Posts tagged with "Virtual Reality":

Placeholder Alt Text

Soon this VR venue will let you rave from the comfort of home

Queue up your best dance tracks because (techno)logy will soon make it easier than ever to home rave. Music broadcasting group Boiler Room has teamed up with Inception to open the world's first virtual reality venue. The two enterprises will produce made-for-VR events in the London space so listeners can Source Direct content or sweat Midwest fresh without leaving home. Boiler Room is best known for its music live streams where dancers can be seen grooving in sweaty rave caves behind some of the world's most talented DJs. Like an internet-age MTV, the company archives the sets online so dance music fans in New York can sample Japanese grime or take a quick getaway to Acid Camp in the Poconos: In a statement on Business Wire, the broadcasters explained the significance of their new venture for far-flung fans who want to jack: “Most of Boiler Room's audience is made up of global online users who tune in to watch music events they can’t attend in person. We’ve always been driven by using technology to showcase the music we care about in the most authentic way we can.” Shows will be accessible through Inception's app. Although music fans will have to wait until early next year to home rave, VR right now is merging the digital and the physical with shocking fluidity. This year, artist Tamiko Thiel unveiled a VR installation at the Seattle Art Museum that imagines life in the climate change–burdened anthropocene while The Guardian used VR to help viewers empathize with prisoners in solitary. Earlier this month, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) debuted a VR-enhanced exhibition at the Jewish Museum's just-opened Pierre Chareau exhibition. At that show, DS+R uses archival photographs and prints to recreate Chareau's interiors in digital space. "Virtual reality provided the perfect opportunity to re-spatialize these artifacts, these pieces of furniture,” firm principal Elizabeth Diller told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). On the West Coast, firms like Gensler are using VR to communicate project concepts for the new Los Angeles Football Club stadium, a move that is "basically normalizing the technology as a design tool."
Placeholder Alt Text

West Coast architecture firms are a hotbed for virtual reality applications

Though digital modeling and documentation tools have been an integral part of architectural practice for decades, until recently, visualization tools hewed closely to traditional elements of two-dimensional representation. Several firms and independent practitioners, however, are striving to adopt virtual reality (VR) as a design tool.

At the corporate level, established firms like Gensler and NBBJ are setting up in-house VR departments and standing to benefit from their corporate heft and connections.

NBBJ’s Seattle office recently launched a business partnership with construction industry start up Visual Vocal to incubate and develop what the firm referred to as a “breakthrough virtual reality productivity platform.” The tool aims to streamline the firm’s collaborative design process by allowing clients on-demand access to project information and design updates. NBBJ Managing Partner Steve McConnell described the firm’s approach in a press release: “This partnership will radically shift the way design feedback is sourced and integrated into projects, and the speed at which it can be done. As a result, we can more broadly and deeply engage project stakeholders.… Virtual reality will deepen design discourse and bring together communities in new and exciting ways.”

Gensler’s Los Angeles office has taken the opposite approach, creating a virtual reality department that engages with existing VR technologies, looping the latest design tools into Gensler’s corporate workflow as they come online. Gensler’s San Francisco office utilized VR to create a highly detailed climate model as it designed a new headquarters for computer graphics card maker Nvidia. Alan Robles, experience designer in charge of VR technologies at Gensler’s L.A. office, described the firm’s efforts as an attempt to streamline the use of VR as a design tool, calling VR the “next logical evolution for rendering technologies.” Gensler integrates VR into its workflow early in the conceptual diagram stage while also pairing Unity software with Autodesk Revit later in the process to bring designers and clients directly into a working digital model where design options can be updated in real time.

The firm’s VR capabilities are also being utilized in the ongoing design of the new Los Angeles Football Club stadium in South Los Angeles, where Gensler’s team was able to integrate VR design approaches early into the design process to communicate possible sponsorship opportunities and overall project concept. VR is incorporated into the conceptual design phases, making Gensler’s approach toward VR basically one of normalizing the technology as a design tool. The evolution of project concepts in VR takes off from there, with the technology being deployed as necessary to convey design intent. These efforts result in a custom app made by Gensler’s in-house team that clients can use as a personalized marketing and development tool.

Operating in a parallel stream, a school of emerging designers has taken up VR as a key visualization and production tool.

Güvenç Özel, principal at Özel Office, made use of VR in a recent competition proposal made for NASA. His NASA 3D-Printed Habitat project, runner-up in the competition, creates a VR environment to convey its design intention and functionality. The project, showcased at the Architecture and Design Museum’s recent exhibition, Come In! DTLA, allowed observers to wear VR headsets to explore the scheme: A space capsule 3-D-printed from martian rock and occupied as an operating base for astronaut-explorer scientists.

Özel, who spoke to AN via email, described VR’s potential impact on architecture in no uncertain terms, saying, “The immersiveness of these digital environments are becoming so convincing that they start to exist as environments in their own right. I am convinced that the architecture of our near future involves physical and digital spaces superimposed on each other, and will further blur the lines between what is interface design and what is architectural design.” Designer Devin Gharakhanian, in collaboration with VR specialist Nels Long, presented Room XYZ at this year’s One-NightStand L.A. showcase, utilizing VR to recontextualize an all-white room into a variety of experiences. The project, in a different iteration, places the viewer into a precise, virtual recreation of an elaborately staged room. For the two architecturally-trained artists, the works serve to explore existential architectural issues directly.

Adding to this inertia, is a growing stock of interdisciplinary, VR-focused coworking spaces and organizations that are coalescing across L.A., where the edges of the visualization, filmmaking, and architectural professions run into one another, like Virtual Reality Los Angeles, Navel.la, and RotoLab. With the recent announcement by computing giant Intel of a new collaboration with Microsoft aimed at developing VR capabilities for Windows-based machines and plans to open an L.A. research studio, the future of VR is here—and it’s very real. 

Placeholder Alt Text

Wichita State University’s “VR Cave” lets designers see life-size mockups in 3D

Everyone’s talking about virtual reality (VR) these days—especially with Pokemon GO taking the planet by storm—and people are rushing to explore potential applications for VR in everything from journalism to entertainment. Artist Keiichi Matsuda has his own ambivalent, if not dire, ideas how virtual reality might change society. At Wichita State University (WSU), designers are using a new immersive VR installation to create giant mockups of their projects. The experience is different from the head-mounted devices used for video games. The setup features a floor space that's 19 feet by 10 feet wide, flanked by two 10 foot by 10 foot screen. 12 projectors fill the surfaces with a digital model. Designers using the “The Cave” wear a set of motion-sensing glasses that track their gaze around the space. However, unlike wearing video goggles, this means a group of collaborators can see the simulation together. WSU virtual reality lab manager Jeff Fisher told Digital Trends, “Systems like this are meant for collaboration. Typically we have 3 to 15 people [including] the client in the Cave at once.” It also allows them to walk and move naturally, a problem video game designers and filmmakers haven't completely figured out yet. The setup also includes a “wand” that can be used to take measurements or make notes in the virtual space. As the technology continues to advance we will likely see new ways for artists and designers to see their work in life-size 3D while still in the concept stage.
Placeholder Alt Text

Greg Lynn uses Microsoft HoloLens to visualize architecture at this year’s Venice Biennale

"The biggest problem an architect has," said Californian architect Greg Lynn of Greg Lynn Form (GLF), "is getting from the screen into physical space." And so Lynn, who is also a professor of architecture and urban design at UCLA, has been using the Microsoft HoloLens at the U.S. Pavilion for this year's Venice Biennale. Assigned the Packard Plant, a historic half mile-long abandoned car factory in Detroit, Lynn and his firm were tasked reimagining the site. The HoloLens, which is aided by tech firm Trimble's mixed reality technology, allowed Lynn to holographically visualize and navigate the space. "It actually changes the way you think about design" said Lynn, who added that the lens meant he could fully comprehend the scale of the site, something which he achieved by placing twelve Tate Moderns into the area, by virtual means. According to Lynn, the technology also allowed him to make decisions regarding design and spatial qualities much earlier than usual. "Without the HoloLens, I would have been making those decisions three, four months from now, but with the HoloLens, I'm making those decisions at the point of inception" said Lynn. The HoloLens can also be shared with clients, allowing architects to use the language of space to show why certain design decisions were made. "Using this technology I can make decisions at the moment of inception, shorten the design cycle and improve communication with my clients," added Lynn. AN got a chance to test out the device at the Venice Biennale last week. The use of Hololens in exhibition design is very useful in displaying the US Pavilion proposal. Visitors can see the history of the site holographically projected on the physical model, complete with diagrams that display change from year to year, tracking the growth and decline of the Packard complex. The technology also allowed the exhibition to be annotated with information about the design, as well as animations that made it come alive with images of drones and puffing smokestacks. "HoloLens is going to bridge that gap between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional and physical space.... It's a revolution," Lynn concluded. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70xDCokzAck If you want to get your hands on a Hololens, they're only $3,000. According to Microsoft’s website, the device features sensors, a processing unit, special high-def color lenses, and built-in speakers. Microsoft is also collaborating with Lowe’s, the home improvement company, to help customers visualize new kitchen or living layouts, finishes, and more.
Placeholder Alt Text

“Hyper-Reality” visualized in Medellín envisions capitalism enveloping the city and daily life

London-based designer and film-maker, Keiichi Matsuda has finally realized what he thinks the future may look like. Augmented reality, twinned with the advent of digital developments such as Google glass, has made films like Minority Report and Blade Runner seem slightly less fantastical, and in Matsuda's eyes, prescient in how physical and virtual worlds could one day merge. His film, Hyper-Reality, imagines a future where technology and business visually dominate our lives. The film builds on his previous work Augmented Hyper-Reality Domestic Robocop (try saying that quickly) and Augmented City where the latter depicted technology altering how we view the city and urban environments. Both films were a success, making it into the MoMA and the Art Institute of Chicago. https://vimeo.com/166807261 Hyper-Reality is the convergence of these two films. "[It's] much bigger and more ambitious," said Matsuda. "It's a more refined critique, and a fuller sense of place than the previous films." To begin with, the film plunges you into a suburban bus in Medellin, Colombia under the guise of Juliana Restrepo. At first this seems like an odd setting to host a sci-fi vision of the future though Matsuda explained how quickly the city is developing (it was the most innovative city of the year in 2013) and hence is a good stage to showcase how "rapid technological transformation" could change a city. From the outset, Matsuda introduces darker themes of how interactive interfaces could render identity and existence easily disposable. However, the film's take on how capitalism and technology alter our perception of space is its core idea. https://vimeo.com/14294054 Bamboozled by a kaleidoscopic splurge of information, Julianna Restrepo's view of the world is saturated by adverts, warnings, snippets of health advice and media. The scenario feels like an extreme version of an inescapable Las Vegas or Times Square, with everything in our field of vision vying for our attention. The film comes across as eerily realistic thanks the to inclusion of real life phenomena such as the Cootrasana bus service and Starbucks coffee. "Having real brands involved strengthens the films' post-modern appeal, and it's an ironic nod to the very systems that the film critiques," said Matsuda. "An inevitable consequence of the Internet mingling with the physical world, is that advertising and commercial environments would become an even bigger part of our cities," he added. "I'm really intrigued as to how this would affect our experience, so I'm planning to create some innovative and visually arresting branded environments within the film." https://vimeo.com/8569187 "I want to use the film as a platform for debate to anyone who is worried about where technology might be taking us," Matsuda continued. "By creating more visions, and talking about them publicly, I believe that it's possible to influence the people who are involved in developing these technologies in the first place." Thankfully, Matsuda's hyper-realistic depiction of the future isn't quite yet reality. While virtual reality machines are becoming an ever more popular tool for architectural purposes, the likes of Google glass and other similar products are yet to take off, mainly due to the products hefty price tag. Last year Google shelved their original eyewear piece though an updated product, Google Glass 2.0, is set to be unveiled, though will be marketed for healthcare and manufacturing purposes.
Placeholder Alt Text

Experience what solitary confinement feels like with a new virtual reality app

Few of us will hopefully ever have to experience what life in solitary confinement is like. But for those who'd like to immersively experience it—if only for a few minutes—then The Guardian has a solution. Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 14.49.39 The Guardian has put together an app called 6x9 that aims to plunge users into the confines of a six by nine foot cell. "Right now, more than 80,000 people are in solitary confinement in the US," said the newspaper. "They spend 22-­24 hours a day in their cells, with little to no human contact for days or even decades. We invite you into this world." Best enjoyed with the Google Cardboard Viewer to nullify any distractions, the experience can also be 'enjoyed' even by those without a smartphone courtesy of a 360° interactive video, seen below. https://youtu.be/odcsxUbVyZA The experience features soundbites from interviews of those who have been subject to solitary confinement. The interviews are available to read in full on The Guardian too. "I remember stepping into the cell and it was like stepping over a bridge into another world. The first feeling I had is that something could happen to me in here and no one would ever know," said Five Omar Mualimm-ak, who spent a total of five years and eight months in solitary confinement. "You will probably spend a lot of time laying flat on the floor just trying to get that little bit of air that will come under the door," adds Dolores Canales, the only female voice to feature. Canales was in solitary confinement for nine months after being jailed aged 18. Last year, the issue of solitary confinement was a contentious topic in the American architecture scene. In January 2015, New York City officials banned "solitary confinement for prison inmates 21 and younger." The decision came only a few weeks after the American Institute of Architects (AIA) refused to adhere to a plea that would forbid AIA members from designing buildings intended for human-rights violations (as defined by international laws) such as executions or prolonged solitary confinement. According to the Architectural Record, the amendment would've demanded that AIA members "not design spaces intended for execution or for torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including prolonged solitary confinement." Speaking to the New York Times, former AIA President Helene Combs Dreiling said “If we begin to stipulate the types of projects our members can and cannot do, it opens a can of worms.” “It’s just not something we want to determine as a collective,” Dreiling added. “Members with deeply embedded beliefs will avoid designing those building types and leave it to their colleagues,” Ms. Dreiling elaborated. “Architects self-select, depending on where they feel they can contribute best.” The debate on ethical architecture raged on. “Is there nothing so odious that the A.I.A. wouldn’t step in?” retorted Raphael Sperry, who, with his organization, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, submitted the ethical amendment to the AIA. “What about concentration camps? The A.I.A. is basically saying business is more important than human rights," he added. Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times pointed out that American Medical Association specifically prohibits doctors from participating in execution or torture. He and Sperry also noted that A.I.A's own code of professional ethics states that "members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors."
Placeholder Alt Text

Microsoft HoloLens partners with the first holographic real estate leasing center

The new holographic headset by Microsoft, HoloLens, has just started shipping to U.S. and Canadian developers last week for $3,000 (the consumer version release date is still unannounced). Now we hear the tech company giant is partnering with global real estate developer Skanska to create the first leasing center in the world using holographic technology. No word yet on the leasing center’s location, but the space is expected to open this June. The center is slated to help sell Skanska’s proposed and unbuilt project, 2+U, a downtown Seattle high rise planned between First and Second Avenues and Seneca and University Streets, with expected completion early 2019. Seattle-based digital production agency Studio 216, which specializes in real estate virtual and mixed-reality visualizations, is partnering with Microsoft and Skanska on the 2+U project. Unlike other virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift (which Facebook's acquired for $2 billion), HoloLens is untethered, and incorporates a more “mixed reality” or an “artificial reality” setup: users can still be present and aware of the space they are in and other people around them. Holograms are “projected” onto real objects in space. “Developing for Hololens is similar to developing for VR headsets, but you have to ask yourself different questions,” said Kyle Riesenbeck, Technical Lead for the 2+U Holographic project in a press release. “With VR, you have to create both the environment and the content, but with Hololens, the challenge is determining the best way to have your content interact with your existing world, and enhance your real life experience in a unique and necessary way.” According to Microsoft’s website, the device features sensors, a processing unit, special high-def color lenses, and built-in speakers. Microsoft is also collaborating with Lowe’s, the home improvement company, to help customers visualize new kitchen or living layouts, finishes, and more. Since we are on the topic of holograms, enjoy this YouTube video of the Seattle skyline, featuring a different type of holographic technology.
Placeholder Alt Text

IKEA tests virtual reality kitchen with new app

Swedish furniture firm IKEA is undertaking a trial of a new virtual reality app. Titled IKEA VR Experience, it allows users to explore and interact with a kitchen outfitted with IKEA products. The trial aims to encourage feedback as the company develops the software further.
The app is now available to download for free on the popular gaming platform Steam. However, a HTC Vive VR headset with two working hand controllers is required to play. 
“Virtual reality is developing quickly and in five to ten years it will be an integrated part of people’s lives," said Jesper Brodin, managing director at IKEA of Sweden. "We see that virtual reality will play a major role in the future of our customers. For instance, someday, it could be used to enable customers to try out a variety of home furnishing solutions before buying them,” he added.
A range of fittings is available for the kitchen that you explore; users can change cabinets and drawers at the click of a button. Perhaps the most interesting feature is that users can choose to view the kitchen from different perspectives. By changing your height, you can move around as a 3.3 foot-tall child or a 6.4 foot-tall adult, thus highlighting any hazards for children/someone tall.
Users can also open up drawers and cabinets or pick up a pan and place it on the stove. You can also "recycle the vegetable skins in the waste sorting station." In addition to this, there is a mysterious “teleport” function (no other information is provided).
“We also see IKEA VR Experience as an opportunity to co-create with people all around the world," said Martin Enthed, IT Manager for IKEA Communications. "We hope that users will contribute to our virtual reality development, by submitting ideas on how to use virtual reality and how to improve the virtual kitchen."
Placeholder Alt Text

The Storefront for Art and Architecture’s most recent exhibition features 42 “closed worlds”

The ubiquitous white box gallery is an attempt to construct a valueless neutral space that has become an internalized universal cliché that says “art.” The Storefront for Art and Architecture was designed by Steven Holl and Vito Acconci to be a space physically open to the city and the street that would fight back against to the usual sealed and closed world of the art gallery. But a new exhibition at The Storefront, titled Closed Worlds, takes on the architectural, design, and engineering of closed systems. It creates an exhibit that is itself a closed world of multiple closed worlds. One enters directly off the Kenmare Street sidewalk and enters a space that is expansive and claustrophobic at the same time. Its creator and curator Lydia Kallipoliti, along with an impressive research group that includes exhibit designer Natasha Jen from Pentagram, have created an exhibition that highlights 41 historical prototypes of closed worlds and weaves their integration into the reality of today’s daily life. In fact, despite the open façade of the Storefront, the exhibition is almost claustrophobic. Take, for example, the 1976 New Alchemy Institute's “Ark for Cape Cod.” Fearing an imminent ecological collapse and famine due to run away capitalism, the group designed an interior environment to support a small colony of people. Its design, once only seen in journals like the Whole Earth catalogue, can now be found in quiet, rural Northern California, Vermont, and the survivalist compounds in Eastern Oregon. The exhibition also features Some World Games, a virtual reality ecosystem by Farzin Farzin that serves as a contemporary 42nd prototype. The project was selected as the winner of Storefront’s Closed Worlds Competition. Closed Worlds is one of the most thoughtful and challenging exhibitions in recent memory of the Storefront and worth leaving the sidewalk. It closes on April 9.          
Placeholder Alt Text

Someday soon, virtual reality could let you get in the game… in your living room

This year's 50th Super Bowl could be extra special to those who can somehow get their hands on Microsoft's HoloLens. Though not yet available to the public, the tech giant has unveiled an NFL-based concept that would bring the players and the stadium into your living and even onto your coffee table. The technology would work through gestures, similar to Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox. In the video below, users can be seen bringing up player stats, holograms of the actual stadium including relevant information like weather (forecasts and current), and attendance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKqzeoMCU0c The 3-D virtual reality engine will enable players to appear as if they are coming through walls and allow for the football field to be beamed onto a coffee table. Even though Microsoft debuted its concept last year, the idea does sadly remain in concept form. Virtual reality, however, is nothing new to the architecture profession. Last year AN reported that Tsoi/Kobus & Associates was using the Oculus Rift system to place clients into computer generated 3D renderings. The software was used to deliver a more immersive feel of what the future space might look like. In practice, clients can walk round virtual buildings using Revizto, a cloud system, which architects can invite their clients to use. That said, progress with the technology remains slow as according to Luis Cetrangolo, the architect responsible for implementing the idea, users have begun to feel dizzy after just five minutes of usage.
Placeholder Alt Text

This Boston architecture firm believes virtual reality could create a revolution in architectural rendering and model making

Showing off buildings may be a task that is no longer constrained to simple two dimensional paper or the slick rendering. Virtual Reality is quickly approaching mainstream and architecture firm Tsoi/Kobus & Associates is already taking advantage of the emerging technology. The Cambridge, MA–based practice is implementing software used by virtual reality games to place clients into computer generated 3D renderings in order to deliver a more immersive feel of what the future space might look like. In practice, clients can walk round virtual buildings using Revizto, a cloud system, which architects can invite their clients to use. The experience is made possible thanks to a pair of Oculus virtual reality goggles which allow the user to interact with his or her virtual surroundings in real time as well as providing a first-person view.
"All of this can be done before a contract for a building is even awarded and could eliminate the need for creating life-size physical mock-ups out of plywood—making the whole process much more efficient," the Boston Globe's Katie Johnston wrote about the still-in-development concept. One would have to speculate, however, on how much time it would take to fully mock-up a CG building compared to making a 3D model or rendering. It's likely only a matter of time before new architectural rendering software that speeds up the process catches up with the technology. Luis Cetrangolo, the architect responsible for implementing the idea, told Johnston that the experience could become dizzying after about five minutes, and so far only one client has been subjected to the software.
Placeholder Alt Text

Eavesdrop> Staten Island to Get a Subway (Simulator)

The planned giant Ferris wheel in Staten Island—one of kookier of the Bloomberg-era megaprojects—is apparently still happening. Eavesdrop always thought the step-Borough deserved more than a tourist trap wheel and a giant outlet mall, but hey, apparently Amanda Burden thought differently. According to the Associated Press, New York Wheel CEO Rich Marin said the project will include a thrill ride that will “simulate a ride in a subway car.” Here’s a better idea: buy a MetroCard.