Posts tagged with "Virtual Reality":

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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."
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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.
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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."
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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.          
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Kickstarter> Spacemaker VR: Virtual Reality for Architects

Miles Kemp, the brains behind a new virtual-reality visualization software for architects, has been around architects and builders for as long as he can remember. The son of a contractor, Kemp took his first job with an architect at the age of 14. By age 21, he was on a team at SOM. Kemp eventually made his way to SCI-Arc, where he completed an M.Arch2 in 2006 with a thesis on robotics. Since then, Kemp, the founder and president of Variate Labs, has worked on over 100 interactive media projects. “I’ve always been into this idea of user-experience design, of being able to create almost like a conversation between people and the built environment,” Kemp said. Kemp’s latest venture is Spacemaker VR, software that allows architects to share virtual reality models with clients and other designers. The program exports 3D design files from a variety of formats (including .osg, .dae, .wrl, and .3ds) into walk-through models for viewing on a head-mounted display or two-dimensional screen. Users can simultaneously project the same view in mono or stereo to multiple displays, and control movements through the virtual space using a keyboard or mouse. Real-time snapshots and videos captured while in the virtual model can be saved for later viewing. According to Kemp, Spacemaker VR has the potential to change the way architects work in two crucial ways. “First and foremost, it is a one-of-a-kind presentation tool, so that designers can communicate with other people in a better way,” Kemp said. In addition, by allowing architects to experience the spaces they create early on in the design process, Spacemaker VR encourages experimentation and risk-taking. “Architects can really push the limits of their imagination earlier in the process without risk,” Kemp said. “It’s easier to design insane things and test them earlier in the process.” The current version of Spacemaker VR is a “base model” Kemp explained, focused on visualization. “For now what we’re trying to do is get a simple product out that has really easy-to-use features so that people without a technical background can use it.” Kemp and his colleagues at Digital Physical, the company behind Spacemaker VR, are working on features that allow architects to design in real time from within their virtual spaces. Digital Physical is currently fundraising for Spacemaker VR on Kickstarter. The campaign ends this Saturday, December 14.