The AEC industry is poised to take on virtual reality and augmented reality as a critical component of the professional toolbox.
There are two related emerging, or more appropriately re-emerging, methods of visualization which hold a promise to change the way architectural design and construction are viewed by the designer, builder, client and general public. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are three dimensional computational visualizations that rely on real-time user interaction with digital models and data. Current computational machinery, particularly portable technology, such as smart phones with increased processing power and ubiquitous nature of the equipment, coupled with high-definition screens, advanced software, GPS systems and other technologies, has rendered VR/AR at the point of public consumption, providing for a resurgence of use the AEC industry is perfectly poised to take advantage of.
Virtual reality has its origins in the experience of the theater, with contemporary examples such as the Omnimax and planetariums, where the desired effect is total immersion of the patron in the experience. With the advent of advanced computational machines, total immersion in the home or workplace became a dream, and there was specialized virtual reality hardware rigs built, software such as VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) created and a wide host of written and conceptual examples of possibilities, including those in the realm of architecture. However, in many cases the results were cumbersome and not of significant quality to the designer.
Current ubiquitous computing platforms, particularly with the development of high powered smart phones with dense and vivid screen technology, has brought virtual reality to the consumer with equipment such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, as well as the low-cost, open-source solution Google Cardboard. With the miniaturization of high-definition camera technology, consumer grade portable augmented reality has now become a possibility, as is evident by the wildly popular game Pokemon Go, the release of Microsoft's HoloLens and Apple's significant investment in the technology.
During the AIANYS Design Conference, Philip will be a collaborative panelist on the forum Architectural Automation in the Age of Neuromimetic Artificial Intelligence which will explore in the current technologies and processes which currently can be incorporated into architectural design and look at what lies down the road in the future.