With technological innovation heightening client expectations, one of the biggest challenges architects have is to convincingly show their clients how a finished structure will look. As such, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality (VR / AR / MR) applications have now become an integral part of the design process as well as the client presentations.
These state-of-the-art technologies are being used by architects to effortlessly showcase realistic project images to potential clients and stakeholders, enabling the latter to make any changes they want and give feedback on designs (or approval) in no time.
But VR / AR / MR is just the latest flowering of Digital Transformation (DX) to be adopted by the industry – and depends upon the same underlying technology.
Digital transformation: opportunities and challenges
By nature, architecture is an industry defined by evolution, so its early adoption of DX should come as no surprise. In firms across the world, the design process has moved away from drawing boards and tracing paper towards computers. In turn, clients have become more demanding, making collaborative simulation and visualisation a key – almost compulsory – part of the design process.
Consequently, computers have had to become more powerful and graphics greatly improved to keep up with the rendering requirements; architects also require access to a centralised graphic store, and this access similarly requires a lot computational and networking power.
The Fourth Transformation: opportunities and challenges
As the Fourth Transformation takes hold – bringing forth advances in VR / AR / MR – technology is becoming increasingly immersive and collaborative. For the architecture industry, this means that seamless cloud-based collaboration between contractors, engineers and architects is both possible and highly desirable.
Such collaboration entails not only simple file transfers and data conversion but also, increasingly, the embedding of VR / AR / MR into business operations. The popularity of such technology has risen in the sector, thanks to its emerging value as an educational tool.
However, this brave new world of unified communications and virtual desktop infrastructure is powerless without the right network. Across the industry, gigabit requirements are becoming the norm; by contrast, only three years ago, 100mb would often suffice. In a bandwidth-hungry digital landscape, the network is the cloud – so it’s easy to see why a cloud can only be as good as the network it traverses.
By harnessing the power of cloud computing and a robust, reliable network in tandem, architecture firms can set themselves apart from their competitors and respond super-fast to those last-minute emergency requests that can suddenly arise from contractors all over the world. By partnering with the right supplier as well, firms can stop worrying about business continuity, getting back up and running if their systems fail.