We work directly with AEC firms on implementing VR strategies, so every product on our list offers true room-scale VR capabilities that convert your CAD models into room-scale experiences with only a click or two. They really are that easy.
The last time I rearranged furniture in my house, we moved the couch to about 7 different locations before deciding on a spot 3 inches to the left of its original spot. The event took all day and nearly ended a marriage.
As anyone who has moved furniture will know, the arrangement of elements in a space is better experienced than imagined.
Our mockup of the furniture arrangement made sense on our graph paper, but was actively awful when we tried it in real life. We can memorize best practices, attempt prototypes and mockups, and use traditional layout tools all day long—and it can still go wrong.
Furniture arrangement is one thing–Retail design is another.
In Retail Design, the arrangement of elements represents brand identity, impulse purchases, and returning customers.
In Healthcare Design, the arrangement of elements represents healing, patient comfort, and physician ergonomics.
In Industrial Design, the arrangement of elements means worker safety and measurable improvements in efficiency.
Once your hospital, or your retail store, or your factory is built–adjustments to the space are cost prohibitive or impossible.
When the arrangement of elements really matters, Virtual Reality mockups are the best tool for the job.
Unlike physical mockups which run in the tens of thousands for cardboard alone, VR mockups are a small fraction of the cost and can be rapidly iterated. Best of all, you can recruit your end-users to set up the space exactly how they want it. We’ve seen 60 year old physicians set up their exam rooms in VR–we’re confident your client can too.
Here’s How it works:
1. We work with you to assess your goals for the mockup.
2. We create an accurate virtual mockup of your space and create the 3D elements that you want arranged. If you already have the 3D elements–great! We can use them and save you a few bucks.
3. Start iterating in virtual space.
This video is a demonstration of an exam room from the perspective of the end user arranging her exam room space. The tool is designed to “snap” the elements to the wall or floor, which makes the tool easy to use for VR beginners, and the ability to save the room layout helps the architect implement the space design in their projects. Contractors use this tool directly with owners to confirm build locations and prevent re-work.
Data Driven Design
Once the Virtual Mockup is complete–you can take it the extra mile and test it. The experience feels right–but does it make dollars and sense? Testing the Mockup gives you the data to move forward with confidence. Using gaze tracking, we can determine which product displays are catching our customers’ attention. We can measure stress levels in various exam room designs. We can time how long it takes workers to walk the factory floor.
Virtual reality gives us unprecedented insight into our building designs. Architecture professionals who can leverage VR to evaluate the psychic experience of a space alongside the data of that space will have happier clients who move forward with confidence.
If you don’t have VR equipment or don’t know how to help your clients into VR for the first time, we can rent equipment to you and and run your events. It’s just another way we take the edge off the cutting edge.
To find out how we can adapt this tool for you, learn about VR equipment rental, or take us to coffee, click the button below and contact us.
A Virtual View of a Lighting Showroom
When your studio creates custom, site specific work, communicating design can be a challenge.
Meet Greypants: a sculptural lighting artisan. Before VR, you would have to fly out to their Seattle or Amsterdam offices to truly understand the scale of these glowing sculptures. With VR we can show off sculptural lighting in its built context or in a virtual showroom from anywhere.
VR’s ability to increase the reach and impact of small studios and artisans and is just one more way Virtual Reality will improve the built environment.
Today I asked Logan Smith, BIM guru, licensed building architect and VR expert about whether 360 degree photos and videos count as Virtual Reality. Here’s the interview:
So, there’s the great debate in VR circles right now–Is a 360 degree photo Virtual Reality?
Logan Smith: 360 degree photos are a peek into the potential of VR but a long way from actually realizing that potential. They’re vaguely VR. I would put 360 photos under the large umbrella of VR, but I also sympathize with VR specialists who wouldn’t want them under that umbrella. People who have only seen 360 videos and photos can have a false impression about what modern VR actually is.
Explain the difference then– “Modern VR” vs. 360 photos?
Logan Smith: Spatial computing. Modern, room-scale virtual reality is spatial computing. While a 360 photo can glance in every direction, Virtual Reality is transformative. It involves shape, volume, location, and physics. Room elements have dimension, they can be moved, you can walk between them, and look underneath them. True Virtual Reality is volumetric. It’s spatial. It’s well, real.
For example, if I took a 360 photo of this room–even if I view it on a headset–I can’t walk over to that window and look at it from a different angle to understand the views and the space. In true VR, I can look outside that window from every angle. I can move that chair. I can see how the light changes in the room based on the time of day because all of that data is contained in true VR.
So, is there a place for 360 photos in architecture and construction?
Logan Smith: Absolutely. When I first started using them as an architect it was for tenant improvement and renovation projects. Before any TI project, you need to document everything about the existing space. It used to be that we would take 45 pictures of the space from every angle, and even then you would inevitably miss something. Now you just hold up a 360 camera and with one click you have great documentation of that room.
360 photos move us toward casting off the limitations of two dimensions. They’re a step in the right direction if you can’t use real VR. But I also imagine that architects and contractors will be using 3D scans more and more often to document as-builts which can then be viewed in true VR.
With regard to architecture and construction, what are the advantages and disadvantages of 360 vs. VR?
Logan Smith: 360 photos are easy to make. It’s the touch of a button. True room-scale VR involves a little more expertise. So, for quick documentation of a space–maybe you use a 360 camera. For everything else, Virtual Reality is better. Room-scale VR is ideal for understanding the space. It’s more comfortable and more interactive experience. A 360 photo can communicate direction but it doesn’t give the understanding of scale and relationships that true virtual reality does. 360 photos simply don’t have the same power to satisfy client concerns about a design. I see time and time again how VR facilitates communication with clients so they can make decisions confidently. That’s where true spatial VR excels. It takes people of all experience levels and gives them the same access to understanding design.
Architizer recently published this article about the future of architecture and construction being “all about virtual reality.”
While the article provided an excellent summary of the available tools, VR’s use at architecture and construction firms is not exactly the future anymore. Virtual reality is being used today at ever-increasing numbers of architecture and construction firms. Whether it’s schematic design to acquire new work, project teams holding their weekly design meetings in VR, or construction contractors putting the “Virtual” into Virtual Design and Construction.
Virtual Reality isn’t architecture and construction’s future so much as its present. The tech is here, it’s affordable for any size firm, and basic VR tools can have a huge impact on your practice without a lot of additional training. Getting your firm using these amazing tools is essential to the new Now. But as with any new technology, it’s not exactly as easy as buying the equipment. Raise your hand if your firm uses its 3-D printer exactly as much as anticipated? Anyone?
Bevel offers consulting to get firms equipped with the right software and hardware for their practice and customized training to incorporate VR into existing workflows. With our years of experience in on-boarding firms and assisting their clients into virtual reality we teach you when and how to use VR, how to walk a client through their building, how to create VR experiences that will improve client communication, and how to use VR as a team to anticipate and detect conflicts, improve scheduling and work through phasing of projects. In addition to training, we also offer ongoing subscriptions to act as your firm’s VR department.
The difference between owning a VR headset and owning a powerful tool that helps your practice is a matter of experience and education. That’s why we’re here. To empower you.
So if Virtual Reality is the present, what is in Architecture and Construction’s future?
More on this later, but look forward to better augmented reality glasses, multi-user experiences, meeting in virtual spaces, and spatial computing enhanced VR.
As an architect, Bevel’s Logan Smith used Virtual Reality as a design tool on the early stages of a multifamily housing project which included a grocery store and a long term care facility.
Set on a beautiful hill east of Portland, the site boasted wetlands, views of Mt. Hood, and old growth trees. The complexity of the site’s topography and natural features made planning the campus a complex problem. But walking his hilly site in room-scale VR, he could exist at 1/8″ = 1′ (giant size), pick up his buildings, and move them around the site.
Logan describes the process: “When I place the building here, how does it affect my views? How does it affect the views of the buildings behind me? Will my community garden get enough sunlight? The process of making changes, and then testing those changes by occupying the design at full scale took 30 seconds.”
He apparently wasn’t joking either. I asked him how long it would take for someone unfamiliar with VR to do the same job. “Using the tools I build them? 30 seconds.”
Site planning is just another job that takes less time and produces better products when you plan it in VR first.
Last weekend, the Bevel team attended the Digital Construction Summit in Portland and came away with 30 pages of notes written in Maret’s signature single spaced 8 pt font. Here were some of the overarching themes:
1. The West Coast is getting serious with Scandinavia.
One of the most unexpected insights was how the west coast, and specifically the upper left coast is becoming increasingly aligned with friends from Finland. Seriously. Our shared values, natural resources, and interest in tech has our two regions considering a marriage of tech and human resources.
2. Construction and Manufacturing
The summit touched on manufacturing in three ways: First, the northwest is manufacturing a timber building product called cross laminated timber that is being used in the first timber high-rises. Second, the pre-fabrication trend is continuing with coded building products that arrive to the building site. Finally, we are beginning to apply the lessons learned in the manufacturing industry to increase output for upcoming building booms.
3. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality as a Tool
While it was no surprise to the Bevel team, we were excited to be able to share our insight into the ways in which VR and AR can transform the design process, improve client communication, and can be part of virtual design and construction. We had a great time at the summit and hope it happens again soon.
Room scale VR can replace expensive scale physical mockups. Here’s a case study on how one hospital used VR in their design process:
Working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, 80+ medical professionals tested dozens of design options during a 3 day VR workshop with Simon Manning, formerly at ZGF Architects. The hospital and designers received comprehensive and well-informed feedback in days instead of weeks. Using a VR mockup, the hospital saved the cost and labor of making a physical mock-up which would have involved 100’s of pounds of foam and cardboard and days of labor (savings approx. $45,000).
As an added bonus, this enabled the hospital to run iterative way-finding studies with prospective patients in a virtual simulation of the clinic.