Innovation That Matters

Herrenberg residents sent in responses to questions about how they experience their city, and these were integrated into the 3D visualisation | Photo source HLRS

VR used to create digital twin of German city

Travel & Tourism

The goal in creating the complex virtual model was to help city planners to better understand the urban environment

Spotted: The German city of Herrenberg has been recreated in VR, thanks to technology developed by the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS). The digital twin is a hyper-realistic computer model of the city which simulates the entire urban environment.

The city was created using a process called space syntax, in which a 2D outline of the city acts as a framework for spatial analysis. Large datasets of air quality, traffic flow, the prevalence of pedestrian traffic, and other dimensions of urban life were collected and mapped onto the framework. This made it possible for the virtual model to predict things such as the likely paths that car or pedestrian traffic might take from one point to another.

The team also incorporated geographic information system and traffic control systems data in order to develop additional layers of complexity, even creating realistic models of the movement of wind and emissions through the city. They also developed an app which allowed residents to indicate how different locations in the city made them feel. The team used the data to create an immersive 3D virtual reality model which “brought the city to life”. 

The goal in creating the complex model was to help city planners to better understand the urban environment. According to Dr Fabian Dembski, who worked on the project, “Cities are not one-dimensional, so it does not make sense to design them on a piece of paper. “The third dimension helps us understand cities and their spatiality. … By allowing decision-makers to experience an immersive vista in VR, we are helping them experience it more realistically, ultimately helping them better assess and evaluate designs, plans, or other scenarios.”

At Springwise we have seen VR used in increasingly inventive ways. Some recent innovations in VR have included VR surgeries to help train doctors and virtual office get-togethers to keep morale up during coronavirus lockdowns.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

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