Virtual Spaces from 360° Photos

virtual 3D hallway

The emergence of virtual reality is providing opportunities for designers to prototype ideas within immersive simulations of actual spaces. This project explores accessible processes for making virtual versions of real spaces using 360° photos and familiar 3D modeling software. This has become even more necessary now that COVID-19 has limited access to our traditional working environments.

3D scanning processes using photogrammetry or LIDAR often require significant data manipulation, technical knowledge, and/or expensive equipment or software. A few years ago a graduate student and I tried working with some simple free panoramic modeling software but we struggled with interface challenges. I started investigating workflows that might only require 3d software our students already use (e.g. Maya, Blender, Houdini).

Examples of work in progress:

Several early stage interdisciplinary research efforts will benefit from this effort. It will feed into virtual prototyping research collaborations with faculty from medicine, engineering, and childhood education. Additional spaces that have been photographed in order create virtual environments include a hospital room, an art gallery, and an elementary school. This work is further intended to connect to the Technology System Evolution project, to help interactively experience generated designs.

Student assistance:

  • Joe Chambers (Design): 360° photography and vis lab prototyping

Project support: