Posts

Bevel 6 step guide to vr in design ebook

6 Step Guide to VR in Design That Anyone Can Use

Create a fully functional, in VR, building design, using apps that are all available to the public. Chapters Include: Id Building Site…

VR in your Design Firm – 101

Why “what hardware?” is the wrong question when it comes to XR

At Bevel, our holidays are always punctuated with the emails from our architect friends saying “Okay, my firm is finally using VR in 2019–what hardware do we buy?”

The answer is easy: any of them. Seriously. Everyone has their preference. And not a single Bevel founder will agree to the answer to this question–we all have our favorites.

The real question is how?

Before developing custom software and before Bevel was Bevel, we were busy working away at our architecture firms training them how to use spatial tech.

We continue to be in firms, building custom visualizations. And from it we are able to see XR departments in action. We’re able to see what worked, what didn’t, and what amazing potential this tech has When. It. Is. Used.

There have been some huge wins, but on the flip side, there’s been some lost potential where spatial computing just failed to take off.

Here’s how a few VR for Architecture fails and how to fix them:

 

FAIL: Office culture doesn’t support wearing a VR headset.  No one wants to risk looking silly.

We see the most resistance to wearing a Virtual Reality headset from the C-Suite. That said, our country’s top executive for 8 years straight decided not to pass up the opportunity. Thanks, Obama.

FIX:

That’s a damn shame. The good news is that there’s no time like the holidays to lighten up. Your best bet is to buy a device that is primarily for employee gaming in a break room. Once people are used to playing in three dimensions, walking through your own building is the obvious next step.

FIX:

Look into handheld AR tools that can help ease into the utility of spatial tech. Pretty soon, you’ll want to get the screen out of the way and graduate up to wearable AR.

Augmented Reality for iOS and Android overlays digital details on physical models.

Try it out! Bevel has a free AR for AEC Demo. The iOS AR app overlays 3D digital models on top of the construction documents. It allows laypeople and experts to communicate in a common, visual language.

FAIL: VR is reserved for the end of the design process. “Let’s wait until the Revit model is ready.”

FIX:

Schedule regular VR walkthroughs with the team as part of your BIM quality control. You’d be surprised at how many modeling mistakes, or even design oversights, you might find.

FIX:

Not sure what materials you’re using yet? Don’t want your client to focus on the digital wood grain? Use simple white to acclimate the client and the team to focusing on spatial issues instead of fussing over details.

FIX:

Brush up on your Revit skills for AR and VR with Bevel’s Technology Director, Logan Smith, in his newly released Linkedin Learning course. The course is a comprehensive dive into Revit AR and VR workflows.

Bevel: Linkedin Learning with Logan Smith - Revit: AR and VR workflows

Bevel: Linkedin Learning with Logan Smith – Revit: AR and VR workflows

Learning Objectives:

  • Why model for VR in Revit?
  • When to use VR and AR
  • How to use your Revit model with VR and AR
  • Making the most of Enscape
  • Using IrisVR Prospect for multiuser virtualization
  • Simple 3D shortcuts
  • Efficiently applying materials to Revit projects
  • Using RPC components in Revit
  • VR modeling for Revit

Interested in learning more – Take a look at this course and more on our Spatial Technology Learning page.

We would love to hear more from you. Are you just starting to use XR at your design firm? Are you old pros? We want to know what is working in your firms. Comment below!

Exciting BIM and VR technology unlock promising potential

Autodesk University was quite the success last week, but we’re just getting started. Industry Insights by UNIFI invited Simon and Logan to be on their webinar. The topic: “BIM and Virtual Reality.”

BIM and Virtual Reality webinar highlights:

Why VR isn’t just about being showy—when you have BIM, it’s about data.

There’s some perception that this is showy, but rest assured that VR is not just a novelty that is cool to look at. The potential we see and we are working on is for tools that are useful, interactive, and data-driven.

There is a special kind of ergonomics that comes from this…. Instead of working from plans and elevations. You add a human element – it enhances the human data.

It’s amazing the amount of info you can learn from subtle head movements. From your view in a theater to the placement of your cabinets.

You can’t communicate things like scale and distance and proportion in any better way than VR and AR.

When it comes to Virtual and Augmented reality for AEC, good BIM is important. What’s good BIM? Bevel clarified:

…depends on what you want out of your AR and VR.

If you’re going for realistic and pretty, having all your materials modeled in a more filled out way makes a big difference….

If you’re going for something more data focused, then having all those metadata points filled out would be the crucial thing… We can automatically set up those exports, our algorithms can read those data points without having to do it manually.

User flow simulations using hard data

User flow simulations using hard data


[/av_one_full]

AR and VR are experiences you have to try to understand.

When it comes to AR and VR, make sure you are the one bringing this tool to your clients. Don’t wait until your client is ready because they never will be until they try it.

It’s hard to understand what it’s like unless you’re doing it. Your screen isn’t quite adequate. Your drawing isn’t quite adequate.

It’s always a challenge to get people to understand the potential until they try it for themselves.

Try our iOS AR Plans app, featured at the Autodesk AEC Keynote.

How to get your firm into VR- What basic tools do you need to get started?

Hardware: Get a VR headset –> try a Samsung Odyssey.

Once you have a headset there are many turnkey BIM to VR solutions. Enscape and Iris Prospect are great and work through Revit.

These get you to the point where your Revit model is in VR and you can view it. If you want to interact with your data, you’ll need to get into the game engines. We teach Linkedin Learning courses designed for AEC professionals to get started.

How to get your firm into AR and what basic tools do you need to get started?

We recommend handheld or mobile AR—on your tablet or phone. Check out the reasons we love handheld AR.

Download an AR plans demo that enhances a document set in AR.

BIM nerds and those of you spearheading VR and AR efforts at your firm, listen to the full webinar below for more tech talk.

Learn how Logan and Simon decided to become spatial technologists for AEC. Find out their favorite VR meeting room platform. And see which programming languages and game engines they use for each project.

 

Bevel- Xr uses in healthcare design

6 uses of XR in healthcare design

Hospitals are undoubtedly special building types. Between the number of regulations to the breadth of stakeholders, the job of a healthcare designer is a balancing act.

Here is how savvy architects are using Virtual and Augmented Reality to connect with their clients throughout the life of a healthcare project.

6 Uses of XR in Healthcare Design

  1. Design Development
  2. Virtual Reality Mockups
  3. Augmented Reality Mockups
  4. Telepresence
  5. Simulation and Testing
  6. Stakeholder Communication

1. Design Development with Virtual and Augmented Reality Mockups

In the early days of VR for architecture—healthcare projects were among the first to see dollar impacts by supplementing or even replacing some mockups with VR. Simon Manning recalls a project at ZGF when it was impossible to find a warehouse to host a cardboard mockup Lean design event. That’s when he first started virtual reality mockups.

When we work in VR, we are able to keep a record of design changes. Old physical mockups get destroyed. Necessarily. The virtual mockups get saved, week after week, helping inform stakeholders at various stages of the project.

When we did wayfinding studies, we did a couple VR design review sessions. In one project, the first design review meeting had 3 people and still resulted in a bunch of changes.

2. Virtual Reality Mockups

VR to the rescue—“we were able to walk nurses and doctors through the design, get feedback, make changes in Revit and then test those changes after lunch.” What initially began as an emergency fix soon became an unexpected asset to the project.

“It was incredible to not have to wait a week or more for the reconstruction of a cardboard space and to instantly see the impact of design changes. It took way less time out of the doctors’ and nurses’ schedules, and saved over $45,000 in warehouse rental alone.”

– Simon Manning

Best of all, we can keep records of all the design changes so that people new to the design can watch how the design process has evolved. Virtual mockups and documentation help ensure everyone is on the same page for the most constructive feedback.

3. Augmented Reality Mockups

With augmented reality, we enhance existing spaces or cardboard mockups with virtual 3D models and design options. AR adds dimension and detail to a cardboard mockup experience and allows designers and clinicians to play with equipment arrangement in already built spaces.

Bevel-Cardboard mock-up for healthcareCardboard mockup for healthcare

AR adds dimension and detail to a cardboard mockup

Using Magic Leap or iPad, we use AR to create a shared design experience. And since this computing is truly spatial, we’re able to extract data about where people are walking and looking—making AR and VR mockups perfect for wayfinding studies.

AR and VR mockups perfect for wayfinding studies.

AR and VR mockups are perfect for wayfinding studies

For already built conditions, iPad AR through the CareConnect app lets nurses and home health care patients communicate and place medical equipment in their homes.

4. Telepresence

Designers often forget how technically savvy clinicians are—with the advent of telemedicine, doctors are frequently popping onto Skype for check-ins with their patients. VR is just what the doctor ordered for helping designers stay connected with their end users throughout the design process.

With a couple of simple headsets, designers, end users and client reps are meeting one another within the virtual space, as its being designed.

Any stakeholders who can’t make it to 3P lean design meetings get to review them in real time or asynchronously after the meeting. It’s helpful to not have to take a busy surgeon off work for a full day to test the new surgery suite when it’s quickly and easily understood with a brief virtual exploration.  

Care Connect AR medical design paired with telepresence with healthcare professionals

5. Simulation and Testing

When Bevel thinks of XR, we don’t just think of Augmented and Virtual Reality, we also think of all the spatial computing that happens in the interactivity engines. Interactivity engines or “game engines” like Unity and Unreal allow us to create virtual environments and robust simulations.

For healthcare design clients especially, we’re simulating Lean data in 3D environments to provide visual proof of design interventions.

With your 3D model in an interactivity engine, we study the impacts of various design iterations on clinician and patient flow. We can interact with equipment and instruments. We can even test new procedures. Early simulations shape the efficiency of the design and happiness of its users.

Medical space planner

Medical Space Planner

6. Stakeholder Communication

We’re seeing a huge impact on client communication with mobile augmented reality. Augmented reality overlays digital models with the real world in a spatially aware way. With AR, tablets and phones transform into magic windows—transforming a real-world site into a completed building in its actual context. Mobile Augmented reality also allows us to make floorplans into mini interactive models.

Bevel AR plans from Iphone

Bevel AR plans from Iphone

Simply put, we haven’t found a simpler, more accessible tool for stakeholder communication than handheld AR.

We worked with a firm whose clients was extremely confused about the scale and scope of the work. They came to place it in 3D on the site. Where he could wander around a bare patch of dirt and see his future building. It became a trusted tool for their client interactions going forward. After weeks of fruitless meetings trying flags, paint on the ground, etc. A 5 minute iPad experience was ultimately all he needed.

* Seeking great pilot partners

Email us if…

  • Your team loves feedback and craves better ways to communicate design
  • You use Lean design principles or consultants and want a way to visualize this data and test it across design iterations
  • Your team wants to immerse their clients in the design from the beginning

Above and beyond but not required:

  • Your team are Revit power users and you want to leverage your robust 3D models like never before

How and Why of using VR and AR in Medical Design

SEEKING HEALTHCARE DESIGNERS!

No this isn’t a casting call, but we are seriously looking for those interested in capturing feedback for their medical designs, mockups and exploring other cost-saving spatial solutions. We are partnering up with a handful of healthcare clients for 2019 and we want to see what you’ve got and prep you to get on board!
We’re beginning a series on Augmented and Virtual Reality (XR) in Healthcare Design and wanted to kick it off with the basics:

How and why should one actually start using XR on a project?

We’ll cover the following topics… if by the time you are finished we’ve piqued your interest, well, we might just have an offer you can’t refuse.

  1. Internal Design Review in Virtual Reality (VR) Early and Often
  2. Invest in Portable Equipment
  3. Use Handy Handheld Augmented Reality (AR)
  4. Budget for XR
  5. Reserve Bevel for 3P Lean Design Events

The benefits of XR in Healthcare are huge—from saving money on mockups to getting robust client feedback. XR gets your clients out of the spreadsheets and into their future workspace.

Despite the huge benefits, Spatial Computing feels like a new medium—and there can be a bit of anxiety about how to use the technology. So we came up with this guide on how to ensure your clients have the best possible XR experience.

1.Internal Design Review in Virtual Reality (VR) Early and Often

It starts in-house. We always encourage clients to experiment and play in VR. You’re designing 3D spaces—so make sure you experience them in three dimensions.

I guess your first question might be, play in VR? Well when it comes to VR software, there is a handful out there that really do the trick. Iris Prospect, Enscape, Insite and Symmetry just to name a few that we recommend.

It depends on your budget and what types of features you need in an instant visualization tool, but if it’s one thing that all these softwares do well, it’s their true room-scale VR capabilities that convert your models into immersive experiences with only a click or two.

Inside view of 3d space

Enscape – Inside view of 3d space

XR makes the biggest impact on the design when you use it early and use it often. And like most tools, VR takes a bit to get the hang of, so give it the old college try, and start practicing as soon as you can so you can start exploring the many advantages first hand.

Save your time on research, because we’ve already done the legwork on comparing 4 of the more popular visualization tools out there. Check out our product comparison chart here.

2. Invest in Portable Equipment

Many of our clients want to take their VR equipment out of the office and onto the site without it being a three-ring circus of equipment and setup. Next-gen VR and AR equipment are here. VR capable laptops are getting smaller and more powerful. Plus the new wave of headsets by Vive and Oculus are cheap and super easy to set up. If you have the right application for it, the Magic Leap can be worth the investment. 

Using Vive in the workplace

Using Vive in the workplace

3. Use Handy Handheld Augmented Reality (AR)

When a headset is not the right solution, ease your clients into spatial computing with handheld AR. Handheld AR is super accessible and can be found on the latest iOS and Android devices. With an iPad or mobile experience it connects multiple users to a mockup.

Bevel - Mobile AR on the job site

Mobile AR on the job site

4. Budget for XR

XR prevents problems, helps you win work, and gives you an edge on your competitors. Good thing for you, Bevel builds custom XR tools that help contractors do their work faster and helps architects communicate their work with more detail.

Start planning now!

Architecture firms that are tech savvy enough to be using Revit are already on track to be using VR. Save room in your 2019 budgets and include at least one new wave headset and a seat in any of the BIM to VR software suites. The new standalone Oculus Quest and VIVE Focus are coming out next year for around $400, no PC required!

If you’re already using VR often, first—gold star. Consider setting aside a budget for future XR projects, which can help communicate the sexy details of your projects in a fun and accessible way. Planning ahead helps us ensure you have the best XR experience, both throughout the project and with the final product. Handheld AR presentations for design review or in immersive VR or AR experiences—it all starts with knowing your client and using this medium to build a robust understanding and trust.

5. Reserve Bevel for 3P Lean Design Events

We support mockups and 3P Lean Design Events. Get more from your mockups with our support.

  • AR and VR are both about rapid iteration. If AR is about overlaying details to a physical mockup, VR is about immersing users in a space and giving them the means to manipulate it.
  • XR enables spacial tools to gather data to inform lean design like never before. Track where users are looking and moving, or aggregate user input in 3d space. And once you have better data, you can make better predictions of the quality and efficacy of a Healthcare environment.
User flow simulations using hard data

User flow simulations using hard data

It’s time to test these interventions over the life of a healthcare project phase. We have space for just 3 more healthcare clients in 2019 and we are looking for a great fit. We’re hoping to partner with engaged and energetic healthcare designers who are “Lean-ing” the Lean process, exploring new mediums for client communication, and who have clients excited to work in the bleeding edge of design technology (er…no pun intended).

Seeking great pilot partners

Email us if…

  • Your team loves feedback and craves better ways to communicate design
  • You use Lean design principles or consultants and want a way to visualize this data and test it across design iterations
  • Your team wants to immerse their clients in the design from the beginning.

Above and beyond but not required:

  • Your team are Revit power users and you want to leverage your robust 3D models like never before

“Deceptively Simple” Halloween Costumes

In my experience Halloween’s either all in–you’re jumping in with both feet–or there’s no point in even playing the dress up game.

I guess Bevel’s resident Maker Madman and XR extraordinaire, Simon Manning got that same memo because he takes his Halloween costume game to the next level.

Last week Lexi sat down with Simon to see where all of this creative juju comes from and to see if maybe she might be able to catch some of it.

So Simon, tell me a little bit about Halloween for you? And how the extreme costuming began?

Halloween started out as my favorite holiday, because of all the holidays it has the least obligation surrounding it–it’s one of those times where I have more free time than usual.

It’s a great opportunity to get inside the workshop and make something crafty. I combine that additional free time with craftiness to do something above and beyond.

The tradition of “sickly sweet couples costumes” started when my partner and I moved to Seattle, and first dressed up as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That was before we had any access to a workshop – so we used what we could.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde costume

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde costume

Tell me about this workshop that you use?

As the years have gone on I have had more access to laser cutters. At my old job I was a model shop manager – so I had my own spray booth, woodshop, all this kind of equipment – my costuming got more and more sophisticated each year.  

From then on, each year has been a tradition of one-upping the previous years.

More recently I have started to create multiple Halloween costumes a year. I make the couples costume, but also there are separate events where I don’t want to rely on a couples costume if I am attending events like a VR Halloween meetup on my own. This year for the VR meetup I’m going as a Beat Saber player.

Do VR games inspire your costumes?

Totally. A few years back, I went as Job Bot from Job Simulator–it was the first year of the HTC Vive so it was one of those things that VR people would instantly get – everyone else just thought it was ridiculous.

Job Bot costume. Job Bot tasks you “human” jobs in one of our favorite ever VR games- Job Simulator by Owlchemy Labs.

Beyond the inspiration from Virtual Reality games, more broadly I’m inspired by spatial technology. This year I think I have outdone myself. This year we decided to go as Google Maps.

Overlay segments to create the Google maps diagram

Laser cutting the google maps streets

Laser cutting the Google maps streets

I’ve painted this really long ribbon, with yellow and red patches, like the navigation/ traffic line – we’re going to have that connecting us at the various parties – so wherever we go there will be this long ribbon snaking its way through the party from one of us to the other.

I also made a bunch of extra pins, so that I can give them to friends like Logan and Maret. One of my friends is going to Mexico for Dia de Los Muertos – so I gave him one. And the idea is I’ll get a group of friends to take selfies all over the place with their red pins and then we’ll do a collage.

It’s ridiculous, its fun, but the key is its comfortable.

How do you come up with your ideas?

I’m really bad at procrastinating – so last year I waited till just a few days before Halloween and we were looking up couples costumes and one of them was this really cheesy sheet of cardboard with a printed out Oreo on it and I was like:

Oh that’s nice but I can do so much better than that.

So I 3D modeled an Oreo and fabricated all of the bumps and designs and we ended up going as 2 halves of the double stuff Oreo

Complete 1/2 of double stuffed Oreo

Complete 1/2 of double-stuffed Oreo

 

How much time do you put into these things?

I usually spend like 1 day. This year I was in there from 4 pm – 12 am, an 8-hour stretch. I created 2 full costumes (Google maps), 1 alternate costume (Beat Saber) and an art piece.

I’ve got one thing in the laser cutter, while another is being spraypainted, and I have the woodcutter running. I just put in my headphones and get to work.

A lot of my work is deceptively simple.

Another awesome thing that Simon manages to fit into his busy maker schedule while crafting his 1-3 costumes per year, is a specially made art piece. To give back to the firm that allows him to use the workshop – he designs a piece to be donated to their annual art auction.

Is it the costume making or the reactions you like most?

Making the costumes! It’s always up in the air of whether it’ll turn out the way you imagine it. It’s such a rush of excitement as I’m peeling the stencil of the shirt – seeing this google map slowly emerge the way I planned it. It’s like I designed my own puzzle, and somehow it looks like it should.

There’s kind of a zen to accepting the things that turn out differently though. Over the years, there’s always a few things that don’t pan out the way I intended. It’s a nice exercise to let go of those things. It all works out anyways.

Tell me about the process?

I like taking a lot of photos of the process because it tells the story a little bit easier. I find that part of the process really fascinating, the step by step of it. That’s how I learned.

Adam Savage from Mythbusters has a series called One Day Builds – he is definitely an inspiration of mine with these kinds of projects. It’s also a great source for crafty tips.

One day builds - Exact Scale Model of THE SHINING Maze

One day builds – Exact Scale Model of THE SHINING Maze

How is costume making related to what you are doing at Bevel?

It ultimately comes back to the philosophy of why I think Bevel needs to exist. Which is everything that we are doing with VR and AR, it ultimately comes back to making real things – which is my passion. Whenever I’m making this stuff I’m using computers, technology, I’m writing plans for robots to cut this stuff out for me. I’m essentially leveraging technology to the fullest so I can create these things that are in my head as detailed and intricate as possible.

And I think that Bevel is doing the same thing but for the construction/ architecture industry. We’re building tools that are making it easier and faster to create things. It’s all about that “R” in the XR.

The future of VR and Halloween

VR is enabling a new type of Halloween costumes, which is the virtual avatar.

Rec Room has implemented a new costume system, you can make your own clothing and hats and hair in the game.

I see on the horizon some really awesome creative enabled applications for Halloween, like Magic Leap / mixed reality costumes, so when they look at you through their AR glasses or iphones, they see a costume overlayed with your body. 

People are using AR and VR to express themselves, which is really what Halloween is all about.

Who is XR Dad?

The Bevel Team is scattered around the West Coast this week for the Magic Leap Conference, Indiecade, and Seattle Startup Week, so we interrupt our regular programming for a very fun announcement: XR Dad.

You might know Logan Smith as Bevel’s augmented reality cyborg and chief space nerd. Across the country is Agile Lens’ Alex Coulombe who lives and breathes in much the same virtual world as Logan.

By day Alex and Logan are XR technologists. By night they’re XR dads.

Bevel’s Logan on XR Dad:

Logan Smith, Bevel’s Technology Director and Chief Space Nerd, now an XR Dad.

 

So Logan, tell us about your day job as a spatial/XR technologist at Bevel and how that led to XR Dad getting started?

I am a spatial computing solutions provider for architecture and construction.

Meaning our studio works with the end users–generally the construction and architecture firms.

We work with these professionals and understand their workflow. We also know the technology stacks and find where this amazing new tech actually connects with the business as it is happening and as it can be shaped.

I met Alex when he was in Portland. He asked to see who else was in the VR and architecture space and he found me. Ever since we’ve been part of the crazy XR studios across the country.

There are more and greater use cases for this technology than we have time to build. But first, we need to help everyone else understand the potential as we do. XR Dad is probably one of the most fun ways to teach people some spatial tech. So why not?

Alex and I joked about future collaborations from the beginning.

Tell us about why you’re excited about raising a kid in the XR age?

My kid–especially because of his learning and sensory issues–gets more chances to learn by experience. He needs to do and see and interact in order to learn best. He can do that in ways we couldn’t have imagined as kids.

Bevel XR-dad trig animation

Trig animation that opened my eyes

This animation made trigonometry make sense to me. And I saw this 10-15 years after taking trig and was like OH that’s what they’re talking about. It’s just a silly GIF. But having things like that that make sense because you can interact with them in a more intuitive way is really cool.

When my kid couldn’t understand how people were living on the International Space station. “I was trying to describe it to him. It’s sorta like a building… sorta like a spaceship. You can see the earth in the sky. I just confused him. It made no sense to a 5-year-old.” I stopped explaining and invited him into VR for a spacewalk on the ISS. He can tell you all about it to this day.

I stopped explaining and invited him into VR for a spacewalk on the ISS. He can tell you all about it to this day.

ISS VR spacewalk

Little things like that make me really excited about the kinds of education that can happen now through spatial technologies.

So what are you going to get out of doing XR Dad?

I get caught in ideas like–“WAIT, I can do this? I have to do this!”  Sometimes I can’t help but make this stuff and it’s nice to have an outlet that someone else will see besides my family or business partners.

I get caught in ideas like–“WAIT, I can do this? I have to do this!”

Things that aren’t marketable, aren’t useful in any traditional way–they’re just sort of magic and I now have an excuse to do them and share them with my kid and with other people. And that’s just fun for me.

Like what do you mean? Give us an example of something you made in XR that was just fun and not useful?

When my kiddo was much younger and building things out of woodblocks and pretending they were giant buildings, I took a photogrammetry scan and showed them to him in VR to see them as GIGANTIC blocks. He could walk up to his block tower in VR and see it as he imagined it. It was HIS block tower–all kids have imagined this. They build a thing with their hands and their imagination brings it to life.

Does this supplant imagination?

Yeah, he stopped imagining after that.

HA. Okay, fair enough.

Subscribe to XR Dad for the rest of the interview and be the first to get access to free games and apps the dads are making for their kids and their grownups. Share them with your niece–or that one guy in the office who still doesn’t get why AR is a “thing.”

Stay tuned with Bevel’s regularly scheduled XR in AEC programming next week! And in case you missed them check out these: why Mobile AR in AEC or our Magic Leap test while in Helsinki.

Hand Tracking in Virtual Reality with Leap Motion

To find the seamless user experience for our Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality applications we re-tested Leap Motion and were thrilled with the software improvements.

The Leap Motion’s hand tracking prowess simplifies interaction, aids the sense of immersion, and allows for creative interaction concepts.

Read on to find out how we’re using Leap in our custom VR development.

WHAT IS LEAP MOTION

Leap motion is a peripheral mount to any VR headset that enables accurate hand tracking within VR. Instead of interacting with controllers and buttons, the leap motion allows you to use natural gestures such as pinching, grabbing, waving, and swiping without having to handle hardware.

The Leap Motion is like an expert at detecting hands— it was even designed to track how hands use tools–like a hand holding a stylus in virtual reality.

LEAP MOTION IN ENTERPRISE VR/AR APPLICATIONS

We like using Leap Motion whenever less equipment and less complexity is essential to the VR and AR experience. Controllers = Complexity.

When showing VR to clients, it’s often the first VR experience they’ve ever had. While frequent users and gamers will get used to Vive controllers easily, there is a learning curve for a novice. And when it comes to enterprise VR and AR experiences, you can’t rely on familiarity with VR hardware for interaction.

Leap Motion attaches to the headset and reconizes your hands as they type on virtual keyboards, push virtual buttons, or open virtual doors. Manipulating virtual objects with your hands reduces the barrier to interaction and simplifies the experience.

Consider the VR conference booth or an interactive kiosk—At a conference demonstration you only have a few seconds with each person or none at all. Leap Motion enables seamless user interaction with the virtual environment—without having to know that the trigger button grabs and the thumb pad slides.

Leap Motion is also is excellent whenever controllers would break complete immersion. Whether it’s a high-end immersive experience or you’re prototyping new processes in VR—Use hand tracking instead of controllers for a truer mockup and sense of immersion.

HOW TO USE LEAP MOTION

The Leap Motion hardware attachment runs around $70. All you need to try it is an application that’s programmed for it. Because Leap Motion requires an addition to a headset, you won’t find it in many off the shelf applications that consumers are using. But one way to try is in Alt Space.

If you’re building your own applications, Leap Motion is built into the Unreal engine, plugins, and input devices. Simply check the Leap Motion checkbox and set your pawn options. The Leap Motion is astoundingly programmable.

Its use in custom enterprise software makes a ton of sense. In enterprise, you’re not working with gamers. You’re much more likely to have a total VR novice. With a Leap Motion, VR novices can put on a headset and be proficient using their hands without fumbling around controllers.

A big hassle of VR is that you’re blind to the world. You have to find yourself in the virtual space, orient yourself to your controllers, and know how to interact with the controllers. Then there is additional interface confusion in dealing with hardware you can’t see.

Once Leap Motion is applied, it reduces the hardware complexity to just putting on a headset a going. With the attached Leap Motion, you can see your hands through the headset and immediately know how to interact with virtual space. Push buttons with your fingers, open doors with your hands.

CAVEATS – WHERE WE PREFER VR CONTROLLERS

There are some applications where we actually prefer controllers over the Leap Motion for interaction—and that’s when we need precision and fine grain interaction.

When you want precision and control, controllers win at this point. Controller tracking is precise enough to drop VR furniture in exactly the right place for example, and when drawing and modelling in VR, the controller is still essential. We anticipate the software will get better, but at the present, the action of releasing an object can be a struggle. The Leap Motion will occasionally rotate objects or drop objects as slightly incorrect angles.

That said, this software is improving all the time and it wouldn’t surprise us at all if within a few years it was a VR interaction standard.

INTERACTION CONCEPTS FOR LEAP MOTION

  • Multiple fingers for typing on virtual keyboard (chicken pecking). Even though there isn’t (currently) haptic feedback, typing in this way is much more comfortable than having to key in information on a keyboard.
  • VR calculator – same as virtual keyboard —working with a wand is obnoxious, but punching in the numbers with fingers is natural.
  • Any interacting with UI – things such as the TiltBrush UI would do well with the Leap Motion. You don’t have to deal with abstractions that motion controllers create. You can simply point and go.
  • Interface heavy applications – Virtual Showrooms where there are many different options for materials, furniture and schemes.
    • The frustration of all of the VR showrooms we try is finding the interaction buttons.
    • With the Leap Motion and clever spatial programming, you can change settings and parameters from one stop. Instead of a static UI, you can implement a context-aware interface.
  • Kiosks – The Leap makes forbetter for demonstration of an unsupervised Kiosk. If you want someone to walk up to an experience, put on a headset and go, Leap Motion is less setup.
  • Extended uses – because holding controllers for a long time can be a pain. The Leap Motion can provide extended VR users with better ergonomics
  • Finally, the Leap Motion enhancing immersion and presence in high end virtual experiences by forgoing extra handheld hardware and instead letting the user exit and interact naturally.

Why Esri + Autodesk?

Context is critical. But when architects open up Revit to begin drafting, they’re generally working in a blank white box. All of that could be about to change with the Esri + Autodesk alliance.

Esri’s ArcGIS is the gold standard for GIS data—and it will show you everything from traffic, zoning, and demographic information to the exact location of every fire hydrant in the city. Architects, Contractors, and Engineers spend weeks gathering and synthesizing this data on each and every project they undertake. Having this information readily available and integrated into existing workflows will save time and money.

A hugely important and time consuming part of architectural design is site analysis. Logan Smith: “I had a project that spanned multiple parcels where there was wetlands, utility lines, protected forest, easements, and a semi conductor factory nearby that had special rules regarding runoff, along with everything else that any project would deal with like zoning, traffic, curb cuts, and topography.” Translating this information from the civil engineer’s PDF into a workable site model took weeks and was prone to human error. Instead of running through dozens of dead-end feasibility studies, an Esri + Autodesk alliance could automate that so you can spend more time designing for human experience.

When Simon Manning recalls his days at the ZGF model shop he says that getting models into their context was “without a doubt the most time consuming part of the job. The notion that all of that can be layered into a Revit model will save people a ton of time and energy and get way more relevant information faster.”

The importance and difficulty of context can’t be overstated. And communicating and comprehending that context is one of the ways VR is the best tool for the job. In VR we can layer contextual GIS data, map data, and building models. This means we can do everything from verifying the view from your 40 story apartment to exploring your city for lots that fit your zoning and demographic criteria all while analyzing their topography at various scales. VR does that now, albeit with some development cost. If the Esri + Autodesk alliance streamlines this process it will be huge.

We don’t yet know exactly how the alliance will work, but we are hoping that it’s a seamless integration with the Autodesk products we are already using.

CAD to Virtual Reality: Instant VR Solutions

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.