Building Content with VR
The ancient cities of our world are engineering wonders that boggle the mind. For instance, take the ancient urban city of Teotihuacan, Mexico: It boasts some of the largest pyramid structures, and the city spread over 22 miles. Furthermore, the city grid aligns with astronomical and geographic points that were important to its people. It began its growth in 100 BCE, and we know what constructive limits they faced. Yet, over hundreds of years the city was built with precise organization. It’s a mark of extraordinary vision by countless builders to obtain such precise construction through basic tools.
Another man-made engineering wonder is the lost city of Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan. It was completed in 2,500 BCE, outfitted with complex sewage systems and a well-planned street grid. Similar to the Teotihuacan city, the organization and complex planning apparent in this city is a testament to visionary urban development way ahead of its time. It begs the question: How did they plan a sewage system for 35,000 inhabitants without modern technology? They lacked computers, materials, and guidelines we take for granted now, yet developed cities not unlike our own.
Today, we have technologies that these ancient urban planners would consider magic. Our own gift of wonder to the world might not be a physical structure, but a way to virtualize physical structures in order to build them faster, cheaper, and grander.
Microchips, the Cloud, and Virtual Reality
By sharing the CPU’s traditional workload with GPUs, people like Kosslyn and Thompson have made a major breakthrough in rendering. Spreading the processing burden coupled with Moore’s Law – though no longer on pace, did result in small, lightweight, powerful microchips – opened up long-sought possibilities within the virtual world.
The cloud has also become a resource to pull from, storing important data and functions remotely to remove excess hardware and software. One of the biggest challenges VR has faced was making it reasonable to use – light, comfortable, and seamless. Thanks to the cloud and microchips, VR has overcome these obstacles and is sprinting towards usability in a variety of fields. The entertainment industry is currently a major user, but engineering isn’t far behind.
VR Popular in Engineering
According to ViaTechnik, the top five VR technologies that have become popular in architecture and engineering circles are:
– Unreal Engine
– Twin Motion
– Oculus Rift
They offer either a suite of tools, VR model customization, or motion-tracking capabilities so engineers can design and visualize projects without actually commencing construction. VR and Building Information Modeling (BIM) allow professionals to mock up intricate, virtually-accessible buildings so they may investigate their design for further modification. For example, future use of VR for engineering could be used to improve U.S. Airports by providing engineers with the ability to virtually explore and test various blueprints to ensure that airport congestion stays at a minimum. This is much needed, as currently our airports have received a D rating, with costs of congestion projected to be as high as $63 billion by 2040. With VR, not only can necessary changes be made, but it will also be safer, shortens the planning period, minimizes chance and cost, maximizes visualization, reduces needed materials. In short, VR has revolutionized engineering projects.
McCarthy and Mortenson
These two successful building companies implemented VR tech in recent projects, fully embracing what virtual building has to offer. McCarthy has its own BIM cave, where projectors and 3D glasses allow a group of users to see a finished project before its begun and more, and Mortenson used VR to build the US Bank Stadium – home of the LII Superbowl. Thanks to forward thinking, both companies are ahead of the game in construction and can finish massive projects like hospitals and stadiums in a short amount of time with reduced costs and virtually zero surprises….virtually.