The use of virtual reality is quickly becoming a mainstay in the architecture, engineering and construction industry, with VR hardware and software by tech giants like Oculus, Samsung and Revit being adopted by firms across the country. Normally used in the entertainment sector for video game-design and filmmaking, it is also an incredibly helpful tool for planning out the built environment.
One company that is on the cutting edge of making this immersive experience technology an integral part of the design process is InsiteVR. The tech firm creates VR spaces from design models with full integration of the 3D forms and their associated materiality. Last fall, the up-and-coming tech company raised a $1.5 million seed round to break further into the industry and work on a platform for virtual walk-throughs used in architectural workflow and presentations to clients.
Already working with big-name studio like SOM, HOK and Gensler, its mission is to make VR the “universal translator” for firms in communicating their project ideas as well as reviewing and iterating designs before permanent changes are made.
HOK testing out InsiteVR's software to review a design.
“Like software, the built environment needs to be user tested,” said InsiteVR CEO Angel Say in a statement on their website. “The end result of the design and construction process is about more than environmental certification, budget requirements or artistic merit — it’s about the humans that inhabit the space day to day.”
Today the company released their latest VR feature for its platform, Analytics — a tool that allows designers to replay and analyze a walk-through to learn more about user behavior in a space. It also includes heat map functionality that further provides data on the distribution of users’ attention while going through the space. Not only can it detect where a user might stop or stray from the intended circulation path, it also provides insight into where people look when they explore a space.
Analytics allows designers and clients to assess the space via a virtual walk-through. Each avatar represents an individual and shows where the person was standing when they paused to look at a design feature. It also details how easily and independently the person navigated through the space.
Analytics is simple feature newly embedded into InsiteVR’s software that solely requires users to open the company’s desktop app to access it. After uploading a model to InsiteVR and exploring the space in the GearVR, Analytics will allow for an instant review of the decisions the viewer made when virtually inside the design.
Gaze heat maps further show where the user was looking. The blue indicates areas with no engagement and the red represents the areas most intensely looked at.
Though it is still in beta testing, Say and his team believe that this is the future of cost-efficient user feedback in architectural design. “If we can test and iterate while a building is still pixels,” he said, “we can make the world a more user-friendly place.”
M Moser and Associates, a company that designs for the workplace, is currently testing out Analytics on one of their latest projects in New York. If your firm is interested in testing this new features, request a demo through InsiteVR and specify that you want to try Analytics.
Images via InsiteVR