Posts tagged with "virtual architecture":

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."

You can now explore the Guggenhiem museum using Google Street View technology

If you can't make it to Frank Lloyd Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, fear not: Google Street View has a solution. Though not quite as fulfilling as visiting in person, their self-guided virtual tour offers insight into the museum's iconic architecture while letting you view some of its exhibitions and artworks. This isn't the first time Google Street View's engineers have added masterpieces 0f art and architecture. In fact, as a member of the Google Cultural Institute, the Guggenheim is one of almost 750 museums and collections available to explore online. Google also offers walkthroughs of famous world wonders such as the Taj Mahal. With the Guggenheim museum, online tourists can view 120 pieces of artwork on display and travel up and down the building's famed spiral ramps. Attempting to keep the virtual tour as realistic as possible, Google only allows you to click one step forward at a time, though it's also possible to jump from floor to floor. Because of Wright's layout of the museum, it wasn't easy for Google to create its virtual walkthrough. Drones, tripods, and Street View “trolleys” captured a patchwork of images to create 360-degree views. The experience is best accessed via the Google Cultural Center (available here) rather than entering from Google Street View (as shown in the image). Selecting the latter leaves you stuck halfway up the Museum. Exhibitions from the Guggenheim Foundation currently available online are No Country: Contemporary Art For South and Southeast Asia and Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim. For architecture enthusiasts, Google is exhibiting Photography and Modern Architecture in Brazil at its online cultural center, available here.

Real-life SimCity in New Mexico to become testing ground for new technologies that will power smart cities

A simulation video game can become a powerful innovation lab for new urban technologies, where researchers can test-drive every outlandish “what-if?” in a controlled environment. The Center for Innovation, Technology and Evaluation is launching a full-scale SimCity—a small, fully functioning ghost town equipped with the technology touted by futurists as the next generation of smart cities. Resembling a modest American town with a population of 35,000 spread over 15 miles, the virtual metropolis is sited on a desolate stretch of land in southern New Mexico. Set to be wired with mock-up utilities and telecommunications systems as realistically as possible, the quintessentially mediocre town will even have a gas station, big box store, and a simulated interstate highway alongside its tall office buildings, parks, houses and churches. The town will also be sectioned into urban, rural and suburban zones. From nuclear war to natural disasters to a stock market crash or a triple whammy of all three, the ho-hum hypothetical town will soon play host to driverless cars and packages delivered by drones, alternative energy power generation and never-before-tested public monitoring, security and computer systems. The goal of CITE is to provide the opportunity to test large-scale technology experimentations in real-world conditions “without anyone getting hurt,” said Bob Brumley, managing director of Pegasus Global Holdings, the Washington state-based technology development firm behind the concept. Brumley estimates that support infrastructure, including electric plants and telecommunications, will take 24 months to create, while the city will be fully built between 2018 and 2020. The uninhabited virtual city affords possibilities to test otherwise non-starter ideas hampered by safety and feasibility concerns in the real world, where human beings are the most fickle of variables. “It will be a true laboratory without complication and safety issues associated with residents. Here you can break things and run into things and get used to how they work before taking them out into the market,” Brumley told Wired. One of numerous experiments he envisions involves deploying a fleet of driverless freight trucks controlled by a centralized wireless network. Testing on a real freeway, on the other hand, would be too hazardous. Other ideas range from simple practicalities—having small drones drop off packages on doorsteps—to cataclysm readiness—simulating, a large-scale, real-time attack on energy, telecommunications and traffic systems, or the effect of a “massive electromagnetic pulse attack on all the integrated circuits in our economy.” Brumley estimates an initial investment of $550–600 million in direct investment, with an estimated total cost of $1 billion over the next five years as the city grows in size and complexity. We can only hope that their servers don’t crash.

New SimCity “Green Utopias” Offer Futuristic Glimpse of Imagined Cities

In 50 to 75 years, SimCity, the virtual city-building game just about every architect or planner has played around with at some point, imagines an average metropolis taking two routes—a sustainability-based, green utopia or a money-driven, oil-dependent corruption—and gives players the tools to construct these futures. Slated for release in the United States on November 13th, Cities of Tomorrow, the new SimCity expansion pack, allows players to engage in futuristic urban planning using imagined versions of current technology. Elevated Maglev trains transport passengers high above congested vehicle traffic; drones deliver packages and prevent neighborhood crime; high-rise “MegaTowers” become mixed-use complexes with customizable retail, residential, education, and solar energy plant levels. However, PSFK reports that unlike previous editions of the game, the Cities of Tomorrow expansion requires its virtual city planners to consider the tradeoffs of their architecture and urban construction efforts. Source and type of energy for power will determine the government and pollution level of each town and consumerism and lure of cheap labor can overcome clean, sustainable methods for maintenance of each urban environment.

The Architecture of Fun

First, AJ brought us the architecture of Star Wars. Now, in another brilliant twist, comes the Top 10 video game designs. From Sim City to Marioworld, Second Life to World of Warcraft, we nerds couldn't be happier. Sure, they left out Diablo II and Roller Coaster Tycoon, but who are we to complain about our new favorite architecture pub? After ourselves, of course.