Trimble Takes Aim at Mixed-Reality’s Biggest Problem


Over the past few years, some of the biggest companies in surveying and AEC have exploited the expertise of video-game companies to improve their 3D visualization. Now, add Trimble to that forward-looking group. The company has announced a partnership with Umbra, a Finnish developer offering a 3D data optimization engine to put “any 3D content” on “any device.”

Umbra’s technology could help Trimble address the biggest remaining hurdle for commercial applications of mixed-reality technology. As recently as August of this year, leading firms like AECOM still spoke of difficulty streaming large, complex BIM data sets to the HoloLens. This is due to the limited computing power offered by the mixed-reality device.

The 3D optimization engine from Umbra accomplishes this task by pre-processing large and complex 3D models to reduce the number of triangles. When a user views the model, Umbra’s engine also offers options for increasing frame rate by lowering the level of detail for the parts of the model “visible to the camera.” Trimble describes the engine as “essentially streaming in only the necessary 3D assets based on what the user sees.”

Courtesy of Umbra

Courtesy of Umbra

Aviad Almagor, director of Trimble’s Mixed-Reality Program believes the partnership will “improve the user experience and enable visualization of large and complex Architecture, Engineering and Construction 3D models.”

Umbra has already proven itself in the video-game industry. The company counts among its clients such video-game giants as Unity, Activision, BUNGiE, Square Enix, BioWare, and Bethesda. Their optimization engine has been used for popular games such as Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Destiny, Quantum Break, and The Witcher.

The Finnish developer has indicated that their product development strategy will continue to expand beyond the gaming industry.

“Using Umbra, Trimble pilot program users will be able to focus on what’s important about 3D and mixed reality: better communication, richer interaction and faster design review cycles,” said Otso Mäkinen, CEO of Umbra in an official statement. “With Trimble’s global presence and industry knowledge, this collaboration can enable Umbra to enter new markets and accelerate the 3D revolution.”


About Author

SPAR 3D Editor Sean Higgins produces SPAR 3D's weekly newsletters for 3D-scanning professionals, and Sean has previously worked as a technical writer, a researcher, a freelance technology writer, and an editor for various arts publications. He has degrees from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, where he studied the history of sound-recording technologies. Sean is a native of Maine and lives in Portland.

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