Paul Geraedts

A 3D viewer within the browser, for architects and clients

An example of Xuver. (showmodel, created in Revit)

Xuver has developed an interactive tool that allows you to walk through a 3D drawing.

With the Xuver viewer, 3D architectural drawings can now be viewed within the browser. This interactive tool simplifies the process of explaining a 3D design to a client and was received very well by many architects in The Netherlands.

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“Among architects, it’s common knowledge that it takes a lot of time and effort to explain a design to a client or contractor.” Laurens Kok, sales manager at Xuver, “With our viewer, everyone involved is able to walk from their own location and their own browser through the 3D model, while discussing the design at the same time.”

Laurens opens his laptop and within mere moments, a life-like 3D person (the avatar) is walking through the building in the virtual environment. “See? this means you can easily take your client inside the building, even during the architects sketching phase. Within the viewer, there is a built-in speaking module that allows audio communication. It is also possible to point at details with the laser pointer. These are just a few of the many interactive possibilities that this viewer has to offer.”

One of a kind

A tool like this one -working from the browser, without any complicated downloads, hasn’t been available yet. It took about seven years of research and development to realize this viewer. Laurens: “It was especially challenging to maintain a high performance inside the browser while working with 3D graphics models. If you look at how hard that is in a technical sense, this viewer is definitely one of a kind.”

Creating a tangible model

This unique viewer makes it an invaluable tool for the architect to explain a model to the client. “Because a client usually doesn’t possess the same technical knowledge that the architect has, it is very important to create a tangible model. Clients also usually don’t have the software that is needed to view a 3D drawing. This all makes discussing a design a complicated matter. To solve this problem, high-resolution digital images or short videos are created. But these are costly and offer no interactivity. With this in-browser viewer, we have a solution: everyone can access the virtual interactive environment from their own location.”

A promising tool

The results of the test phase, which took place before the recent launch of the viewer, are promising. The tool opens up a world of possibilities for the architect scene. Laurens explains how Xuver tested the viewer: “We had about two-hundred architect firms cooperating with our test and the vast majority of those companies are now using this tool. Because of how different they may be: all companies need to inform the client, who wants to get a clear image of the project. With our viewer, this can easily be offered. About eighty percent of the approached architect firms responded very enthusiastically and now using the viewer to show their designs to clients.”

An interactive approach

And that is exactly what Xuver is about. “By offering an easy solution to show a 3D design to both architect and client, the building project becomes insightful for everyone involved. Also: our viewer can be used by everyone. By navigating through a building with a person, the client gets a good sense of the scale of the 3D model. Last but not least: people also really enjoy walking through the building with the avatar.”

“People really enjoy walking through the building with the avatar.”

Available for Revit, Archicad, SketchUP and IFC

The testing phase is now done and the viewer is ready to be used and available for four different file formats. which Laurens explains: “With a fitting converter or plugin, the architect can easily convert his or her Revit, ArchiCAD, SketchUp or IFC file into a file that is compatible with our viewer. After this, the interactive 3D model can be viewed within moments. We chose these four file formats because they are very popular, but in the near future, we will undoubtedly launch more converters and plugins.

Free two-week trial

This online tool is now available as a free two-week trial and can be used by everyone after a quick signup. Besides the architect scene, this viewer also offers possibilities for other professionals, such as real estate brokers, interior designers, the offshore-industry and even e-learning and webshops. Laurens Kok summarizes it briefly: “Pretty much everyone who is involved in 3D designing and who wants to offer a clear, supporting image to the client can find a use for this versatile viewer.”

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