At this year’s AIA National we got a chance to see MassMotion, a piece of software originally developed by Ove Arup’s software group known as Oasys Software. Known as the “software house of Arup” Oasys Limited, was apparently established back in 1976. That predates the Apple II.
Incorporated in 1979, the Arup software house operates as an independent company, wholly owned by Arup Group Ltd. Their main offices are in the United Kingdom in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, with an office in Australia and in China in Shanghai. I admit I was surprised to see this company at AIA National and I’m not sure they have ever attended before. Regardless, it was a please to meet their acquaintance and learn about MassMotion in particular.
It turns out that Oasys has 24 distinct product offerings, all of them essentially software or related. MassMotion is just one of a large set of tools that breaks out into six categories. One of their categories in Email & Document Management. A flagship tool that the Arup engineers use is their GSA Building, a structural engineering analysis and design tool for complex buildings using 3D linear and non-linear static analysis, dynamic analysis and more. You can see all their applications here.
MassMotion was on display at AIA Atlanta. I met Joe Bell there who gave a general overview of what the software does. MassMotion is currently at version 7. The Windows-only software is considered the state-of-the-art in simulating pedestrians and analyzing crowds. It can be used to predict the movements of hundreds of thousands of individual personalities in a complex 3D environment. Yes, I just meant to type “hundreds of thousands.” That’s how powerful MassMotion is. And it should be. The price tag for this software is $30,000.USD, for a single seat, making MassMotion the most expensive software we’ve have ever written about on Architosh.
In the latest 7.0 version, for the first time users can create and edit 3D geometry directly in MassMotion. This can be helpful in a number of scenarios and can allow users to modify and add geometry directly to a model rather than re-importing it. The program supports BIM-based workflows through the import of the IFC (industry foundation class) file format. The program also supports AutoCAD, Microstation, SketchUp, Rhino and Revit. In addition, you can import FBX, OBJ and Collada and 3ds max files into MassMotion.
MassMotion is used by engineers, designers, architects and planners worldwide, said Joe Bell. The application is used for rail solutions, fire and safety evacuations, stadium planning and airport planning. The 64-bit application will take advantage of multi-core processors and any available RAM, so you can process enormous crowds. It is the only program of its kind that is fully three-dimensional; and it is the only program of its kind where you can program individual personalities with unique agendas from start to finish in their journey through the environment.
That last part is important in modeling complex behaviors for particular environments. For example, the Process Manager allows you to model complex processes such as multi-class checkins at airports. For example, a group of travellers waiting to checkin at an airport can be divided by those with economy tickets and those with other classes of tickets, they will then be checked in at the approriate desk.
People are called “agents” in MassMotion and their dynamics are intelligent. For example, they can become of aware of congestion around doorways and stairs and organize themselves more realistically. The program has something called “zones” support whereby agents with program destinations (such as getting on a plane or train) may be instructed with a defined zone to have a new instruction such as existing the structure as quickly as possible. For evacuation modeling this is crucial.
MassMotion Flow is a less expensive version (costing $7,500.USD) for smaller engineering and architectural firms doing smaller scale work that depends on pedestrian and crowd based simulations. It lacks several high-end features including:
- Ticketing and process modeling (no support for say multi-class ticketing at airports)
- Dynamic agent properties
- Dynamic agent itineraries
- Logical control of agent behavior
- Spreadsheet based scheduling
A comparison of the two versions can be found here. Like much of Oasys’ software there are standalone set licensing and shared seat licensing. Shared licensing saves companies some money. You can also rent software from Oasys.
Oasys’ software solutions are sophisticated, focused apps that bring about specific ends to real world problems. To learn more about MassMotion and MassMotion Flow and all of Oasys’ software solutions visit them online here.