Man wearing occulus rift 3D Visualisation goggles
3D Visualisation of loading an ocean-going tanker
Focus: What is 3D visualisation?

Simon: 3D visualisation uses computer software to create detailed, lifelike, three-dimensional representations of natural or manmade objects that can be easily manipulated or altered and efficiently communicated to others. It’s about creating stunning graphics to communicate a message or to allow interaction within an environment that hasn’t been physically built yet. As computer graphics technology has become more powerful and advanced, 3D visualisation has become more realistic with both static and animated, photorealistic imagery whilst the hardware required to use it has become more cost effective.

Focus: What benefits does this visualisation technology deliver?

Simon: First and foremost it gives the design team or the customer the opportunity to view the proposed layout of specific areas of the vessel without the need to invest in expensive and time consuming physical mock-ups. Costs are cut whilst the design process is accelerated. By using the commercially available Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, BMT’s system allows users to view the virtual environment through 360o as though it was real and to become fully immersed in their own design, walking around as they would do in the real world.

This visual immersion in the project gives those involved a far more powerful insight into the design than is available via a computer aided design (CAD) screen or a model. The sense of presence enhances the end user’s experience, allowing them to make key decisions on design detail that will hopefully reduce the risk of needing to change the design further down the line. Different design options can be viewed in quick succession whilst difficult to explain concepts can be best explained visually.

By merging the same base-data CAD with 3D visualisation, early functional and ergonomic analysis can also be carried out in the virtual world. Design reviews, spacial acceptance, familiarisation, risk identification, training needs analysis and training scenarios themselves can all be carried out in the 3D rendered environment.

The visualisation techniques can also be used in service so that personnel on shore can have the same view of equipment as those on board when trying to resolve a problem, or using the model for anthropometric testing, or when going through Alterations and Additions (A + As).

Focus: Where else have you used this type of visualisation?

Simon: Both the Tide-Class Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) tankers that BMT has designed for the UK Ministry of Defences and the Logistics and Support Vessel (LSV) designed for the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organisation’s (NDLO) have benefitted from the use of 3D visualisation.

We also have a number of other projects in progress where 3D visualisation is playing a major role including enhancing reports for Dstl; demonstrating ship survey prototypes with Google Glass and improving our ASSERT application with enhanced graphics to enable more effective decision making.

From a marketing standpoint, 3D visualisation provides a wow factor as well as the less obvious benefit of being able to take a full-sized (albeit virtual) aircraft carrier to a trade show. Communicating BMT’s skill in design through engaging between high-end and 3D visualisations is a powerful way to support the sales process by impressing potential customers with true-to-life interaction. As the power of the technology increases, the capabilities of 3D visualisation will increase as well. The limiting factor will soon be the human imagination.

head shot of Simon Luck, BMT Defence Services
Simon Luck
Simon Luck, Head of Information Systems, BMT Defence Services, joined BMT Defence Services in 2004 as a Systems Analyst before being promoted to Head of Information Systems in April 2011. Simon’s academic background includes a BSc Degree in Computing and Informatics, which he studied at Plymouth University. He is also a chartered IT Practitioner and a member of the British Computer Society.