A key part of my role as Digital Development Manager at Quadrant Design is to explore new technologies and innovations and evaluate how they may benefit us or our clients. Some of the most notable arrivals in the past couple of years have been reality of the virtual and augmented kinds. So what are they? And how do we use them?
The concept of Virtual Reality has existed for decades – stretching back as far as 1935, some 40 years before the very first personal computer, in the short story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” by Stanley G. Weinbaum. It’s only with recent technological advancements that what was once science fiction has become capable and affordable enough to hit the mainstream consumer market.
Augmented reality on the other hand is a much newer concept. The iPhone 8 Plus released in 2017 is more than 20 times more powerful than the iPhone 4S which appeared just 6 years earlier. It’s this colossal advance in the performance of the devices in our pockets that makes AR possible.
When the HTC Vive was released I was at the bosses desk like a geeky ninja with a shopping list and puppy dog eyes. It wasn’t a small outlay – the goggles themselves a much less significant investment than the gaming laptop required to power them. However the opportunity to share our concepts with clients in a new way and immerse them in their space was just the type of technology we wanted to embrace.
The software offered much less than it does now but it was still amazing – everyone in the office loved it. At the push of a button we can explore our own designs from the viewpoint of a visitor which is incredibly powerful. We use it in-house as a design tool which works really well – especially in smaller spaces where the scale is often difficult to fully appreciate from 2D plans alone.