Have you ever struggled to sell a job to a client because they just don’t see it?
Sometimes even when you have drawn a top down view of their future landscape, rendered it in some 3D software, and talked your client through the vision you have for the space they are still skeptical.
The integration of virtual reality (VR) into their business started by collaborating with a programmer and a video game designer.
“I was interested in the interactive component,” said Samuel Geer, director of operations for Urban Ecosystems. “I dedicated some energy into the seeing what the process would be to bring it (3D models) into a virtual environment. A lot of it can be automated. It wasn’t that much extra effort.”
Geer says the company creates the environments in SketchUp and then uses the video game engine Unity to add the ability to explore and manipulate the environment. Urban Ecosystems uses VR technology that is custom designed for landscape architecture and design.
The software is capable of rendering large, complex designs such as parks and golf course, as well as residential landscapes. The space can be filled with people to help determine how the space works when crowded and it can be view in daytime and nighttime settings.
The amount of time it takes to create a VR compatible landscape design can vary.
“It depends on the project and what you’re trying to do, small scale versus a larger, more complex environment,” Geer said. “It’s going to take longer depending on how many bells and whistles you put into it.”
As of right now, Geer hasn’t heard of other landscaping companies using this tool, but he notes that architecture firms in their area have started to adopt VR.
Customers often appreciate getting to sneak a peek of what their dream yard will look like, and seeing it in relation to the rest of their home helps them see how a new element would inhabit the space.
“It helps communicate the cost dimensions,” Geer said. “Being able to look at the materials installed helps the make those decisions. There’s a lot of opportunity to combine some decision-making criteria with an aesthetic decision. You can very clearly present that information to the client.”
One of the benefits of VR is the ability to look at how the design interacts with the space. Users can see where a view needs to be preserved and which style fits best with the different design options they can switch between.
“It helps them feel more in control of the process,” Geer said. “It lets them feel like they’re in the driver’s seat.”
Geer believes the interactive nature of VR will help it eventually become the future of presenting landscape designs.
“It becomes a hands-on experience and people’s personal interest and tastes are able to be expressed more eloquently compared to seeing a top down design of the space,” he said.
Click the link to check out a video of Urban Ecosystems demonstrating its VR designs with KARE11.com.