VISUALISATION WITH PANOPTIKON

PANOPTIKON – It is Swedish,  and as far as I can remember the translation means ‘to observe’ but comes from the Greek ‘all-seeing’ and in English refers to ‘a Prison with cells arranged around a central point so they can be seen at all times’ – Very Colonial, I prefer the Swedish as it is simply clear and just looks cool which is much the story with the PANOPTIKON visualisation software.

I saw these guys at the GeoBusiness 2019 and was blown away by the potential this has to engage with communities in an open and clear method across any language barrier. In short, it is a really good Video/Augmented Reality Communication/engagement tool for BIM.

We have all seen videos of proposed construction sites ‘this is what it will look like if we have the OK’ in dry architectural drawings but this incorporates all BIM model data so it releases all the power of the digital age to show a vision of exactly how it is to how it will be built exactly.

It Does this buy combining Drone footage with BIM Data and combining the two. The following 2 screen shots are from their video but it shows the effect. You can view the video on their website www.bjorkstromrobotics.com

The next applications I see are in farming and infrastructure development to aid positive engagement of communities to develop their land.

Imagine a community or utility has a sudden issue with over development i.e. too much home building (postage stamp houses) and blocks development, maybe there is no parking spaces or playgrounds. You need to address their concerns and convince them that there is a plan to resolve the issue.

This is the communication tool to do just that.

They also have another really useful tool for a tablet which shows where all the utility services run and will visualise in real space (on the tablet) everything that is proposed with accurate GNSS derived positioning.

So now if we combine the 2 products, we are looking at the ability to show a video demonstration of the project life cycle, at the build location, and then after the video you can engage with the audience in live augmented reality to answer any of their questions – maybe discover new ones but it is a full engagement system. They can even walk around with the tablet to see what the new area will look like and get a feel for it. I am hopeful that they will develop for full Mixed Reality soon but they seem keen to develop the product to fulfill their partners need – and I like that Partner attitude, not just customer, customer just sounds disposable to me.

The other use, I see, is in forensics, Health and safety or engineering to reconstruct events on site whether it be an accident and you need to investigate view points on site or an augmented reconstruction, or maybe you just want to maximise your aircraft parking in your hangar.

OK so I am not on commission so I will now refer you to their website for further information and videos www.bjorkstromrobotics.com/

I will however say that it was an insightful discussion I had on the day and they seem like a very helpful and positive group to deal with.

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Autodesk Recap Photo – part of Recap Pro

This is a much underrated product in the AEC community but it has its strengths and is great for those that need good results that can be exported into most mesh formats.

Ok it costs £42 a month as a subscription to Recap Pro which also handles registering of laserscan data from many manufacturers. With this you get a certain amount of Cloud credit for processing your images or pointclouds into mesh models. This is not great as at last check 1 cloud credit was $1 and upto 300 photos will cost you 12 credits so even though you pay that £42 a month, every project will cost you between £10 to £50 depending on how many images you use.

This brings me on to the next issue, Photo models or closeups can only be 20-300 images and UAV / Drone Models can only be derived from a maximum of 1000 images. Considering photogrammetry tends to need at least a 30% overlap of image data to create tie points between images, you are not going to cover a great deal of area for you £50.

Ok thats the negative and why it quite rightly gets a slam from the AEC community over the costs but there are so many good things about it like:-

  • It is fairly accurate time after time
  • You only need a standard cheap laptop so there is a cost saving.
  • It has a simple GUI system to upload your project images to the cloud and download the result.
  • Once uploaded to the cloud, you no longer need to tie up your computer with processing images to models and can get on with other aspects of your business which is the strength of cloud based solutions as if you stop work, you probably lose 5 or 6 times more money than the processing cost but if it is not as expected then you have to pay again to process another project – no refunds for bad models.
  • You can optimize the export format of the model to many bits of software including Blender so no lock into autodesk products.
  • Autodesk supports students and education facilities with free access to many of their products on a Education Licence.
  • It ties in seamlessly with other Autodesk software like Maya and 3DS which are used extensively within many Industries so it adds to a great workflow.

There is also a 30 day trial available on Autodesk products so it is worth trying out for yourself.

On test it produced a model better than that of non CUDA Open source software to the extent of picking out the Cigarette Butts that had been discarded in the trough which is pretty good for that set of images. Please have a look at the video below which illustrates what you can expect. Do also note how much extra background imagery has been converted too.

I did also like how it computed a bottom for the trough even though there were no deliberate images of the bottom. 

 

 

For a complete look at this software go to Autodesk Recap Page

Please Like and Share this page with colleagues if you found it helpful.

Geospatial Modelling For Free

This Post has been really fun to research and what a sense of satisfaction I had when I found out how to do it but I apologise to all that follow as it has taken all my time up dedicated to this one issue so lets crack on as I am so excited.

So what did I want to prove?

  1. I wanted to prove that you could Geospatial model straight from a game engine like Unity or Armory3D
  2. This could be done for free without having to hard code – spreadsheet is fine as most that read this will be able to use basic spreadsheets but few will be able to go off writing Translation programs so it had to be a solution for all.
  3. No Proprietry Lock in to a platform.
  4. It also has to be able to make the Modelling program geospatial so you can tie the world together.

Where Did I start?

First I wanted to see what was possible with what I had, a FARO S70 Laserscan, FARO SCENE LT 2019 (yes its free and meshes point clouds beautifully if you have the hardware), Blender 2.8, Meshlab.

I will first say that the Laserscan I had was Geolocated as a project, If you are inserting a non geolocated laserscan, you can adjust the geolocation in the properties section. Even still, this is not a problem as I will also explain how to geolocate a standard mesh too so you don’t need a laserscan, its just this software makes it a cleaner process.

So I meshed out the laserscan in FARO SCENE and exported as OBJ,PLY,STL etc but none of the formats could show up in the viewport. With so much saying about Blender 2.8 Bugs at the moment, I just dismissed this as an option so I opened up in Meshlab and voila, it was there, a lovely Laserscan of the building. So I saved it and made a new OBJ file which was almost twice the size of the first and imported into UNITY which on completion was nowhere to be seen.

After much faffing with this and that and trying this, standing on one leg with fingers crossed and arms – anyway you get the picture, while exporting or clinching at any last notes from the net, I thought OBJ – its an old format, I wonder if I can open it in Notepad.

Sure enough it is a text file format and the first thing I recognised was that the X,Y,Z looked an aweful lot like Decimal Degree co-ordinates for the area but out of range.

Now while researching GNSS Systems I had to get familiar with different Historical systems of mapping in use and origins as well as the Technical aspects to the satellites themselves – Good Times :-), The point is that I was reminded of not looking at the world as a globe but as a flat paper map. Flat Land Maps, not Naval Charts, Used to be and often are still in a system using Cartesian Co-ordinates commonly known as Eastings and Northings.

So I went to the Ordnance Survey Site and inserted the

  • X value in the Eastings Field,
  • Y value in Northings Field,
  • Z value in the Height Field.

BINGO exactly where the scan was Taken

So if it is here then why cant I work on it in my modelling suite, i.e. 3DS or Blender. Thats simple now, we know Eastings and Northings are in meters like Blender and 3DS so an Eastings of 583947.75m would be 583.94775KM East of the 0 point on the X axis, a little way away so of course you will see nothing.

In Blender, you can correct this easily by first Selecting the Imported Object in the Heirachy, Move the Cursor over the Viewport and Right Click. This will give you a menu where you can select ‘Set Origin’ which opens a sub menu and select ‘Set Origin To Geometry’.

You should now see the Transform Component have a huge number in X and Y but Z hopefully will be the Altitude so much smaller.

MAKE A COPY of THIS AS YOU WILL NEED TO PUT IT BACK.

OK now go into Edit Mode (push tab) and set the Local Median co-ordinates to 0 ( it will not allow Zero and will go to some smallish number). This only sets the centre of the model to 0 or in the middle ish but close enough for this as it is all relative from now on.

Go Back into object mode and hopefully your Transform component numbers have not changed, now set them to Zero. Your model should now be there.

Do your modelling and once finished, put the old Transform co-ordinates that you copied, back into the Transform Component to Re-locate the Model back into its Geolocated Space.

The link between the XYZ to Eastings and Northings is really powerful when we now import our model into a Game Engine like Unity or Armory3D as we can use a simple script to read the player or model current xyz and convert it into a Global Decimal Degree which can be linked out into all mapping systems, Smart Phones and everything Geolocatable thus creating the link between Virtual World and Real World.

This New XYZ can also become an Assets Identifier.

Ok but I have a non Geolocated model, How can I merge this into the GeoSpaced Game.

Idealy you would have GNSS Equipment Like SPECTRA SP20 GNSS Device for BIM or one of their other High Accuracy units but if you are at home, you could use a web map to derive a Rough location (still might be better than your phone) Google Maps (Left Double click Location to drop a pin, Click on the decimal degree output at the bottom pop up, Copy and paste from the left hand sidebar)  or Bing Maps (Right click location, select copy below the decimal degree co-ordinates, pres CTRL + C)

Put these co-ordinates in the Transform Tool Decimal Degrees section at Ordnance Survey (If using maps, you will only get Lat and Long without a height value, set Elipsoid Height to 45.734 to pin on the ground at 0m height) which will give you an easting and Northing.

Ok This is your reference position. We can simply enter them in the Global Transform Component (Object Mode) after setting the Local Median (Edit Mode) to the location of the object that is to locate at that geolocation.

If not using Blender, then at worst case to apply your vertex points we need them in a spreadsheet for editing.

Open the OBJ file in Notepad (rightclick -> open with other apps -> select notepad)

We need to copy all lines beginning with a ‘v’ and there might be a few thousand. Each line has six values, position x,y,z and colour x,y,z(the colour is ranged from 0-1).

Select the first line and scroll to the end of the ‘v’ lines and hold shift and click at the end of the last line which will select everything inbetween.

Open your spreadsheet editor and paste. You need to chop and divide the text into seperate columns, there are lots of youtube videos on how to do this, and you can use the space to identify the place to seperate.

Once you have seperated the values into seperate cells, write a formula to add the reference easting to the first value, reference northing to the second value and reference height to the third value. Then copy cell all the way down for it to autopopulate the new figures.

Now concatenate (join) the values back into one single line of text with the spacings and colours added back in. Again lots of youtube videos on how to do this.

Copy the new data into the OBJ notepad file replacing the old ‘v’ values and save as a new OBJ. If the file extension is not available, select saveAs, type the filename followed by ‘.obj’ without the quotes.

now this obj will open in its new geolocation in eastings and northings, sorry I mean XYZ, co-ordinates.

Just to conclude that now we can write a script that tracks the xyz of anything we require to track either its movement in the virtual or even be effected by the movement of something in the real world to give a truly real time virtual simulator.

Imagine if a bridge was raised prematurely, you could not only see a visualisation of what is happening but also use AI to aleviate the problems as it can read and control the virtual easier than the Real but with full control of the Real by Proxy.

VIRTUAL WORLD IS POSSIBLE EASILY, CHEAPLY AND RELIABLY

NOW!!!!

Please Share and Like as I do not have a virtual Billboard, That will be the next big thing, Immersive Advertising – I can Hear George Carling now.

Hiding from AI

So as I trawl the net to share other good posts that are tech related, I found this one which I had to share regarding hiding from Surveilance systems. This is very noteworthy for those that are using security camera based security systems as well as those at the more advanced end of the state level spy game.

There will be an answer developed but for those wanting to rely on facial recognition software, have a look before investing your millions of pounds.

AI Invisibility

HOW TO CREATE PUBLIC SURVEYS FOR FREE

Ok, You have a problem and need to create data fast for a presentation. No Problem. This Page is all about Google Sheet Forms.

Anyone can have a Google account and if you have an Android device, you need one for the Play store. If you use Google chrome and save the bookmarks, you should have one.

How Do I know? – its linked to your gmail account so if you have an email address which ends @gmail.com then you can access the free G Suite.

What is G Suite? It’s Googles Office suite. In the past you may have used Microsoft office (Word, Excel or Powerpoint) which was upgraded for cloud connectivity / hosting and branded Office365. You may also have used Openoffice or LibreOffice which are open source versions that rival Microsoft Office products.

I will say now that I love all these Office products and am not, in any way, against any of them but in short, Google seems to be better for personal or low budget companies that don’t have the IT infrastructure for cloud security and generally cloud hosting at minimal cost with a one package fits all. Microsoft Seems to be tailored to the More corporate market where they can afford To have IT infrastructure services who have 10-15 meetings to pick and chose what services they want to pay for.

Anyway, Open your web browser and go to http://www.google.com and click on the account icon in the top right corner(normaly round with an image or letter) and select the gmail account you want to work from and sign in. Ok I will add now that This includes GSUITE customers where google handles the corporate email, such as they do for @vulcansrealm.com. The main thing is its a Google account.

Now click on the Google Apps icon, its a 3 x 3 set of squares, next to the account icon in the top right corner as shown below.

googleWebPageEdited

Now select the google sheets icon as below.

GoogleAppsEdited

This will open Google sheets web service. There is a difference between Google sheets on your device and that on the web, with the web being more comprehensive. Hopefully they will upgrade this one day but if you need it to run on a device with no web connection, then stop here and use ODK collect or one of the other numerous app creation tools. This is aimed at forms that are filled out online using a link via email, Web link or iframe HTML for a webpage deployment.

Ok So we now have google sheets home page open so lets start a new sheet project by clicking on either the + sign in the top left

googlesheetshomepageEdited

Ok First Job is to name the Spreadsheet. So click on the name as shown below in the top left. the first thing to note that as soon as ANYTHING CHANGES, the form is saved.

GoogleSheetsSpreadsheet1a

Now click on the Tools Menu

GoogleSheetsSpreadsheet1b

and Select Create a Form

GoogleSheetsSpreadsheet2a

This will now open up a form editor homepage which will allow you to create a form to gather data, but it is important to note that all the data gathered will be held in this form.

If you look at the top you will see a URL starting https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets……., This is a very important as this form is cloud hosted and it is that URL that locates the file so anyone with that will be able to see the file. This is generally how cloud hosted data is shared. However do not give this out freely and be careful with the document upload functions as someone might upload a self extracting trojan but, for internal coms, you should be able to trust your staff and if public then don’t allow uploads unless its to a secured and sandboxed account that accepts incoming mail only.

I have made no secret about the URL used as for a short time, I will give open access to it so you can see the results come through but I expect someone will try to be clever and at that point I will shut it down.

Ok so what do we put in the form, well this will be anything you want to know about but as I said, this will be public and the results viewable so we do not want to collect email addresses of respondants ( but you might ) and we want just generic information that is not identifiable. Lets create a short commuting survey.

So you should now have the following screen in front of you With a new form with the name of your spreadsheet. A little hint is if you don’t see it, press F5 or refresh the browser and it should be there.

GoogleForms1

Click it to open it into the Form editor as below

GoogleForms2

We can start typing questions straight away but lets set my security requirements first as I do not want to collect email addresses or identifiable information. So lets go into Settings by clicking the Cog icon in the top Right hand corner as circled below.

GoogleForms2a

Now I have set this one up as a form style, and I have screen shots below which are self explanatory except the last Screen shot shows the option to create an online Quiz and you can adjust the setting by clicking the toggle switch button, at the top, which will make all the options active. A handy little tip, maybe a community BINGO session should entail for those that want to play without betting. This kind of was how early role playing games back in the Commadore Amiga and Atari ST days were played across the old dial up internet. Looked more fancy but the scripts in the back end were doing basicly this.

GoogleForms3GoogleForms4GoogleForms5

Next Thing, Lets Personalise it a little, and it is only a Little, but we can add our corporate Logo or a nice image where the blue is at the top in the last screenshot. I will use my image. The one thing to bear in mind is images must be at least 800 pixels wide by 200 tall. You can alternatively chose a colour from the online pallet which I have used for the next screenshot to emphasise how changing even the colour can change how it is received and ultimately its success.

There is so much to know about customising themes that it turns into a speciality regarding people or human factors and non verbal communication generally, as some pages on this site demonstrate, that you need a specialist so i say go for what you think is good, not too bright etc, pastels look boring though, I want to highlight something aswell, and that sometimes we need to look for strengths in people with disabilities or impairments and this visual communication is a strong skill in people with some impairments. It makes comercial sense too as that skill can’t be taught in the same way as they experience it and coding or computer sciences can. I would love to champion Disabilities more and if this site grows then I will but for now I have no legal team to protect me from a whimsical lefty that wants to make 5 minutes of fame.

Ok rant over and back to the customising. Select the Painter pallet icon in the top right as below

GoogleForms6aNow select Choose Image in the sidebar that opens from the right hand side.

GoogleForms7a

Select Upload Photos in the bottom left of the pop up box

GoogleForms8a.png

Select the Upload button and upload using the file browser or drag the image onto the upload area.

GoogleForms9a

This will then open the image crop editor, remember 800×200 pixels for the header space. I am not being too artisticaly carefull in this crop below.

GoogleForms10

It should now look like this, with your picture of course.

GoogleForms11

If you select Font Style below Background colour, you can change the Font of the text on the Form but you only have 4 types by default. I have circled them below. My preference is Formal for this form but your application my find better suit to another font.

GoogleForms11a.png

Ok now lets get writing questions and exploring what types are available.

When You start typing your question, The form will try to guess what you want, and it is about 50/50 accurate, I asked ‘Do You Use Public Transport?’ and it thought that Multiple choice was the best fit. Indeed that was what I wanted but if I did not, then I could select other types from the dropdown list where it sais Multiple choice. It also tries to guess good responses and lists them in Suggestions below your question. If you want to use any of these then just click them and they appear as an answer. Otherwise, click on the Option 1 text and replace it with your bespoke answer. To add more questions, click Add Option and repeat the process. If you want to Give the option of free text then click ADD OTHER.

GoogleForms12a

Notice I also circled the Required Toggle Switch in the bottom right, This is to make an answer compulsory before the form can be submitted. I want at least one answer on this form so I made this required.

In This next image I have finished my first question and want to add another, Simply Press the + button to the right of the form as circled below. If you mess up a question, you can always change it later or you can delete it by clicking on the Trash Can Icon at the bottom of the Question.

GoogleForms13a

Ok, I now have the below form and don’t want the suggested multiple choice Question but Checkboxes. I simply Click on the Multiple choice arrow as circled.

GoogleForms14a

This bring up a list of options and I select Checkboxes, as circled below, because i want to allow multiple selections.

GoogleForms15a

I now fill this out in the same way as before with the different answers till it looks like this

GoogleForms17

From now you get the gist and I will just note what each option does.

The next image is Drop Down, You use this to create a drop down menu for a one answer question

GoogleForms18

The next Image is for a slider. You use this if a physical scale representation is important that also conveys clarity of the response required. You can set the scale from 1 to 10 or any number between but remember to anotate the slider so people know which is good or bad in this case.

GoogleForms19a

The Next Is a Date picker. This displays a calender to pick a date from.

GoogleForms20

Hey, what time is worst to travel, lets ask using a time picker

GoogleForms21

Ok, now we have a complex question. I want to know how often they use different transports but that is comparable visualy. Lets use a Multiple Choice Grid. Remember this is spreadsheet based so Rows are stacked ontop of each other and columns are side by side. this works well here as the rows can be the types of transport and freequency in the columns. This type can have one answer per row

GoogleForms22

What if we want it the other way round, say we want to ask how good or bad a service is, we might want the transport horizontaly (column) displayed and the good and bad in height (Rows). So lets use a Tick Box Grid as this allows us to have multiple answers in a row.

GoogleForms23

So we have covered all types except file upload, As I  said this form will not be accepting file uploads but if you did, the file would be uploaded to your Google Drive and linked on the spreadsheet. You can upload upto 10 files and specify the file size between 1MB and 10GB. The following options are in the image below. note I have selected to restrict certain file formats to show that you can and it also shows the supported file types.

GoogleForms24

There are other options in the menu to the right like adding images for backgrounds etc or to add a new section. This is good if used for exams as it breaks areas of relevance up. Lets say you have a combined science exam, you can split it between Physics, Chemistry and Biology like chapters. Awesome Right!!

Anyway we have our form made but we need to send it, Go back to the top of the screen and click Send.

GoogleForms25a

If you want to send as email to selected email addresses then enter the email addreses as shown below

GoogleForms26a

If you want to embed a link maybe in a webpage or confidential email group then select the link icon and click copy and then paste this where you are going to allow people to link from.

GoogleForms27a

It will look like this if you select shorten url

https://forms.gle/58mA2eouSy4WKNSc8

If on a webpage and you want to use in an html page, an iframe option is there under the double chevron icon. Again click copy and then paste into your html.

GoogleForms28a

It will might look like this depending on browser.

If you want to take the survey and see the options to view statistics then please go ahead. I have tested the Link and the iframe using Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, so if there is a problem, it might be worth trying one of those Browsers. The bonus is that it makes surveys quicker if they are filled out from a browser rather than email and you can reach far more people than with a link.

If you want to view the spreadsheet, the link is below but if it is abused, it will be withdrawn.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1qUyPiuI47uErJH1dXakeT-ihwev0sOyvLREItKO3cHM/edit#gid=15108430

Now looking at the spreadsheet, you can see that the columns can be filtered and the information trended with scripting. It can also be exported in many formats.

So there we have it, a free way to create data for whatever reason publicly but the caveat is that for data security if you wanted to collect personal data, you need a paid service of GSUITE starting at £4 a month – see terms and conditions.

Please like and share if you thought this was a helpful post.