Building a Bridge and 3D Printing in VR
In the Bloomsbury area of London sits the British Museum – home to one of the world’s greatest collections of art, history and culture: a testament to human innovation.
In June, it was also the setting for Horizon and our client Lenovo to unveil what may be one of the modern era's coolest innovations: virtual reality. Lenovo sponsored an event, the NXT BLD (Next Build) conference, to showcase the world’s most extraordinary new technologies in the field of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). In fact, many of these technologies are so forward-thinking that they exist only in their infancy – and that’s where Horizon's Virtual Reality expertise filled the gap.
For example, imagine a footbridge that has been 3D printed – in mid air – across a canal in Amsterdam. This is exactly what Dutch firm MX3D is doing, using Lenovo computing power and a robot that can print metals in any size or shape – in open space.
The challenge for Horizon? That bridge isn’t done yet.
Using the Unreal Engine developed by Cary-based Epic Games, our team created a virtual Amsterdam canal, complete with the 3D printed bridge as it will appear when it’s completed. Conference visitors were able to don a VR headset, walk across this bridge, and explore it from every angle, including those (like underneath), that they’re unlikely ever to see when the real 3D-printed bridge is completed. We also allowed them to 3D print their own metal sculptures within the environment by turning one of their controllers into MX3D's robot arm.
Our immersive VR experience was the hit of the NXTBLD conference. After experiencing it, the bridge’s designer told us he has renewed inspiration to bring the project to fruition.
For our client Lenovo, this Horizon-designed experience created a “wow” factor - and gave the audience an unforgettable look at how powerful computers enable some of the word’s most incredible next-generation technologies.
Because it was such a success, Lenovo has asked us to start brainstorming VR projects that will bring to life other revolutionary ideas. On the horizon: a possible VR experience that shows a new, non-invasive way for humans to measure and map the surface area of coral reefs.
Like so many of the innovations housed in London’s British Museum, virtual reality pairs human imagination with the best technological tools available to a generation. At Horizon, we use VR to make the abstract tangible, and bring possibility into the realm of reality.
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