Category Archives: Business Development

Edinburgh’s new Garden District development – what will it look like?

In the news yesterday, Murray Estates have been granted planning permission to build 6000 houses and leisure facilities on greenbelt land just outside Edinburgh.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-36436284 

The image below represents an overview of the area the development is planned for.

edinburgh

Image courtesy of Edinburgh’s Garden District Brochure

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Data, Data, Everywhere…

… but what about spatial data security?

People expect instant access to location based data. That could be anything from a simple map to questions like, where is the nearest library? what is the current traffic? what does my holiday home look like?  In addition, initiatives like INSPIRE require data to be made available as download or services.

This push-pull for information has been simplified through the adoption of open standards, web mapping, cheap hardware, open source software and available skills coming out of universities.

Excellent… to a point.

When does open access and availability of spatial information become a risk to an organisation? Continue reading

Staff Spotlight – Rufus Mall

Our latest team spotlight is our iOS guru, senior software engineer, Rufus Mall.

Who are you and what is your role at Linknode?

My name is Rufus Mall. I’ve been working as a Software Engineer at Linknode for around three and a half years now. The main skills I use of at Linknode are Graphics Programming and iOS Development. I spent the first three years of my time at Linknode working on VentusAR but have now moved on to working on our upcoming product UrbanPlanAR.

RUFUS

My favourite person in the world (alongside Steve Wozniak)

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VentusAR Customer Case-Study: LDA Design

LDA Design use VentusAR to rapidly evaluate and clearly communicate projects. 

LDA Design are an independent creative consultancy helping clients to deliver places which work well and provides design and landscape-led planning services to developers, landowners, communities, universities and government. As planners, LDA Design take a positive approach to securing consent, optimising the opportunity to win support and are proud of their work for renewable energy schemes: small or large, they are all part of a low carbon future.

LDA Design needed a cost effective solution for producing visualisations for rapid site appraisal and design testing of renewable energy projects. In particular at early stage landscape feasibility work and in small projects where limited budgets precluded the production of large numbers of verifiable visualisations.

The Solution

onshore150-e1438175454732Having seen the potential of the product in 2013, LDA Design have worked with Linknode to inform the development of VentusAR. Initial use focussed on landscape feasibility studies as VentusAR allowed rapid visualisation production from a variety of locations.
Since then, VentusAR has been used to efficiently locate LVIA viewpoints with clear lines of sight, and in assessment scoping discussions with a range of consultees. VentusAR has also proved valuable in assessing potential impacts on residential visual amenity and settlements and providing supplementary visualisations to illustrate assessments.

Product Development

solar150-e1438175420529LDA Design continue to be actively involved in the development of VentusAR. They contribute to the use of bespoke terrain data, the solar domain and performance and usability testing in the field.
LDA Design also collaborate with Linknode in the production of bespoke development models for other forms of development to be used within VentusAR. They have been actively involved with Linknode on academic research exploring trust in the visual representation of wind farms.

VentusAR helps the LDA Design team to deliver faster, better and more cost effective advice about wind farm design and visual impacts. Being able to ‘see’ a scheme from any location aids our feasibility studies. Mary Fisher, LDA Design

The Benefits

buildingLDA Design benefits from being able to rapidly evaluate projects early on in the development lifecycle and being able to clearly communicate information to clients and consultees.. Additionally, a close working relationship with an engaged and responsive team at Linknode has allowed continued development of the product and exploration & development of new, valuable uses.

Key Facts

Number of VentusAR licenses  5
Domain  Wind and Solar
Number of wind projects created  67
Number of solar projects created  7

You can view the full case study here

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

 

 

Drone Visualisation

An obvious extension to the first-person visualisation experiences that Linknode deliver is using the same technology to deliver remote visualisation. By that, we mean to take the visualisation solution (mobile tablet) that our existing users hold in the field, and change the camera location. This could be to get a different perspective on a project or to place a point of view in a location which may be otherwise inaccessible or dangerous to access.
In theory, all the technical platform requirements (location, real-time sensors, 3D modelling, camera metrics and AR integration) that Linknode specialise in are the same as VentusAR and UrbanPlanAR. However, instead of the mobile platform being packaged into a consumer tablet, containing all the hardware we need, just like the best chefs we need to do some deconstruction of the product to create a new experience. Continue reading

AGI Scotland – 2016

Last week (16 March 2016) was the annual AGI Scotland event in Edinburgh.

Location is key to Linknode’s business – making information more relevant, accessible and understandable. The Association for Geographic Information is the profession for spatial scientists, geographers and GIS professionals and the Scottish program matched this variety. A couple of my highlights are below that resonated with our operations:

HES

Diana Murray spoke from the newly conglomerated Historic Scotland and the RCAHMS, forming Historic Environment Scotland in late 2015. HES have a vast array of georeferenced data exposed with services such as CANMORE. Digital provision has made the data more available – and hence more valuable. Diana explained how innovation in GIS and heritage is a key driver for the better understanding of data in order to make sense of the past. Linknode’s work in projects such as HistoryLens and with UPAR is 100% onboard with this vision.

Networks

Some great conference planning led to back-to-back presentations from the Canal & Rivers Trust and Network Rail. Both manage thousands of km of linear networks for leisure and transportation. 17th to 20th Century infrastructure is now managed by 21st Century mobile workforces, apps, 3D data and visualisation to increase efficiency and reduce downtime of complex services.
Some great examples of use of the data were given, but only scratching the surface of the big data being continually collected.

Google

Ed Parsons, who I worked with back in the last Millennium, is the Geospatial Technologist at Google and always hosts entertaining and thought provoking discussions.
With the interconnectedness of all things (IoT), and location, Ed asked what new services are we prepared to offer up our privacy for? As well as a suitably respectful discussion on philosophy of the late Douglas Adams.

And Finally

Rollo Home from the Ordnance Survey entertained with the observation that in space we struggle to orient well-defined frames of reference. In sci-fi the problem of “space and the y-axis” is always ignored as the very entertaining link explains!

212121-cartoon

For more information on the AGI, and the future of GIS and BIM, I recommend a review of the newly published Foresight Report.

Assessing buildings onsite

Since 2012, VentusAR has enabled users to conduct onsite visualisations and assessments of onshore wind, solar and grid connections.

Our latest buildings feature will provide users with the ability to assess the developments of buildings and houses. We describe this as assessing the impact of rural developments. (We have another product we are building to allow users to assess urban developments – see UrbanPlanAR.com for details).

Assessment mode using the camera feed

Assessment mode using the camera feed

The development work to enable the visualisation of buildings to be assessed within VentusAR has now commenced. Once this feature is live, it will provide our clients with a few key benefits:

  • Save time during design process – Quickly create a 3D overview of the project and check sight lines and symmetry etc.
  • Save time while onsite – Check how visible a development will be from anywhere – as quickly as pointing the iPad and taking a photo.
  • Engage the public better – Take the tablet to a member of the public to show what the development would look like from their house.
  • Increase the chance of a successful planning application – VentusAR visuals aide better communication with the Planning Authorities.
  • Costs less than the price of 3DSMax and a trained operator.

These benefits will be delivered across the following features:

  • Choose 3D models from a library of buildings (pitched roof house, flat roof house, block of flats, barns).
  • Enter user configurable height, length and depth.
  • View a Fly Through to show the buildings in the context of the landscape.
  • Use My View to show what the development will look like on screen, using the real-time camera as a live background. Either in assessment mode showing outlines, structure and visibility or realistic mode with appropriate texture and detail.
  • Easily share photos and videos of what the development is going to look like.
Wireline Photomontage

Wireline photomontage of a building assessment

This work is due to be completed mid 2016. If you are working on designing or assessing buildings in a rural environment, we would love to hear from you and get your input to help define the product.

Please get in touch by emailing hello@ventusar.com or calling 0141 559 6170. We can come and show you what we are up to, how we can improve your assessment processes and save you money!

Team Spotlight – Crispin Hoult

We have been blogging for a while now – technical stuff, industry news, product features.

We decided it’s maybe time to do something a little more personal, and let everyone know who we are – all of us!

We’ll all be answering various questions over the next few weeks and you’ll get to see who actually works at Linknode and what we get up to. We’re starting with the boss man! Enjoy!

Who are you?

My name is Crispin and I set-up Linknode five years ago in May 2011.

napoleon

We have a great team here so my technical abilities are less in demand now, but I still look after some key accounts and legacy solutions – as well as developing the R&D side of the business, strategic relations and the exciting realm of corporate governance.

What has been your favourite project at Linknode?

My favourite project is always the next one – trying to see over the horizon as to what is technically possible by using our current platform as a stepping stone to greater understanding and integration with our business domains.  Once they are market assessed, funded and passed to the technical team I keep a close eye but only as a surrogate parent.  The projects are nurtured and developed by George’s team.

If you could switch your job with anyone else within Linknode, whose job would you want?

Minh has a geospatial background and the ability to problem solve challenges with new technology.  Whilst I may be too old to adapt to some of the new tools that the development team use, I would like to have the capacity and skills to do what Minh does.

What is your proudest moment at Linknode?

We are now onto three Linknode babies and one engagement.  Working hard for the company is important for the team, but at the end of the day we are creating opportunities to support people in their personal lives as well.  Seeing how each member of the team moves through their own lives is something I am abstractly proud of facilitating in some small way.

Whats your favourite line from a movie or song?

Although I (heresy) prefer the Kirsty MacColl version to Billy Bragg, this is one of my favourite lyrics that manages to mix a combination of astronomy and poetry:

I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
It’s wrong to wish on space hardware

What books are at your bedside?

There is always a big pile of books waiting to be read, currently not helped by staying in a cottage conversion project without mains electricity for a bedside light.

I have two cycling travelogues, an adventure travel diary from Amazonia, at least three books on maps, a couple of permaculture guides, at least one autobiography and two business management books.

What did you want to be when growing up?

No surprises that I wanted to draw maps!  And I still do cartographic authoring sometimes, but now our drawing is visualisation in a way I could not have imagined in an era where our school computers ran at 2MHz with 32Kb RAM, several 1000 times less powerful than my mobile phone.

The REAL Crispin...!

The REAL Crispin…!

UrbanPlanAR Call to Action – We Need Your Data!

This week we launched our new UrbanPlanAR website, where we have stated a ‘Call to Action’ to possible partners and users.

www.UrbanPlanAR.com

UrbanPlanAR is a Linknode R&D project in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, and funded by Innovate UK, and will deliver an augmented reality solution for visualising proposed urban developments.

PR

All stakeholders, including architects, developers, planning authorities as well as communities and citizens, will be able to picture planned developments within their actual urban environments in real-time.

As we launch the website, we are looking for early adopters to aide in our development of this ground-breaking solution. If you are interested in collaborating with us, sharing your data, projects and problems.

Later in 2016 we will be holding a seminar and demonstration. We welcome conversations now and to ensure that you keep up to date with news and invitations, please visit the website and get in touch. You can email us at hello@UrbanPlanAR.com

The Tech Expo: Augmented Reality

Tech-Expo-420X1241This week was the augmented reality show as part of  The Tech Expo show in London. I went down to see a bit about what other people and companies are using augmented reality for. Here are some of my observations of the conference:

  • Virtual Reality (VR) is going to be the next big thing, with full augmented reality after that. Outdoor VR with google cardboard is interesting
  • People are starting to talk more about context  than location
  • BAE is doing some interesting mixed reality work

Outdoor Virtual Reality

Immersive experiences is what is driving virtual reality at the moment. Being able to produce immersive experiences with devices like the Oculus Rift or Samsung gear are going to provide big opportunities.

qPlx4c2c_400x400

OutdoorVR

One of the main objections and blockers for mainstream acceptance for virtual reality is the fact it is a solitary experience. This is ideal for computer games, however to get wider adoption and integration into the modern digital landscape we expect social interaction and more natural shared experiences. One talk entitled outdoor VR stood out as being a little different from the rest. Sander Veenhof had some interesting thoughts on outdoor VR: connecting VR to physical movement. He had done some Google Cardboard based projects: being guided around a city by a person and a VR headset which had evolved into cyborg dating and vr4two.com.

Context is the next big thing

Everything we do at Linknode is about location, but perhaps we should be talking about context. Context is providing relevant information to the user: it is partially based on their location, but it also includes other things depending on the users interests and history. E.g. If you purchase something on an e-commerce site, adverts for similar product follow you around the web. However you have just purchased a pair, you are not interested in purchasing another one. Context is important to not alienate your users.

Mixed Reality vs Augmented reality

2550681022BAE presented some of the work they have been doing to bring augmented reality to warfare. They had an interesting spin on Augmented Reality vs Mixed reality. Their definition is that Augmented Reality is when photons of light reach the viewer without being processed by a computer. This provides “natural resolution” of the eye, there is no disortion or pixelation due to the camera or display. While Mixed Reality is where a camera feed is processed by a computer before being displayed to the user.

The advantage of augmented reality is that nothing down samples the camera feed  – in a heads up display in a fighter jet, you need as much detail as possible with the real word.

Conclusion

To sum up the day, I came away with the impression that the quality of the screen and pixel sizes will be sorted soon (next 2 to 5 years). After that we will start thinking about creating more cutting edge immersive experiences using touch and smell – playing a zombie game where the player can smell the damp musty smell of the warehouse.