Realsim Visualising The Future And The Past


Realsim is a company that creates realtime 3D simulations for their clients. Started 8 years ago in Galway and with a team having over 20 years of experience in 3D animations and spatial technologies, Realsim are at the forefront in the 3D simulation business in the fields of planning and heritage. I got to sit down with Gary Dempsey of Realsim to discuss what they do and what can we expect from them in the future. Galway has become a popular place for new innovative businesses, while Realsim set up in Galway mainly because the director of the company is based there. Many companies are set up in Galway for the benefits it offers. With todays advancement in technology there is no need to be situated where the big tech companies are. Galway’s appeal to tech companies is the city itself. The community and the standard of living are reasons people love this city and for companies the lower rent rates and ease of access are also very appealing. Realsim is focused in three areas, planning, history and marine life. Their main business is Realsim Cities, in which they work within the planning and development sector. Some of the notable projects they have worked on are the development of Cork harbour and on the plans for the development of Galway harbour. Creating realtime 3D simulations allows the client to see how their proposed plans will look and how local areas would be effected visually by the plans. Realsim uses a mixture of game engines, mainly Unity, Globalmapper, 3D maps and other tools to create realistic simulations. When asked about what makes Realsim stand out? Gary sees the accuracy of their models and the perfectly accurate real world simulations that feature a sunlight and weather system that work on GPS co-ordinates as the main reason they stand out from their competitors.  

Source – Youtube/Realsim Movies


The other two areas Realsim focuses on is in the field of heritage with Realsim History and Realsim Marine. Within these two areas they get to work on some really interesting projects. One project of particular importance is the Spike Island Project in Cork where they used some groundbreaking techniques to represent Spike Island and it’s surrounding areas. In the simulation you can take the perspective of a bird and fly around Spike Island, visit the shipwrecks and see all the defence forts along the coast. You can also interact with the cannons in the forts and help defend them from attack. Another notable project that Realsim Marine worked on, in collaboration with the Titanic Belfast museum is a simulation where you can explore the North coast of Ireland from above and below the sea. You can find shipwrecks and explore the geography of the area. This piece has been in the Titanic Belfast museum for a few years now. When talking about how they create these 3D realtime maps, Gary stresses the importance of using data already available. It would a waste of time working from scratch when you can source useful data elsewhere. Where possible Realsim will use 3D, lidar, geo data and existing 3D models to help create their realtime 3D simulations. When creating 3D simulations for the Guillemot and RMS Leinster shipwrecks, they sourced blueprint records and traditional models to create these two ships. One of Realsim Marine’s biggest client is Informar and they work together of projects ranging from simulations of sea beds to animated videos to use as education tools for the company. They can provide a wide range of services of there clients. If they have an opportunity to work on something interesting, they will take it.

Realsim has taken on projects creating transport simulations and have even created a simulation of a human heart for one client. So they are not tided down to just planning and heritage but whatever interesting comes their way. I was interested to know what future plans Realsim had down the pipeline, Gary mentioned two big project that they are currently working on. The first is a project to create 3D models for the Island of Jersey, which is their biggest project to date. Jersey need to submit 3D models as part of its design submission for the Island and have hired Realsim to create them. The other project that they are currently working on, is for the Galway 2020 Capital of Culture bid. This peaked my interest for a number of reasons, one, I’m from Galway and very interested in the many projects currently being worked on before we host the Capital of Culture in 2020. The second reason is that Realsim plan on using some newer technologies in their project for this. This project is called Cubed Cities and is still in it’s early stages of creation. It will use Virtual Reality to connect people with the environment around them and connect with people in different cities around the world. It will be definitely one to look out for when 2020 comes around. For Realsim, Virtual Reality is an area they are interested in exploring but it does not fit in with every aspect of their business. In planning, it can have benefits, as Gary states, “Sitting someone down and showing them their house before its built”, this has great benefits to business. However with things regarding heritage and museum projects the experience has to be more of a shared interactive experience which can be hard to replicate with a VR headset.  


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Realsim is one of the sponsors of the years Virtual Heritage Network, which takes place in the University College Cork from the 8th-10th of December. I asked Gary what importance does a group like VHN have on business like Realsim. He points to the important of having an outlet that let businesses come together and share knowledge and see what is happening in other industries and what benefits can be gained from them. For Realsim the future looks bright, the portfolio of work that they have built up in the last 8 years is impressive and the projects have been quite diverse. With their three main areas, Realsim Cities, History and Marine they have shown how technology can be used in the planning and heritage fields. Realsim can should you what the future can look like and look into the past to explore how it was using their realtime interactive 3D simulations. For more information on Realsim, you can check out their website here.

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