Virtual Reality, or VR as it’s commonly called, is becoming the new “it” thing for the future of interactive media. It’s finding its way to the architectural mainstream by quickly branching out of video gaming and into the hands of designers like me. By seeing our spaces in ways that weren’t possible a few years ago, the design process is changing. However, the value I find from this technology in the design world is the way in which we can immerse our clients in the experience of their future space.
At SHP we utilize VR in two ways: smartphones placed into Google Cardboard and the HTV Vive. The first method, Google Cardboard, allows easy flexibility and intuitiveness when sharing the spaces with a client. The client looks into the special cardboard viewfinder and is able to look around the room from a fixed position. We are able to easily carry these viewfinders with us and take them to design or community meetings, interviews, and trade shows. We’re also able to leave the Google Cardboard with a client and send updated rendering links remotely to the client. They can look into the viewfinder and are immediately able to give feedback on changes or additions we’ve made to the design.
Secondly, in our office we have an HTC Vive system that includes a setup of a headset, hand controls and sensors to enable a “room scale” virtual reality world in which users can move through and interact with the space. There is no doubt that this setup is completely immersive and amazing; it allows the client to freely move wherever they like, walk through doors into other rooms, go up stairs and even select furniture and move it around.
Immersing our clients in the design process is critical for effective design communication. I feel honored to share such innovative technology with our clients in a way that adds value to our process. I’m looking forward to bringing this technology to as many of our clients as possible and seeing where the future of virtual reality can take us.