An Architecture Firm’s Dream to Introduce Virtual Reality to BIM
There are different kinds of uses to which Virtual Reality (VR) can be applied—and although it’s currently most popular use is as a gaming tool, it could also be quite useful for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) as well. A current subject of extensive research is the practical use of VR in AEC, but it could become much more accessible following a recent partnership between architecture firm NBBJ and VR developer Visual Vocal. The goal of the research project is to develop a visualization tool using mobile and cloud-based platforms that gives designers and architects the capability to show off their creations. It would bring to life a designer’s vision even before it is constructed physically.
Bringing VR to AEC and BIM
A familiar principle serves as the pillar for this platform. The design is such that it would function using cloud collaboration, which will be lightweight enough to display 3D models such as building information modeling (BIM) projects on mobile platforms like smartphones and tablets. It will then use a device similar to Google Cardboard to display the model in VR. It will also afford users of the ability to communicate in real time to discuss issues and strengths in any given design.
“Visual Vocal is building a platform for distributed conversation, collaboration and decision-making through the power of immersive computing technologies,” explained John SanGiovanni, co-founder of Visual Vocal.
“For the past year, we have worked closely with NBBJ’s technical, creative and project leadership to understand the complexities of distributed collaboration,” SanGiovanni continued. “Together, we have forged a new VR framework aimed at making 3D decision-making more accessible, enjoyable and efficient.” On the interim, plans for the platform focus on mobile VR platforms, but a long-term goal will aim to include augmented reality as well.
A Step Up for 3D Visualization
There are two main reasons to use VR for AEC: There is great potential both to create a much more diverse, intuitive and easily understood visualization of a project and, according to NBBJ, help improve communication of ideas surrounding a project. “NBBJ’s decision to launch Visual Vocal is representative of our ongoing mission to find more informative and inspiring ways to engage clients in the design process,” said Steve McConnell, FAIA, managing partner of NBBJ. “Whether for clients or the general public, virtual reality will deepen design discourse and bring together communities in new and exciting ways,” McConnell continued.