Mobile phones to aid interior design

February 11, 2013, University of Cambridge
Mobile phones to aid interior design
A sofa (above) as seen through the virtual 3D environment (below). Credit: Abbas Rashidi

Research into using simple video clips to build up a virtual 3D environment has won a Best Paper award for a team from the Department of Engineering.

Dr Ioannis Brilakis, Laing O'Rourke Lecturer of Construction Engineering, and his students Abbas Rashidi, PhD Candidate, and Jasmine Hines, , were awarded the best paper award of the 5th International Conference on Construction Engineering and Project Management (ICCEPM 2013).

The winning paper is entitled "Distance Measurement in the AEC/FM Industry: An Overview on Technologies". It sets the foundations for an ongoing research project which aims to automatically reconstruct and remodel the indoor built infrastructure by processing basic video clips taken with a smartphone or digital camera. Results of the research are of great interest for finishing subcontractors, interior designers and furniture manufacturers to assist their customers to virtually design and model their homes and offices and choose the right finishes, appliances and furniture.

Mobile phones to aid interior design

Research student Abbas Rashidi explained: "Several room design software packages are commercially available and most of them follow the same procedure, that the costumer should provide information about the geometry of the room in forms of measured dimensions or 2D drawings. The software then generates the 3D layout of the room, and the customer can choose and place pieces of furniture and evaluate how they fit.

"This is a valuable approach; however, it requires extra work in terms of manually measuring the dimensions, which can ultimately be exhausting and potentially inaccurate."

To tackle this issue, Dr Brilakis and his group worked on developing a software prototype, based on processing video clips.

Firstly, the customer has to place a simple letter-size sheet of paper somewhere in the room, and then video the room from different views using a smart phone or a simple digital camera. The captured video is sent to a server for processing and generating a point cloud. The generated point cloud using a single camera is up to an unknown scale - however the absolute scale is formulated from the sheet of paper, which can be simply found in every office or home, in the scene. During the processing stage, the sheet of paper with known sizes will be automatically detected and reconstructed along with other features of the scene. After processing, the generated point cloud will be sent back to the customer. The customer can browse the point cloud in a 3D environment, choose and place pieces of furniture, and evaluate if they fit properly.

Dr Brilakis said:"The advantages of using this approach are twofold. There is no need to manually measure the dimensions in the room and the customer only needs to videotape the environment; and the generated point cloud of the scene is very similar to the real room from points of color and dimensions so it is possible for the costumer to virtually design the room and try different pieces of furniture."

The ICCEPM 2013 was held last month in Anaheim, California. The conference was co-sponsored by buildingSMART Korea, ASCE Construction Institute and California State University Fullerton. This event was a merging of ICCEM held by the Korean Institute of Construction Engineering and Management (KICEM) and ICCPM by the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.

Explore further: Augmented Reality technology becomes a tool for urban and construction planning

Related Stories

Virtual reality supports planning by architects

February 15, 2012

Even the most exact construction plan lacks many details and design options. The building owner needs imagination to obtain an idea of the constructed building. Now, the 3D video glasses made by the KIT spin-off "inreal Technologies" ...

GravitySpace shows how floors will smarten up (w/ video)

January 24, 2013

(—Year of the smartphone? So yesterday. Year of the smart room? So promising. In scientific circles, conversations are moving down from smart doors, fridges, stoves, and toilets, as computer scientists visit and ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected

February 20, 2018

Studying data from Twitter, University of Illinois researchers found that less people tweet per capita from larger cities than in smaller ones, indicating an unexpected trend that has implications in understanding urban pace ...

Augmented reality takes 3-D printing to next level

February 20, 2018

Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work.

What do you get when you cross an airplane with a submarine?

February 15, 2018

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed the first unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft that is capable of traveling both through the air and under the water – transitioning repeatedly between sky and sea. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.