Monthly Archives: November 2015

Visualisation Interest Group

Last week (November 2015), Linknode hosted a Visualisation Interest Group at our offices in Glasgow. This is the third (annual) time that we have opened our doors to planners, developers, landscape professionals and practitioners. The aim was to create a forum for discussion with like-minded people and over 20 guests plus four speakers agreed. The afternoon was a balance that included new technical insight, communication & community engagement and research & guidance updates.

After an invitation to a demonstration of the capabilities of the new iPad Pro for in-field and business use (screen size, performance, apps). Crispin from Linknode set the scene with examples of how progress in renewables capacity and technical innovation are mirrored in what we see in our clients’ use of innovative visualisation solution VentusAR.

Slides - Vis-SIG - CH x3

Susie Duncan, Principal Digital Designer, from LUC started the community session with a talk that began with a discussion as to whether “The Visualisation Challenge” really was “The Usual Carnage”. Slides - Vis-SIG - LUC x1 Susie led us through the extensive options and capabilities that are available to practitioners as well as the challenges that face professionals in dissemination of visual information. And corresponding challenges in community consumption of what is complex spatial information.

Victoria McCusker, Principal Consultant, representing Facilitating Change followed-up with a complementary presentation focussing on experiences and practicality of working with communities. Slides - Vis-SIG - FC x1 Tori described the Scottish Planning Equals Effective Engagement & Delivery (SP=EED) from Planning Aid for Scotland (PAS) and demonstrated with real-world examples that the visual and environmental impact remain the most important issues in comments received on proposals.

A short refreshment break (excellent cakes from Piece) gave a chance for discussion and to review some of the new Virtual Reality headsets. At the consumer level we had several Google Cardboard samples and Heriot-Watt demonstrated their tools using visualisation for education and training at height with the Oculus Rift headset.

Dr David Simmons, lecturer and research lead, from the University of Glasgow School of Psychology kicked-off the final session. David outlined some of the human factors affecting our visual perception and understanding. Slides - Vis-SIG - Gla x1 David related these to presented research into the differences between paper, digital and animated views of the same scene – in a controlled version of a viewpoint or community engagement exercise.
Quality animation is a key differentiator in digital visualisation and (as always) more research into the distinction between object animation in a view (ie a turbine) versus background animation (ie a live video feed) would be useful.

Finally, Marc van Grieken of MGLVA reported on new work undertaken by the Landscape Institute Technical Committee on “proportionality”. Marc is a respected speaker who clearly and articulately defined the problem of chasing ever-increasing accuracy for all situations. This leads to limitations (expense, time) in GLVIA. The broad approach of proportionality intends to approve the use of different levels of assessment at different stages – levels of information appropriate to the decision making point or process at that time.
We cannot share Marcs slides as the Landscape Institute is still to go through a review process – but expect to see news early in 2016 that we will of course share when it becomes public.

Many thanks to all the speakers for their time and effort – and to the attendees, some of whom travelled a long way to be part of the event. Copies of the presentations are below and for more information on any of the discussions, please contact any of the team at Linknode directly.

Land Use Consultants (Susie Duncan)
Facilitating Change (Victoria McCusker)
University of Glasgow (David Simmons)

24 hours with the iPad Pro

Last week, Apple released the newest version of the iPad – the monster iPad Pro. We will be supporting this as an option from the next release of VentusAR (due out in a few weeks). We do some rigorous testing and calibration of new devices (I wrote about this when testing the iPad Air 2 last novemeber). I thought I would post some details of what the device is like


Firstly the technical specification (taken from iPad Pro and Air 2 specs and our own research).

iPad Pro iPad Air 2

length x width

30cm x 22cm 24cm x 17cm


2732 x 2048 (264ppi) 2048 x 1536 (264ppi)


8 Mega pixels 8 Mega pixels

FOV (My View)

60.8° 60.1°

FOV (Gallery)

60.8° 60.1°

Memory (RAM)

 4GB  2GB

battery life

9-10hrs 9-10hrs


Keyboard / pencil N/A

The principal different between the iPad Air 2 and the Pro is the screen size. The device has a similar Field of View from the camera but displays 1degree across 45pixels instead of 1degree across 25 pixels. This will provide better higher resolution when viewing in the field.

Use in the Field

how-it-worksDue to the devices size, it can become a bit unwieldy to use in field. On a windy day the device does catch the wind and act a little like a sail. However we’ve found it to be a bit easier to use with the G-Hold to make it a bit easier to use. This is a gadget you add to the back of the iPad to make it easier to hold and operate one handed. Have a look at some of the videos on the G-Hold website for how it works.

Multitasking support in iOS 9

Not strictly related to the iPad Pro, but certainly a benefit of the new version of iOS 9. If you drag in from the left, you can start the multitasking support in iOS 9. This allows you to run the notes app to the side of VentusAR. Useful if you want to save some notes while out in the field.


Built in Notes app side by side with Gallery view

In all the new iPad Pro, looks good. I can see it being a significant benefit when used in the field. It provides a bigger screen and therefore shows the view provided with VentusAR that much better. Contact us at to set up a time where we could show you the new iPad Pro and how VentusAR takes advantage of this new larger screen size.


Last week, as a company we had a hack day. Everyone (well all the developers) stopped their normal work and had two days to see what they could produce.

The Brief

Produce an immersive Augemented or Virtual Reality experience.

The Prizes

  • A bluetooth wireless speaker
  • A  mini drone
  • Pie Face (the kids game with skooshy cream)
  • Eternal respect and bragging rights in Linknode Towers

The Technology

Our standard developer kit is to use Xamarin to make cross platform C# for android and iOS. So for this hack day, I wanted to give everyone the option to use whatever tools (software / hardware) they wanted.

  • An Oculus Rift DK2
  • Google Cardboard
  • A DSLR camera and a Go Pro
  • iPhones (various different types)
  • Android phones (various different types)
  • Unity / MonoGame

The Starting Gun

The Entries

VentusAR Fly Through using WebGL on Google Cardboard / Oculus Rift

ventusar_cardboard ventusar_oculusrift




Experiementing with WebGL to create something for  google cardboard experience. This provdes a views for each eye that when viewed togther provide a stereoscopic effect. In theory the same technique could be used to show the VentusAR Fly Through on the Oculus Rift.

Google Street View on Google Cardboard

Screenshot_20151113-102946Can we provide an Outdoor Virtual Reality experince using imageary from Google Street View and view it while on site. This takes the GPS location from the device and contacts google street view to show photography from that location.


Surviving the blob onslaught (with Unity for Google Cardboard)

Screenshot_2015-11-13-16-30-59A simple survival game based where users, wearing the Google Cardboard headset, have to explore the virtual world. They are under sustained attack from blobs, which they must destroy using the magnetic switch on the side of the device. Built in Unity so is cross platform, this game runs well on Android and iPhone devices.

Exploring panoramic photographs with the Oculus Rift

Could we take a 360degree panoramic photograph and explore our way aorund it using the oculus rift. This would anchor the photograph in real world position and as you move you head, only show the part currently shown in the current field of view.  However, getting the oculus rift running in 2 days proved hard.

The Results

Ryan won the best experience prize with his ‘Surviving the blob onslaught’ game for google cardboard. He won the drone and eternal bragging rights within Linknode Towers (or at least until we do it all again sometime in 2016). Congratulations Ryan.

Minh and Rufus shared the Most Commercial possibility prize for their efforts with bringing existing VentusAR functionality to google cardboard / oculus rift.


We would pick three over-riding thoughts that we took out of this hack day:

  • The pixel resolution of a phones screen is visible when viewed through the google cardboard lenses.
  • The google cardboard is crying out for other methods of getting input
  • Getting anything to work with the Oculus Rift is hard

In all there are some interesting additions we could add to VentusAR that provide more immersive virtual reality experiences. Watch this space…