About Cuboid

Cuboid was created with the goal of being able to design in augmented reality, in real-world 1:1 scale using the newest AR and VR hardware such as the Meta Quest Pro.

The application has been created by Arjo Nagelhout and Daniel Chou Rainho, as part of ShapeReality, a student team based in Innovation Space at the Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and is currently in active development. The project was started in September 2022.

But, why create an augmented reality design application?

The potential of augmented reality

Augmented reality, virtual reality, games and computer generated imagery and visual effects (CGI and VFX) are techniques and mediums that are unprecedented in their ability to communicate ideas with others. Where a pictures says more than a thousand words, these techniques and mediums go an entire step further by making people able to experience these ideas. You don't have to imagine or extrapolate, because it feels like it's really there.

We believe that for this reason, augmented reality could be an invaluable tool in the tool belt of architects, designers and artists.

Imagine walking to that one overcrowded six lanes-wide street in your city. The one with exhaust fumes trapped between the buildings, that was once the main road that everyone walked on before the ☆automobile☆ took over. Imagine standing there, and showing municipalities, friends and residents of that neighbourhoods the difference it would make if it was a walkable, lush green street. With a flick of a switch you show and let them experience what that would be like.

We get used to our surroundings, but augmented reality gives us the ability to challenge it. To change our cities for the better.1

Vision for a usable augmented reality design application

In addition to this motivation, we aim to set a new standard for what a good user interface and user experience for augmented reality head-mounted devices looks and feels like.

Many software applications for AR and VR have confusing interfaces, while not providing any speed benefits after learning "their way of doing things". Many interfaces are bare-bones because of a lack of a good UI framework, with additional features only further complicating the interface by adding yet another button mapping to an already overcrowded controller.

We try to stay close to how traditional desktop software applications work, with pointing, clicking and dragging to select and move objects, the concept of tools to move, rotate, scale objects and draw shapes, and panels that contain settings, documents, assets or colors.

For anyone familiar with desktop software applications such as Adobe Illustrator, Unity or Blender, there should only be a small learning curve. See the section on the User Interface for a quick rundown on how the interface works.

Integration with existing software

Directly creating 3D assets in augmented or virtual reality would be too time consuming, since software for AR and VR headsets lacks the speed of keyboard shortcuts and the precision of the mouse to interact with a necessarily complex 3D modeling or CAD software user interface.

So, in order for AR to reach its full potential it should integrate well into the current ecosystem of 3D modeling software, CAD software and game engines.

For this reason, at launch our application ships with our Unity plugin, allowing you to import any 3D model that Unity supports. Our ambition is to support directly importing 3D models and other assets such as images and videos, but that will take more development time.

See Importing Assets for a guide on how to do this.

  1. Please use the technology responsibly and don't just use it to greenwash new urban development projects. Augmented reality can be used to communicate a vision, but also to sell an illusion. Make sure the trees actually get planted :)