Monthly Archives: September 2015

VentusAR v4.1 Released

Over this weekend, we released VentusAR v4.1. This is a stability and polish release where we fixed numerous bugs and considerably improved performance.

IMG_0006-1024x768

For iPad and Android users this release includes:

  • New controls in the Fly Through to gesture allow navigation
  • Gallery improvements in renders and base images section.
  • Plenty of performance enhancements and minor fixes

For Portal users:

  • Improvements in managing layout version and media
  • Added a zip archive download of Project PDFs
  • Plenty of performance enhancements and minor fixes

ios9For iPad users this update is compatible with iOS9. We recommend updating to VentusAR 4.1 before installing iOS 9.

For Android users this update is compatible with Android KitKat on the Samsung Tab Pro. We recommend updating to VentusAR 4.1 before installing Android KitKat.

Please see the full release notes for android, iPad and the portal

Cumulative Data Refresh: Sept 2015

Cumulative150This week we have re-imported out national cumulative dataset. As we usually do when we re-import the data, we had a brief dive into it to explore what is new and what new applications are going on in the onshore wind industry in the UK.

Headline numbers for September 2015 dataset – there are now 31470 turbines spread over 16502 projects.

Appeals

This time, we’ve changed our data collection and import process slightly. We now identify if a planning application has gone to an appeal. All projects in an appeal will be in the Appeal In Progress state.

In our National Cumulative dataset, we know of 157 projects in 85 Local Authorities that are currently going through appeal. To break this down by Local Authority we get the following top 10 Local Authorities with wind projects currently in appeal.

Number of Appeals Local Authority
13 Aberdeenshire
7 Torridge
5 Highland
5 Barnsley
4 Newark & Sherwood
4 Perth & Kinross
4 South Lanarkshire
3 North Ayrshire
3 North Lincolnshire
3 Allerdale

Notes to Readers, Users and Editors

The VentusAR September 2015 refresh contains data sourced in the two months up to 1st September 2015 and loaded on 15th Sept 2015. It contains publicly accessible information about the project and the turbine locations, including turbine type and dimensions.

The dataset can be used as a quick, easy and convenient way to obtain cumulative turbine locations, required as part of the onshore wind development process. More information can be found about the VentusAR national cumulative dataset on the VentusAR website.

This dataset is available to all, whether you are a  VentusAR app customer or not. Non-VentusAR customers can access the data via a secure website by registering as a “portal-only” user.  Please contact us for further information.

If you have other suggestions of interesting statistics (most used turbine model at different sizes) or want to have a custom analysis and report created for a specific area, please email hello@ventusar.com.

VentusAR Customer Case Study: Green Cat Renewables

Green Cat Renewables improve quality and reduce time by assessing the visual impact of renewable projects using VentusAR

Green Cat Renewables have been developing and building renewable projects in Scotland since 2005. Based across Scotland with a 70 strong dedicated team providing a flexible range of support services to renewable energy developers throughout entire projects, from site selection through to commissioning.

Green Cat need to quickly produce visuals whilst on-site to inform site design and viewpoint selection for their projects.  In addition, high quality visuals are required for assessment in three areas: landscape and visual, cultural and heritage and residential amenity.  Many projects are in remote locations so return visits for new layouts can increase development time and budgets.

The Solution

onshore150-e1438175454732In July 2014, Green Cat integrated VentusAR into their business for landscape and visual assessment.  Green Cat need to ensure quality photography is captured first time at multiple viewpoints. VentusAR helps to ensure there is no foreground clutter in the images and automatically records required metadata.  Back in the office, VentusAR is used to recreate photomontages as design layouts evolve – without the need to revisit the site.  For the first time, they have an effective way to create high quality photomontages for Residential Amenity Assessment and Culture & Heritage viewpoints. At all stages of the assessment process VentusAR helps communicate design and inform decisions made by Green Cat Renewables, their clients and Local Authorities they interact with.

solar150-e1438175420529During summer 2015, Green Cat increased their solar assessment workload. Existing tools did not provide a high enough quality output for solar visualisation. VentusAR was identified as a production tool for their solar projects. Linknode worked closely with Green Cat in order to add new functions to VentusAR and tailored these to meet specific requirements.  Green Cat determined the model dimensions and textures required for their solar visuals.  Green Cat and their clients are some of the first beneficiaries of the new capabilities that have been added to VentusAR. The solar visuals created have been used within planning submissions during 2015.

GREENCAT

The solar domain has allowed us to produce visualisations from a single platform, instead of combining a number of graphics packages, significantly reducing the time taken to get the end product. The quality of the model has improved significantly following our input and fast follow-up from the Linknode team Rob Collin, Green Cat Renewables

The Benefits

VentusAR helps Green Cat to inform and communicate visual impact within their organisation and externally with clien­ts and Local Authorities.  The viability of Wind and Solar projects is assessed faster, enabling increased business. Accurate viewpoint selection lessens on-site time and removes the need for repeat site-visits. Furthermore, quality outputs from VentusAR can be used across the lifecycle of the planning process, including final submission.  Green Cat have also been able to go on-site and show planning committees exactly what the planned development will look like, from any location.

Green Cat Renewables have been integral to the design and growth of VentusAR, and have benefited by being able to assess projects faster.

Key Facts

Number of VentusAR licenses  2
Domain  Wind and Solar
Number of wind projects created  42
Number of solar projects created  18
Time saved during typical project  30%

You can view the full case study here

If you would like to chat about using VentusAR for your wind, solar or transmission visualisations, please feel free to call us on 0141 559 6170 or drop us a line at hello@ventusar.com

 

 

iOS 9 and New Apple Stuff

My name is Rufus and I am a software engineer at Linknode. After watching the live stream of Apple’s “Special Event” and being interested in some of the new products I thought I would write a small blog post to share my thoughts with the world!

As someone who primarily uses iOS devices I am mostly interested in changes that help make the device easier to use and improve productivity. iOS 9 brings a lot of improvements in these regards. Some of my favourites are listed below.

iOS 9

iOS 9 was announced and will be available on 16th September 2015.

ios9

Split Screen Multitasking
This feature allows users to place multiple apps on the screen at once. This will be useful in a whole host of situations, when you want to read a website while reading an email, taking notes or reading email while chatting to someone via the Messages app.

iCloud Drive App
This feature seems to provide iOS with a dropbox-like functionality. You can now browse the contents of your iCloud account and view, move, delete or share files using the “iCloud Drive” app. For me, I don’t think this will replace the way I use dropbox for storing and sharing files.

Notes App Improvements
I already use this app a lot to take notes and they sync automatically across all of my devices and are uploaded to my email account. The improvements to notes include better text formatting tools, being able to insert rich content such as images and a new drawing tool.

VentusAR 4.1 will support iOS 9 when it released – we are still on target for a release in mid September.

Devices

Two of the new devices that were announced at the Apple event are: iPhone 6S and iPad Pro.

iPhone 6S
I am mostly excited about the new “3DTouch” feature that will be available on the new iPhones. During the event, one of the clips shown demonstrated the uses of 3DTouch – a feature that allows the user to quickly preview content without having to fully transition to another screen. This seemed great for quickly previewing images or taking a quick peak at your calendar etc. If I had an iPhone 6S, this is definitely a feature I would be making the most of! The new devices were also said to be much faster than the previous generation of iPhones, with a 70 percent faster processor and 90 percent faster graphics.

iPad Pro
This is the largest iPad to date, with a 12.9-inch screen that has 5.6 million pixels.

One of the accessories announced for the iPad Pro was the “Apple Pencil”. This is a battery powered stylus which is recharged by plugging it directly into the iPad Pro. The sensors in both the pencil and iPad’s screen work together to respond to the angle and pressure of the pencil to simulate a true writing or drawing instrument. The have clearly invested a lot into the Apple pencil, and I am interested to see how this compares with the current high-end graphics tablets available from companies like Wacom.

pencil

Apple also boasted about the performance of this new iPad – claiming that it is “faster than 80% of the portal PCs that shipped in the last 12 months”, and that in graphics tasks it is “faster than 90% of them”. There was no mention about the amount of memory in the device, but rumors suggest it contains 4GB of memory. This is twice times as much as the iPad Air 2.

What does this means for Linknode and VentusAR? Well the larger screen size and huge performance increases will enable richer and more complex visualisations that were not possible on the previous devices. The larger screen size will also aid in communicating visualisations to larger groups of people. We plan to support the iPad Pro soon after it is launched in November 2015.

It is an exciting time to be both a user and developer of Apple products and I am excited to see what is possible with the new range of devices and operating system.

RUFUS

Me and Steve Wozniak, AppsWorld 2013

Mirroring an iPad to a Laptop

Over the last week, I’ve have done a few demo’s of our VentusAR product to a variety of different people. Quite often I end up doing these demo’s in places where there is no Wi-Fi, so I need some other way of connecting the iPad to a big screen. Sure, I could use a lightning to HDMI connector, but then the iPad is tied to the screen by a cable – VentusAR is a personal, engaging visualisation tool that requires users to move around to get the full effect. I don’t want the first experience potential clients see to be limited by a bit of wire!

As I’ve just upgraded to Windows 10, I took the opportunity to document what would I do to project the iPad screen to a room of people. (Mostly so I have notes to look back on next time I re-install windows.)

TLDR – Overview

  • I create a hosted network between my laptop and iPad
  • I use AirServer to mirror the iPad screen to the laptop screen
  • I have some short cuts in my windows 10 start menu to make it easier

Setup

I setup my laptop as a wireless access point using a few custom scripts to get everything started. Then I use the rather excellent AirServer to act as an AirPlay device and set the iPad to mirror the screen to the laptop. This can then be placed in front of the audience (if there are only a few people) or connected to a projector / shown on a TV.

Network Setup

1. Create a Hosted Network

To create a hosted network on your computer you need to execute the following command (as an administrator).

netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=”<NetworkName>” key=”<Password>” keyUsage=persistent

2. Start the Hosted Network

This doesn’t need to be run as an administrator

netsh wlan start hostednetwork

3. Setup Sharing to Allow Access

The above commands will have enabled an access point on your computer. I call my accesspoint “GBLaptop”. By default it will not have access to the internet (it will be in its own isolated network). I find it much more useful if the access point network can access the internet through my laptop. To do this you need to enable internet sharing on your wifi network.

  1. Open network and sharing center by right clicking on the task icon (near the clock on the screen).
    Network and sharing center
    The network and sharing center shows two networks. Your Wi-Fi network (highlighted in red) and your ad-hoc network (highlighted in green).
    Network connections
  2. Choose Wi-Fi (the connection to your Wi-Fi network and internet). This brings up the Wi-Fi Status options page.
  3. Choose Properties to bring up the properties of this connection and change to the Settings tab.WifiStatus
  4. Tick the box next to Allow other network users to connect through this computers internet connection.NetworkSharing
  5. Then choose the item from the Home Networking connection: drop down that matches your ad-hoc network (Highlighted in green above).
  6. Click OK
  7. Then Close

4. Try It Out

On your iPad connect to your new hosted network. It should be visible from the Wi-Fi section of the settings app. The Wi-Fi name and password will be whatever you set <NetworkName> and <Password> to in step 1.

Then you should be able to use Safari to go to a webpage to ensure you have everything set up correctly.

AirServer Setup

Airserver_icon_x128AirServer is really good (use the 7 day trial if you need to – or buy it – it’s not that expensive). Once you have installed it on Windows 10 it will be running in the system tray. There is very little other setup required (note I’ve not tried the miracast options yet as my laptop doesn’t have the required network drivers – I expect that is just as easy).

On the iPad, drag the bottom menu up to reveal the Air Play control and choose your laptop’s name.

Troubleshooting

  • Laggy? – try the Slow Network option in the AirServer settings
  • Can’t connect – make sure your on the hosted network (not connected directly to your Wi-Fi
  • Try Rebroadcasting from AirServer

Short cuts

I add some short cuts to my Windows 10 Start menu:

  • Shortcut to Air Server to start that up.
  • start hosted network and stop hosted network are shortcuts in <user>AppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuPrograms
    • start is a shortcut to C:WindowsSystem32netsh.exe wlan start hostednetwork
    • stop is a shortcut to C:WindowsSystem32netsh.exe wlan stop hostednetwork

start menuEnd Result

The end result – VentusAR Fly Through running on the iPad and mirrored to the laptop screen, with no requirement for Wi-Fi in someone elses office.

WP_20150903_21_28_03_Pro

VentusAR App Running on an iPad, Mirrored to the Laptop Screen

Introducing the Transmission Tower Model

As part of the VentusAR 4.0 release, we have included a brand new feature for visualising transmission towers.

This new  capability allows the towers to be assessed in all visualisation modes – My View, FlyThrough and Gallery. In this post we will introduce you to the new transmission tower model we are using for our visualisations. It is is customisable with different colours and lit with realistic lighting as with all our models.

We also added a new solar panel model which will was covered in a previous post.

FlyThrough

This video shows the transmission towers in FlyThrough mode. This is an overview tool to explain what the area around a transmission project would look like.

You’ll notice that all the towers here are the same model. We understand that according to different considerations, there are different types of transmission towers required, and we are working with partners to create more models: for example tangent suspension tower and angle tower (or tension towers). Multiple tower models can be loaded into VentusAR to give an accurate representation of the development.

My View

This video shows the transmission towers in the My View mode. This allows the visualisation to be generated from a particular position. The video initially shows the map of the tower locations, and then loads the visualisation in a wireline mode. This represents what you would see if you were standing in that location. If you were actually there, you could switch on the camera mode and see what the towers would look like in the landscape.

If you have any models of transmission towers you would like demonstrated within VentusAR, please feel free to contact us.

Custom Models

The technology behind VentusAR is very flexible so we can load in any 3D models into our visualisation modes. The addition of Solar and Transmission models in VentusAR are the first steps in the journey towards loading any type of model into the VentusAR visualisation modes.

If you are working on a project where showing a custom 3D model in an augmented reality camera feed would help, get in contact by emailing hello@ventusar.com