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Autodesk Summer Internship 2016

The summer internship at Autodesk, San Francisco turned out to be an unforgettable experience. I got to meet talented minds from different parts of the country. I got the opportunity to interact with people from diverse academic and industrial backgrounds.

I was one among the three interns hired to work on virtual reality / augmented reality features of the Autodesk product LIVE. Autodesk LIVE is an add-in to Autodesk Revit and Autodesk 3Ds Max that lets users have a real time interactive visualization of the 3D models built using these software. LIVE enables real-time architectural walkthroughs during the modeling process and lets architects showcase completed 3D models to clients over the Internet. The workflows supported by these software and the LIVE add-in is collectively termed LIVE Design. By the time we joined the team, the VR support for LIVE was still under development and the plan was to launch VR support in September 2016 as part of LIVE 1.1. The video below summarizes most of the work done by us, interns.

This was my first experience working in an agile environment and the team was spread out in three locations – San Francisco, Montreal & Toronto. I felt that the team composition was just right – it had a perfect mix of experienced UX researchers and skilled computer graphics application developers. The interns were expected to solve few problems involved in interaction with the Virtual Environments. We weren’t just asked to develop a component based on a pre-made plan. Instead, we were encouraged to build multiple prototypes that could solve a particular interaction problem and test it with users and colleagues to pick the best prototype. The team’s Principal UX designer also conducted periodical studies with real users (architects and real estate clients) to get feedback about the newly added features, which helped us in the iterative process of developing prototypes to successfully solve the interaction problems.

Most of the prototypes I developed were focused on VR navigation. Teleportation, transitions during teleportation, automatic height adjustment and discrete rotation of virtual worlds are some of the notable features that I worked on. Collaborative VR is another exciting part that I worked on towards the end of internship.

One particular work missing in the above video is the simple gaze detection that I implemented to enable/disable UI labels on the virtual replicas of HTC Vive’s hand-held controllers. I used vector math to determine the range of user’s virtual gaze and applied transitions to the labels so that they’d fade-in smoothly when user looks at the controllers and fade-out when user looks away from the controllers.

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