Useful tools for presenting creative ideas – VIRTUAL & AUGMENTED REALITY
The creative team at Willson & Brown have embraced both virtual and augmented reality technologies for recent global projects. These powerful tools now form a core element of our development process as they make it possible to provide clients with immersive 3-d simulations of a wide range of creative ideas whilst they are in the early stages of development.
Virtual reality (VR) is an interactive CAD experience taking place within a simulated environment. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to “look around” the artificial world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items. The experience can be further enhanced by the use of additional physical environments or props, sounds and other sensations.
Our team can create store environments complete and accurate in every detail and place our designs in-store alongside competitors’ current point of sale displays and seasonal graphics. Using a VR headset, clients are able to explore this imaginary environment to assess our design ideas in the store environment of their choice at a pre-prototype stage.
Our system is totally mobile, meaning that we can take the equipment and therefore the virtual environment to the client, wherever they are in the world. And if our clients have compatible hardware, we can even send the virtual environment as a digital file so that they can explore it using their own equipment.
Augment reality (AR) differs from VR in that it combines a live camera feed with a digital model. The viewer uses a smartphone or tablet device to view virtual images placed in a real environment as they move around it. In some situations, and for some clients, we have found that AR is a more suitable way to showcase our ideas in 3 dimensions.
Our AR capability has been pioneered by our colleagues at Array. It takes the form of an iPad app onto which we can load our design concepts. Since AR uses the real environment, it is a faster, less expensive option than VR and offers the added advantage of enabling both our team and the client to see the 3-D images at the same time.
Both VR and AR have been very well received by our clients. These technologies bring concepts to life in a fun and engaging way and they facilitate the exploration of ideas, whilst saving time and money traditionally spent on models, prototypes and travel budgets. What’s more, we’ve found that making tweaks and changes to concepts can be undertaken quickly and easily in the virtual world – sometimes we have even been known to do these in real time as the client is watching.