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A HoloTour for buildings

Hello all!

I am just about to start working on my very first HoloLens project which will let a group of people view and manipulate an AutoCAD structure. Consider it as a family touring their future home and manipulating the architect's plan while they are on it.

So the idea is that the architect's design will be laid down on a considerably large table and there will be interaction points on different elements within. There will be multiple users interacting at the same time as I mentioned before (and each of them will be able to see the changes others are making in real time of course).

The users will have the ability to navigate around the structure through these interaction points and have a peek in to see the intricate details at those points (Like visualizing a normal day inside the home where the residents will be moving around the house and interacting with the elements inside so that it is easy for my application users to visualize the flow). They will also have the ability to suggest changes by marking them across the structure (something like the Microsoft demo where a remote person marks the items that need replacement though in our case there wont be any Skype call).

This is a high level idea of my app and I would like to know the best possible approach to tackle a few core issues that I am facing:

  1. How can I import an AutoCAD structure into Unity and manipulate it? (So my CAD designers might be able to get a 3DS Max version and I was thinking that I could export it in .fmx format and import it in Unity. But is this the best approach?)

  2. Since there will be multiple projects to be demoed and the developers wont be on call all the time, I am planning to generate a framework which will let the sales folks do a one click import of the CAD files and just get going. Is there any existing projects which will simplify my work in this regard?

  3. How do I sync the experience of multiple users together? As in how can I get all the HoloLens kits to view the same object? Is there a particular framework I can use or do I need to develop it from scratch?

  4. Is there anyway that I can use other HoloLens apps (like HoloStudio) to manipulate objects on my project?

These are my first set of questions and I am sure I will be faced with more as I drill in to the specifics. I would love to hear your thoughts on my project. Do let me know if I can make any improvements or if I am doing anything wrong.

I will be using this thread to post my updates on the project and would be most excited to hear your reviews and comments :smiley:


  • @ideepakkrishnan

    1. Unity supports these 3D formats. You probably want to export from 3DS Max into an .FBX file format and import that into Unity as your model.
      Note: Typical CAD drawings of buildings often have far more detail, polys and verts than appropriate for a mobile device experience like the HoloLens, so ideally those CAD models should first either be designed or optimized to reduce unneeded details.

    2. Creating a generic application that can handle potentially a wide variety of models with different meta data for different interactions will likely be much more involved and require additional software architecture and planning. You may want to start with prototyping an application that handles one specific model before attempting a "framework".

    3. The HoloToolkit includes libraries for creating multiuser shared experiences on the HoloLens. Take a look at the Holograms 240 Tutorial as a starting point.

    4. No, not really. App to App support is still rather limited in HoloLens UWP apps.


    Windows Holographic User Group Redmond

    WinHUGR.org - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - @WinHUGR
    WinHUGR YouTube Channel -- live streamed meetings

  • Let me know how this goes. We are using a different approach (or dealing with a different need). We take a file out of ArchiCAD (via unity) and place it full-size on the client's building lot. The mechanics are not difficult but one of the unexpected problems is that the hologram is to transparent. it washes out in the sunlight.

    We used automotive window tinting film (seriously) on the lenses and it helps. Non-glue! But looking for a better solution.


  • Of course all of what you desire can be accomplished... Holosheep pretty much nailed it... I have over 30 years working in the AEC industry and over 15 creating simulations and 10 working with the Unity 3d game engine.... First off, I must say that creating what you desire is quite ambitious, but doable.... And, all my projects have also been quite ambitious so I understand... One of the tricks it doing the teleporting, is maintaining a constant knowledge on where the user is in relationship to where they came from and where they next will teleport, otherwise they get lost. So, I would suggest a user interface such as a project specific "Mini Map" (Another issue all into itself.) As far as using Auto Cad, which I am an expert with, I suggest you try to maintain as small a model file size as possible and to do this I suggest you use "SketchUp" as your modeling program which reduces file size and is easy to import into Unity and maintains all textures very nicely. Auto Desk since last year revised their pipeline for your type of work. The pipeline goes like this.... Start with Revit go to 3dsMax then to their new game engine called "Sting Ray" or you can go directly to Unity... This process maintains all Building Information Modeling (BIM) info... But, AutoCad to unity will work and you can use xrefs which of course can be modified and the unity files overwritten for updating. (But working with AutoCad and 3dsMax the texturing becomes a trick.) What you are talking about here is dam complicated and called "Visual Design Construction" (VDC). And attempting to add all this data and run through HoloLens Means you will need to optimize like crazy just to get it to run. Then, as others are doing, all the textures need to be lowere,d then the project runs good but looks like crap if all this is not done properly...
    Here, check this link out (Recently posted this on the Unity forum): https://forum.unity3d.com/threads/ar-vr-mr-aec-vdc-hololens-consultant-developer-available.447559/
    Any other questions or comments with to [email protected]

  • Hi, I work for CBRE (the worlds largest commercial real estate company), I'm interested to hear how your work comes along. I'm leading a number of AR initiatives. If you have any demo's of your work I'd love to see them.

  • @ARDaveCBRE said:

    Coincidentally just purchased and downloaded this for the HoloLens.

    How is it? Is it worth $?

  • @all

    We are HoloLens developers and have created a solution that does basically everything you are asking about here. Very simple to use. Great for AEC/Real Estate or really anyone designing in 3D that wants to view their designs in a shared experience on HoloLens.

    We are looking for AEC folks that want to join our beta program.

    Requires zero code and cuts down time it would take to do this in Unity from weeks or months, into just a few seconds.

    Please reach out to me if you'd like to learn more.

    [email protected]

  • I am in the Audio/Video Automation field in High End homes, this thread is of interest as I want to develop an app the builder can use to show the framed home in a finish state and I can demo the controls for lighting, audio/video, home theater design to the client. So to start rendering the framed walls to finished rooms would be an amazing tool.

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