes for the hire market and two more that have been purchased by clients. The purchase price is currently in the region of £75,000.
The system can host data from various BIM design platforms – either in its raw form, or as photorealistic CGI – allowing the dome to be utilised as an immersion suite by design and technical teams.
Soluis is primarily a visualiser and wanted a way to present the content it produces. According to chief executive Martin McDonnell there were no high-quality walk-in virtual reality installations available.
“We couldn’t find anything in the market place so we built one ourselves,” he recalls. “This takes the idea of the Oculus Rift and presents it on surfaces around you, which allows for collaboration.”
Soluis believes main contractors will be interested in buying the dome
McDonnell believes that the cost for both renting and the purchase of the system is significantly lower than existing “BIM cave” solutions: “We typically hire the dome for a week at a time for in the region of £10,000. Of course, some of this cost is for logistics and delivery so there is a reduction for additional weeks.”
McDonnell believes that main contractors are likely to purchase the dome: “Main contractors are an obvious market for us as the dome is significantly better than the current offering and they are currently spending six figures on ‘BIM caves’ or immersion suites.
“We do a lot of work creating visualisations for contractors and this will allow them to do something more engaging and more tactile,” he continues.
For those looking to purchase a dome McDonnell explains that there is a range of options. “It’s like buying a car, you can trim the cost down or get one with an extremely high spec,” he says. “The off-the-shelf four metre in diameter dome that can be used by four or five people costs around £75,000.”
Along with contractors, Soluis has had a lot of interest from advertising agencies, sports brands and industrial production companies for the product. The dome also has potential to be used by developers at public consultations for new schemes.
We couldn’t find anything in the market place so we built one ourselves. This takes the idea of the Oculus Rift and presents it on surfaces around you, which allows for collaboration.– Martin McDonnell, chief executive, Soluis