A Better Camera – Using External Photography in VentusAR

Sometimes the iPad camera just doesn’t cut it. Especially if you have over £1000 worth of Cannon EOS camera sitting on your desk.  In this blog post we will walk you through the process of uploading and calibrating DSLR photography to provide a better quality visualisation. Here is an example of the photomontage output created from a DSLR photograph for a single building project.

Continue reading

iOS 10 Released

Today iOS 10 has been released. We have tested VentusAR 5.0 with iOS 10 on the iPad Air, Air2 and Pro and everything seems to be working perfectly.

logodeios10The main difference I think that VentusAR customers will see is the new way of unlocking the tablet: instead of swiping right on the lock screen, you now press the home button to unlock. There are loads of other new features that have been added into iOS 10, you can find a full list at apple’s website.

We recommend everyone updates to iOS 10 to take advantage of the new features and security updates included in this release.

Showing Conductor Wires in VentusAR Grid projects

Easily the most eye catching part of a grid development are the conductor wires that join the towers together. As the lines are long and linear, they draw the eye in and therefore appear more noticeable.

Power lines by the Allt Phocaichain. © Copyright Craig Wallace

Power lines by the Allt Phocaichain. © Copyright Craig Wallace


The ability to view conductor wires on new development visualisations is something our clients have asked about a few times as it helps them to communicate the effect of transmission lines better.


A few weeks ago we added support for showing these conductors on wirelines and photomontages (including the SNH compliant PDFs) created through VentusAR. Conductors are shown as a thin grey line joining the connection points on the tower or wood pole model.

To Enable Conductors on Grid project

If you would like to enable conductors on your organisation setup, please contact us at hello@linknode.co.uk.

Once support for wireline is added, it will show on all photomontages or wirelines produced using VentusAR.

Conductor wires are available for all grid 3D models we have produced and made available in VentusAR (read more about them in our post from earlier this year).

The order the models should be joined is defined in the portal using the sort order column on the layout version page, changing the order using the up and down arrows. The conductor lines will be drawn to join each tower in order.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 14.29.52


We think the results look really good – the thin grey lines make the conductors look good in the landscape. This approach is what some of our customers are already doing on the visualisations they create.


Photomontage with the conductor lines shown


Wireline shown with conductor lines shown

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 14.13.47

53.5° wireline (produced to SNH specifications) – Full file: Bogbain_Dumrossie_B9177



VentusAR 5.0 Released

We are delighted to announce that this morning we released VentusAR v5.0 into the app stores.

The release includes many new features across Wind, Grid, Solar and Building domains. The new features make the assessment and visualisation process on iPad or Android quicker and more efficient. To highlight a few: we have added new modes for displaying models, the ability to add multiple traces to a capture and introduced an improved, streamlines render output process.

Display Modes for Models

We have added new modes for displaying models – as classic models, in block colour (with no lighting / shadows) and as outlines.

  • The colours help to distinguish building types
  • The outline / transparency helps to show what is behind the development
  • This helps assessment process to understand how development fits in the environment
Block colour mode

Block colour mode

Outline mode

Outline mode

Model mode

Model mode





Adding Multiple Traces to Gallery Photographs

You can now add multiple traces to a capture, for example, removing multiple areas of foreground (hedges etc). This produces more realistic visualisations as the model appears to be within the image and not superimposed on top.


3D model in Wireline Mode

Models shown on top of photograph

Multiple traces areas defined

Final Render – the buildings are shown in the photograph


Streamlined Render Process

We have improved the render process to ensure users can select all the options they want
– making output render production process quicker.

IMG_0099 IMG_0102 IMG_0101











Further information and full details of the other features in VentusAR 5.0 can be found in the release notes for iPad, Android and the Portal

If you have any queries regarding these new features, or you would like to chat further about how VentusAR can help you with your visualisations, please give us a call on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com 

What Does Pokémon GO Mean for AR?

Unless you have been under a rock for the past few weeks (July 2016), you can’t have helped but notice that Pokémon GO has somewhat taken the world by storm.  In doing so it has also brought the term “augmented reality” (AR) to the masses with everyone including Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg weighing in with comment and opinion.

Pokemon GO

Linknode use AR as a technology to provide real-world, real-time visualisation for planning and development, so what does the conversion of a technology into a consumer application mean?

The Google Maps Connection

Within the geospatial business, we have seen a similar transition previously.  Back in the day, when digital mapping meant high end desktops and expensive software, the introduction of online mapping had a disruptive effect on the industry.

A startup called Keyhole was acquired by Google in 2004 and the founder John Hanke went on to enable Google Maps.  This was the first time that most lay-people had had access to mapping beyond the street atlas in the back of the car.  It was a revolution.

Within the geospatial industry, initially it caused a dilution in the “value of GIS systems” message.  Why pay big bucks for something you could get for free from Google?

But long term the understanding that the consumer offering is not the same as professional solutions has created a market, provided a route to understanding and clarity over the limitations.  Pokémon GO does not manage occlusion, real-time lighting, complex models, or precision coordinate system management for engineering accuracy.

And what happened to John Hanke?  Well, he went onto develop a clique AR game called Ingress and then his studio Niantic developed Pokémon GO – the guy has form!  You can read more detail with a search, example Forbes article here.


So the future is AR.  But Linknode’s real-world AR (GIality) solutions VentusAR and UrbanPlanAR are as different to Pokémon GO as ArcGIS is to Google Maps.  Still, at least people have an idea what we do now!

Mario Kart GoImage Courtesy of News Thump – Release of Mario Kart Go! for Satnav ‘hopefully won’t cause too many accidents’

Invitation to Participate in the Innovate UK Visualisation Project :: UrbanPlanAR

UrbanPlanAR is designed to enhance the value of BIM information by enabling in-field visualisation from any location, in real-time – creating more engaging and accessible understanding, integrated with current processes, software and formats.

The project is a development collaboration between Linknode Ltd and Heriot-Watt University, supported by Innovate UK (grant #102040).

The solution is a disruptive technology providing a 21st century alternative to desktop-based or VR assessment without outsourcing, remodelling or expensive proprietary systems.

UrbanPlanAR solves problems of:

  • Accurate urban location positioning – without the reliance on GNSS and only using affordable off-the-shelf consumer tablets
  • Disenfranchised stakeholders – by creating visualisations (impact assessments) personalised to their location in real-time
  • Late stage visualisation after design completion – by enabling integration and viewpoints throughout a project lifecycle at no additional cost
  • Remove expensive duplication in modelling – by providing a data pipeline integrated with existing industry tools and flowlines from major vendors

In order to:

  • Maximise reuse through existing investment in BIM and digital design
  • Provide accessible understanding of impact from within local communities
  • Deliver and share data for immediacy and relevance
  • Create trustworthy visualisations to enable better decision making

As the project transitions from technical development to application design, we need partners who are:

  • In the AEC industry running an active BIM project
  • Stakeholders from planning or public engagement
  • Willing to commit time and data for a private trial
  • Able to introduce new technology into an organisation
  • Brining a passion and interest in disruptive visualisation

In the first instance, please review the current concept video with “alpha” release software:

Our next development phases will address location precision, lighting and rendering by September and we will then be looking to arrange visits to showcase the work and create a partner network.

If our vision fits with your views on the reuse of BIM: using visualisation for communication and wider engagement, please feel free to call us on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@urbanplanar.com





Planning Review Scotland – Greater use of 3D

Independent Review of Planning – Recommendations

In September 2015, the Scottish Government put out a call for evidence under the Independent Review of Scottish Planning System. Linknode submitted our response on 30th November and this week (8 July 2016) the Scottish Government Response was announced on the Planning & Architecture blog.

There are two key recommendations in this report that demonstrate foresight and vision in the fields of innovation support for planning. Particularly around the use of 3D visualisations in the planning process.

Continue reading

Assessing and Visualising Buildings in VentusAR

To effectively assess a new buildings project, developers and landscape architects must be able to see and understand a 3D model within the landscape.  VentusAR provides a simple but effective workflow of converting 2D CAD designs into 3D easy to understand visualisations.

  • Fly Through provides an overview of the area around the project.
  • My View shows what the development looks like while on site and the Gallery mode stores photography and allows render and PDF production.

Model the Site in CAD

Layouts for building developments are created in CAD software.
Here, a selection of different types of buildings have been added as blocks in AutoCAD.  The scale and rotation angle of the block is used to define the size and orientation of the building.


Export from CAD and Import to VentusAR

Simply use built-in CAD commands (or custom scripts) to extract the location and orientation directly from the drawing.
Create a project in the VentusAR portal and efficiently import the file containing the building locations and dimensions.autocadtovar

Understand Context Using Fly Through

Opening the project in the VentusAR solution synchronises all data for offline use, automatically loading in the background terrain and mapping data.
The Fly Through mode provides an interactive project overview to communicate footprint and context in the landscape.  Navigation uses a combination of physical device orientation and intuitive screen gestures.


Preview Visuals Onsite and Take Pictures

On-site visuals can be previewed from any location.  From pre-planned viewpoints to ad-hoc locations such as households and road junctions; VentusAR shows what a development will look like from wherever you are.
Photos are captured and stored in the Gallery, allowing layout revisions to be subsequently previewed without the requirement to return to site. Handheld-iPad

Produce Output Images and PDF Files

To share and communicate the visuals in scoping and feasibility reports, renders may be produced from the Gallery.
Different project presentation options include transparency, wireline, outline, lighting and masking.
Renders may be inserted into PDF templates with custom logos for presentation quality download.


VentusAR has been designed to integrate seamlessly into existing CAD design processes.  Utilising the same data for layouts and enabling rapid, yet powerful visuals extends the value of the design, allows for more iterative development and delivers higher value, higher quality visual communication with stakeholders.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your needs for assessing and visualising buildings using VentusAR. Call us on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com

Community Engagement for a Hoolan Energy Wind Development in Orkney

Last week we took part in our first full hands-on community engagement experience (although VentusAR has previously been used in many events by our clients themselves).


We were commissioned by Hoolan Energy to provide visualisations for pre planning consultations on two Wind Farms on the Orkney Islands – Costa Head and Hesta Head.

Aerial photography of the Hesta Project

Aerial Photography Overlaid on a DTM Showing the Hesta Head Site

The first event on Wednesday was for the Costa Head site. The development is for up to five turbines up to 125m to tip.  We used a model of Vestas V105 turbines, with 72.5m height to hub and 52.5m blade length for visualisations.  Costa Head is located on the north west of the Orkney mainland and the event itself took place in the Birsay Community Hall.

On Thursday we were showcasing the Hesta Head site. Once again the development was for five Vesta V105 turbines with the same vital statistics as the Costa site. These would be located on the south east of South Ronaldsay, with the event taking place at the Cromarty Hall in St Margaret’s Hope.

We arrived with two visualisation options for each event – the first being a video show reel consisting of animated turbines displayed on viewpoint photography to demonstrate the extent of the project. The other was a bespoke piece of development work to allow instant visuals from any given postcode. This latter approach then used aerial photography as an overlay to allow quick and personalised views for attendees, allowing them to visualise the developments from any location such as their own properties or views of particular interest.

A busy couple of days saw around 150 members of the local communities attend the events, eager to understand more about the developments.  We also had the opportunity to engage with local authority planning officers and members of the community council. They were impressed with the level of information available to hand and could identify how the turbines would look from locations that matter to them.

All in all, a successful trip with feedback from “that’s a nifty bit of software” to “I can give better feedback now I know how it affects me”.

Lizzie Foot, Director at Hoolan said:

“The visualisations provided gave members of the public great quality and interactive viewpoints – the instant visuals from any given postcode were particularly well received.  Neither the show reel nor the instant visuals required internet connection and having David on hand to instantly respond to residents’ queries was helpful.  Would highly recommend and can see the benefit for future site visits in the field.”

You can read more about this on the Hoolan Energy website – http://www.hoolanenergy.com/

Please feel free to download the Hoolan_VAR_CaseStudy

If you are interested in how we can enhance your public engagement events – please get in touch on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com

VentusAR 4.5 Released

We are delighted to announce that this morning we released the latest version of VentusAR v4.5.

The release includes the ability to assess and visualise Building projects, drawing conductors between towers and wood poles in grid projects and transparency controls for the models and wirelines.


We are particularly excited about being able to visualise buildings within our new domain. There are three type of building models available in VentusAR that can be added to a project: cuboid, pitched roof and default model. Each of the building types can be parameterised with the length, width and height in the portal and the model will be the building drawn accordingly.

A variety of different sized buildings shown in VentusAR Fly Through


Transmisson150-e1438175441149VentusAR 4.5 now has the ability to view conductors from tower to tower.

When the towers are set up in the portal, the conductors will automatically be added and viewable in Fly Through and My View.


Conductors viewable in Fly Through

 Other new features

  • Relocation can now be done using postcodes. You can download the Gazetteer database, enter the postcode and use this to relocate.
  • Users can now adjust the transparency levels of both models and the terrain wirelines in all visualisation modes of VentusAR. This feature helps to align the camera feed to the terrain when everything has become congested.
  • A status bar has been added underneath the map to show the current location and accuracy of the internal GPS. This helps us to understand where the iPad is and how good a GPS signal it has. The conditions to allow user to open My View (Camera) or wireline have been re-worked to make them a bit more useful.
  • New sliders have been added to allow the wireline and the model opacity to be controlled in the visualisation mode.

Further information on VentusAR 4.5 can be found in the release notes for iPad, Android and the Portal

If you have any queries regarding these new features, or you would like to chat further about how VentusAR can help you with your visualisations, please give us a call on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com