Monthly Archives: September 2014

VentusAR 2.0 Released – Cumulative is here!

We are pleased to announce the release of VentusAR v2.0 for Android, iPad (and associated portal updates). This is a significant upgrade and contains capabilities and feature requests that are designed to meet industry needs – making project assessment faster, more dynamic, better integrated and more efficient. We recommend updating the new version of VentusAR to take advantage of the new features that have been introduced.

The features you have been waiting for:

For iPad and Android users this release includes many new features including:

  • Cumulative projects can now be shown in all visualisations
    The VentusAR portal now allows cumulative projects to be managed independently of the development project. Along with new display control, this allows a cumulative story to be told effectively using interactive controls to show impact with unlimited flexibility.
  • The redesign of right panel in My View / Fly Through to make it easier to use in the field
    With a new ergonomic placement of common features, the new panels not only show more information than before (including the cumulative project options), but also do it more effectively.
  • More options to change the look of the wirelines (red, green wirelines, black / white background).
    Design work with our customers and real-world feedback has helped to create alternative visualisation modes for different lighting and landscape conditions

Cumulative Data in My ViewVentusAR 2.0, showing cumulative projects with new UI and display options

For the portal, the new features added include:

  • Tools added to manage cumulative projects within in the portal. These allow users to manage your own cumulative database within the portal.
  • Creating a PDF for easy export and sharing
  • Enterprise only customers. Share a project with other members of your organisational group.

Please see our the release notes on VentusAR 2.0 for Android, iPad or the portal.

We will be explaining more about these new features in future ‘Feature Spotlight’ blogs. Stay tuned for more info, or in the meantime, if you have any queries, please feel free to contact us on 0141 559 6170 or email hello@ventusar.com

We will also be showcasing VentusAR at our stand 293 at RenewableUK 2014 from 11th to 13th November.

Afternoon tea with your visualisation?

This week we held our first Customer Focus group. We invited a handful of our early customers into our office to talk about all things VentusAR. This provided us with a chance to really engage with our customers.

The afternoon started out with an open invite to the ‘Meet the Engineer’ session. George and his development team were on hand to show off new devices (with bigger screens), explain the field kit and talk through any issues our customers were having. This was a good session where we helped a few folk out with hands-on sessions to clarify changes and new features we recently introduced and maximise usage.

An hour of presentations, demos, hints and tips followed. The keynote presentation gave our customers the opportunity to get a sneak peak of some new features that will be a part of the next big release. Watch this space for more a more detailed announcement next week!

VentusAR in Numbers

VentusAR in Numbers

LDA Design and Green Cat Renewables both gave an insight on how they use the VentusAR and what they find most useful; benefits out in the field, saving time once back in the office and how images are used in other systems. On a more practical level we covered some details of our support and error tracking processes. The last presentation before afternoon tea covered practical tips on using the calibration tools while in the field: remember – heading first, then roll & inclination.

Being the sophisticated organisation that we are, refreshments involved an afternoon tea of mini sarnies, cakes and scones, all washed down tea, coffee and wine! You can’t accuse of us not looking after our customers!

cake

In the final session, following an overview of our product road map and vision, we opened up the room to open discussion.  This provided an opportunity to get customers, new and old to help us to shape the next version of VentusAR. I can’t share too much of the product road map and vision here, but a flavour of the topics we covered in that discussion were:

  • Importing and showing cumulative data – telling the story of what a project looks like in the context of what is already consented
  • Complying with new SNH guidance
  • Producing Residential Amenity assessments
  • Templateing and branding of the visualisations
  • Enabling a beta program to give early access to new features
  • Enhancements and new features that could be added to the Fly Through
  • Tools to help explain the sequential assessments
  • Engaging with councils and other interested parties
  • Using custom 3D models instead of the building wind turbine

A successful afternoon, and I hope, a useful one too. We are keen to do another one, do you want be involved?

The marketeers spin on phone thickness

Hands up who watched the Apple live event last night. I watched the live blog feed from the apple site, so I got the important points without having to watch 2 hours of Apple exec’s announcing new features. My interest was primarily about whether Apple were going to release a 12 inch iPad or not – they did not, so we will have to wait for the next announcement.

But while I was watching I was stuck by this image:

Thicknesses of new iPhones from apple.com

Thicknesses of new iPhones from taken from apple.com

iPhone Thickness as presented (from qz.com)

iPhone Thickness as presented (from qz.com)

While all the words the presenters were saying on stage was that the new iPhone is “the thinnest iPhone ever”.

Looking at the image above, the new iPhone looks a lot thinner than the previous version (especially in the projected view on the stage). As far as I can tell this appears to be because of the differences in lighting on the different iPhones. This causes different highlights on the different models and appears to make the screen disappear on the iPhone 6.

The lighting on the photo from of the iPhone 5S appears to come from the side. While the lighting on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus appears to come from the camera direction. This shows the edge of the screen on iPhone 5 while the edge of the screen is not so visible on the iPhone 6.

I’ve done some calculations based on the pixel sizes of the above photo. The iPhone 5S is 100px wide so all percentages are based on that measurement.

Model Obvious width Obvious percentage smaller Actual width Actual percentage smaller
iPhone 5 100px 100px
iPhone 6 86px  14% 90px  10%
iPhone 6 Plus 89px  11% 93px  7%

So while the numbers add up, the visuals provide appear to show the iPhone 6 as thinner than it actually is. I wonder how many people didn’t listen to the numbers and just looked at the images and assumed that the new models were much thinner instead of only a bit thinner.

I had a little search to see if anyone else had been struck by that thought. As always with the internet, your never the first to write about something like this. David Yanofsky at Quatz who says that Apple used trick photography to make the new iPhones look thinner. His final thought is that the published dimensions from Apple don’t include the protruding camera lens on iPhone 6 (the camera lens was flush with the iPhone 5’s body).

Terveisiä Suomi (Greetings from Finland)

This week saw Linknode embark on an exploratory trade mission to Finland, supported by Scottish Development International (SDI) and Panliska / ScotWindFin (http://www.panliska.com/), accompanied by Stephen Fox.
As a first-time visitor to the country having a local coordinator ensured that we got the maximum benefit, with seven meetings in just three-days total time out of the office.
Travel from Scotland is efficient and easy with SAS flights and other options from FinnAir. An after-lunch departure from Edinburgh on Monday had me in Vaasa (Energy Centre) for an evening meal. And a civilised 7:30am exit from Helsinki brought me to my car at Edinburgh airport before noon on Thursday. Both with one stop via Stockholm.

Why Finland
Finland’s target for 2020 is to meet around 40% of energy consumption with renewables. Although rich in biomass (the net forestry in Finland is growing, despite intensive wood, paper and biomass usage) wind will contribute a significant component. In 2014, total installed capacity is under 500 MW – this will increase five-fold with another 1000 turbines to 2,500 MW.
With so many projects in planning, understanding the visual impact at feasibility and scoping is essential to create engaging and acceptable projects. This is especially true as turbines are developed at typically 140m hub heights to reach above the forest canopy into the wind – a different approach to the UK.
The Finnish Wind Power Association (Suomen Tuulivoimayhdistys ry) is the umbrella organisation for companies in the sector.

Who
A packed three-day agenda had Linknode visiting representatives from the following organisations:

Merinova – http://www.merinova.fi/en/index.html
The collaborative energy centre for new technology and business growth.

Etha Wind- http://www.etha.fi/
Sustainable developers and consultants to the industry.

Ilmatar – http://www.ilmatarwind.fi/en/
A private developer and operator with a significant development pipeline.

Ramboll – http://www.ramboll.fi/
Environmental and energy consultants to the wind industry.

Megatuuli – http://megatuuli.fi/
An innovative developer with a range of projects coming through development.

Poyry – http://www.poyry.fi/
Global consultancy with specialisms in wind planning and project management.

Next Steps
As we continue to add multinational support for projects into VentusAR we can enable broader reach and allow more countries to experience the app. Mobile tablet-based visualisation enables live and inclusive democratisation of data access and communication. It facilitates better decision making and reduces uncertainty and doubt in project development.
We hope to return to Finland soon with active projects and presentations at the Vaasa Wind Exchange, part of Vaasa Energy week.

Feature Spotlight: Handling objects in the way – in a Photo Wireline

VentusAR, like many visualisations systems, uses a bare earth terrain model. This gives some advantages (compliance with SNH guidelines being a big one), but provides a few challenges too. One of the biggest challenges is that you can end up producing visualisations that don’t look right because there are trees between you and the turbine.

Dumglass project with trees in the foreground

Superimposed photo wirelines of Dumglass project. Click for full version.

In this example, the turbine is in the correct location in the respect to the landscape (i.e the turbine is on the hillside behind the trees).  This makes visualisation look invalid because the turbine should be behind the trees where as it is shown in front.

There are several approaches to how to deal with this kind of problem. You could try using a detailed Digital Surface Model (DSM) for the area. This would require someone to survey the tree top heights then load that into VentusAR as a Custom Terrain Service.

However within VentusAR there is a much simpler way. We call this feature using a trace.

Creating a Trace

The video below shows how a trace can be created for a capture stored in the gallery.  To add a trace:

  • Choose Start Trace from the right-hand panel
  • Draw around the area using your finger or stylus
  • Choose Use Trace from the right-hand panel

VentusAR Trace from Linknode Ltd on Vimeo. Note this video has no sound.

Pro Tip: Use a stylus – A finger has an approx pixel size of 60px, where as a stylus (such as the Adonit Jot Pro we supply in the Field Kit) has a size of approx 10px making it much more accurate.

Adonit Jot Pro in action

The Adonit Jot Pro Stylus in action