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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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Massive Mixed Reality

We have to consider technology as part of our design process. This was the message from Rene Schulte from Valorem in the Breakout session “Massive Mixed Reality – Leveraging Large 3D models with mobile XR,” as she spoke about all the different ways architects and engineers with huge models had to reduce the size of their models for mobile devices.

Polygons had to be converted to triangles. Manual optimization is too time consuming and expensive so he recommended tools like Simplygon and Umbra. Umbra was his choice for the best optimization.

These are new tools and you can learn more about Simplygon and Umbra here. Simplygon is by Simplygon Studios and the company says it is the gold standard for automated 3D optimization. The solution runs on Windows 10 and has two price offerings, a free version, and a $25,000 version. It works with FBX, OBJ, STL and has workflow integrations with Max, Maya, Unity and Standard UE4.

Umbra is Simplygon’s rival and essentially does the same thing—automatically optimizes any 3D content allowing you to choose between graphical fidelity or real-time performance, to be displayed on any device.

The goal of these tools is to optimize frame rates for moving 3D imagery (like in games or interactive 3D) or increase details. Umbra renders only what is visible to the user or player. Their licensing model is oriented at both games and enterprise and with just one click, says Umbra, you can deploy anything from massive point clouds to complex BIMs to any device or platform.

Other VR/AR Tech

There were other interesting presentations at the 2017 VR/AR Summit. We have covered most of the biggest players and discussions but others were present with important offerings and messages about the industry.

New Frontier Labs

Hussain Currimbhoy, Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival and Kamal Sinclair of the Sundance Institute, New Frontier Labs talked about how VR/AR was changing how filmmakers created. They showed several film projects that were part of the New Frontier Labs that looks for new ways to express storytelling using new technology including VR.


Cliff Plumer, CEO of THE VOID, is an entertainment industry veteran who has been the CEO of Digital Domain and the CTO of Lucas Film.

THE VOID creates layered virtual worlds over physical spaces to create immersive spaces that customers can interact with that engage them into exploration of the world. It gives them the ability to connect with characters, the story, and the virtual space. THE VOID creates immersive exploration that you can enjoy with your friends.

Unity is one of the tools that help THE VOID create these immersive experiences. Chris states, “Sell tickets, not hardware” as their motto. This gives a new creative design venue for architects and engineers with unlimited potential.

Baobab Studios

Maureen Fan is the CEO and co-founder of Baobab Studios; Baobab is the industry leading animation studio in VR.

The animation “Invasion” starring Ethan Hawke received critical acclaim with Roth Kirschenbaum Films signed to adapt it into a feature film. Baobab is a favorite on the film festival circuit.  This film is one of the most downloaded experiences on VR players like Oculus, Samsung, Within, Hulu and more.

ASTEROIDS, their second film featuring Elizabeth Banks was a 2017 Sundance Film Festival Selection and their latest film Rainbow Crow starring John Legend can be seen at Tribeca Film Festival this year. Maureen has been a VP at Zynga.  She spoke of how they use Unity in their development process in their animated VR films.

The Spiraloid Workshop Company

Bay Raitt is the CEO and founder of Spiraloid Workshop Company; he is an avid comic book fan. He is best known for his work creating Gollum for the Lord of the Rings movies, plus he spent ten years at Valve where he created fifty short films and the Source Filmmaker.

He is excited about his work at the Spiraloid Workshop using Unity on his latest comic project to give an immersive interactive experience to people reading his comics. He is inspiring a new generation of creative who can create cross-media experiences. He shared a sneak preview of Nanite Fulcrum.

Vuforia Smart Terrain

Jay Wright, President of Vuforia, the leading software development for augmented reality applications.

Over 40,000 applications used Vuforia for development. He announced a new feature for Tango enable devices. Vuforia Smart Terrain will give developers the ability to build AR experiences that interact with the world around them.

Using Vuforia Smart Terrain with Tango he was able to show off a Mars card game pointing your tablet at one of the Mars cards and transforming the stage into Mars where the objects on the card recognized the terrain as they interacted with it. Imagine this when designing a home or a building?  —- AKIKO ASHLEY, Associate Editor.

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