The successful experience of such giants as Facebook, Google and Yahoo! implies there are only two things which are sufficient to build a world famous corporation. One is a bright idea and the other is a modest investment. This is what happened to VIZERRA, which in only three years became an internationally respected company, winning multimillion-dollar contracts.
One bright idea that formed the basis of VIZERRA project was constructing 3D models for virtual travel industry. The first project, performed under Arman Gukasyan, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of VIZERRA, was a virtual model of Machu Picchu, a famous Inca site voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
The crucial difference between VIZERRA 3D models and 3D cinema is that VIZERRA models are exact copies of buildings which already exist or are being constructed, whereas a motion picture in 3D films is nothing more than an illusion. Using the backbone of cutting-edge game engine technology, VIZERRA designs innovative 3D models that are fully interactive and can be studied from various perspectives without sacrifice of precision.
Advances in 3D Modelling
The idea of using 3D models in business presentation in not entirely new, and for some time presentations using 3D visualisation techniques (videos or static 3D images) have enabled the examination of 3D objects from a range of perspectives and angles. However, the interactive three-dimensional VIZERRA model creates the illusion of actually being inside, as if the user is moving around a real object.
A distinguishing feature of an interactive 3D Model in comparison to the standard, is the user’s ability to move freely; to fly over or to walk around at the user’s discretion. It is also possible to examine an object in detail using various viewpoints; from the ground, from above, from inside. At the same time users, can place different items such as people, furniture, billboards, wherever they wish. More significant, interaction with any object inside the model facilitates gathering additional information about that object and its functionality.
VIZERRA 3D Technology is currently of interest to companies leading in development and city planning. It enables them to see future buildings on a screen, detect construction and design errors, thus saving money and other valuable resources at the project realisation stage. Currently, nearly all projects developed on the VIZERRA platform are for architectural and city-planning companies. In addition, other uses include the creation of a virtual museum tour, and the simulation of technically complex devices. For instance, one of the existing projects of VIZERRA is interactive 3D model of a plant for the production of helium, ethane and NGLs from natural gas. A virtual simulator allows operational and technical personnel to model their work at the facility, switching equipment, testing emergency actions, on a computer prior to construction.
3D Modelling and Town Planning
The uniqueness and effectiveness of 3D models as a business solution enabled VIZERRA to grow regardless of the global financial crisis. For example, the company created 20 further 3D models of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and at the end of 2010 VIZERRA signed a destiny decisive contract with the Skolkovo Foundation, involved in creating the new technologies and commercialisation centre in Skolkovo; the Silicon Valley of Russia. Initially the VIZERRA team created an interactive 3D model of the ‘Hypercube’, the first building of the Skolkovo Innovation Centre. After Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg witnessed a presentation of the Hypercube 3D model in April, 2011, it was decided to use the same technology to create a detailed interactive 3D model of the entire ‘city of the future’.
Skolkovo is a priority project in modernisation of Russia. The goal of the project is to form favourable conditions for boosting innovation. Head of the Skolkovo Foundation is Dmitry Medvedev, a former president and current prime minister of Russia, who proposed and led the initiative to build the new scientific and technological centre.
Several architectural organisations and many local and foreign experts are involved in the development of the Innovation Centre. The interactive 3D model integrates presentations, blueprints, sketches, and 3D drafts, and displays clearly the current state of architectural and design works on the Skolkovo city project.
At the present time, it is possible for users – including the general public, and investors – to take a virtual tour around the Skolkovo Innovation City, visit its buildings, and assess the prospects and the scope of the project.
3D modelling not only enables the demonstration of ideas to the public, but also gives an opportunity to test complex architectural projects. As far as it represents the city project in the full scale VIZERRA 3D model is used for facilitation of the decision making process and for the making changes in the existing project.
Since the beginning of the Skolkovo city-planning project, its interactive 3D model has been constantly updated by integrating new architectural and design data. As a result, it creates a feeling of being inside, and the user sees every object as if it is real – from the smallest detail of the interior to the entire city district. This whole digital model can be stored on a USB-stick, sent by e-mail or uploaded to the ‘cloud’ for better user collaboration.
Another striking example of VIZERRA’s participation in urban planning is the construction of what will be the biggest transport network in southern Europe, to be built in Barcelona. The amount of work and investment is perhaps comparable to preparations for the Olympic Games, held in Barcelona in 1992. According to the original estimate the total cost of the La Sagrera terminal station will be about €650 million.
VIZERRA 3D Technology was selected to develop a virtual reconstruction of one, particular part of the city by the chief architect of Barcelona. Currently the completed 3D model allows views of the complicated district infrastructure, including the planned location of overland and underground railway systems. The 3D model can also be used for estimating distances required for safe passenger movement. VIZERRA 3D Technology implementation has made it possible to save about 10% from the total cost of the transport network construction.
Science Fiction as Fact
The fantastic plot of The Matrix may come true in the near future. Some things are possible even now. VIZERRA 3D Technology enables the creation of virtual cities that could later be explored from the inside. Every user will be able to walk down virtual streets, visit virtual houses and see fine virtual collections of virtual museums. Most exciting, as in the Wachowski Brothers’ film, this virtual world will be an exact copy of our reality.
Originally founded in Russia, VIZERRA quickly expanded across three continents. In the US market, it was recently quoted as being in the top-70 fastest growing technology innovative companies, following the DEMO 2010 conference in Silicon Valley. Accolades have come from Google and Forbes in Russia, and the company was a winner of the Business Project, 2010. The company has built an impressive list of international and blue chip clients, such as the Skolkovo Fund, SPIEF Foundation, and the Barcelona Town Planning Committee. The VIZERRA platform has been utilised by OJSC «Gazpromavtomatika», JSC «Kamov» and other industrial, mineral and infrastructure companies. VIZERRA has also been responsible for realistic 3D renders of historical and architectural monuments on UNESCO’s World Heritage list (for example, Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, and Angkor Wat) for National Geographic. In 2011, the company raised $6 million in its first round of funding, and now is working on packed software, allowing designers to self build and launch their work to multiple platforms, with all the features of the managed services.