Virtual Reality vs. Mock-up Spaces
Within the past couple years, we dived into the realm of Virtual Reality. One of our motivations was to find an alternative to building mock-up spaces when budgets are tight. In particular we looked into this option for a local major Boston metropolitan hospital when the cost of creating a mock-up space, for an operating room, could quickly escalate in cost.
As a part of the VDC team at Tocci working on the project, I was asked to develop a VR mock-up for the client in order to help users understand the space better. Doctors, nurses and other operating room staff could move around the room and note changes on the layout. Possibly the light wasn’t close enough to the table or the supplies should be located farther away from the door, etc. These changes then could be easily added into the drawings for the room and eventually into the final built project.
In the future, I can see more companies using VR instead of building the mock-up since it is both a cost saver and time saver. Other benefits include eliminating the need to find a location to build the mock-up. For occupied renovations, this is especially important as free space is very limited or doesn’t exist at all. Additionally, the space could be viewed from any location. The file could be sent to anyone and they could view it at the comforts of their desk.
Additional mock-up spaces that were built were for the Embassy Suites hotel project we are building in Berkeley Heights, NJ. The mock-up was used by the various trades on site enabling them to understand how the space should look when the building was completed. It also helped us to identify possible issues with the furniture and casework placement.
There are a number of new products in the works and on the market that will help launch the VR into the next stages. One upgrade we’re excited to see is the ability to incorporate body movement, and the ability to move items with hand commands. At a recent workshop I attended, I was able to demo the HTC Vive where it makes the VR experience more realistic. The more VR progress as a technology I can see it becoming a major tool for the AEC industry.