At the moment, VR is mostly used for entertainment purposes. While a few creative souls have already started exploring potential uses in other areas and sectors. In several of them, tentative signs of success are showing already – there are some uses for VR in medicine for example.
Of course, few people are as creative as artists when it comes down to it, so it’s really no surprise that a team of them made the connection between two surprisingly compatible fields: architectural design and VR. The result of this combination was VR sketch, a piece of software that allows anyone, be they an amateur or a professional designer, to create away in 3D.
The recently launched VR Sketch is mainly targeted at professional users but allows anyone to create in a three-dimensional space. Working with limited space is a key feature of design – whether it is a simple table or a mock-up of an entire city, measurements and sizing needs to be observed and often adjusted – with VR Sketch, this can be done almost literally, by transferring a design project straight into a simulated space.
Invest a bit, save a lot and improve your design workflow
Drawing, dragging, resizing, moving or adjusting, it can all happen with a few flicks of the wrist. Compatible with the HTC VIVE, the Oculus Rift and popular design program SketchUp, VR Sketch is supposed to fit in neatly with your existing workflow, and it really does. It’s as simple as clicking on a button, putting on a VR headset and getting to work – but it allows creative minds the kind of freedom sci-fi shows have been promising for far too long.
The costs for this solution fits into any professional’s or company’s budget. The costs for hardware and software licenses are much less than what they are used to pay for software anyway. Taking the pricing into account, this also allows enthusiasts to get a jumpstart into the subject matter without paying a fortune on equipment, and they don’t need to train for years until they can get good results. Students can get a license for free too. We respect and appreciate such gestures greatly.
One of the biggest risks when adopting new tools into an existing workflow is the possibility of messing up a process that already works – it’s also why artists of many different backgrounds and mediums can be hesitant to switch away from the tools they know.
VR Sketch tries to lessen its impact by being an addition rather than a replacement or an alternative to existing solutions. Fully integrated to SketchUp and your preferred VR headset, you don’t have to worry about importing, exporting or compromising your files. You can even work with multiple users on the same file at the same time – just remember that too many cooks might just spoil the design-broth.
Another nice ‘wow’ factor that VR Sketch adds is the ability to demonstrate and present your design in a fully three-dimensional space. Traditionally scale models would be used for this, and while a potential work-site could be visited there is no way to gauge the actual impact of an architectural piece until it is built, and physical models need to be ordered, manufactured, shipped and often set up as well. By utilizing virtual reality, it opens up design changes and adjustments before anything has been built. They can be edited in real-time and are thus responsive to client requests and observations, and for hobbyists, these creations provide a more lively experience.
We got some more examples
Being able to view a project to scale in just a few simple motions as well, means that prospective buyers and investors can experience what the end product will look like well before any materials have been bought. This could be a real asset when working with end clients and help streamline the design approval process even more for architects.
While the technology is still relatively new and VR is still making its way into the wider market, the possibilities of combinations like this mean it won’t be long before most consumers have a headset in their homes. Pricing for the hardware is reducing, the capabilities of them are also increasing which is giving developers more and more options.
We also recently read a story on the HTC VIVE blog that was very interesting and matches this type of concept greatly. On their article, they talk about the aviation company Bell Helicopter and how they could not only improve the design process of their new helicopters but also speed the process significantly and save money on top of all that. The scope of their work is different from what architects are doing, but design is design and VR can mean a huge potential for the whole design industry.
When this is taken to the next level, and there is integration into everyday business and design, it spells great things for the VR market. This trend is likely to continue and useful, practical and affordable solutions like VR Sketch are helping by paving the way for tools like this to become a commonplace sight. And let’s be honest here: A lot of people would pay more attention to creative projects if they could do more than just look at them on a screen or even a static model if they could experience them in real scale, miniature or anything in between.
Maybe those sci-fi shows were on to something after all!
YouTube: VR Sketch
Photo credit: The feature image “lady with yellow sweater tests the HTC Vive VR glasses at Photokina in Cologne“ has been taken by Marco Verch. All other images used are owned by Baroque Software and were provided for press use.
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