How Bentley Systems managed to conquer the metaverse infrastructure

How Bentley Systems managed to conquer the metaverse infrastructure

Build data can quickly expand to gigabytes and terabytes of data. This field is complex because teams use different file formats to design, build, and operate a building or facility. Teams often must upload the entire file into their presentation tools before presenting a new design or collaborating on timelines. These files can be more complex when creating large-scale digital twins of entire cities such as Helsinki or Singapore.

Bentley Systems hopes to change that. At a tech show event in London, Bentley demonstrated a new 3D stream codec for the metaverse infrastructure called 3DFT. It’s already running on the Epic Unreal Engine, and Bentley plans to support other platforms down the road.

3DFT is not the first format for metaverse data streams. The GIS industry has been streaming 2D data for years using tiles. The Open Geospatial Consortium is working on the 3D Tiles standard to extend the stream into the third dimension.

Greg Demshak, Senior Director of the Digital Innovation Lab at Bentley, told VentureBeat that 3D tiles are an excellent standard for delivering large outdoor environments. However, it struggles with delivering physical infrastructure such as BIM models in high quality. This is important for building designers who are evaluating trade-offs in design options.

faster repeat

With traditional 3D formats, teams may wait up to 20 minutes to upload a new data set, Simon Blakeney, technical account manager at Epic Games, said. “With 3DFT, the data just flows. It really speeds up iterative design reviews.”

Another strength is that 3DFT does a good job of capturing asset IDs about objects in space. This can help associate things like doors and windows with a rich set of information on costs, scheduling, engagements, and analytics. In the future, Blakeney expects, this will make it easier to weave this raw data into applications for stress testing, simulating crowds in space, or optimizing timelines.

“The world becomes your oyster once you get into the identifiers,” Blakeney said.

The new codec is part of Bentley’s broader plan to build the metaverse infrastructure on top of tools like iTwin to combine all build data into a basic overlay.

“While we have many products, the platform allows us to make all the information, including 3D models, metadata, and point cloud data available, and store it in a single source of trust, after which you can start building apps on top of it,” Damshak said.

For example, third parties are developing tools to automatically detect cell tower assets from drone footage and inventory filling. In the future, Bentley hopes this will enable an entire ecosystem of solutions tailored to construction and asset management.

The Demchak team has experimented with building integrations across all three major platforms from Unity, Nvidia Omniverse, and Epic Unreal. They are currently getting the best results for immersive live experiences on the Unreal platform. But Demchak notes that other platforms are catching up. Omniverse has been found to be ideal for generating photorealistic videos after the fact.

The cooperation required to connect worlds

Bentley is certainly not the only construction giant crystallizing a reverse infrastructure strategy. Autodesk also announced the release of In cooperation with Epi To facilitate the creation of virtual heuristics from Revit data.

Architecture and construction companies are starting to innovate on Epic, too. for example, Zaha Hadid Created a Building Configuration Tool for a new project off the coast of Honduras. It allows consumers to customize a new home and virtual walk through a mockup. This improves the customer experience and helps improve build time.

“We work very closely with Bentley, Autodesk and other third parties to ensure that other tools can work with our ecosystem,” said Epic Games’ Blakeney.

But at the moment, it can be difficult to transfer data between different build software platforms. Demchak hopes that the major providers of build tools will be able to overcome their differences to enhance interoperability.

“In my dream case, we are trying to achieve lossless transfer of formats from one format to another,” Demchak said. “There should be no loss of fidelity if you move from Revit to iTwin. There should be no reason to curtail any of this information.”

In the long run, this will help enable an immersive experience that allows teams to use the tool of their choice while collaborating on the same underlying data set.

“It’s not so much about trying a file as it is about connecting where everything that happens behind the scenes works,” Demchak said.

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