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The Future of VR/AR—The Growing Demand for Creators of Places

What is the state-of-the-art in Virtual and Augmented Reality? Akiko Ashley of Architosh attended last week’s pivotal 2017 Vision VR/AR Summit in Los Angeles, organized by Unity Technologies, to learn exactly that question, posed through breakout sessions, panels, and highly informative displays and presentations by the world’s VR/AR leaders.

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The VR/AR Summit featured the biggest names and companies in the worlds of VR and AR. Below we summarize key announcements by company.

A Mighty Kingdom

Sarah Strumbo, VR/AR evangelist took to the stage with Mike Wuetherick, Product Manager at Unity, to show off a game created in Unity called “A Mighty Kingdom” and show a player could interact in the world and on the fly create changes to the world. She showed off at tiny peek at a new feature called Timeline. Timeline is similar to Adobe After Effects (AE) using a timeline to control changes. Sarah built little models on the fly while wearing her headset to create a defense against an attack. The results were pretty cool stuff!


Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk are the founders of “Within” their common love for art and storytelling brought them together to create technologies and stories in VR.

Chris Milk may be familiar to film fans as he was featured at Sundance many times at their New Frontier Labs. “Within” created this outstanding interactive experience in Unity called “The Life of Us” where you and your friends enter a virtual reality world where you evolve and change while creating memories as you take this journey of evolution. Once you enter the world, everything about your identity changes as you follow this new adventure beyond your own reality. Again, architects reading this can appreciate the notion of building worlds and spaces and, perhaps, with spaces and elements that a VR enthusiasts can explore and appreciate.


For all you social media enthusiasts, Rachel Franklin, Head of Social VR at Facebook, announced that Facebook Spaces—which is relatively quite new on the social media giant’s map and in beta stage—was created with Unity.

03 – AR (augmented reality) will have a big impact on consumer spending technologies and these same methods will disrupt creative fields like architecture and interior design and decorating. Image: Copyright, Akiko Ashley. All rights reserved.

She said that Unity was a perfect match for Facebook and that the next generation of interactive experiences will be built with people at the center. Facebook Spaces promotes “social experiences” in an interactive way that brings an intimacy to user relationships and gives them a way to express themselves at a more personal level. We are not entirely sure where that is going and what that all means but it means at the very least that VR experiences via FB Spaces will involve multiple social media contacts.

NFL Films

Senior Producer Jason Weber, from NFL Films, demonstrated how much football has changed since 1962. He debuted never before seen footage of a 360 degree video of Super Bowl 2017.

He spoke about how Unity was a tool of choice with the flexibility necessary to work effectively with content.


Like Apple, Microsoft seems to be putting more of their efforts or beliefs in these new technologies in the augmented reality (AR) side. Brandon Bray, Principal Group Program Manager, of Hololens, announced that 91% of all applications created for Hololens were created in Unity.

He also unveiled Mixed Reality (MR, which ads to VR and AR), which will soon be available for Unity developers as well. You really grasped the power of the Hololens when he showed a couple picking out a couch in their living room using the Hololens to put the couch in their actual space virtually. They could change its location and perhaps even choose another couch without leaving their actual living room to add furniture to their home. (see image 03 above)

This is the exact technology that is going to make a huge impact for architects and designers. Bray also took us on an adventure through an architectural home and showed us how Mixed Reality worked by putting a live-action program on the wall. It was brilliant. Bray was greeted with a loud applause from the audience when he said everyone in the audience would receive an Acer MR headset this coming summer.


Scott Montgomerie, CEO, and co-founder of Scope, has 15 years of experience in consumer software and AR experience that he brings to his new company—Scope—trying to create a better world by solving complex problems.

He talked about the balance of creating in AR including cost, technology risk and scale. Scope creates WorkLink and Remote AR, technologies that allow companies to train people with the right support and guidance. They make it for any device that is easiest to use. Scope too uses Unity to develop these applications. You can train someone how to build a room with a set of VR goggles and an app that demonstrates how it is done. It is faster, more efficient, and easy for someone to know exactly what you want. If you have construction drawings with a custom design, this is a great solution to show someone how to do it without a long explanation of how.


Victor Lou, Operations Lead at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with his colleagues, showed off the Mars Rover 2020 during a demo using Microsoft Hololens mixed reality tool ProtoSpace.

ProtoSpace is a tool used by NASA JPL to solve complex problems with the use of Mixed Reality—engineering problems so hard that 2D drawings or 3D models can’t quite produce the results they need. Victor put on the headset and walked around the Mars Rover. While using his hands he could interactively interact with the rover and if he saw a problem, he could show an engineer in real time and say this needs to be fixed or changed. This helps NASA save time and solve problems faster than traditional engineering drawings. This is an example of next-generation thinking with these latest technologies.


Marcus Kuehne, Strategy Lead Immersive Technologies at Audi, and Chris O’Connor, Technical Lead at Zero Light, spoke at the keynote and did a Breakout session as well. Audi created a solution to a common problem for many auto dealers. How can we create an experience that will bring more customers into our showroom? How can we make this better? (image 04)

04 – Audi Research is doing intensive work in the areas of VR/AR. Copyright, Akiko Ashley, All rights reserved.

These were the core questions Audi asked. The company answered by creating an immersive VR experience for their customers so they could interact with the car of their dream in a meaningful way. Customers could customize their car and see exactly what it looked like after those customizations.

This technology offers real-time video compositing and is rendered in real-time with millions of vehicle configurations.

Audi had to find a way to offer beautiful models of their cards in VR without sacrificing quality and latency issues. Chris from Zero Light brought up a very interesting point that in order to protect Audi’s design copyrights, they had to keep all the assets in the cloud, so nothing is downloaded onto the user’s computer.

Red Bull and Rewind

Sol Rogers, CEO and Founder of Rewind gave an impressive presentation and Breakout session with innovative, interactive VR experiences in “Flight Deck” for Red Bull.

Unity and Hololens powered the holographic imagery. This presentation gave people the ability to get closer to the fastest flying sport hosted by Red Bull. It sat on a coffee table. You chose the flyer, the plane, and the course. You can actually have the full sized plane to view in your living room. Sol explained that there was a limit of 70,000 for the geometry in Hololens at the moment but that would change in the future allowing even larger scale projects.

next page: Multiverse, Google and more on Gensler and VR within Architecture

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