Nothing is more impressive than putting a client in his building before it is even built. The use of VR to show off your brilliantly conceived living or working spaces, complete with art on the walls and happy tenants waving at you. So much better than rolling out a blueprint and seeing their eyes glaze over, unable to connect the 2D floor plans to your inspired vision.
At AIA 2017, in Orlando, Florida, the CAD vendors all had their VR software running and their headsets ready for you to try on.
Latest generation of VR headset, the Rift, is surprisingly light. (Image courtesy of Oculus.)
The new Oculus Rift, found in both the Autodesk and Graphisoft booths, was the headset of choice. Very lightweight, it also has much less of the “digital ponytail”, the thick set of wires that most VR headsets use to physically connect the user to the CPU. The Oculus Rift 2.0 reduces it to one thin cord, says Roxane Ouellet, Senior Interaction Engineer at Autodesk, who is in charge of the VR UI for Autodesk in the company’s Montreal office. One day, there will be no cord at all, but until then, the Oculus 2.0 seems to be the headset to beat. Like the HTC Vive, the Oculus uses stationary sensors to detect the position, movement and orientation of the user, but unlike the HTC, where the sensors have to be placed in all four corners of a specially created room, the Oculus’s two sensors can just be mounted to a table.
Pushbutton virtual reality output with Revit Live. (Image courtesy of Autodesk/YouTube.)
“Set up took me about 5 minutes,” says Ouellet.
The Oculus also helps reduce – though not eliminate – the chance of you looking like a damn fool as you stumble over the furniture. You can add blue virtual walls to mark off real walls, furniture and other obstacles.
The Oculus costs around $600.
Autodesk is making it easier to produce VR content for architects with its software, too. Sign up for Revit Live ($30/month) and you’ll get what is essentially a push button to create the VR model that will dazzle your clients. Revit Live, when prompted, will take your Revit model, operate on it in the cloud (you won’t need a high horsepower workstation) and send you a VR model. I’m not sure how it could be any easier or accessible unless it was free.
Revit Live is smart enough to substitute realistic looking trees and foliage for your amateurishly drawn objects, as well as people that give a bit of movement, livening up the scene.
Razer – How to Look Cool Even If You Have a Laptop
Didn’t know you could do VR on anything less than a big workstation? The Razer Blade Pro, a $4K laptop, was used by Autodesk at AIA 2017. (Image courtesy of Razer.)
Producing or showing VR content takes a heck of a lot of horsepower, so much so, that the workstation vendors have introduced special beefed up workstations to fill the need. But Autodesk was able to show VR quite adequately, on a thin and light looking laptop. The Razer is used for gaming, mostly, says Ouellet. It had a very cool looking green backlit keyboard, too, that helps set it apart from anything else and a “cool lit up graphic” on the cover.
Just how much VR helps when it comes to performing BIM work is another topic altogether. And one that we will have to cover in much greater depth in a follow-up story.