Mixed Reality and Its Impact on the Future
Myron Krueger earliest introduces artificial reality in the mid-1970s to describe his computer generated responsive environments. Commonly known as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR). As one of the official explanations, VR is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation and AR is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.
In my understanding, artificial reality is a human made space, providing a whole new experience, which is not easy or impossible to reach in our real life. There are two elements making the reality, which are senses and imaginations. Imaginations create the reality, and senses reinforce the experience of the reality. Sight, Hearing, taste, smell, and touch all could be used for building the reality.
A senior manager Souda Takehito from Sony Company talked about artificial reality on an interview. He said a surrey shows that >90% experience of artificial reality comes from visual and hearing senses. That is why VR is the most common word for talking about the Artificial Reality.
I am highly interested in AR, because I believe VR is just an excessive product in the world of virtual reality; and AR will one day dominate the entire market. Right now, VR technology has been used in many fields especially in games. But AR has not so widely applied to our world yet; it is only in beginning stage. Instead of taking over the whole vision from people’s eyes, augmented reality (AR) technology combines the digital realm and the real world together, which creates a seamless and magical environment.
In such a hybrid environment, our real life scenarios could be elevated and improved by digital components and overlays work in many ways. As we can see now, Augmented reality technology most of time is used by tech corporations and gaming communities to enhance consumers’ experience; it is also becoming a more mainstream technology for some large retailers and customers. In the past few years, some major consumer-driven companies have been using AR successfully to enrich their customers’ experiences and ways to sell their products. I have been looking at some of those companies, which use AR as one of their selling strategies. And I found an app on iPhone called Ikea Catalog by Ikea Furniture Company is quite interesting and successful.
The app was launched on 25 August 2013. It is available in the Apple Store, Google Play, and Android. Basically, AR will be used to simulate products into customers’ rooms to allow them to find the perfect choices. The app uses the Ikea catalogue books to judge the approximate scale of the furnishings, and measure the size of the catalogue itself in the camera. So that, the app will create an augmented reality image of the furnishings before customers’ eyes in their rooms.
The app is pretty straightforward and easy to use. It contains all the up to date Ikea catalogue books in the publications list. And by clicking the store locator and favorites, customers can pick and mark the products they like and find the available and closest store to them to get the products home. The most important part of the app home page is the “Place furniture in your room”, and the 3D full-scale digital furniture start from here.
There is hundreds of furniture in the app, and the Ikea Catalogue arranges all of them into different orders. Customers will be able to see and pick sofas, chairs, beds, bookcases, chests of drawers and desks. When they find something they like, they can virtually place the 3D full-scale furniture in the room by using mobile phone camera. At first, a physical Ikea Catalogue book is needed to be placed in the room where customers want to test the products. Then, the app will pick up the catalogue and uses it to gauge the correct scale for products that will be show on-screen. After that, customers can test furniture’s color and size in their room within the app. Moreover, the digital 3D furniture can be rotated 360 degree or tilted. The app provides customers an environment, which is mixed by real space with some fake furniture models.
Before the app was created, the staffs of Ikea had some researches show that many customers suffer from “Square Peg, round hole syndrome” as 14% say they had bought the wrong sized furniture for their rooms and more than 70% even do not know how big are their rooms. The country-marketing manager, Peter Wright used to say that
“When our designers and interiors experts started to think about how we could use augmented reality to help our customers, we felt that we could solve some of the very real problems they face.
Our customers want to be able to test out whether the products they have been inspired by in our catalogue will work in their own homes – particularly when it comes to larger pieces of furniture. Offering a way of using mobile technology to enable to test products means the technology has a practical purpose and really helps customers visualize the way their homes could look.”
Augmented reality technology gives the Ikea Catalog ability to virtualize digital furniture in real space. And Ikea Catalog brings customers a new and effective way to find their prefect furniture.
It is a chain reaction; VR and AR technologies are not only changing the furniture market but also effecting people’s use of space. The limitation of being in a space will be broken; people could be anywhere anytime within just one space. It is similar to a muti-purpose room; in this case, people use the space for different needs based on AR or VR’s simulation of the space.
Most of the time, AR and VR technologies are related to future imaginations. People use them to create artificial realities, which can apply to games, military, medicine, and many other businesses. Right now, there are many devices can do the job to simulate digital environments, such like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Hololens. Those devices somehow engage people's senses to bring people into a whole new world, which does not exist. More senses imposed; the better experience can translate to people. Within human-made environments, everything is possible to happen.
Great buildings can always leave a deep impression on people. However, with the passage of time, buildings will be fallen, people's memories will slowly fade away. By using Augment Reality technology, virtual space can be superimposed onto new physical space to recreate the vision of great buildings, which recalls history.
My design focus is not really on how fancy the future could be, but recall the grand visions or extraordinary moments in the past. I want to take advantage of the AR technology to recreate and simulate the space, which has gone to present historical stories. The artificial environment I am trying to create will bring people back to the old time by using the Google Hololens to simulate some building elements and textures. In other words, I am copying all the historic building contents and moving them to my building to provide people the look of the historic building. So that people can feel being in the building, which does not exist anymore. Buildings do get destroyed over time, but with my idea and AR technology; great architecture could never be forgotten.
Cincinnati has many great histories, which called "Queen City" by people. There were so many famous buildings built during the 19th and 20th centuries, such like Union Station, Cincinnati City Hall, Carew Tower, and Cincinnati Public Library. And the Public Library interests me on his beautiful main hall. It is the first large-scale public library opened in United States' history. Moreover, it is unforgettable about its building material usage. Steel columns, stonewalls, wood bookshelves, and marble floors; nobleness has shown everywhere inside of the library. The building got demolished in 1955, and a new library was built up after that. It seems that people had started forgetting how beautiful the old library was.
The building has a modern exterior look, but traditional interior ornaments. The entire building runs through new and old styles with the mixed use of materials and shapes. It will bring people a feeling of different timelines and a high contrast of manners. The two most important programs, hotel and library could be put together from the commemoration side. So that the Cincinnati Old Library style of the hotel can attract visitors to not only stay but also learn some Cincinnati histories. These two programs will be working together tightly with AR technology to present the story of Cincinnati.
The curved flush glass panels can reflect various colorful lights that will catch visitors’ eyeballs externally. In the meantime, some typical materials, such as break walls, concrete columns will fill in the gap between every two panels. When visitors pass by the building, they will catch interior decorations and redesigned constructions through these glassy panels. I assume that this building can convey more ideas of utilizing multiple materials and convey a concept of combining the modern material and traditional structure.
However, after experiencing the VR rejections, I can assume that the VR technology is becoming an essential part in Architect projects. Even though I designed the building and made the rendering, I still can feel the gap between design and reality. Now the VR technology is eliminating the gap and dragging people into the world of experience. I wonder how can we do better in this area? As considerable architects, we should include and stimulate more details and circumstances into the VR project by creating a new version for our clients. Also, the AR technology is another area, which is waiting for us to explore.
Being an architect doesn’t mean to be outside of the business circle. We are requiring thinking in business to design or redesign, make models effective and create multiple usages for various groups or companies. What I designed is more than a single building for people to use, but a great place to create a way to help people to communicate. These glasses can be more functional and sustainable by provoking more VR or AR technology that connect with local business to facilitate opportunities to communicate with customers. I wish that this building I designed no longer be a normative place to read or live, but be a funny likeable special place to experience and remember.
Isabella Baranyk. "4 Virtual Spaces in "Second Life" that Explore Alternatives in Religious Architecture" 29 Jan 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 Apr 2017. http://www.archdaily.com/804048/4-virtual-spaces-in-second-life-that-explore-alternatives-in-religious-architecture/
AD Editorial Team. "Call for 360 Videos and Virtual Reality Tours" 16 Apr 2017. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 Apr 2017. http://www.archdaily.com/868692/call-for-360-videos-and-virtual-reality-tours/