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Umbra and City of Helsinki Partner to Stream Massive City Datasets to Mobile AR and VR


Helsinki and San Francisco-based Umbra™ have partnered with the City of Helsinki, Finland, to bring a massive, real-time streaming 3D model of the entire city online and viewable on web browsers and mobile devices like the Apple iPad.

Multi-Billion Polygonal Models Powerfully Optimized

Based on aerial photographs of Helsinki taken in 2015, the city generated an enormous point cloud, representing a 50 square kilometer area of the city, then processed that data into a 700 GB texture-mapped 3D mesh. A video of the content running can be viewed here.

Umbra worked with Helsinki to reduce the sheer size of the 3D dataset using their highly automated optimization technology, a technology that originated for the company in the gaming market. Using a fully automated cloud platform, Umbra dramatically optimized the size of the 3D mesh data so that it could stream the entire data set to AR or VR-capable mobile platforms such as smartphones, tablets, headsets and even web browsers.

01 – A view of the 3D mesh model of the City of Helsinki produced using Umbra’s technologies.

Controlling the city model’s building heights was accomplished by transferring the building footprints to the city’s plans for digital terrain accuracy. The buildings were then converted into 3D models by combining the terrain model with a surface model that included the shapes of the buildings’ walls and roofs, thereby producing a full “digital twin” of the city.



Umbra’s new cloud-based optimization and delivery solution operates similar to Google® Earth, but has the potential to render and stream significantly higher resolution 3D content, even down to sub-millimeter accuracy depending on the source scan.



“This was really a new and unique project collaboration between Umbra and the City of Helsinki – combining game engines and the city’s own technology into the next-generation of city modeling,” said Jarmo Suomisto, Project Manager at Helsinki City of Helsinki – 3D City Information Model. “This collaboration brings together so many stakeholders and technical standards, such as the open data policy and manufacturing technology, as well as the public and private sector. Through this cooperation, this whole project has been made possible and Helsinki appreciates Umbra’s willingness to develop new technologies that truly push the envelope.”

Umbra’s Innovations

Based on a novel and patented approach to 3D streaming, Umbra’s new solution enables photo-realistic, multi-billion polygon models to be streamed and manipulated in real-time on mobile, untethered devices including phones, tablets, and VR and AR headsets. Umbra also makes it possible to integrate these highly-optimized models directly into commonly used 3D development environments like Unity or Unreal.

“Umbra’s new cloud-based optimization and delivery solution operates similar to Google® Earth, but has the potential to render and stream significantly higher resolution 3D content, even down to sub-millimeter accuracy depending on the source scan,” said Shawn Adamek, Chief Strategy Officer at Umbra. “In addition, we are democratizing city-scale 3D scanning, giving cities and developers the opportunity to take ownership of their own datasets, rather than using and licensing existing mapping data.”

To access the Umbrafied Helsinki 3D dataset, go to

About Umbra

Umbra unlocks the power of the AR Cloud by making it easier to create, optimize, share and view 3D content in real-time on virtually any device. As the established gaming industry standard in graphics optimization for more than a decade, Umbra is now redefining rapid visualization for all industry ecosystems utilizing complex 3D models. Established in Helsinki, Finland, Umbra has offices in the US, EMEA, and APAC, supplying technology solutions to top-tier customers worldwide.

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