The most prominent technology driving change in the construction industry today isn't an advanced crane or some newly discovered material – it's virtual reality. Also known as VR, virtual reality is well beyond an emerging technology. In 2017, the global VR market was valued over $3 billion and is estimated to reach $49.7 billion by 2023. 

While the mainstream consumer market has been driven primarily by recreational entertainment and gaming uses, the commercial VR market is diversifying applications across a variety of industries.

Today, design firms and even some contractors are using VR as a powerful and effective way to design and collaborate, to help end-users explore spaces, to streamline building, prevent miscommunication in constructions, and enrich customer experiences. We only expect this technology to become more prevalent in the construction industry, so let's unpack how building can benefit from VR. 

Scaling Up

In the past, designers relied on physical 3D models, often hand-crafted, to plan and visualize a building. These time-consuming and representational models were helpful for orienting a project and describing the overall massing of a structure, but since they were produced quickly, they often failed to convey the intricate design details that had considerable impact on the final design and cost of a project. 

These physical models did very little, if anything, to suggest the quality or design of the interior spaces within the building. hand-drafted perspective drawings were rendered and embellished as an artistic representation that didn't always accurately reflect the reality of the materials or overall quality of the space. 

Accelerate is expanding the conventional 2D drawing many of our clients see into a fully immersive experience using DIRTT's ICEreality software. Designers very quickly generate a 3D model or use the architect's own model of a project to create a VR environment that is truly representational of the final product. This process is quick to produce and can also be shared across teams in real-time to provide visual certainty, so no details are overlooked. With prefab building technology, any changes that are made to the VR model are instantly accessible for the entire project team and the costs associated with those changes update automatically for stakeholders to review. 

Collaboration

VR offers a new level of interactivity and spatial understanding that previously didn't exist for end-users by providing them with the opportunity to walk through a space before it's even built. Inside a virtual environment, users can change and manipulate projects with real-time visual certainty, leading to fully coordinated and engineered solutions that simultaneously provide cost accuracy and a bill of materials that reflect every nut and bolt required to construct their space. 

Through the design process, it's imperative that key stakeholders have the ability to provide feedback as it could affect them and their team's comfort, productivity and overall happiness. A shared VR experience provides an opportunity for dialogue and feedback, streamlining communication and giving stakeholders the option to literally point out details or issues they might see on a project, leading to immediate changes if needed.

Improving Customer Experience

For real estate developers, healthcare executives and education administrators, VR can provide an interactive project experience before it's built to help attract clients, donors, students or patients. The real-time ability for fluid adaptation of the design based on group or individual feedback ensures the highest performing space possible that's in-line with both the project designers and the end-users. 

Using VR, an architect can model and integrate specific proposed elements into the context of the entire project with their client to help them make informed, educated decisions. This helps a contractor set and meet expectations while also keeping a project on track and both parties happy. 

Dive In with the Full Headset

There are several ways you can use VR to streamline your next project. For a full, immersive experience, visit our DIRTT Green Learning Center to get a hands-on VR tour of your project using full headgear and vests – it makes for a fun office event and let's your team take ownership over their future environment.

For remote stakeholders, the ICEreality app turns any iPhone into a VR platform. The design assist service allows users to see and walk through your envisioned spaces. The app supports real-time design changes with updated visuals and engineering to create a truly immersive experience.

To learn more about how you can use VR to make your next project more efficient and user-friendly, contact us and we'll set up a time to share more or take a tour of one of our virtually built environments.