Virtual Reality technology brings virtual walkthroughs to your your valuable 3D models. Step into the model and experience the model with stakeholders, team members, or clients to get a shared understanding of your project.
A guide to the best VR solutions
Virtual Reality solutions have become a key component of any virtual design strategy in industries creating valuable 3D models for design and engineering projects. They enable teams to understand each other across disciplines, no matter what role they have in the project or professional background. It provides easy access to virtual reviews of models for every one from anywhere. Project members are extremely busy and need the ability to resolve sensitive or complex issues quickly and in a reliable way. Businesses need to understand how to leverage and combine the strengths of VR with physical meetings. Vrex is a way to access models in VR to create design conversations across your team members with absolutely no need for 3D skills and ensures reliable and seamless access to models.
Why add a VR to your projects?
When businesses add VR to their design, engineering, and quality assurance processes, they are able to include more stakeholders, reduce mistakes, and increase efficiency. VR help mitigates a high volume of costly mistakes and rework that come from having multiple disciplines doing engineering in a project, by empowering project members and stakeholders to make review together and on their own, to find quick solutions.
VR makes time-consuming decisions and explanations of an engineering team’s plate, and gives them time back to do more productive work. – Nothing kills team productivity like having stakeholders who do not understand a problem try to make correct decisions. VR can also integrate into global teams, and ease the need for communication across great distances that otherwise required traveling. It is a cost-effective way to deliver instant clarity, which is always available, over weekends, on holidays, and in every time zone.
Want to add VR to your design and engineering processes? Here’s what you need to know to get started.
What is Virtual Reality?
VR is a visual aid that gives a real-world 1:1 view of digital 3D-models. It clarifies, engages, and serves as a user-friendly and familiar way to experience digital construction plans. VR solutions can be used to get an immediate view of the current state of the construction projects and help give clarity to all parties involved in the project. VR solutions like VREX are also able to bring the right team members together in a collaborative session, using voice communication. During collaborative sessions, project members can create tasks to perform after the session. VR can be deployed in various teams, departments, and roles to instant access 24/7, on any design and engineering issues.
History of Virtual Reality
VR might seem like a relatively new concept since companies are still figuring out how they fit it into their overall business strategies. But VR has been around for decades. The first to describe binocular vision was Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838 which was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1840. This research led him to construct the stereoscope.
The big modern break came when Facebook acquired Luckey’s Oculus technology in 2014. In 2019 Forbes describes this as The Year Virtual Reality Gets Real. This happens to be the year VREX as a SaaS was born. 12.5 million VR headsets were sold in 2021 alone.
But if VR has been around for decades, why are we starting to see a boom now?
VR has come a long way, partly due to advances in computing power. But most recently, the pandemic has made remote work an essential part of every business. Businesses also move towards global teams and expect better and more responsive tools for virtual collaboration. Today, nearly all the top engineering and construction companies deploy VR solutions in some part of their overall design and engineering strategy.
How does Virtual Reality work?
VR is a visual device you place on your head, with two small monitors that fit in front of your eyes that you look into, and experience digital images as if you were looking into the real world with your eyes in a realistic way. The device has an internal gyroscope that makes the images change according to how you turn your head, to view the models from different angles.
Virtual Reality provides a highly intuitive viewing experience, not only for project members with little 3D model experience but also for experienced engineers collaborating across different disciplines.
Many VR solutions, such as Vrex, can be used by many users at the same time via the internet. This means they can see and hear each other and have collaboration inside the model.
How can Virtual Reality help your business?
A VR solution can help your business scale understanding of design, engineering, and construction plans, improve stakeholder engagement, and provide an overall better comprehension of what is being constructed. Here are a few things your business can accomplish with the help of VR.
- Help more project members and stakeholders make better decisions in less time,
the Vrex whitepaper shows that decision-making time is reduced to up to 90%, simply by making complex topics easy to understand by everyone. Many projects have several small decisions that need to be made, or questions that needs answering. These high-frequency questions tend to lower the efficiency of the design and engineering team. It can be solved much faster, and often without an engineer attending by employing VR.
By taking these inquiries and discussions in VR, the design and engineering team free up time for more productive work. Clients, stakeholders and other team members also benefit from reduced waiting time and better understanding, increase satisfaction. In fact, PWC reports have found that understanding increases by 400% by employing VR technology.
- Improve quality control to reduce the amount of rework needed
Providing a virtual review room for 3D models means that anyone no matter how inexperienced they are with 3D models can review and understand the 3D construction plans, any time from anywhere 24/7, not only the 3D model experts. More eyes on the model mean that more potential problems and mistakes are found earlier. This reduces the cost of making corrections, and the amount of rework needed.
FMI reports that more than 50% of rework is due to miscommunication and misunderstanding between roles in the project. Employing VR as a way to have proactive reviews in projects by a wider circle of stakeholders is proven to dramatically reduce mistakes and the following rework.
- Improve the end result and have happier clients
Most high-frequency mistakes are technical mistakes, which affects the cost of the project. – But the mistakes that can have detrimental effects on a project are poor solutions for the end-user. If the construction will be in use for 50 years, that means 50 years of ineffective user experience unless it is corrected, which can be extremely expensive.
That’s the difference between a business being in the red vs. the black. In other words, VR can mean the difference between turning a profit and having to explain to stakeholders why the company fell short.
Resolving issues early is 300 times cheaper than after it has been built, this is why easy, intuitive access to 3D models early to a wide circle of stakeholders is important. VR can make this happen.
What are the different types of VR?
VR solutions vary by the use cases they’re intended to perform. Let’s go through some of the main types of VR solutions.
Enscape, Chaos Group’s real-time visualizer is an example of a realistic visualization solution for use in VR and on screens, on your own. It integrates with Revit and lets architectural modelers view their modelers while they are creating the models. It is a solo VR experience.
In 2022, the use of real-time visualization integrations with modeling software is quite common and well established as a working tool for modelers in architecture offices. It allows modelers to see their models change in real-time while they are creating their models. 100s of thousands of architectural models use tools like this daily in their work as a way to better understand their own work and how it measures up to specifications.
Interactive Training Simulators
A VR simulators are typically solutions that has pre-programmed worlds with pre-programmed objects which users can interact with. The solution is typically narrowly focused on scripted scenarios that the user can experience in a sequence. Often represented very similar to a game, but recently they have become quite realistic and clearly made for utility and not entertainment.
Fynd or Attensi are examples of these kinds of solutions. Using their solutions creators may even take part in setting up the scripted scenarios themselves. There are no limits to what you can create with a simulator, except the time and work it takes to create it.
Simulators are mostly used for educational purposes, workplace training, psychological exposure therapy, and various other experiences. It can either be done alone or together, depending on the solution and the use case.
The solution uses textures, lights, and interactive objects which are computer-intensive, which is why the solution is most suitable for small projects, or single disciplinary models. The goal is to enable explorers the creative freedom to try out different solutions early in the project.
Solutions like The Wild from Autodesk are solutions for the early exploratory phases of a design project. It gives a semi-realistic representation of the model that can be manipulated and transformed. It allows users to explore layouts of exhibit boots, shops, rooms, and other spatial designs.
Quality Control in Design, Engineering, and construction
Vrex is a solution created to make better decisions faster, avoid costly mistakes, and reduce rework during construction.
A construction project consists of people with different roles and skills. That is why a decision-making solution needs to be easy to access and easy to use for people with different professional backgrounds.
A unique identifier for this kind of solution is that it handles all the different 3D models of a construction project, all at the same time. – This gives project members full context of their project and makes it possible to make accurate decisions without delay.
Examples of platforms in those types of workflows are
Authoring VR view
It is becoming more and more common that the authoring tools have a VR view built into their BIM or CAD authoring viewer. The purpose of this is to allow modelers to go in along to view their models in a 1 to 1 scale. – It is expected that in the coming years it will be possible to do modeling inside these viewers. An example of this is NX by Siemens
What are the core functionalities of VR?
There are four core functionalities to look for in a VR solution. Here are some questions to guide the way.
Is it made to handle multiple users in VR at the same time?
Construction projects consist of different people, with different roles, and different professional backgrounds. – Most often you will want a solution to work across all your projects, whether for model coordination, reviews, collaboration, or a specialized simulator.
How Vrex does this: With this flexible multi-user solution, you can connect your team members in seconds, remotely from anywhere. In short, you can bring your whole team together inside virtual reality, at any time for remote work and collaboration, across all your projects.
Does it capture information?
It is important that your VR solution allows you to get something out of using it? There should be a way to create information, or in some other way generate value to your project, and pass it through with full context and history for further work.
How Vrex does this: You can bring in an agenda, topics, viewpoints, bookmarks, model data, and much more into VR. This is used in VR to create new ideas, find issues, review models, quality control, have discussions, and find great solutions.
Does it ensure seamless handoffs?
Is there a way to hand off the data or value you create in Virtual Reality, to the project as a whole, or to individual project members?
Vrex does this through integrations, either with the project tools or to assign the creations to project members.
Does it integrate with your project’s workflow and other platforms?
It’s always important to have a way for project members to escalate your VR discoveries and values by bringing them through to your other project tools. Such as your the authoring tools, the CDE, create an RFI, change order, or simply a commented approval for the records. – This opens up endless possibilities.
For example, Vrex provides this with a real-time, conversation-focused interface to seamlessly track and manage virtual projects between members and stakeholders.