How virtual reality will dramatically redefine architecture

By Alyssa
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By: Quartz creative services

 

 

 

As we construct future buildings, we will start to see more mingling between architecture and virtual reality.

Imagine you’re a hotelier. Your newest property—let’s call it a high-end resort in the south of France—has gone into construction, but is not yet fully designed. Your firm is based in New York. The old way of designing the property would have involved several transatlantic flights and PDFs sent between you, the architecture firm, your marketing team, and any other stakeholders. Choosing the layout of the hotel rooms, making furniture selections, even just picking out materials and a color scheme, “can be a long and expensive process,” says Benoît Pagotto, a co-founder of IVR Nation.

IVR Nation is one of a few companies championing a new approach to making these kinds of architectural decisions. In the new way, clients need not fly back and forth. They simply strap on a virtual reality headset and “step into” a digital version of their new property. Once the client is there—virtually, at least—she has a spatial understanding of how a furniture layout feels, or how a floorboard material meshes with the textiles chosen for bedding. Without leaving the VR experience, the client can make changes and collaborate with her partners in real time. What once took weeks can now happen in an afternoon. “It’s a real game changer for what the architecture industry has been doing,” Pagotto says.

VR is a place
Architects have come a long way from drafting plans on big sheets of royal blue paper with dotted white lines. The analog blueprint is, by now, practically a cartoon of an architectural rendering—but for years, they’ve still lacked the tools to bring their work into the third dimension. Most architects today will use CAD software to create computer-rendered mockups of a physical space. Some will even augment them by 3D scanning a property and feeding that data into the rendering. One particularly advanced design method is called building information modeling; with BIM, architects use meta-data about projects to create interactive, digital prototypes of buildings. This allows for a new degree of precision and efficiency during the design process. But even in sophisticated BIM and CAD programs, architects and clients can only see abstracted versions of a project.

This makes architecture a particularly fitting application for VR. Technologists, filmmakers, and designers are still making sense of exactly how VR will fit into mainstream culture, but in its simplest form, VR is a place. So, too, is architecture. Pagotto and his IVR Nation co-founder, Olivier Demangel, recognized this a couple years ago and launched their studio in January 2015. Pagotto comes from the world of luxury retail design; Demangel is a veteran of the video game world. The combination is important: IVR Nation provides a service-for-hire for developers and designers, and the experience needs to simulate materials, finishes, and colors to work. To do that, IVR Nation treats 3D models a bit like video game design. Pagotto and Demangel take information from clients—either an existing 3D model or one they create from scratch based on the architect’s plan—and build the experience in Unreal Engine, a game design platform Pagotto says they chose “because it’s the most advanced in terms of photorealism.”

Hardware for our architects of the future
IVR Nation uses the Vive headset to show clients spatial renderings. Pagotto says they chose the Vive over, say, the Oculus Rift, because the Vive can track your body’s position (so if you lie down in the real world, you’ll also lie down in the virtual world) and since it comes with dedicated controllers that help users control their experience, it cuts down on common VR side effects like motion sickness.

TruVision VR, another company working at the intersection of VR and architecture, also uses the Vive. It also offers clients experiences via the Samsung Gear VR or the Oculus Rift. This is partly because TruVision has a wider sliding scale for its projects. Some clients come in at the very initial stage of design, while others come in to make some final nips and tucks, says Connor Handley-Collins, a co-founder and sales and marketing director of TruVision. Like Pagotto, Handley-Collins says these new models allow for clients to make design decisions more efficiently than in the past. That cuts down on mistakes, and therefore, costs. “For us, the biggest part of the design process is the ability to change the objects and colors in real time,” Handley-Collins says. “Before we may have looked at colors in 2D, and then you do them one way, and they’re stuck.” These efficiencies are particularly desirable for large-scale projects that will use one template to design many rooms, like micro-living units, hospitals, schools, and hotels.

Looking ahead, the ability to make these changes ahead of time will become even more powerful when they’re part of a larger, virtual decision-making process. This could include, for instance, construction worker training ahead of putting stakes in the ground. Dassault Systèmes’s Optimized Construction lets designers and builders create virtual animated scenarios that act out how to use equipment, or how to handle a given terrain. Once these become available, they’ll become part of a string of VR experiences that help buildings go up more efficiently.

Right now, the design-oriented VR experiences come as services created by third-party studios like IVR Nation and Tru Vision. But Pagotto says soon, it will be a standard offering. “In the coming years architecture firms will integrate this in-house,” he says. “You can put your headset on and look directly at what you modeled.” That may be happening already: global architecture firm Gensler just launched its Gensler VR app, which combines with the Microsoft HoloLens to start showing clients work created in-house. Gensler will use the new technology to do things like adjust office layouts to encourage collaboration, move indoor infrastructure to make spaces more pleasant, and reconsider the sightlines in arenas to give sports fans the best view possible. For smaller firms like IVR Nation and Tru Vision, that could signal opportunity for consulting, or acquisition. Either way, soon, Pagotto predicts, “The whole architecture world is going to be working in real time.”

 

To discuss this and other topics about the future of technology, finance, life sciences and more, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

This article was produced by Quartz creative services and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

All About the 3D Dream Sketcher

By David N.
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The 3D Dream Sketcher is an experience produced by Dassault Systèmes (3DS) with two main objectives:

– Increase online traffic and booth attendance during an event (such as the CES 2016),

– Crowdsource the value of an immersive ideation design tool targeting the general public as well as professional creative designers.

How Does It Work?

Users are asked to think of themselves in an imagined role, and then sketch it in the air. At the beginning of the experience, users are scanned by a pair of kinects so as to create an engaging starting point: their body!
The user sketches for 3.5 minutes while looking through a VR headset and using two hand-held controllers, as the public watches the scene through an external screen.
A 360° bullet-time animated gif is generated and uploaded onto the cloud, and an email containing a link to the gif is sent to the user.
The user can then give it a title, opt to make it public and share it through mail or on most social media.

Here is how it looked when embedded in Dassault Systemes’ website event page for CES 2016:

Dream Sketcher CES Galery
You can access the global gallery of all the sketches created so far here.

The Origins

The experience leverages the recently released HTC Vive Pre VR Headset and controllers along with earlier 3DS projects.
The first project, “Never Blind in VR”, explores how one relates to an immersive live representation of one’s own body. This actually showcased last year at the Laval Virtual Revolution competition.
The second, “BikePics”, examines the impact of augmented selfies shared on social networks. To have a deeper on this 3DXPERIENCE, you can either watch its video of go through this twitter wall.

Marketing Results

The 3D Dream Sketcher welcomed 220 users during the four days of the CES 2016, with impressive results in terms of traffic:

Firstly, it consistently drew throngs of visitors to the booth, proving that VR is a crowd-pleaser that helps brands to engage with captivated audiences.

Dream Sketcher Crowd

The experience also contributed to significantly increasing the number of followers of 3DS digital channels on social media (sorry, but we can’t reveal the actual figure), with around 1,000,000 impressions, mostly through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Dream Sketcher Social Stats


Dream Sketcher Social Stats

Overview of the social campaign results

Outcome for a New Design Solution

This experience has shown us that using a user’s body scan is a good way to circumvent the “blank page syndrome”, while giving the user a better sense of scale and proportion. This is of particular interest for more “serious” applications where sketches are transformed into products or services.

We also received very interesting feedback on how sketching directly in 3D is of particular interest to users who find pen and paper drawing a challenge (it’s so much easier than drawing on paper)

In addition, “social media curation” worked extremely well: having the outcome of the experience sent to a social platform where in two clicks participants could share noteworthy results on social networks. In terms of product ideation research, this may present significant value.

Finally, the experience has shown to be of interest and potentially useful to professional creative designers.

The project is conducted under the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab framework, feeding the ideation theme.
This 3DEXPERIENCE is showcasing Dassault Systèmes’ innovations at several events:
CES2016 (USA)
Laval Virtual 2016 (France)
Design in the age of Experience (Italy)
Future en Seine (France)

The Future of Package Design – Beyond the Box

By David
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Package design technology is on the rise, and so are its expectations to create and deliver.

Meeting consumer demand used to mean creating the best product available. But times have changed. Today’s consumers aren’t as easy to please. They’ve come to expect sustainable and eco-friendly packaging in their retail products, as well as a commitment from brand manufacturers to share these environmentally-conscious values.

As Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail companies shift greater focus towards rethinking packaging design, they need answers to meet these growing demands for sustainability. Brand manufacturers must now create packaging designs not only with increased functionality and greater efficiency, but with stronger shelf performance.

To do this, they’ll need to explore innovative avenues for devising new packaging design strategies. But before they can even think about to incorporate new design features, CPG and retail companies must have their design processes down to a science, or they’ll quickly find themselves grouped with the statistical majority of package failures.

Today’s plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose. Could tomorrow’s bio-plastic do it in 5?

As if appealing to consumer values and contributing to the environment wasn’t enough, packaging designers concentrating their efforts on sustainability have been quick to discover the potential economic benefits in using renewable materials. For example, manufacturers have found that minimizing the use of corrugate cardboard in packaging has potential to reduce shipping costs, decrease the potential for product damages, and even save shelf space.

The solution for recyclable package designs calls for optimizing resource management and energy consumption, while integrating reusable elements. Packaging suppliers and design agencies need sophisticated research tools to manage these complexities. To avoid falling into a tangled process of redundant rework and organizational disconnect, inventing the next packaging breakthrough requires the means to navigate the design cycle – and it starts with the ability to control what you create.

Can package designers do more with less?

Today, we can make 3 tin cans with the same amount of material it used to take to make just one.

Packaging manufacturers have made this possible by learning to innovate through re-creation – taking existing elements and exploiting previous design assets, then applying them to new concepts. But testing the feasibility of a physical prototype takes time and resources many packaging innovators don’t have. And with 50 percent of new packaging performing worse than what its replacing, innovators need every tool available to make sure their end product functions the way it should.

Did you know:

Integrating design, engineering, and simulation can cut design time 50 percent and lower material costs 30 to 50 percent while improving sustainability and consumer delight?

What package designers need is an application built around the innovation process from “concept to shelf.”  In order to apply existing packaging concepts into new geographies with minimal investment of time and resources, design teams need to be able to collectively assess multiple sources of data and share all of their digital assets across a unified virtual dashboard. Instead of relying on other agencies and suppliers for what they need, the ability to instantly access and reuse previous designs, labels, and materials, expedites the innovative design process and increasing productivity.

To accelerate expansion into new markets, packaging designers must be able to adapt designs for line extensions, new sizes and local preferences quicker than competition. From executing change order requests with “where used” analyses, to simulating mold, manufacturing, and package performance, synchronizing product data across a single platform allows package designers to bring products to market faster and more efficiently.

By integrating design, marketing, engineering, and manufacturing systems across a single business platform, packaging manufacturers can bridge the gaps responsible for undermining the innovation process and avoid costly rework, delays, quality issues and recalls.

And like all innovators seeking to eliminate uncertainty, package designers looking to ensure their new initiatives deliver the results they want know that when it comes to concept development; seeing is believing.

Could we see our creations before we craft them?

Brand manufacturers have no more than 8 seconds to “wow” a potential buyer. With more than 40,000 different products on retail shelves, brand manufacturers simply can’t afford to let their products go unnoticed. To ensure packaging innovations effectively communicate value and stimulate customer engagement, CPG and retail companies must be able to uncover true shopper insights in the context of a realistic retail environment.

This is why brand manufacturers, design agencies, packaging suppliers and artwork designers need a virtual template for integrating visual creation, digital comparison, system of record, proofing tools to eliminate errors throughout the packaging design cycle. Using a cloud-based technology, all parties throughout the supply chain can instantly monitor individual contributions made onto each stage of the design process to ensure brand consistency across multiple product lines.

Creating and testing new packaging concepts virtually is critical in guaranteeing product shelf success. This virtual interface provides stronger visualization and design sharing, allowing technical packaging engineers to collaborate with industrial designers. Together they can identify optimal design strategies, explore package feasibility from conception, and select the best packaging candidates based on consumer feedback and manufacturability. With the means to image how design concepts will look alongside competition, brand manufacturers can ensure all key design elements of the “perfect package” are translated on the shelf, without losing sight of the finished product.

If brand manufacturers wanted to increase design performance while beating the clock of competition – could they do it?

The answer is yes. And it starts with visibility.

Brand manufacturers are realizing more and more every day that when it comes to the package design world, creating the box starts with thinking beyond its walls. But collaboration is a team effort. And with the added complexities of consumer demands and industry standards, brand manufacturers wanting to thrive in a competitive marketplace need to be able to see the big picture. They need a partner that not only understands the cycle for inventive package, but can virtually lead them throughout the process.

Consumer Product Goods and Retail companies need to appeal to the mass market, while addressing a social agenda of implementing sustainable packaging design methods along the way. Brand manufacturers who can succeed in creating a packaging design that delivers both enhanced consumer value and sustainability benefits will drive consumer engagement and brand interaction. And craft a legacy of winning products at shelf. By managing the complexities of design with Perfect Package, brand manufacturers and packaging suppliers have the power to illustrate what change will mean for the future of packaging and help us realize that future…sooner.

Discover package designs trends today’s consumers are demanding and what brand manufacturers are doing to create them.

Download the “Future of Packaging” report to learn:

  • New trends in sustainable packaging
  • How packaging can influence shoppers
  • Key technologies to accelerate design efforts

…and how Dassault Systèmes helps brand manufacturers foster a deep connection between retail companies and their shoppers, through innovative packaging design.

There is a better way to develop new packaging which avoids costly mistakes and delays, the Dassault Systèmes Perfect Package 3DEXPERIENCE® can help cut design time and costs by 50% while virtually eliminating potential quality issues and recalls.

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