Let the daylight in
VELUX creates better living environments by bringing daylight and fresh air through the roof of millions of homes. Their ambition was to help home-owners visualize the benefits of daylight in their homes on a digital platform, which was easy to access and use, and teamed with Fjord to help them find a way to do this. It is a big step to ask someone to cut a hole in the roof when you have not been able to visualize the end result. VELUX wanted to inspire and guide their customers and enable qualified decisions.
A team of designers, developers and cloud architects from Fjord and Accenture designed and implemented a service that uses Virtual Reality to give customers a real representation of how daylight could enrich and improve their homes. By creating the MyDaylight app, we have built a deep understanding of what it takes to design and deliver a complex 360° 3D and VR experience. And for VELUX, this is part of a broader transformation journey that pivoted its business direct-to-consumer for the first time.
Making the complex feel easy
People find it difficult to perceive the benefits of roof windows before they have seen them in their own homes, so we put that experience in their hands. VELUX asked us to go beyond static images, to render 3D rooms that customers could fully explore dynamically, the potential of what their home could become. Moreover, we needed to create a global solution for all of VELUX markets. The solution was one app that was dependent on the user’s phone settings – in terms of region and language – so the user would be able to play around in the app in the user’s preferred language no matter the location.
We knew we were catering for home-owners with differing levels of aptitude – both in relation to renovation and to digital technology – so it was crucial that the service would feel straightforward to use. We set out to design an instinctive service that people would immediately understand, and that would enable them to create a realistic rendering within minutes.
3D modelling of daylight
Daylight visualization has historically been done using static models on high-powered desktop machines, using bespoke software. Transforming this process to a mobile-based solution for consumers raised some design and technical challenges:
- The most efficient technology available for beautifully simulating daylight on a mobile device was a 3D modelling engine used for gaming: Unity. Typically, though, Unity is geared towards gameplay in pre-rendered scenes, however we wanted to be able to create real-world rooms dynamically based on each user’s specific home so this required a new approach to the use of this platform.
- Rendering a high-quality lighting scene is beyond the processing power of mobile devices, so we employed a Cloud-based solution that would quickly create and deliver a scene back to the customer’s smartphone. A close collaboration with experts in Unity and the Azure cloud architecture enabled this unique solution to be deployed.
- Light looks different at different locations around the world, across seasons and orientations, so we worked closely with VELUX daylight architects to ensure we could create the best possible rendition of daylight in our simulations. We used the power of the smartphone to make it easy to position and orient the simulation to match the user’s actual home.
To bring an extra dimension of reality, we let users choose the sort of room they wished to model and developed a module that would make automatic placement of furniture. Also, wall and floor surfaces were enabled to be personalized, to make a more realistic rendition of the user’s space.
Any home-owners wanting to explore the potential of roof windows can now model their rooms in a few simple steps and get automated advice on window placement and orientation. As they build confidence they can progressively enhance their models with completely free window placement and wall and floor surfaces.
The user can then view their reimagined room on their mobile device, and can even use a VR headset to experience how it would feel to stand inside their new room. They can move around the room using just their head and eye movements, enabling them to see each corner and truly visualize their home’s potential.
MyDaylight is an engaging service that allows users to envisage the impact of adding daylight to their homes. With realistic rendering, an intuitive design interface, and the power to personalize, the service enables people to create countless high-fidelity simulations of their living spaces.