Visualization is one of the obvious commercial applications for technology such as Microsoft's HoloLens. The ability to see the assets of a project in different scales—from micro to larger-than-life—with a quick air tap will play a large part in the coming augmented reality revolution. Whether the assets are art for a game, interior design, raw financial data, or architecture, data visualization will play an important role in the future. This is due, in part, to our ability to absorb information quicker and more completely in 3D.
Earlier this week, Trimble Navigation announced the first extensible commercial HoloLens release to the Windows Store—SketchUp Viewer. This is an obvious companion piece to SketchUp, the popular and easy-to-use 3D modeling package that Trimble purchased—to the surprise of many—from Google back in 2012. With the hefty price tag of $1,499.99, the release of this product shows that Trimble understands the important role of visualization in the coming future.
A few weeks ago, I met Adrian Ferrier, Development Manager for Trimble Geospatial. He gave a presentation to the Atlanta HoloLens Meetup group on the "5 Design Patterns for HoloLens." During his hour-long talk, he showed a few different models of design and how they applied to some of the ideas that Trimble has been working on.
The demonstration that really stood out for me would likely end up being called "Smart Construction." The images presented a building in which a HoloLens user could actively see where the plans would be placing power lines, water pipes, and other infrastructure needs. With the power of HoloLens, the building team could work with the architect, onsite or offsite, to make necessary changes and address issues that arise on the fly.
Now seeing the demos for SketchUp Viewer, I see it as the core system for all the points Adrian made during his talk. The ability to look at an architecture project, from a bird's-eye view, and walk around it seems pretty good. Then, with an air tap, the user is suddenly standing inside that building, able to walk around and make changes. This working model seems to open many doors into how we visualize and interact with the projects we create.