In case of any new technology in its infant stage, the crowds are always guessing about its potential and all the possibilities of developing applications based on a new technology. That is what is happening with the VR technology as well. The doctors are looking for better understanding of human body, the manufacturers are looking for ways to enhance their products and the real estate fraternity is looking for showing the un-built spaces in a better manner. But as with any other technology, not many have the exact knowledge about the capabilities of VR and are creating haphazard solutions to capture the audiences without really thinking about alternative ways without that can be equally effective.
The problem in the field of architectural visualisation is quite simple, the inability to get a complete picture of the space in one go. So it is quite obvious that the answer to it should be quite simple as well.
With the vast functionalities the technology of VR provides, it is easy to feel the need to use as many as possible and create a better solution for the field of archviz but even more important than that is to understand whether these functionalities are required or just adding weight and holding us back from making the experience of virtual reality, enjoyable.
Being obvious vs. being sensible
One of the current ways established through VR to answer the problem of 360º viewing of the surroundings is to create the entire walkthrough experience in the VR and giving the viewer consoles for movement (e.g. joystick) to roam around.
It is easy to understand why this is the obvious and primary solution that has been conceived. The 1st person perspective is always easy to embed in our perception as we live our lives in the same perspective. If anyone among us is familiar with the world of computer games, they can easily testify about how even a 2D screen can give an immersive experience with a fairly detailed environment. That is why, when VR on the verge of becoming real, it was the game designing companies that rushed to use the platform to make games more real. This progression has led the haphazard pioneers in the field of archviz to follow the suit of game developers for the lack of any other role-model.
However, what most of them fail to understand is the viability aspect of this model. For one thing, the sheer effort and costs behind the development of such experience make highly impractical. Imagine taking your child across India to help him understand one lesson about Indian geography from his school textbook. It’s just inadvisable.
Entering The Matrix?
The 2nd factor to consider here is the novelty of the entire solution has a high probability of acting as a double-edged sword. On one hand it can make an impressive sales pitch but on the other hand, it can also deter the tech-Luddites from even taking a look at the project. Why? Because it’s in the nature of people try and hold-on to the familiarity than venture into the unknown.
The thing to take into account here is that most of the target audience for today’s real estate market consists of people aged above 35, including housewives and middle-aged men. So it goes without saying that these aren’t the kind of adventurous souls that would wander in the wonderland using a joystick. Also, the curiosity might pull them towards the experience but when they do give it a try, what would they be more impressed with? The VR experience or your project?
So does that mean that VR is completely useless for the field of archviz? Absolutely not. All it needs is a simpler, less costly, efficient solution till the VR technology progresses to give us more choices to explore its utility.
The effective alternative
As for the simple solution, something as simple as 360º pan-cams would solve the problem of the inability to view the complete surroundings in a single go. It may not be as exciting as roaming across the Indian terrain, but wouldn’t Google Earth be sufficient to help your child understand the contours of India?
Let’s look at some of the best examples of the use of 360º pancams into VR. How this very cost-effective and easy solution has helped people globally in other industries as well.
Pancam used of showing Twist Tower in Dubai
Pancam used for viewing the insides of a Restaurant
Pancam used for viewing The Louvre, Abu Dhabi
Any of the above examples are can be made compatible with VR devices within a few minutes. The whole world is currently using these pancams as an effective solution to utilise the VR technology. May it be restaurants, museums or the streets, pancams create an immersive experience without overloading the senses of the less techno-savvy crowds.
“Complicated VR applications are for teenagers; what we need is a far simpler solution, which every member of a family can enjoy. You don’t want your clients to feel dizzy after a VR experience when you are aiming to sell him something.”
Director, Square One
Mars Panorama – Curiosity rover: Martian night
Even NASA is using it to give you the glimpse of the Mars Expeditions. So the real question you have to ask yourself is, whether spending a disproportionate amount of money on the complex VR solution really worth when a simple, cost-effective solution can give you truly out-of-the-world results.
For more information on the subject see the demo of VR created by Square One and get in touch.