Bio: Hi, my name is Shaun Oster. I do a lot of things. I am a Web developer, VR developer and pioneer (I designed the world’s first VR musical record for the early stages of Oculus, and then for Gear VR atwww.doubleheadmusic.com), jazz drummer, singer, composer, keyboardist, guitarist, WRT (Water Release Therapy) provider, chef and coffee-roaster (I cooked for Cher). Most recently I'm an inventor and student of Architectural Drafting and 3D Modeling/Prototyping. Basically, I fall in love with ideas and follow them through to the fullest.
WorldViz: The Basics
Choosing where to interview for a potential career focus in architectural drafting was a no-brainer when my Professor, Armando Arias del Cid, mentioned the existence of a local Virtual-Reality architecture firm, known as WorldViz. I wasn't exactly clear as to what their tool was capable of, but I had already experienced 3D-modeling in Virtual Reality.
Let me try to describe the experience of VR modeling. If you've spent months or years painstakingly developing the ability to translate orthographic drawings into 3D realities, it will take your breath away the first time you enter a virtual world and actually see the 3D objects in your hand. There is nothing left to the imagination. It’s there, in your hand, the exact size and shape its supposed to be. I was nearly in tears when I jumped into MakeVR Pro with my Oculus Rift. Its not just the perspective that is incredible, it's the fact that VR allows for a totally different interaction paradigm, just as multitouch and the mouse did.
Imagine grabbing an object and stretching your hands out, to make it grow to the size of a building. Then carving your name into it or placing an object with a precision and perspective that would not be possible unless you were the size of an ant.
I didn't know exactly what WorldViz was up to. Rather then dive too deeply into researching the company, I just reached out to them for an interview. I was well received by Gabe Baker who set an appointment that week for me to tour the company and learn about what they do. I gratefully accepted. The morning of the appointment, I walked up the stairs (an address on lower Santa Barbara Street), and walked in to an office, filled with VR equipment. I was immediately greeted by Gabe. In front of us was a man in full VR Gear, including some highly advanced VR gloves. Tech like that is still cutting edge, and very expensive. I was drooling as I imagined a full body experience with detailed hands in VR.
Gabe walked me through the facilities, which included a massive green room and VR station with advanced sensors—the kind of thing a VR enthusiast only dreams of. An entire large, warehouse scale experience with full tracking is not easy to come by. While my Oculus has my living room fully mapped, this went beyond the next level.
Gabe proceeded to take me back upstairs to a workstation where he described the product services in detail. Worldviz offers two suites of software. One, Vizard, is for coders and is pretty limitless in what it does for VR creation. I didn’t explore that at all, but I heard Gabe and the lead solutions architect, Sado Rabaudi, talk about it. Their new flagship software is called “Vizible", and it's designed for non-technical users and is an end-to-end VR creation and collaboration platform.
Vizible Presentation Designer is an absurdly powerful tool that architects (among others) can use to create VR presentations and then present their designs to clients, locally or remotely. Like really remotely. Up to 8 people (including the presenter), with each person viewing it at home—in any country. All they need is a complete VR setup (i.e., a computer with a choice of VR gear and sensors, which Worldviz can mail to them for rental or purchase), and an internet connection. You can also join experiences right from desktop PC if you don't have a VR rig. Imagine the money and time saved by presenting the design of a hospital, hotel, or massive office building to the stakeholders accurately, without anyone leaving their home!
Vizible Presentation Designer, can be used by people with no programming skill/experience. It’s more of a virtual experience creation tool. You can import 3D models, videospheres, photos, documents and more, as well as building models exported from Revit or any other 3D design software, effectively creating a model of the architect’s building design instantly. Once the building space is created, you can decorate it, choose where the presenter and the client will appear and what direction they will initially be facing. You can create behavioral triggers that will add to the experience.
For example, imagine the client steps forward (using a movement system menu option that opens from their hand), over a trigger that makes an object appear, such as a movie (flat or 360 and fully immersive in VR), audio, or a fully baked (animated) model of a feature of the potential building. This level of 3D detail allows the investor or manager to experience in full 1:1 perspective what the prospective design would look and feel like. A client can even pick up objects. So, this tool allows for more than architectural presentation—it allows for accurate, interactive presentation of designs/inventions and handheld items.
Imagine the potential. For example, you could create a VC investor presentation forum, where people upload their 3D models of inventions, and literally hand them to the investor while describing them—without anyone leaving home. Imagine presenting a building design to stakeholders and giving them the power to ask for accurate revisions because they have seen – no – BEEN INSIDE your design in real scale, 3D VR, with you standing next to them, describing features and answering questions. On many levels, this is more powerful than presenting anything in person because of the realism and wow-factor of virtual reality, not to mention the ability to experience changes in the design quickly.
After a full demonstration of the features, Gabe plugged me into a Samsung Odyssey (the latest high-resolution Windows-VR headset,) and met me in a Vizible presentation. He was in another room in the building, but appeared to be right next to me—as is the nature of social VR. I am experienced with this type of interaction, but if you haven't done this, it’s exhilarating the first few times you do it. After guiding me through the basic controls of movement, he took me on a tour inside a massive, virtual airplane hanger. He showed me an actual airplane design, including an engine that featured accurate scale and movement in real time, and we took it apart together. It was truly breathtaking; I felt like I was really "there". Gabe pulled up wall-sized renditions of presentations and documents that I could pick up or lean closer to inspect carefully and read while I inspected the engine parts.
This level of power, perspective, interaction, and presentation is not available anywhere else at such a customizable level.
Clients like Deckers use it to share designs created in China with their offices here in Santa Barbara. Architects are already using it to refine designs with their clients. The potential and real usefulness of this service and software is simply mind-boggling.
Vizible Presentation Designer is available as a yearly subscription and offers a highly discounted rate for users in the education space. It's already being used by educational institutions around the world. Locally, they are in early discussions with Santa Barbara Community College for use in the upcoming V.R. Lab.
Students can learn to use this service, and potentially create their own businesses catering to production teams, Venture capitalists, architects, home designers, or anything else their creative minds can apply it to. They generously gave me license to learn it, which will allow me to teach it to others as well as find clients who can use my help creating virtual environments.
For myself, I view this as an enormous opportunity to become a pioneer in a brand-new field that offers “Virtual Drafting” and presentation hosting, using a tool that will save substantial amounts of money for clients and provide interesting professional opportunities to myself and other designers. I can't wait to see what WorldViz has in store for the future.