The Five Key Benefits of Using VR in Architecture and Engineering
How VR Could Benefit Your Firm
Virtual reality (VR) is not a brand-new concept, by any stretch of the imagination. The technology actually goes back several decades, though it is much more refined in the modern era.
For example, in the mid-1990s, Nintendo released a virtual reality video game console called the Virtual Boy. It had much of what you’d expect today in terms of hardware. There was a headset, and you used a controller to move your character around. However, the displays used back then were poor. The Virtual Boy could only display objects in red and black, which made for a difficult experience.
Today, VR is much more advanced. Technologies like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive allow us to create realistic virtual scenarios that outstrip anything that the mid-1990s technology had to offer. Furthermore, such technologies are also more affordable.
Virtual reality design software opens a lot of new doors for architects and engineers. Nevertheless, many companies still avoid using virtual reality design software. Whether it’s because of fear of the unknown, or because they think it’s too expensive, a lot of firms stick to the digital design software packages that have served them so well in the past.
That’s all well and good for now, but what about the future. VR technology is improving all the time, and it offers your firm the opportunity to showcase your work in brand new ways. If your competitors start using it before you do, you may end up falling behind the pack.
As a result, you need to put some serious thought into adopting VR. To help you make that decision, this article will look at some of the main features of virtual reality. Here are the top five benefits of VR for your architectural or engineering firm.
Benefit #1 – Creating Individual Experiences
Think about what happens when you present a new 3D model to a client. Usually, you’re going to have a bunch of people sat around a table, staring at a screen. You conduct a walkthrough of the model using your digital design software, essentially acting as a guide.
However, nobody interacts with anything. Your potential clients have to rely on you to show them what you’ve come up with. It’s difficult to make suggestions in that environment. Plus, your client isn’t examining the model at their own pace. Little issues may escape their attention, plus, your client can’t add his or her own individual touches to your work.
As a result, the experience isn’t individual to the client. VR changes all that. One of the best features of virtual reality is that it creates an immersive environment for the user to engage with. Using your virtual reality design software, you can create environments that your clients actually get to explore. You don’t need to act as the tour guide anymore, because your client can react virtually with the environments that you create.
So, how does this benefit clients more when compared to traditional digital design software? For one, your client has the opportunity to make changes on the fly. If they see a colour scheme they don’t like, they can use your virtual reality design software to make changes on the spot.
The end-result is that the client gets to visualise the structures you create. Plus, the changes they make get recorded in your virtual reality design software. So, not only do you have a happier client, but you also have a better record of what the client wants from the project.
The individual experience means your clients get more out of your designs.
Benefit #2 – Understanding the Space
Virtual reality design software offers much more than interactivity. It also helps your clients understand the spaces used in your design. This benefits architects more than engineers, as the former often create building interiors. Your client can get a feel for how those interiors work, rather than taking their cues from you.
You must remember that not everybody has an architect’s brain. While you may be able to look at a 2D floor plan and visualise how the spaces all fit together, some of your clients won’t be able to. Even with a 3D design, you may find your clients struggle to put the pieces together.
That’s understandable. After all, your clients don’t have the training that you have. However, it’s also something you need to account for. Before VR, this meant a lot of talking the client through the model.
With VR, you don’t have to do that anymore. You can put your client right in the middle of the model and let them explore. This simulated “world” offers a much more accurate representation of what you’re going to create for them in real life. They can feel and explore the space, rather than trying to imagine it.
Now, think about how amazing that must feel to somebody who has never used VR before. Instead of sitting through a dry model presentation, your client gets to explore your model.
This benefits you, because it builds excitement for the project. As we all know, client buy-in is crucial to the success of projects. If you can show your clients what they’re getting before they actually get it, you stand a much better chance of success. Plus, virtual reality design software gets rid of the need for all those questions about how your model will “work” in real life.
Benefit #3 – It’s More Affordable than You Think
Traditionally, architects and engineers have shied away from VR because of the cost involved. That’s understandable. After all, you need to procure suitable hardware, in addition to the virtual reality design software that allows you to put your models together.
Even a decade ago, virtual reality was out of reach for many firms. However, that’s not the case today. VR is a much more affordable technology now than it has ever been. Recent technological developments have cut the cost of hardware production, which means you can secure VR headsets for less money.
Let’s look at some examples. Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have become popular in recent years. Part of that is due to the cost. Both are now affordable.
Are those the sorts of figures that you had in your head? It all sounds a lot more affordable than many people think. In fact, for a $10,000 investment, you can have the hardware and software you need to offer virtual tours to any of your clients. Better yet, it’s mostly a one-time investment. Yes, you may need to update the software every so often, but the hardware will serve you well for many years.
You must also think to the future. That investment offers you the chance to stand out from the crowd, which means you can secure more work. Furthermore, virtual reality design software makes it easier for clients to spot issues that need to be addressed. As a result, you spend less time trying to figure out what’s wrong with the model, plus you won’t end up ploughing ahead on a design that your client doesn’t like.
VR is now an affordable option for most firms, so take advantage of it.
Benefit #4 – The Training Potential
Let’s look inwards for a moment. Training always presents a problem to architectural and engineering firms. Your new hires may have skills, but they may not know how to apply them as your firm would like them to. As a result, you have to train them to bring them up to speed on what you expect.
This is a laborious process, and one that takes a lot of time and effort. In some cases, it may take several months before your new hires really understand what you want from them.
With virtual reality design software, you can streamline your internal training processes. You can use the software to show your new hires what you need from them. Furthermore, the interactivity inherent in VR means your employees can learn as they go. You can build models that your employees can play around with in the virtual setting. This creates a more engaging training environment, which results in faster learning.
It’s not just the people at your firm that can benefit from this faster training scenario. Virtual reality also offers you the chance to train the construction crews you work with. You can use your virtual tours to discuss issues such as material use and clash detection with construction crews.
This helps the team to visualise how the structures they create should actually look. As a result, you create more efficient construction environments. Furthermore, you can also use your virtual reality design software to highlight the importance of safety on the construction site.
The point is that VR isn’t just for displaying your models to clients. It’s a tool you can use throughout the entire process. From design through to construction, VR can help you to make things more efficient. This saves time and money, which you can dedicate to other projects.
Benefit #5 – You’ll Get in Early
While not a benefit that’s specific to VR, getting in early is something that all great trailblazing companies do. The fact is that most architectural and engineering firms don’t use VR, despite the benefits. They’re so stuck in their ways that they refuse to invest the money and take the risk that comes with switching to a new technology.
This creates an opening for more adventurous firms. If you jump on the VR bandwagon early, you can benefit from the features of virtual reality before your competitors. Again, this is especially important when it comes to getting new work. A good virtual reality design software will ensure you stand out from every other firm that presents a set of dry drawings and models.
Picture the scene. You’re presenting for a major project, so you know the client is going to sit through a lot of presentations. Everything they’ve seen so far is the same old thing. The ideas may be good, but the presentations themselves don’t change from one firm to the next.
Then, your firm enters the room. You ask your clients to strap on their virtual reality headsets, and then you whisk them away onto a virtual tour. The client can explore your model using your virtual reality design software, and gets to interact with the whole thing.
By the end of the presentation, you have a breathless client who can’t quite believe what they’ve just seen. You’ve made your presentation memorable. As long as your designs match the presentation itself, you’ve just set yourself up as a frontrunner for the project.
Of course, this benefit will disappear as time goes on. As more firms begin using VR, it won’t stand out as much as it does right now. As a result, you need to be quick.
So, what does virtual reality design software have to offer your firm? The many features of virtual reality allow you to make a real impression on your clients. Your firm can offer interactivity when others are just pointing at models and talking. That alone means you make more of an impression on potential clients. The use of virtual reality design software ensures that you stand out from the crowd and leave your clients wanting to see more.
But that’s not the only benefit. The potential for using VR for training is immense. With the proper application, VR can help you to create safer and more efficient workspaces. The long-term benefits of this practice speak for themselves. Fewer mistakes means less time and money spent on fixing the sort of issues that can delay projects. You’ll soon find that the upfront costs of investing in VR get repaid in fairly short order.
So, how do you make the transition? That’s where ArchiStar Academy can help. ArchiStar Academy offers several courses that cover the intricacies of virtual reality software. Furthermore, ArchiStar Academy can help you to access great virtual reality design software at industry-best prices.
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Posted on 13 Jan 2020