Our ‘Virtual Reality for Designers’ CPD has evolved a lot over the past year since we first started presenting it, and our session has become a popular way for architects and designers looking to learn more how this technology is being used by the industry, and see how it can be applied to their own projects. While we’re constantly refining our CPD to make it as useful as possible, there are usually several questions that people tend to ask us after the talk is over. We’re firm believers in sharing as much knowledge as we can, so we wanted to provide answers to some of the VR FAQs we receive, and help architects and design professionals understand better exactly how VR fits into the design and construction mix.
We use [X] software. Are you able to create a VR experience from this?
We build our experiences based on designs created using the tools that those in the design and architecture profession currently use; we can then adapt the existing design to a VR environment. Whether you habitually use SketchUp, Revit or any other form of 3D visualisation tool, we’re able to take your designs and turn them into a virtual reality model, so you don’t need to change the way you work in order to benefit from VR. We can even put hand-drawn designs into VR, although this process is slightly costlier and will take longer.
What is the difference between a mobile- and computer-based VR experience?
We offer two services, based on the level of complexity of your VR project and the functionality that you want to achieve. A mobile-based VR experience (VR Lite) allows a user to navigate through a number of fixed viewpoints, interact in limited ways with the environment around them and can be viewed either on a screen or through any VR-ready phone.
A computer-based VR experience (VR Pro), meanwhile, is powered by a computer rather than a phone, making it possible to add in significantly more details, textures and environmental effects. As well as real-time interaction, users can freely explore the entire build in an open-world manner, as well as visualise a space in realistic 1:1 room-scale.
Do I need to buy new hardware to be able to use VR?
For VR Pro experiences, you will need a reasonably powerful gaming grade PC with at least a [x] graphics card installed in order to render the VR experience smoothly at maximum quality.
For VR Lite experiences, these can be tailored to run on any mobile-based VR headset (i.e. Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR). Aside from the phones themselves, these are inexpensive devices to purchase.
What is the difference between a VR plug-in and a studio-built VR experience?
There are now a couple of basic VR plug-ins for some software companies, which are good if you just want to explore a basic representation of your project. However, for detailed to-scale visualisations or adding interactive design and proofing elements, the only way to this can be achieved is to design it using professional-grade rendering engines such as Unreal or Unity. This means using a design studio’s services or employing people with this expert knowledge in-house.
Andrew Lucas Studios is also working on its own VR plug-in, which will provide architects and designers with the tools they need to rapidly create high-quality VR experiences using source files from a number of popular architectural design software.
Who owns copyright of any VR designs created by Andrew Lucas Studios?
We provide clients with the final design files which they can use at any time and share with whomever they wish; however, this file cannot be edited by anyone other than ALS as we own the original source files. This includes the individual asset designs included in a VR space, such as the specific wallpaper and furniture.
Anything created by our team of developers is our intellectual property unless we have been contracted by a manufacturer to create 3D visualisations for their exclusive use.
Will our clients experience motion sickness for these VR experiences?
Much as it is with motion sickness, different people will have varying levels of tolerance for virtual reality. Both of our VR packages have been developed with proprietary navigation systems that have been tested exhaustively to mitigate the factors that may cause a user to feel unwell.
Do I need a dedicated space in my office for virtual reality experiences?
Our VR Lite experiences are designed to be viewed on-the-go, so there is no need for a dedicated space. For VR Pro experiences, spatial requirements will change depending on the VR headset used. An Oculus Rift set-up doesn’t need a large amount of space and is fairly quick and easy to set up. For those wanting to the room-scale benefits of the HTC Vive, however, an obstacle-free space is mandatory.