IrisVR Case Study: Miele

 

Miele is a globally recognized company founded in 1899 focusing on the manufacturing of multi-award winning, high-end home appliances as well as world renowned cleaning and clinical sterilization machines. Last year, Miele’s Australian branch began using IrisVR Prospect to visualize their event and trade show designs for upcoming installations. 

Large trade show events are highly coordinated behind the scenes choreographies of booth assemblies occurring within compressed timelines. Typically exhibitors are given 24-48 hours prior to the commencement of the show to have their exhibit constructed. All aspects of the design must be thoroughly examined and prepared to precision to avoid costly last minute revisions or an unsuccessful booth.

 

“VR is providing significant cost savings and workflow

efficiencies, but is also providing a tangible

productivity benefit in that it’s speeding up the approval process.”

- Kym Porter, National Merchandising Manager Miele AU

 

Leveraging Virtual Reality for Trade Show Design

To tackle the many challenges of trade show design in the most effective way, the Miele design team created a virtual reality walkthrough of the installation by first modeling all the components in Sketchup, then dragging and dropping their files into IrisVR Prospect. Prospect, is IrisVR's Windows-based standalone platform which allows for native Sketchup, Revit, OBJ and Rhino files to be imported and quickly converted into virtual reality experiences, using the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

Creating virtual reality walkthroughs allows the team to engage all the team members and facilitate conversations around the built space. Establishing a way for the executive team members to provide constructive feedback without the need to understand how to read 2D architectural drawings. 

It also helped the team cut down on costs by eliminating the need to build physical mock-ups that quickly become outdated. As designers made changes to the 3D model, they could quickly recreate the virtual reality experience in just one click.

With every VR walkthrough, the team was able to evaluate product and brand placement, and marketing hotspots from the view of an attendee prior to its construction. Adding a clear sense of the space and trust in the final product. 

“This test case also revealed unexpected benefits,
such as space and dimensional issues as well as
highlighting optimal branding and marketing
hotspots.”
— Kym Porter, National Merchandising Manager Miele AU

Images Above: (1) Interior of Finished Built Trade show (2) Sketchup Model of booth design (3) Interior of Finished Built Tradeshow (4) Sketchup Model of Trade show Floor Layout

 

Design Workflow

The Miele design team created a virtual reality experience of their project by modeling all the components in Sketchup, then dragging and dropping their file into IrisVR Prospect. Here are the steps they took:

1. Sketchup 3D Model

2. IrisVR Prospect with Oculus Rift

3. Done! Ready for Virtual Reality Walkthrough

 

“... The impact VR is already having on design and
marketing takes it well beyond a cool techno toy and into a vital business tool.”
— Kym Porter, National Merchandising Manager Miele AU

 

 

Adding Virtual Reality to Your Designs

Virtual reality is not a tool of the future, but a tool available to designers today. Incorporating VR as an asset to your project really is just as simple as seen in Miele's workflow above. All that you need to get started are four components:

1. 3D Model of your design

2. VR Headset (HTC Vive or Oculus Rift)

3. Computer that meets hardware requirements for VR

4. IrisVR Prospect installed on your machine

The Sky Is Too Blue! Explorations Into Global Lighting & Shadows

On November 1st we released Prospect v1.0 after almost two years in development. This was a huge milestone for IrisVR - it was the culmination of our team's work across many codebases, and in our early tests we were seeing vastly improved framerates and 2x faster loading times. What we hadn't anticipated was the seemingly unanimous frustration from our users regarding the addition of a blue tint to their experiences.

Our Favorite VR-ready Hardware: How to get the most out of Prospect

The Rapidly-Evolving World of VR

A lot has changed in the virtual reality hardware landscape in the last nine months. Not only have we seen the commercial release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, but graphics card manufacturers have also continued to push the limits of what’s possible in VR with increasingly powerful Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). The GPU is the most important single piece of hardware for running a desktop VR experience. Powerful GPUs are continuing to drop in price, and are more readily available. Today many more PC manufacturers realize the importance of supporting VR experiences, both for consumers and enterprise users, and specs on top-of-the-line machines are starting to reflect the needs of VR users.

 

The Latest and Greatest GPUs

If you’ve been running Prospect on an Nvidia GTX 960 or even an older GPU, you might not be getting the most out of the latest features in Prospect.  The Nvidia GTX 1080 is the current flagship VR GPU and is our personal favorite* for testing and demoing IrisVR Prospect. It simply blows away other GPUs in benchmark testing and in terms of user experience. On a GTX 1080, Prospect runs with blazingly-high frame rates, even in complex models with high polygon counts. This allows for the most seamless, realistic experiences whether you’re using Prospect for usability studies, client demonstrations, or immersive design reviews.  

*Our recommendation as of post date. What's best in VR hardware changes quickly, so we always recommend users do their research before investing in VR computers and headsets.

 

Availability

The Nvidia GTX 1080 is available in a number of desktops and laptops, many of which are priced comparably to a typical high-powered enterprise workstation. For top-of the line performance in a (relatively) portable package, the MSI GT73VR laptop is the standout choice. Though not exactly lightweight at 8.5 pounds, its 2.7GHz i7 processor, 32GB of RAM, and SSD + HDD combo give users the resources to power any and all VR and modeling needs. It’s available on Amazon or via one of MSI’s resellers. For users running VR in a dedicated space at the office or site, where portability is less crucial, the MSI Nightblade MI2 is a blazing-fast desktop, and a top pick for those who want to get the most out of their VR investment. 

 

“Having a portable VR laptop reduces the barriers to using VR for meetings outside your office. A few weeks ago in Los Angeles, I ran our software at a construction site!”  

- Shane Scranton, IrisVR CEO   

Shane showing off VR's portability (though not at a construction site). Photo Credit: TCA Architecture.

Shane showing off VR's portability (though not at a construction site). Photo Credit: TCA Architecture.

Test Your System

Think your current system might not be up to spec?  Download the Oculus Hardware Check Tool or the HTC Vive Performance Tester.  Remember that Prospect publishes slightly different minimum requirements than HTC or Oculus, so make sure to check the results of these tools against our minimums here: Prospect Minimum Requirements.

Love your hardware? Have tips on how to get the most out of your setups?  Share on the forums or drop us a line about it.  We always love feedback from our users.

 

Note: We sometimes use Amazon Associates links in our blog posts to help understand our readers better. For more on that, see our explanation here.

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.