|Put on your 3-D glasses|
|The following appeared in HME News, the publication for the home medical industry, on July 26, 2011. This year and last, I asked the residents of Addison Court, the low-income apartment for disabled and elderly in State College where I live, to attend a demonstration at the Immersive Construction Lab, described here. One of the participants was Lilian Hutchison, who celebrated her 87th birthday in January. No one can say for sure whether Lilian would have fallen several times in her apartment if this kind of technology were in place. However, the hope is that the future will be kinder to those of us who can benefit from design which residents are able to modify in advance.
The projectors behind the three, 8-foot screens show a virtual reality world that can improve the environment where home medical equipment HME is used. Professor John I. Messner’s Immersive Construction (ICon) Laboratory at Penn States Architectural Engineering Department is a dark, windowless room where the healthcare facilities being viewed seem so real there is a special world for it: immersion.
When Kaiser-Permanente began constructing a medical building in downtown Washington, D.C., pharmacists traveled 140 miles to State College to see how their workplace would appear. Among their suggestions: a partition so when two patients are served simultaneously, their privacy is insured.
There is substantial growth in constructing healthcare facilities from hospitals to housing for the elderly. Previously, a model of how a building would look required physical materials like wood and nails. By comparison, virtual reality offers interactive models early in the design process. The resulting efficiency and cost savings (making changes to a building before it is built) are creating a boom in the use of virtual reality in the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. Expectations exceed the ability of the AEC industry to have virtual reality applications ready as quickly as desired.
Sonali Kumar, a graduate research assistant at Penn State, is developing a 3-D model for an independent living facility for elderly and disabled individuals based on the concept of experience-based design. Experience-based design often refers to a body of academic literature, primarily health-care related. Designers are urged to consider the perspective of the individuals who build, maintain, work and reside in the facility, including patients and residents. A common example is the decision of a Philadelphia hospital to build its bathrooms closer to patients beds.
My perspective on Sonali’s effort comes from my status as a disabled resident of a primarily elderly independent living facility. For example, I look at an early version of Sonali’s model showing a bathtub in the bathroom and say, No. There should be a roll-in shower here. I show an early prototype to Travis Barr, co-owner of T & B Medical here in State College. While fixing my scooter, Travis says, “There should not be cabinet doors in the kitchen. Doors are a nuisance for people with disabilities.”
Sonali’s model is based on a Blue Roof Technologies cottage in McKeesport, Pa. Pennsylvania has a larger number of elderly people in its population than any other state except Florida. The need for elderly housing is acute. In McKeesport, where the factory for steel pipes closed down leaving a near-ghost town and an elderly population of more than 20%, Robert Walters, a retired Penn State professor, created Blueroof. The cottages are constructed of pre-fabricated housing and have special sensors inserted in the walls to remind residents when to take their medicine (the walls talk) and to call 911 if a resident falls and does not get up in a timely fashion.
Sonali’s model of a Blue Roof cottage makes use of interaction, the most significant new development in virtual reality. Look at the screen shot Sonali took of the power chair inside the kitchen of her model cottage. For those readers who have not spent their productive hours playing video games, an avatar is a virtual reality representation of an actor functioning in a 3-D environment. The avatar in the Sonali’s kitchen is a power chair. The power chair makes coffee and toast, opening the refrigerator door to get eggs and milk, and scrambles eggs on a stove the avatar has just turned on. Interactivity is key to understanding how practical people in the construction industry have come to use 3-D technology for practical purposes.
Interactivity is arrived at slowly as Sonali experiments with a wide range of software. I suggested that Sonali replace the 3-D power chair with a scooter. In my experience, a scooter is more mobile and less likely to damage walls and take bathroom doors off their hinges. I ask a manufacturer to provide a 3-D scooter file, but for reasons I cannot explain (because I do not understand), the file does not yet open. Sonali explains, “We are in the process of integrating the computer model obtained from Amigo Mobility.” Keep your 3-D glasses on and await future developments.
Joel Solkoff writes about disability issues from a customer perspective. He is an adjunct research assistant at the Department of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.
Sonali Kumar created this 3-D model of the Blueroof Cottage using AutoDesk’s Revit virtual reality imaging tool a Unity gaming engine. See Unity’s 3-D website: http://unity3d.com/create-games/?gclid=CPnkpYKZnK0CFVCR7QodWnKPnw.
As the authoritative Wikipedia notes: ”
A game engine is a system designed for the creation and development of video games. There are many game engines that are designed to work on video game consoles and personal computers. The core functionality typically provided by a game engine includes a rendering engine (“renderer”) for 2D or 3D graphics, a physics engine or collision detection (and collision response), sound, scripting, animation, artificial intelligence, networking, streaming, memory management, threading, localization support, and a scene graph. ”
What does this mean and how does it apply to the problem of designing low-income housing for disabled and elderly Pennsylvanians, Americans, and citizens of the world.?
Developing an experienced-based design review application for healthcare facilities using a 3d game engine
From The Journal of Information Technology in Construction (Icon). a peer-reviewed scholarly journal on the use of IT in architecture, civil engineering and facility management.
PUBLISHED: January 2011
EDITOR: Turk Z
Sonali Kumar, Graduate Research Assistant,
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
Matthew Hedrick, Graduate Student
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
Christopher Wiacek, Graduate Student
The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA [email protected]
John I. Messner, PhD The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
SUMMARY:Virtual Prototypes are increasingly being used during design reviews of specialized buildings such as healthcare facilities. However, most of these virtual prototyping approaches do not allow the reviewers and end users to interact directly, in real-time with elements and objects within the virtual model. This paper focuses on a method to combine the use of 3D game engines with the emerging experience based design approach for healthcare facilities to develop a systematic approach to scenario-based design review of healthcare facilities in an interactive virtual environment. First, a virtual facility prototyping framework for rapid creation of a scenario based design review system is defined. Next, strategies to implement this framework to develop an Experience based Virtual Prototyping Simulator (EVPS) application are described. Design information workflows were developed and tested between various BIM authoring tools and the Unity game engine that is used for developing the interactive virtual prototype system. Finally, some lessons learned and issues are highlighted that help direct future research and implementation.
For complete text see: http://www.itcon.org/cgi-bin/works/Show?2011_6
–From Special Report: Use of Gaming Technology in Architecture, Engineering and Construction.
Sonali Kumar on television
Here Sonali discusses a virtual reality model she is creating for a new children’s’ hospital at Hershey Medical Center by the Fox affiliate WPMT Channel 43 serving York, Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lebanon, PA. The program aired Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at 10pm.
Scroll to the right to building blocks dated 3/6.