Implementing Immersive Review into your Projects

This post is the last of four on how quality assurance and quality review processes can be augmented with virtual reality and immersive review.

 

qa_qc_virtual_reality_architecture_schedule.jpg

 

Immersive Quality Assurance Process for Projects

From Concept Design to Construction Documentation

 

Model Exploration

Model exploration can happen at the comfort of a designer's desk and is one of the more informal ways of implementing QA with projects in Virtual Reality. By using IrisVR Prospect with a desktop-based headset like the Oculus Rift -- design changes can be verified quickly and iteratively as they are made. You can also use the HTC Vive for model exploration but we've found that it is best suited for areas where you can take advantage of its room-scale capabilities.  


 Immersive review at the office of ZGF Architects in Seattle, WA. Image Courtesy of ZGF Architects. 

 Immersive review at the office of ZGF Architects in Seattle, WA. Image Courtesy of ZGF Architects. 

Immersive Quality Control Process for Projects

From Concept Design to Design Development

 

Peer Reviews

Traditional peer reviews are typically conducted by another local architect or engineer. This can be very beneficial since it is an unbiased way to gather feedback from other experts. There are currently not many firms that specialize in peer reviews with virtual reality, but we anticipate that existing companies will begin to develop methods around this form of review and begin to offer it as a service in the next couple of years.
 

Internal reviews

Internal immersive review within project teams can happen as informal desk critiques or more formal meetings.  Throughout the design process, designers iterate through many different designs for each project. As you progress through SD and DD virtual reality ensures that each team member experiences the same true-to-scale environment to reduce misunderstandings within the team in effect, your team is also assuring quality on a continuous basis, giving you the opportunity to control expectations along the way. 

Informal Desk Critiques

These desk critiques can happen at your firm whenever it makes sense to get external feedback from other team members nearby. There are many firms that organize their desks into pods whereby a breakout table makes for a great way to sync up. For these types of informal review, an Oculus Rift is easy enough to use. 
 

Formal Meetings

While similar to peer review, formal reviews are best performed not just by the project team but should ideally be conducted by a firm staff member not associated with the project. Alternatively, having someone on your team who will be responsible for the project's construction contract administration might be helpful. In any case, being prepared with a checklist to go through before and during the meeting can help focus conversation around key design decisions while making the best use of all the participant's time.

 

Client reviews

Client review meetings are critical to the successful delivery of a project. We'll be addressing these type of review meetings in a separate series of posts but felt it was important to add it here in order to properly recognize it as a part of the quality assurance and control process. Ultimately, your client is an important stakeholder within the project and their feedback should be collected frequently in order to make sure expectations on a project are all aligned. Assuring and controlling the quality of your conversation with clients is a business decision that has implications beyond the immediate project. In the world of architecture,  the majority of top-line revenue is attributable to word of mouth and returning clients -- being able to provide a differentiated level of service, coupled with great design work will help ensure recurring work.

 

Constructability reviews

Constructability reviews may overlap the previous two review types in scope, but as its name suggests, are focused on the mechanics of physically constructing the structure. Thus, this type of review is best conducted by a contractor or construction manager. A constructability review looks at the design and determines if the work can be constructed as shown, or if special procedures or equipment may be necessary (thus adding cost) to achieve the indicated construction. The results of this review may offer alternate ways of achieving the same design goal but at a lower cost, which could be considered a form of value analysis (VA) (also called value engineering, or VE).
 

Benefits:

  1. Avoid costly change orders once something has been built by identifying potential construction issues before construction
  2. Anticipate cost increases before they occur by identifying if special procedures or equipment may be necessary
  3. Identify alternate ways of achieving the same design goal but at a lower cost (also known as value analysis (VA) or value engineering (VE)
     

Usability reviews

Usability reviews are practices adapted from the world of User Experience design. By implementing usability reviews with key stakeholders, your project team can gather valuable insight into design decisions through the use of goal-oriented prompts and through the use of virtual reality. Usability testing involves asking potential or current stakeholders of projects to complete a set of goal-directed tasks, and observing their behavior to determine the clarity of the proposed design. There are two ways in which to go about implementing usability tests, moderated and unmoderated. The most available method with current software workflows is moderated.
 

Moderated
 

  • Moderated usability tests happen in person. In a moderated test a facilitator sits and talks with the guest stakeholder, reading aloud a goal-oriented task and prompting the user to think aloud as he or she accomplishes the task. In the context of design spaces, one might take healthcare design as a fruitful example where the cost of ineffective wayfinding design can be expensive. If one were to implement a moderated usability test in healthcare, the goal-oriented task might look be framed as:

    "You are currently in the lobby of a large hospital facility. Where is the ICU from here?"
     
  • The facilitator’s role is to act as a conduit between stakeholders and the user, phrasing questions to evaluate the effectiveness of a design and test assumptions while helping the user feel comfortable with the process. In the aforementioned question, recording the time it takes to find the appropriate sign that would lead a visitor to the ICU can prove incredibly helpful in outcomes of the design process.


Getting Started with Virtual Reality and Immersive Review

This post is the third of four on how quality assurance and quality review processes can be augmented with virtual reality and immersive review.

In order to practice immersive review with virtual reality, you’ll first need to meet a couple of hardware, software, organizational and space requirements. 

 

Hardware

For hardware, you’ll need a powerful graphics card at a recommended minimum, a GTX 980. You’ll also need either an Oculus Rift CV1 or an HTC Vive. The community is always curious to know which one is better and it actually comes down to how you see your organization using VR. The Rift is built for sit-down experiences while the strength of the HTC Vive is its ability for room-scale virtual reality. We've provided a checklist here that will help you understand what you need in more detail. 

 

Setting up the HTC Vive requires some room but is very easy and provides freedom of movement

Setting up the HTC Vive requires some room but is very easy and provides freedom of movement

Space

As it was mentioned before, one of the HTC Vive's biggest strengths is that it is designed for room-scale experiences. We've seen many firms now that are designing specific rooms for immersive review with the HTC Vive and Prospect. The typical process involves deciding on a conference room or available room in which to setup the Vive with its lighthouse trackers firmly installed into the walls. The Vive is usually connected to both the desktop and a large tv, monitor or projector in order to be able to display a live feed during a meeting. 

 

Software

IrisVR Prospect is easy to use with little to no training allowing everyone at a firm to use VR. Prospect fully integrates with already existing workflows using 3D modeling software such as Revit, Rhino, Grasshopper, SketchUp and OBJ files. From a QA / QC standpoint, this ensures that stakeholders will integrate Immersive Review since it doesn’t require additional roadblocks to adoption including extensive training in game engines, complicated user interface, or long turnaround times.

 

Organization

A growing number of firms integrate virtual reality as an extension of pre-existing QA / QC, IT, or a visualization teams. In order to ensure adherence to new QA / QC processes it’s important that a specific person or team oversees its rollout to ensure adherence to previously agreed upon guidelines and goals. Based on our user feedback this person or group generally has the following characteristics in common:

  • They have a clear understanding of your firm’s particular design process
     
  • They have identified specific problems they’d like to solve using Immersive Review (eg. reducing change orders, shortening the client approval process, get better and more specific client feedback, reduce mockup costs, engage public audiences etc.)
     
  • They meet with the architects and designers who will implement Immersive Review into their project workflow to identify where Immersive Review can be implemented. Typically, Immersive Review is implemented on one or two project teams to be tested and then rolled out to the remaining teams.


Immersive Design and Immersive Review

This post is the second of four on how quality assurance and quality review processes can be augmented with virtual reality and immersive review.

Communicate design ideas intuitively

Communicate design ideas intuitively

The Future of Design is Immersive

 

At IrisVR, we believe the future of design is immersive. Three trends within the building industry have pointed us to this conclusion.

  1. increasing adoption of 3D models within the design and construction process
  2. commercial availability of robust Virtual Reality headsets
  3. a growing community of firms in the building industry that are improving their workflows with new processes, new roles, and at times -- new services.

 

So what is Immersive Design?

The goal of Immersive Design in the building industry is to improve outcomes through the intuitive communication of design intent.

Immersive Design is the enhancement of traditional design processes by means of immersive technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality. The goal of Immersive Design in the building industry is to improve outcomes through the intuitive communication of design intent. As a process it takes advantage of the aforementioned trends by allowing organizations and firms to focus their tools on improving the overall experience of communication with clients and stakeholders, internal and external. While much of technology in the building industry has moved to improving the means of production (fabrication, robotics, drones), there has been little to no innovation on the way in which the building industry communicates with each other -- it still relies on producing 2D drawings even though clients (for the most part) aren't trained to read them. Even renderings have reached a kind of ceiling with their artistry for realism and at times, surrealism.

 

Turn off layers to view different layout options

Turn off layers to view different layout options

What about Immersive Review?

Immersive Review is all about getting clear and actionable results out of the review process with other stakeholders.

If Immersive Design encompasses a number of broad use-cases for design in virtual reality, Immersive Review captures a distinct subset of the larger movement. Defined as a method for delivering better projects by establishing clear expectations, Immersive Review fits into traditional QA / QC processes by augmenting their effectiveness for decision making. Empowered through virtual reality, Immersive Review is all about getting clear and actionable results out of the review process with other stakeholders. IrisVR's Prospect brings Immersive Review within reach of all types and sizes of organizations.

 

Virtual prototypes

The use of virtual prototypes with Prospect as part of your QA / QC process will help mitigate costly outcomes for your clients

One impactful way of understanding the power of Immersive Review is through the lens of prototypes. Unlike manufacturing, and related industries, most buildings and infrastructure projects are prototypes. Put another way, there is hardly ever an R & D process preceding the construction of a building or infrastructure project. Each one is a singular problem. Being able to virtually prototype a space can help reduce errors, omissions, inconsistencies, defects, and deficiencies that are traditionally only uncovered and understood at the very end of a project -- during Construction Administration or even later. In the context of mockups, many different project typologies (Healthcare, Life Science, Education, Large Commercial to name a few) have well known requirements for the construction of costly physical mockups. The use of virtual prototypes with Prospect as part of your QA / QC process will help mitigate costly outcomes for your clients -- as an example. this case study explains how Mortensen used Prospect to gather feedback on design options with key stakeholders in the design and construction of hospital rooms. 

The next chapter in our series will introduce you to the technology you'll need to start augmenting your QA / QC workflows.



Quality Assurance and Control with Virtual Reality

This post is the first of four on how quality assurance and quality review processes can be augmented with virtual reality and immersive review.

Does your firm believe in quality?

Errors generated early on can have costly impacts on construction and engineering in the form of change orders, budget over-runs, and client distrust. 

Quality is a tricky word in the built environment. As the expectations and needs of clients and stakeholders increasingly pressure architecture offices to conceptualize, design, and produce the documents that lead to a final architectural product under shorter timelines, making sure that errors don't pile up along the way is critical to the success of a project. Errors generated early on can have costly impacts on construction and engineering in the form of change orders, budget over-runs, and client distrust. In this context, setting proper expectations through a culture of quality is critical -- not just within architecture practices but throughout the vast network of collaborators that aim to deliver great work. The good news is that the concepts of Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) have proven useful in industries with complex deliverables and have also been in practice within architecture, engineering, and construction.

 

Immersive Review at HMC Architects office with IrisVR Prospect.  Image Courtesy of HMC Architects.

Immersive Review at HMC Architects office with IrisVR Prospect.  Image Courtesy of HMC Architects.

An Introduction to Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC)

The end goal for an Architecture, Engineering or Construction firm is the same as other complex industries -- to deliver a quality product that meets the needs of all necessary stakeholders. 

Quality Assurance is defined in the design process by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) as "the procedures for guarding against defects before and during the execution of the work". In other words, it’s an ongoing process that should occur formally and informally while the design work is being done. In contrast, quality control occurs when the work is actually in a state of completion and involves "conformance with requirements.” The end goal for an Architecture, Engineering or Construction firm is the same as other complex industries -- to deliver a quality product that meets the needs of all necessary stakeholders. However, in design, Quality Assurance and Quality Control, while distinct concepts are used somewhat interchangeably. The lack of clear parameters between QA and QC points to the need for more intuitive ways to clearly integrate them into design review and for clearer definition between the two. Beginning to integrate QA and QC into the workplace will take time. It doesn't have to be perfect from day one, but as long as your team is committed to continuously improving the methods by which you assure and control quality, your efforts will compound over time. 

At IrisVR, we're committed to improving the way the building industry communicates throughout the design process. By converting the 3D models your firm is already working with into navigable virtual reality experiences, your team and stakeholders no longer need to imagine the experiential and visual outcomes of design decisions -- communication is as clear as seeing the same thing.



IrisVR Archtober Events - Communicating the Unbuilt in Virtual Reality

We're excited to host a series of events during Archtober, New York City's Architecture and Design Month, featuring the Freshkills Park Development Team/NYC Parks, SCAPE Landscape Architecture, NY RisingPei Cobb Freed & Partners, Ennead Architects, with our media sponsors The Architect's Newspaper.  Please join us!  Attendees will have the opportunity to try out the latest virtual reality technology and experience unbuilt projects using Prospect and Scope.

Thursday, October 6 - Parks of the Future Workshop

On Thursday, October 6th, the Freshkills Park Development Team/New York City Parks Department will highlight parks of the future at the Staten Island Arts Culture Lounge at the St. George Ferry Terminal from 7:00pm - 9:00pm.  Use virtual reality to tour SCAPE Landscape Architecture's winning design for Living Breakwaters in the South Shore of Staten Island.  See additional details here.  Please register here.

Thursday, October 20 - Communicating the Unbuilt: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Projects in Virtual Reality

On Thursday, October 20th, Pei Cobb Freed & Associates will host a two hour event at their office.  Designers will speak about their projects and how they leverage virtual reality technology to improve communication and delivery of ideas.  After the presentation, attendees will be invited to explore the 3D models of the unbuilt projects highlighted in the presentation.  Cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres will be provided.  The event is limited to 50 attendees.  Please register here.

Wednesday, October 26 - Communicating the Unbuilt: Ennead and Virtual Reality

On Wednesday, October 26th, Ennead Architects will open their doors and explore the boundary between the real and unreal.  With a new suite of unreal tools at their fingertips, they're able to transcend previous limitations, transforming their design process and elevating the performance of real environments.  The team will present current projects and attendees will be able to explore 3D models of the projects highlighted in virtual reality.  Cocktails and light hors d'oeuvres will be provided.  The event is limited to 50 attendees.  Please register here.