The Best Types Of Virtual Reality Solutions For Architecture
Virtual reality is taking the business world by storm. The leaders in most industries are catching on that VR/AR solutions are the future. Architecture is no different. So much of the trade is about convincing potential clients that your vision matches or exceeds your competitors.
As such, presentation becomes a critical component of the scheme. Traditionally done through concept art and then eventually small-scale models, virtual reality is completely revolutionizing this process.
Whereas traditional forms of representation have sought to give you the impression of what the finally building will be like, virtual reality allows potential clients to experience in 3D clarity how it will truly feels to be in the building. Users do this by putting on a VR device, such as HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, and then arriving in an immersive 3D virtual representation of the building.
Types of VR
There are fundamentally two types of virtual reality experience. The first is basically a 360-degree panoramic photo that surrounds the user located in a fixed spot. Some have referred to this as “static” virtual reality, while others simply refer to it as VR photography. The second is defined by the ability to move around the virtual environment.
It may or may not, however, be free movement. This latter type is interchangeably referred to as “true” or “mobile” VR. For the sake of consistency, they will be referred to here as “static” and “mobile” VR.
Static Virtual Reality
In this form of VR, projects are visualized as images that are stitched together to form a full environment. Made popular by “virtual tours” of museums and cities, this form of VR technology is easily rendered when there are existing real images on hand. When it comes to conceptual projects, however, which is of greater relevance for architecture firms, the process becomes slightly more complicated.
Imagine for example your current project. Now imagine an artist on your team or an outsourced option went into the center of each yet-to-built room and captured what he saw. When your client used VR he would see these rooms from that view, giving him a realistic and complete view of how the area would look.
This provides the client with an embodied experience of how the room will feel and how the angles line up. The user would not, however, be able to freely wander around the room. His vantage point would be fixed to a specific spot. Users would be able to zoom in to get greater detail, but the spatial optics would not change.
Mobile Virtual Reality
If the user is able to move through the virtual environment, then it is categorized as a mobile virtual reality experience. This broad grouping can range from simple guided, track-based movement to complex, dynamic free worlds. For the former, imagine a 3D roller coaster experience. For the latter, imagine a virtual reality FPS shooter. These types of movement-based VR experiences often require extensive 3D modeling and backgrounds to build.
In these solutions, the user is able freely walk around the proposed project. For architecture, this can add significant value to projects from both marketing and design perspectives. Clients are able to see and experience exactly what they are buying.
Important from a psychological point of view, the freedom of movement gives the client a greater sense of control; instead of feeling as though they are being conned into deceptive vantage points, they feel as though they are fully evaluating the property.
Which is Best?
If an architecture firm has the time and initial capital, a mobile VR solution will always be far more effective than static. Many companies, however, lack a specific department devoted for VR solutions. As a result, outsourcing virtual reality development has become very popular due to the fact that the results are of high quality and are cost-effective.
By entrusting a project to a software company specializing in VR solutions, architecture firms can concentrate on what they do best – designing the skyscrapers of tomorrow.
Anastasiia Bobeshko is a chief editor at Program-Ace. With a great passion for new technologies, she writes about virtual, augmented, and mixed reality and new innovative solutions. Anastasiia also does thorough research on how top-notch technologies affect the business world and can be caught tweeting at @Program_Ace_Ltd.