VR Sketch 17.0 (preview)

Hi all,

VR Sketch 17 is finally out in preview! If all goes well this will be the release, but we want to be careful because it has been a long time since the previous release.

Download it here: [RBZ for PC] - [APK for Oculus Quest] - [APK for Pico Neo 3]

Installation instructions: see near the end of the page [for PC] - [for Quest] - [for Pico Neo 3]

Yes, the Pico Neo 3 headset is now supported! This standalone VR headset is technically similar to the Oculus Quest 2. For professional usages, we recommend it instead of relying on Oculus, which is a Facebook/Meta branch that focuses only on games. Note that the Quest and the Pico Neo have the following differences that might be important here:

  • Tethered or wireless display where the images are rendered from a PC:
    while supported on both, the benefit of the Quest in that area is that it
    works out of the box without any extra hardware. (We did not test this
    feature on the Pico Neo 3 yet, we only tested the standalone mode.)

  • Hand tracking on the Quest: this is more of an experiment. This never
    worked well enough in our experience.

  • Passthrough image in the Quest: another experiment. Promises “AR” by
    showing the same blurry image you see when you set up the guardian,
    as the background of VR Sketch. It does work, but again not well enough
    in our experience. (VR Sketch 17 supports it now; see below)

Besides the new headset support, here are some of the other news things and improvements that this version accumulated since VR Sketch 16:

  • we added non-Google logins to our web site. You can now sign up with a regular
    e-mail and password.

  • like SketchUp 2020 did, we renamed the layers to tags in the VR Sketch menus.
    We also added partial support for tag folders: you can view the hierarchy and
    show or hide folders; you can also add new tags inside folders. To make new
    folders or reorganize tags within folders, you need to fall back to SketchUp
    for now.

  • the lines drawn with the Notes tool now scale! If you draw a line
    and then change the scale of the model, then the line drawn becomes thinner
    or thicker too. By drawing at different scales, you can add notes of different
    thickness. This seems to work better than the old mode, where notes used
    to keep their apparent thickness and thus continuously change from a thin
    elongated line at high scale to a dense mess at low scale.

  • fix various issues with point clouds. Notably, it didn’t work when asking for
    a point size greater than zero on PC, and it never worked in collaborative
    editing mode. It should work now.

  • the point clouds selection box now follows the axes as you set them, instead
    of being always aligned to the underlying coordinates. Also, the Axes tool has
    got some “Reset” menu commands.

  • support cut opening components and groups, which should now be rendered
    correctly with the hole that these components make in the face that they
    are attached to.

  • fix always face camera components: in some situations, it was possible for
    a component to not be oriented correctly if there are several copies of it in
    your model.

  • the section plane is now shared across viewers in multi-editing mode.
    Previously, section planes would be local only and invisible to others.

  • the photo camera would sometimes take images that included a ring artifact.
    This was the front part of the camera object seen from the inside, showing up
    unexpectedly on photos.

  • dynamic components now support text strings in formulas, and the ALERT function
    works. As an extension, you can add some simple formatting in this text by
    using some HTML-like tags (this is a VR Sketch-only extension). The string must start
    with the tag <richtext>. The other supported tags are listed on this page.
    Example: ALERT("<richtext>This is a <b>bold</b> word")

  • Quest passthrough: this version of VR Sketch can use the blurry, black-and-white
    image of your physical surroundings and display the model inside of it (see
    Settings, Rendering, Skybox image). There are theoretically cool
    applications—it is “AR”, kind of—but real usage is limited by the bad
    quality and particularly imprecise positioning of the passthrough image.

  • rendering on PC: switched to a better ambient occlusion logic (see below).
    The new code, Amplify Occlusion, gives more stable results than the previous solution.

Ambient occlusion is what makes the inside corners of walls, floors and ceilings appear a bit darker. This is a subtle effect that adds a lot to the visual sense of depth. For example, it helps you notice very quickly if, say, you accidentally left a gap between a wall and the floor: the light appears different in these two cases. In VR Sketch, this effect is only enabled in PC, and only in the high-quality mode (which is the default).

Finally, a teaser: we are currently working on another performance improvement, which should allow you to view more complex models. If it works out as expected, it might be part of a 17.1 release soon.

Enjoy!

Armin Rigo

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