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Design, Industry News, VR

A conversation with Jonathon Anderson, Assistant Professor Interior Design, Ryerson University
For over a year, Yulio has been working with senior faculty members at Toronto’s Ryerson University. In 2016, the Yulio VR platform was introduced to all students within Ryerson’s Architectural program – a story widely covered in the Canadian media – and a few months later, was also successfully integrated into the University’s Interior Design program, led by its Assistant Professor of Interior Design, Jonathon Anderson (JA). With the Interior Design students having completed their first semester with VR as a component, we sat down with Jonathon to hear what the response had been to using the technology in the classroom and where he saw VR within the future of his industry.  


 

Thanks for talking with us Jonathon. Could you start by giving us a quick overview of exactly how VR is being used in the classroom?
JA – VR was a natural fit for our curriculum and was introduced to our second-year students that had working knowledge of 3D modeling.  The Yulio technology integrates easily with the 3D modeling tool, such as Rhino and Vray, that I already use and teach my students. It was a perfect marriage and allowed students to use the same design technology they were familiar with and easily transfer the models that they were creating into VR. By using VRAY to create a still rendering and using that same camera to produce the virtual reality experience (VRE) students were able to understand the power of looking at a 2D image in front of them and then, through turning it into a VRE, be able to appreciate the entire space in a way that’s far more closely aligned with how people really experience spaces. With this being the first year the students were introduced to VR, many are still pressing the button once at the end of a design to turn their work into a VRE and experience it that way. A portion of the students are starting to go beyond this – which is what I’d really like them to do. They are building a design, using Yulio to generate the VRE, experiencing the design in virtual reality and then going back to the computer to modify or refine their design based on that improved spatial understanding VR gives them.  

How did you come to the decision that VR wasn’t a fad but was something that would impact A&D in a significant way in both the short and long-term?
JA – I think VR and AR is the way of the future within A&D. I don’t see this as a fad that’s going to disappear anytime soon. The technology has become far more accessible and VR is something every firm can now have as part of their toolkit, without the need to hire any kind of specialist. This is especially true when platforms like Yulio have completely removed the technical complexity and made it solely about delivering the best possible user experience for designer and viewer, I think that it will soon become ‘the new normal’ in A&D. With VR, I see my students immediately ‘get’ the space. What I mean by that is that they understand scale and proportion in a completely different way through the VR experience when comparing it to the spaces they view on a screen. It allows my students to understand space far better and far more quickly. Students don’t naturally understand how to design for those who would eventually build something. With the spatial awareness that comes with seeing designs in VR, they are far better equipped to design with contractors in mind.  

Was there anything about the use of VR in the classroom that was unexpected?
JA – I didn’t expect the students to be so in awe of the experience and that was exciting to see. My students have grown up with access to incredible technology within their own lives and certainly within the university. It’s everywhere they turn and they’ve known nothing else.  It was, therefore, amazing to see them so wowed by VR. It’s hard to keep 100 students excited but I saw VR do that. I think as more of our students are exposed to the technology over the coming year, I see it becoming the natural way that the students will design and present their work.  

 

 

Where do you see VR’s place in the future of interior design?
JA – I think on a very fundamental level VR will change the way that clients or potential buyers make decisions. I think developers will use it as a sales tool and be able to demonstrate to clients a full palette of different interior finishes. The role of the interior designer will change in line with that. Rather than working with each individual client, they will be responsible for providing a catalog of options that they know will look good and work well together and that will be what is pushed into the VR experience for clients to choose from. By being able to show clients options before anything is real and have them choose their exact preference means they are then able to walk into the finished property and have it be exactly what they were expecting.  

Do you believe VR will be a critical skill for new designers to have?
JA – Yes. I believe VR will have to be a critical element of design training for careers in A&D. Several of my students are already changing the presentation of their portfolio from the physical walking through of drawings that are typically expected in the architecture and design field. They have gone into internship interviews with only their cell phone and a pair of VR glasses and asked potential employers to view their work in virtual reality. Notably, by doing this, they secured the placements they wanted and I think this is due to the fact that they set themselves apart from the hundreds of other candidates. They believed this could change something for them and it was relatively easy. They already had the 3D models and the VRAY renderings. All they had to do is click a button and they had everything they needed to be stored right there on their cell phone.


So much of what interior designers do is about connection and human experience. It is about creating living environments and there’s no other technology that can offer people a spatial experience or communicate living environments before they’re real, better than VR. Our thanks to Jonathon for sharing his insight to into the next generation of VR designers with us. Try creating your own VR experiences, or your own portfolio for free with Yulio.
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Architecture, Business, Industry News, VR, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Since 1978, Diamond Schmitt Architects have been designing award-winning buildings across the world, consistently looking at sustainability in design and innovative new technologies to further user satisfaction and supply modern building operations.


In a recent partnership with Ingenium, Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, they have designed an enormous adjacent building to the  Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa called the Collection and Conservation Centre. The key problem they were solving was a way to house the Science and Technology collection in one building, with objects ranging in size from hand tools to actual trains. We sat down with Andrew Chung, (AC) an Architect at DSAI to discuss the Ottawa building.
 






I’ll start by asking you to describe the architectural problem you were working to solve for Ingenium?
AC:  Ingenium’s existing museum facilities weren’t going to meet their future needs, and there was a need to renovate the existing Science and Technology Museum. In doing so, there was an opportunity to create a secondary building to the museum to house the collections for all 3 Science and Innovation museums. The collection is currently separated from the museums, spread across multiple warehouses.  We recognized the opportunity to join the collection into one building and give an opportunity to link the collection spaces to the exhibition spaces. Our building houses these amazing historical artifacts and major parts of Canadian scientific and engineering achievements, and offers the potential to preserve and maintain this important history into the future, and offer new generations better visibility to the richness of the Canadian achievements in science and technology throughout history.

So, what role did VR play in this project?
AC: The use of VR fit very much into the architectural problem we were solving because we found out very quickly that the task of consolidating the museum collection from 3 scattered, separate spaces into one building created a unique architectural problem: the scale was hard to conceive. We’re talking about artifacts ranging from a wide range of sources; from the early agricultural hand tools,  the very first Bombardier Snowmobile, Canadian space probes, to the Governor General’s train, which itself is around 9m long. These items are really interesting aspects of Canadian history, and we really felt the need to house them properly and preserve them for the future. But because they are huge artifacts, the spaces had to be very large, and it quickly meant that the building couldn’t be person scale, and instead had to be tailored much larger. The collection exponentially increased the size of the building quickly. When you’re designing objects of this size, it drastically changes how you approach the design problem. And so to really understand the scale, we introduced VR to the project. We needed to see how big these items were for our own understanding. And then when we saw that we could get really detailed images from Yulio, it helped us propose design solutions to the client. It allowed us to talk about things in a perspectival manner that captures scale in a much better way than solely using a 2D drawing. People who see our 2D drawings or blueprints still don’t really comprehend the scale until they view the VR experience. We were trying to find solutions to help communicate that spatial understanding to the client, and VR came into play for that.  

 

 

   
 
Had DSAI worked with VR before?
AC: DSAI was using smaller VR experiences of one scene or a perspective in a performing arts center from one vantage point. What Yulio let us do was create multiple scenes and spatial cohesion by stringing together multiple scenes with hotspots. That way, someone not used to looking at our plans can understand and orient themselves much more clearly. That’s when we were able to much more efficiently communicate just how big this building would be, and how everything would coalesce together. It helped clients understand why spaces had to be designed so large, and understand how we were able to solve the organization of this massive collection, to fulfill the goal of preserving this Canadian history. This is why working on this project has been a great pleasure, as it presents many unique design and communication challenges, among of which we’re solving with products like Yulio.

Why did you decide to go with a mobile VR solution?
AC: We know VR is currently a hot trend, but when we were looking at available platforms, the ‘high end’ VR experience required a powerful computer and tethered experience. In addition,  you had to have the client present in our office in person, which presented a challenge as the client is located in Ottawa while we were in Toronto. The high-end approach to VR  meant that overall, the communication reach would be pretty low. Mobile VR worked better for us because it gave us the opportunity to communicate through everyday, accessible objects like smartphones. For our design and review process, we would simply send a web link through Yulio, and we were able to share the content with our client easily. The aspect of communicating effectively at a  distance as very important,  and we were able to send things quickly and update the content seamlessly, much like a web platform. Yulio became like a content management system for us.


How did your client respond to the VR experience?
AC:  That’s actually a funny story. Originally, the VR portion was actually a side project. We are of course focused on the best, most workable design first. But VR was an opportunity to explain the space better, to really get a much deeper client comprehension. Before VR, the client understood the concept but didn’t feel the visceral connection. We noticed a much more emotional response once they viewed our design in VR, in contrast to an almost clinical approach when they looked at plans. So once they had that emotional connection to the space, they bought into more of our ideas around space planning later in the project. The client’s understanding of our design just grew exponentially after exposure to VR.  

 

 

And how did that VR engagement change the project going forward?
AC: Our engagement with our client grew exponentially when we introduced VR. Now they’re getting into what we’ve proposed and are much more excited. We have found the client has engaged in a dialogue with us much more frequently. It’s not just a relationship of us describing the project to our clients, but also seeing how they’ve shared more of this material with their staff. As an example, the client asked us to add views of conservation labs so they could share their conservationist staff. The plan would show a series of rooms, which graphically would show up as boxes in these labs, but in VR they could see how tall the units are and how the spaces were stacked. It’s a greater level of excitement at many levels of the organization.  

 

 

Did working in VR change your process as well?
AC:  We actually started using VR as an internal design tool, and it has been a fantastic tool amongst our team. Since we were working with multiple designs iterations in Revit, connecting everyone on the same level was extremely important. Throwing our design into VR would quickly reveal tasks and revisions we needed to accomplish and figure it out much more quickly in the design process. It gave us better opportunities to figure out solutions to the design problems earlier on. You would get more time to play creatively and explore solutions because fundamentally, you would get to the core of the design focus earlier as a result of this added understanding and resolution. Since the depth of exploration goes further, and our design gets better because we’re able to visualize problems earlier than waiting for issues to arise.

How do you envision using Yulio on future projects?
AC: Our design process has changed for the better with VR. From our staff who have a drafting history to those who think in 3D programs, everyone is excited by the sense of scale they can see in VR. It’s generating a lot of excitement within the firm because people get to see their vision sooner. It’s changing the way we talk about things too – in internal meetings, we’ll pull up the Yulio VRE and solve a detail or design challenge and it creates better understanding among the design teams. In the future with our clients, I see VR as part of a robust feedback loop, going beyond the show and tell to getting client feedback in context, and build two-way communication in VR to increase collaboration between the team and our clients.

Anything else you’d like to share about the success of the project?
AC:  We’ve had a great dialogue with Yulio. While we’ve had a two party relationship with our client, we’ve found it has become more of a three-party relationship with the Yulio on a technology level. This whole process has proven that our feedback can help with design – whether it’s our design or the Yulio platform. So it’s not one way at all, it’s a dialogue that creates three happy parties with us, our client and the Yulio team. The building project itself is moving quickly, the first floor is being poured right now, and we’re interested to see how well the VR design that showed the intent of the building aligns with the completed building. Did we predict things accurately? VR lets us see into the future, and when construction is done we’ll see how close we were.


Our thanks to Andrew Chung of DSAI for sharing their success in deepening client engagement through VR. For more information about creating your own VR designs, download our white paper on successfully integrating VR into your workflow.
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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality
Most of the attention that today’s Virtual Reality technology gets is focused on its uses in the gaming and entertainment world. But any architect or interior designer who’s half awake knows that the A&D community is in the middle of a VR revolution: and it’s not over yet. Here are three ways VR is changing our industry already. Who knows what’ll be next?  

New client experience

The way your clients experience the collaboration process will be unlike they’ve ever experienced before. Instead of attempting to visualize their project from a piece of paper, they’ll know exactly what you’ve got in mind and exactly what they’re getting prior to construction. This reduces hesitation, improves their decision-making abilities and makes them feel a lot more comfortable about the process–which, for most non-designers, can be an intimidating one. Being able to place your clients in your designs, and guide them through the entire experience with tools like Yulio’s collaboration feature, is a first-class experience they can’t help but love. But with new experiences come new expectations. Once your clients have experienced VR-assisted collaboration, nothing else will compare. Next time around, you can be sure there’s one thing they’ll be asking for.  

New services = new revenue stream

With new technology comes new opportunities for adding value to clients–and, well, making money. Take one of our clients–a major Canadian design firm–who use Yulio to offer a service they’d never been able to offer before. The firm created a new service offering and revenue stream entirely around designing ‘virtual’ designs for empty units for sale by a one of Canada’s top 10 national real estate companies. Before this, the real estate company was spending $50-$60 per square foot to construct a real-life demo unit. So, their new virtual demo arrangement is a win for both parties. And can you guess who the buyers turn to when it’s time for real design work?  
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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality
To most of us, Virtual Reality is interesting–but intimidating. The most common objections we get from architects and designers usually stem from fear: “I’m not technical–how will I know how to use VR? Will everyone on my team be able to learn this technology? What about my clients?” A mobile-powered VR platform like Yulio solves all of the above, and more.

Converting from CAD to VR

Converting to VR from  your authoring environment is simple with VR CAD plugins, and requires virtually no extra work. Just render your 3D environment with the plugin specific to your CAD tool, and you’ve got everything you need to upload to Yulio.

File Management

Once you’re ready to upload, it gets even easier. Yulio’s file management system is as simple as it gets: if you know how to use Dropbox (or a computer, really), you know how to manage your files in Yulio.  

Viewing in VR

Viewing your VR files is as simple as downloading the free Yulio Viewer app to your smartphone and connecting it to your Yulio account. Any time you want to view a design in VR, just click ‘View in VR’ on yulio.com and it’ll be sent to your phone. This makes the process of handing a headset to a client smooth and painless. Once they’re immersed in VR, you’ll be able to guide them through a space using Yulio’s live-stream Collaborate feature, giving your client an impressive (but not overwhelming) experience.

Your Clients

At the end of the day, clients are your top priority. You’ll no doubt want to make sure their VR experience is enjoyable and hassle-free. That’s why Yulio is designed for you and your clients. If your client wants to view VR designs in their own smartphone, all they’ll need is the app and your design’s special URL, which you can share with them in seconds. The best part about the simplicity of mobile-powered VR is that it comes at no cost to sophistication–or power. Even with a simple smartphone and a pocket-sized headset, the reactions VR elicits are one of a kind. Give it a try–you’ll be surprised how easy it is.  
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Everything Else, News and Updates, Your Business + Virtual Reality
We’ve got something exciting to announce: you can now view 360 photos in Yulio! If you’re a Yulio user, check out our Knowledge Base article for more technical information and a guide on using the feature. Why should you use 360 photos? In the same way that a 2D image of an architectural rendering is nothing like experiencing that same rendering in Virtual Reality, viewing a 360 photograph is an entirely new experience: it’s captivating, fully immersive, and communicates better than anything how it really feels to be in a space. Your only competitor? Brick and mortar. Our clients use Yulio’s 360 photo capabilities in a number of ways:
  • Showcasing before and after photos in portfolios
  • Showcasing before photos with ‘after’ renderings
  • Presenting spaces off-site, without the need to for either party to travel
It’s early days, but 360 photography–and the entire Virtual Reality industry–is proving itself to be incredibly valuable for the A&D community (and their clients!). Ready to give it a go? Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Yulio’s Virtual Reality software today.
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Everything Else, News and Updates, Your Business + Virtual Reality
There’s no denying it: the world is getting smaller. The technology we use on a daily basis is getting smaller as it gets better. With the wearable revolution, the rise of the tablet and the increasing preference for phones over computers, our world is going micro. keep reading
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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Though virtual reality is a new tool for many, Yulio’s easy-to-use technology is designed for use by the whole team–from VPs, to designers, to the sales team.

“Conference room, now!”

It’s a good idea to introduce your new VR technology to the whole company before you begin. Explain why you’re using it, and the benefits it will bring to the entire team.

Outline how it will be used within the company, and assign roles and responsibilities to various team members.

Above all, make sure they know that this is designed to make their jobs easier, not harder. It’s hard to argue with that.

Side note: If they haven’t tried it until now, make sure you put a headset on them! If there’s one way to get people excited about VR, it’s letting them try it.

Use Yulio’s user management capabilities

It’s easy to set up your team in Yulio. You’ll need a Standard or Plus account, and admin rights to invite, delete and assign roles to users.

You can assign a user to one of three roles: admin, author, and presenter.

Give admin rights to your in-house VR champion–this gives them full capabilities within Yulio, including the ability to manage users.

For your architects, designers and 3D modellers, author rights are your best bet. This gives them control over file management, but not user management.

For your salespeople or team members who’ll only need to select and present VR experiences for viewing, presenter rights are what you need. They’ll be able to navigate through your files, and view the files they need, without making any changes within the system.

With your team’s roles designated within Yulio, we think  you’ll find working with Yulio a lot smoother.

For a detailed explanation on assigning user roles, check out our article on the Yulio Knowledge Base about this.

Get them comfortable

Don’t throw your team into the deep end. Although Yulio is designed with grandma-tested simplicity, it’s still new technology, and your team will inevitably have their inhibitions about it.

Make sure they’re comfortable with how it works before they start using it (this is particularly important for client-facing team members).

Let them know that any problems they have can be directed to our friendly support staff at support@yulio.com and 416-499-2227. Of course, there’s always our trusty Knowledge Base if you’re looking for some quick self-help.

 
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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality

So you’ve just stepped into the world of virtual reality, and you’re quickly discovering what an amazing business tool it can be. Oh, and how straightup cool it is. But if you’re wondering how to make virtual reality a more integrated part of your brand and service offering, here’s a few tips to get you started. keep reading

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Everything Else, Your Business + Virtual Reality

Ultimately, there are two things you’ll need to consider when buying a virtual reality (VR) headset for the first time: cost, and quality.

While there are dozens of headsets out there, and more joining the market every day (a quick Google search will leave you feeling more than a little overwhelmed), here are a few classics we recommend for first-timers.*

keep reading
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