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The Top Ways VR has Failed in Architecture / Real Estate Design (and Our Solution)

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

We know Virtual Reality (VR) is a very powerful tool for the Architecture Design phase of Real Estate Development. However, despite the many advantages that VR brings to the table, there is still a puzzling question that lingers: Why hasn’t VR been more widely adopted within the industry? Here are the critical roadblocks we've found in our research, and why we created our own platform.

The benefits are compelling and well-documented. Many companies have seen substantial advantages from VR implementation, including significant savings on material and construction costs, spotting design issues early, reduced time spent in design, and increased project ownership confidence.

Given these benefits, one would expect every real estate development firm and architecture design company to be eagerly adopting VR into their organization. But after researching the top 20+ VR solutions, we found these prevailing issues.

The Roadblocks of VR for Architecture Design

Historically, there have been technical and operational limitations to the solutions available that have hindered the widespread adoption of VR.

Here are the most common issues with services and workflows available:

1. Many VR tools require a connection to a PC. This is due to the substantial computing power necessary to render typical design files.

As well, new standalone/untethered VR headset tech like the Meta Quest have limited processing/rendering ability, and didn't exist until recently. This means most VR solutions were not engineered for standalone VR headsets, and the ones that offer cross-platform support are rarely stable on VR platforms like Meta Quest 2.

2. Lack of multi-user. This restricts the VR experience to one person at a time. The inconvenience of swapping a headset back and forth and the inability to share the immersive VR experience with project stakeholders (unless they physically joined you in the office) makes VR adoption more of an inconvenience than an asset.

3. Technical Workflow Required. Very commonly, VR requires extra steps in your architect's workflow to optimize your existing design files, or a new software to learn in order to view and run the VR simulation. This translates into greater complications and ongoing costs for use. Companies would need VR development or optimization experts (which are costly), and without management that understands game engine development, your looking at further inflated costs and slow output, short and long term.

4. Instability/Poor Performance. Additionally, the majority of VR solutions have attempted a one-size-fits-all approach. But each development project is unique in its complexity and size. Yet nearly all VR solutions are promising the ability to "drop your designs in and jump into VR." This results in wild fluctuations in stability (if functional at all) and generally very poor performance/framerates.

5. Poor Graphics Quality. One huge misconception is that CAD and design file types are ready for a real-time game environment (like what is required for VR simulations/experiences) but in fact, the 3D rendering logic used in architecture software is fundamentally different from the geometric modeling that game engines use. So, commonly, a software will attempt to optimize CAD files (or similar) to be used in VR, and the resulting geometry is quite complex or error prone. In order to render such complex geometry, a program has to make sacrifices to rendering pipe-lines, and thus poor visual outcomes. As a result you'll be looking at these levels of visual quality when stepping into untethered VR.

Examples of top competing processes

Our Solution to the Problem: Seamless, Efficient, Collaborative

Our team at PlatformXR is stepping up to address these challenges specifically. Here is our mindset: Your design team does not need another time consuming and complicated step to worry about, and surely does not need an abstract game engine workflow or new employee(s) for any time you want to reap the benefits of VR collaboration.

Our solution begins when you send us your architectural designs. No change or addition to your architect's workflow.

We rapidly process your designs with our custom system and game engine program. We provide your company with your own Meta Quest VR app that updates with your newest projects, causing no interruption to your design process. We take care of the optimization and updating of your projects, making VR adoption a seamless and efficient process.

Live Session Screenshots

Our KEY Advantages

1. No new workflow/technical hassle

2. Stable and reliable

3. Remote/Multi-user collaboration

4. Superior graphics quality

5. Single license service model

A chart from our research, grading the most popular tools. PXR on the right.

The Benefits and Testimonies

It's proven that the adoption of Virtual Reality in the design phase offers distinct benefits to a project, both financially, and overall quality.

Hear from those who've come before.

Significant Cost Savings

"We had originally planned to build a staircase with solid walls, but by walking through the model using VR, the team noticed the solid walls blocked out significant natural light. ...the calculated savings from the staircase totaled $50,000. ...another $20-30k removing other unnecessary walls."

- Treehouse, Retail Development

Find and address issues early with your team.

"clients often notice details in the VR models that the design team didn't consider important. As a result, VR becomes a discovery tool to better understand the client's priorities and their intended, actual use of a space."

- Carlyn Luu, Hickok Cole, Architect

Reduce design cycles and speed up decision making.

"When you look at a two-dimensional renders, it's difficult to understand exactly what's on the floor, what's suspended, how far things are suspended down from the ceiling, and where those things might block your view or your ability to move within the space."

- Jason Carney - AIA, NCARB

Next Steps in Using VR to its Greatest Potential

In summing up, Virtual Reality has transformative potential for architecture design and real estate development. However, challenges both technical and systemic have created serious obstacles for your organization to cost effectively implement.

At PlatformXR, we're overcoming these hurdles, creating a scalable VR platform that integrates smoothly with your workflow, requiring no additional software, supports remote collaboration, while delivering superior graphics quality.

Together, we can unlock the project benefits that VR has to offer, helping your business thrive in the process.

Moving Forward:

Learn About Our Other AEC Solutions

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