Designing in Virtual Reality

VR has been entering our workspace quickly and Greenlight is no exception.  VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) seem to be a very logical step in our visualization package, and just recently our Autodesk suite issued a program which allows BIM models to be exported directly to a VR platform.  Although clunky, it most certainly has worked out to be a great tool.

The first thing I did was import a project that had been recently completed - not only was I familiar with the design, but the special experience of the finished environment was still fresh in my mind.  I was instantly amazed with how accurate the experience was - the controllers in your hand are visible in the platform, so you can see where your hands are - and as I set my hand on a virtual countertop I expected to feel its surface (I did not).

Screenshot from Autodesk Live of a current project

Screenshot from Autodesk Live of a current project

The clients who have taken these tours have been quite amazed.   As designers, we deal with technical drawings and translate them into three dimensional spaces in our heads.  We get good at it because we do it every day.  The platform acts as a translator to the stakeholders, allowing them to truly experience the space.  This not only gets you excited about a project as it comes to life - it also helps even out all the information so that everyone involved is on the same page.

Internally, this helps catch details, conflicts, and other quality control data in an obvious way.  For me, sometimes it’s a lot easier to work out a problem while standing there staring at the end result (and it ends up much cheaper than standing there with a contractor while we both work it out).

The combined approach with design and presentation can result in less revision work, both drawing wise and built environment wise.  In the end, it’s a flashy new toy (my wife shook her head at me when I bought the equipment to use it), but it’s not all wow factor - it actually works.