by Joana Simoes
Virtual reality (VR) may seem like a new concept, but it’s been around since the 1950s. You may only know it as the weird headset that everyone crowds around in tech stores, but industries have been using VR for quite some time. NASA has been using it for years, and most recently had some of their astronauts take a trip to Mars using virtual reality. The VR movement has been made easier to attain with the release of headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. The simplicity of use is what has made it the new trend in architecture and construction.
Virtual Reality in AEC
The growth in popularity of virtual reality has not spared the architecture/engineering/
construction (AEC) community. Both industry professionals and clients alike are enjoying the stunning visuals that VR can provide. The innovation stems from the clarity that is now found with this technology. The design processes are becoming more streamlined, and the demonstrations to clients are becoming beautiful, realistic experiences. We live in an age where we all want instant gratification. Emails come through in seconds, we binge-watch TV shows with a click of a button, and news travels right to the palm of our hands. Virtual reality is bringing that same effect to architectural designs.
Concepts Come to Life
Architecture is art. As such, sometimes when a concept is shown to a client or even a boss, they may not fully grasp what is being shown. It is hard for people to fully visualize a building when it is in its concept stage, but with VR coming into play, the game is starting to change significantly. When using a head-mounted display (HMD) — these are the ones worn over your eyes — you are fully immersed in the virtual world. This is when concept becomes reality in a shorter amount of time. A client can now fully immerse themselves into a design, clearly seeing what their buildings and structure will look like in the end. With software like Enscape for Revit or SketchUP, the client can request a change during the presentation, and the rendering can be done in real time. Instant gratification attained! It’s cost-effective, too, as most VR headsets are affordable these days, and something that used to take a lot of time and money can now be done at a fraction of the cost.
Masonry on the VR Bandwagon
The masonry industry is no different from any other — architects and construction professionals are making rapid strides toward this technology, as they can fully immerse themselves in visuals of their projects. They are getting a clear and concise view of what a concept can become in real life. Our imaginations can do only so much work. Virtual reality helps answer such questions as: What will different details look like? Will it work? How can I make it better?
Building and Planning With Enscape
While virtual reality is making the visualization of designs easier, it’s also making the building and planning process a more productive and time-saving task — especially with software plug-ins like Enscape. By combining VR with Enscape’s real-time rendering capabilities, you can achieve a level of proficiency that was previously unattainable. As you design and walk through those designs in a VR world, you can spot any possible issues and quickly find solutions. Then, as you fix the issue within the plan, Enscape will instantly show it in the VR experience. This not only helps speed up the design process, but it also helps fix issues along the way and even in the later stages of the design, without the stress of time constraints. It’s not just being able to see what the windows, walls and doors look like that makes this an appealing trend for AEC. You can even use VR to take a deeper look into mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) aspects of a design — once again with Enscape offering the freedom and ability to fix things in real time.
Enscape is the first real-time rendering plugin for Autodesk Revit and SketchUp. It will run alongside the programs, and the changes made will instantly appear in the visualizations. Enscape works closely with users through their Development Agenda, which can be found at https://enscape3d.com, where users can vote on planned features. This gives users exactly what they want and need with each update. And with a 14-day free trial, there’s nothing to lose with Enscape.
As technology changes, many people want to hold on to the past, adamant that the old ways are the best. Yet it’s hard to ignore all the positive aspects that virtual reality and real-time rendering can bring to the table. The more time that passes, the more impatient human beings will become. Technology is making everything happen in a blink of an eye, and somewhere down the line people will look for the firms that will give them immersive and fast-acting responses to their wants and needs. Virtual reality is the present and future of AEC, whether you’re ready for it or not.