Want to know what that new block of flats is going to look like at the end of your street? Well now you can, thanks to a new augmented reality (AR) iPhone app.

App brings plans alive

The app allows you to view a 3D digital model of a development in situ, so that you can check whether it will be an eyesore or an asset.

The Walkabout 3D Mobile app was created by Ed Morgan of Deliverance Software. It lets iPhone and iPad users see a proposed building, created with Google’s tool SketchUp, overlaid on the location where it will stand.

However, unlike some AR apps, this one doesn’t let you take a ‘virtual walk’ through the area, said Morgan, quoted in the New Scientist. This is because 3D models are often extremely large files – too big for a mobile device to update in real time. Instead, a digital map guides you to the locations where it will work. Once there, the inbuilt digital compass and GPS locator let you view static 3D panoramic views of the site, downloaded to your device over the 3G network.

The app has already been used as part of the planning application to build a new park in the heart of Sheffield, which has walls that can act as flood defences. Planners believe it could be a useful tool in the public consultation process for large projects. However, it is currently unlikely to be used for minor developments such as loft conversions.

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