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How to Make a 3-D Model of Your Home Renovation Vision

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Got a bunch of home-improvement dreams but you’re not quite sure where to start? Let a free or inexpensive three-dimensional floor plan program be your guide.

While making a 3-D model is no substitute for professionally crafted plans and blueprints, it will give you a way to experiment with ideas before you hire a contractor or an architect. And some programs are simple to use: If you can use a tape measure and drag objects on a computer screen, you have the necessary skills. Here’s how to get started.

You’ll need all the measurements of the room or project area in order to recreate it. A locking 25-foot retractable tape measure is the time-tested tool, but you can also get rough estimates with augmented-reality tools like Google’s free Measure app for Android or Apple’s similarly named iOS 12 Measure app. Some apps, like Magicplan for Android and iOS (prices start at $3), can do both the measurements and put together a floor plan.

Measure everything: the length, width and depth of the walls, doors and windows in the space, and don’t forget fixtures like radiators. You should also grab the dimensions of the furniture, appliances and other items in the renovation zone. If you plan to buy furniture, appliances or shelving, collect the measurements from the product’s specifications online (or on the box).

You can find plenty of home-design apps in a range of prices in your app store. And some retailer apps, like those from Build.com and Wayfair, use augmented reality to show virtual objects like furniture in a room.

But if this is all new to you — or if you’re adding on a room — the free edition of Sweet Home 3D for Windows, Mac and Linux computers may be your best bet, because you get an intuitive interface and many design options. The application has many appealing features for beginners, including an illustrated user guide and video tutorials. (A full version of Sweet Home 3D with more design options is also available for less than $15 in the Microsoft and Mac App stores.)

Sweet Home 3D has a free online edition that works in a web browser. SketchUp Free is another browser-based drawing program and has paid versions.

Next, make a scale model within the program’s work space, which typically looks like a grid of squares representing feet or meters. Refer to your list of measurements and use the program’s tools and grid to create walls, rooms, doors and the other central elements.

If drawing a room from scratch intimidates you at first, check your program to see if it includes templates or sample files. With a little clicking and dragging, you can usually modify these examples to match the outline and measurements of your own room.

After you map out the room’s exterior dimensions, start filling in the interior with furniture and appliances. Most design apps have an object browser window you can use to drag 3-D models of common items (like tables, sofas and bar carts) into your floor plan where you want them to go. More stylish furnishings may require an in-app purchase.

Depending on your software, you may also be able to select different window and door designs, as well as stylized wallpaper, flooring, curtains and other furnishings to make your model look as close to your renovation dream as possible.

Some apps provide a split-screen view between the 2-D floor plan and a 3-D model that you can spin and rotate. Other programs display the project in the flat 2-D view and you add the extra dimension with a tap or click. Seeing your room in 3-D can give you a better idea of how everything works within the space, and can highlight issues you may not have seen on the flat floor plan, like fire sprinklers that block cabinet doors from fully opening.

When you’re satisfied with your creation, move on to the next phase. Print it out to use it as a guide as you work, or send a copy to your contractor so you’re both on the same page when it comes time to start the job.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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