Virtual reality is one of those things that people never imagined 50 years ago, seemed impossible 30 years ago, and is a reality today. Science fiction has been exploring it for a long time, and many thought it would remain relegated to video games and entertainment.
Clearly, though, it hasn’t.
Virtual reality has seeped into every aspect of our lives and is being incorporated as the new technology fad into every sector. Virtual reality is a disruptive presence that changes the pace of technology and radically alters the way things are done.
Specifically, the discipline of design, encompassing everything from product design and
For those who don’t know all the terminology, there are a few main subsections when discussing this virtual world.
3 Different Kinds of Virtual Reality
VR stands for v
AR is a
A great example of this is the military’s “Heads Up Display” or HUD, which can show flight paths, outline targets, and much more – and it’s all displayed on top of the actual landscape in front of the pilot.
The third type of virtual integration under development called m
This is a bit more conceptual, but essentially there are landmarks, locations, and items that are either real and can interact with the virtual world, such as QR codes on a building, or are virtual and can interact with the real world, such as a virtual lever that is visible on a headset which opens a locked door.
For example, if you have been to Universal Studios, you may have seen certain areas in Harry Potter World where you can wave a wand and various things will happen.
Remote controls are embedded into the physical landscape that can only be accessed via the wand, or with more advanced MR, through virtual
Now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s dig into a few of the different ways virtual reality, and its relatives, are shaking up the design game.
10 Ways in Which Virtual Reality is Changing the Design Game
1. Travel and Experiences Come Closer to Home
One exciting opportunity for virtual reality is the idea of experiential design. This can include anything from a simple piece of marketing to an entirely immersive experience.
With virtual reality, you can create a display that markets an all-inclusive resort that practically puts you on a cabana by the pool. By being able to walk through a virtual display and truly immerse yourself in the setting, you can get a much better feel for how things would look.
This concept of immersive marketing is equivalent to a new future for marketing development. Even now, while virtual reality is still somewhat nascent, you can view virtual walkthroughs of apartments that have been graphically designed to envision what you can expect if you rent it.
An even more unique experiential breakthrough with virtual reality is when you remove the travel altogether. Imagine low-budget field trips or excursions to the local museum, all without leaving your couch.
This sort of experience, a field trip without the trip, is becoming more and more of a reality with every passing day. The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, has introduced a virtual reality experience. In it, you can view and “walk” through the museum’s exhibits without actually traveling to the museum.
An amusing take on this concept is the Virtual Reality Church, a spoof video on YouTube. While it is a joke, it belies the actual future of virtual reality – your experiences will be available from the comfort of your own home, and you will have more control over them because of technology.
You may ask, especially with examples such as the Prado Museum, how this is beneficial to the organization in question. For one, people will likely always want to travel to the museum to physically see the exhibits, so they don’t have to worry about losing any foot traffic.
For another, however, they can charge a small fee to view the museum through virtual reality, and their audience would expand dramatically. Many people throughout the world do not have the luxury of being able to travel to some of these museums. But with virtual reality, your reach is no longer geographically limited. The museum could, hypothetically, have seven billion paying visitors all at one time.
2. Infrastructure Becomes More Dynamic
Infrastructure, architecture, and construction are all very grounded industries currently, but they are being shaken up in a massive way by the introduction of virtual reality.
A simple construction project typically encounters numerous issues, which increase as projects get more expansive and profit margins shrink. A typical problem in construction is Design Coordination Errors, which occur when there are multiple design streams or multiple integrated units, such as HVAC ducting, electrical wiring, and plumbing. All of these different units need to be routed appropriately, and they usually run into each other at some point during a construction project.
By introducing virtual reality, you can not only seamlessly view a design before beginning construction on it to prevent errors, but you can add in layers and alerts prior to completion so that you avoid them altogether.
Instead of having to verify whether or not your electrical line runs through your septic line, which would cause a handful of problems as you can imagine, you would warn anyone inputting information that they need to avoid that location and you could adequately route all the necessary components.
This process would help you prevent errors, and it would drastically reduce unexpected costs. Now, you won’t have to worry about budgeting in the wiggle room in case a rework is necessary, you’d be able to predict and budget what is required more accurately.
Going forward, as well, this technology prevents future changes and designs from running into issues. If you are remodeling a house or reorganizing the office space in a skyscraper, and the building was designed with 3D virtual reality rendering in place so that it has dynamic, viewable schematics, you have a lot more insight into the project.
You can look into the walls on the schema to see lifelike imagery of the piping and conduit to ensure that your new designs work well. Before even beginning your project, you could see every obstacle you will encounter because it was created in a virtual space that you can access.
3. Product Design Is More Interactive
Product design is a very exciting area when you start talking about virtual reality. You can already use SolidWorks design services to simulate a product as it is designed, and you can go a step further and introduce some forms of testing to model how it will behave. This technology is only getting stronger as computing technology improves.
For example, when an apparel company designs something like a shoe, virtual reality offers massive benefits. Prior to new developments in these technologies, the company would have to create a foam mockup of the shoe design, and this would act as a template.
The designers would take this mockup and use it for various simulations. They could model different patterns and designs on the product, and help them envision what different materials might look like when overlaid on top of it. They could also subject it to specific physical tests, like bending and stress tests, to observe how it would perform.
With virtual reality, however, instead of making a foam prototype, which could potentially take weeks to get produced, a designer can fabricate a virtual sketch that performs exactly like the foam mockup, but with several outstanding benefits.
First, obviously, it’s an immediate production – there is no need for a lengthy process of manufacturing or 3D printing. Next, however, they could model more advanced simulations on a virtual reality design.
A designer could create a simulation that would run this shoe through hundreds of walking miles and repetitive activity. One could also create a model that shows airflow through the material so that instead of just seeing what the fabric looks like, they could even know how it behaves.
Additionally, virtual reality lets the designers play with different styles and looks instantaneously. If they wanted to see what a shoe looks like with a different color for a special promotion, such as Breast Cancer Awareness, or wanted to tailor a custom design to a customer, they could do it instantly with the click of a button, and even offer all customers the opportunity to select colors and patterns at will. Product d
4. Online Shopping Experiences a Revolution
Virtual reality is already shaping how online shopping takes place. In the past, it was somewhat of a risk to purchase an item from the internet. An article of clothing may not fit properly, or the color could look completely different in the light of day.
A piece of furniture may not match the spot you’re putting it or may be extremely uncomfortable. There is any number of issues that you would encounter when shopping online, and that was one of the biggest things enabling brick and mortar stores to retain such a large market share.
There are now e-commerce companies you can send your individual body measurements to and receive custom made clothing. These companies incorporate your specific numbers into a virtual database so you can select an item, like a dress shirt, and virtually model it so that you can see what it would look like in your exact dimensions and on your body.
By doing this, they have cultivated a customer experience that allows you to exactly understand what something will look like, and take the guesswork out of online shopping. Not only is this revolutionary and very interesting to see, but it also reduces their costs because they have fewer returns and complaints from customers about items not fitting or looking right.
In the same vein, companies are now offering the ability to visualize pieces of furniture or paint colors in your space. You can use your phone to view the room for which you’re shopping, and drop items in place to see how they fit, or to virtually paint a wall with a color of your choice.
The technology is still imperfect, but eventually, it will be able to take into account the light sources and how the color would shift during the day.
5. Video Game Design Will Be Far More Realistic
Video games are the stomping ground for virtual reality, as they’ve long since been incorporated into the architecture of gaming. The whole idea is that you’re in a virtual world.
But there is a huge difference between games like Super Mario 64 and No Man’s Sky, which has simulated millions of photorealistic planets and players can interact with each other and the environment around them to permanently alter the planetary landscape.
As virtual reality progresses, the video game industry and design therein will continue to shift, and also be the benchmark for what you will observe in other sectors that will follow.
Initially, games and systems like the Nintendo Wii paved the way for physical and virtual interaction, and now the Oculus Rift is breaking new ground for an immersive experience. The more that technology develops, video games tend to be among the first adopters and are a good case study in what will eventually happen in other industries.
Pokemon Go, for instance, was a groundbreaking example of augmented reality and mixed reality, where displays and video game components were overlaid on top of the physical realm, and actions in real life would impact that virtual world.
The benefit, however, is that the more virtual reality develops, the more physical and interactive video games become. Playing games used to mean being cooped up in a basement with little to no interaction with the outside world, and now there are online communities working together in these games, people walking around outside, or jumping, running, and dancing to make the video game work. It has developed into a much more interactive, immersive environment than it once was.
6. Communication and Outreach Will Extend to a Virtual World
Another innovation that virtual reality is offering is communication and outreach, which significantly impacts design in several ways. Virtual reality is creating an environment where people can interact and communicate from across the world in very real ways.
Technology is allowing individuals not only to see one another instantly, but to collaborate through media like SharePoint and DropBox, to physically interact with new inventions that change physically when prompted to remotely, and so much more.
This collaborative environment is making
Designers are incorporating virtual reality in surprising and unique ways. The Flow headset, created by Ben Lorimore, includes a screen mirroring feature so that others can observe the virtual environment and follow along while someone is going through something, be it a game or a new construction plan.
Instead of isolating people, like many assumed the virtual transition would tend to do, it is allowing for greater collaboration and communication by putting people virtually in front of each other and allowing them to interact from across the globe.
7. Travel and Navigation Will Be Drastically Simplified
We spoke earlier about field trips without the trip and going to see a museum without having to get out of bed. But what if you want to travel? How can virtual reality help you when you do want fresh air, and when you need to experience the physical world?
An exciting new use for augmented reality technology is to incorporate it into GPS navigation. Google is testing out augmented reality in Google Maps to overlay another layer of features for you.
For one, GPS will expand to add the potential ability to overlay your path onto the street in front of you. If you are walking through New York City, perhaps your augmented reality glass will display the path you need to walk to get to the nearest hot dog stand, or emergency routes if an issue arises.
Another feature being considered is a “Local Guide” of sorts. You will receive suggestions and directions based on things you may be interested in that are directly in your immediate path.
Companies are also taking steps to utilize virtual reality inside buildings, to help you navigate an unfamiliar office or sports stadium, for instance. Airports are rolling out simulations where you can follow a projected path on your smartphone to get to your gate or find the bathrooms and avoid the chaos surrounding you.
Virtual reality is a truly disrupting industry, and it’s impacting the physical world around us as well.
This augmented reality will also be able to potentially display virtual billboards and designs. As an advertising firm, maybe you will no longer pay for physical ad space, but instead, purchase a virtual slot in Times Square so that your product can be seen in a virtual world.
8. Household Appliances Will Be Interactive
Virtual reality is finding its place in the home. Devices have been designed that will project onto your appliances or surfaces and allow you to use them as touchscreens and much more.
You can display images or helpful schematics on top of physical items in your house, such as diagrams for cutting food in the kitchen, projected recipes, or even a physically interactive touchscreen to turn on your oven.
In another room, your closet will be able to project your clothes onto you virtually so that you can choose an outfit without having to get anything off of its rack, keeping your room tidier and helping you plan more appropriately for the day.
These items are being developed every day and will help to incorporate virtual interactions into your home environment.
From a design standpoint, this will allow rooms and appliances to be designed more simply because the controls could potentially be integrated into an augmented reality.
Instead of using knobs to turn on your stovetop and running the risk your child will accidentally burn the house down, you could put on a headset and turn it on virtually, as well as ensure that only you can turn it on. You could even look into your fridge at the food in there without opening it up and letting cold air escape.
These opportunities for design are still in the making, and new companies can take advantage of the connectivity that virtual reality offers to make new and unique appliances and items.
9. The Virtual World Will Impact Your Physical Reality
Mixed reality is one of the most fascinating ideas with this technology, and we’ve explored it a bit already. You will have new and unprecedented levels of control over the things around you, and we still don’t know what all that will encompass.
Perhaps open source designs will become more of a trend, and you can virtually take the design of a t-shirt you saw someone wearing on the street so that you can make your own, or improve upon. Landmarks will have much more interactive opportunities available to them, and you can design in cool new experiences.
Imagine the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, with the ability to interact with a virtual Abraham Lincoln, or events that will only allow entrance to users of certain augmented reality apps.
These ideas could be incorporated into incentive programs, such as special parks with gates that will only unlock if you’ve logged one hundred running miles in two months. There are so many novel opportunities awaiting designers who wish to incorporate virtual and augmented reality.
10. Design Speeds Will Be Rapidly Accelerated
The last benefit we’ll discuss is the speed of design. Because of the renaissance of the virtual world, as well as crowdsourcing, open source formatting, and more, data is all around us and is more interactive than ever.
Because of this,
When you can grab data from hundreds of sources and compile it instantly into a cohesive unit, as well as physically move and test a piece of design out immediately, you will be able to create so much more and do it much faster.
There is no shortage of opportunities when it comes to the burgeoning world of virtual reality. It is literally changing the game when it comes to design and industry.
A qualified designer or engineer can help you navigate this complex landscape and create a virtual world of your own making so that you can explore, navigate, create, and so much more.