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Virtual Reality: Emerging relevance of Immersive Technology in Architecture – Q&A

Gautam Tewari (Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer of Trezi) shared his insights with young designers and architecture students, in an extremely informative lecture on the ‘Emerging Relevance of Virtual Technology in Architecture’.

You can watch the recording here:

Here are some of the questions from the session:

1. There is a notion that VR technology is expensive. Please comment on that. How can smaller firms/young architects plug-in Trezi for their workflows?

Ans: Honestly speaking, VR technology is not expensive anymore. With Trezi, it’s Rs. 10,000 per month and, with the annual subscription, it drops down further to Rs. 8,000. Our data shows that smaller firms are adapting Trezi equally in their workflows, along with larger firms. The platform offers smooth connectivity and visualization, thus enabling flexible usage. Its adaptability is necessary to eliminate cost and time overruns, caused by gaps in communication, fragmented workflows and multiple inefficiencies in how we collaborate, especially in the AEC industry.  

2. Are there any particular stipulations for the hardware or system specifications for Trezi? Could we add the specific details of the graphic card and GPU required to give a better idea? What software is compatible with it?

Ans: Listed here is the hardware required to run Trezi. Trezi is compatible with software like Revit, SketchUp and even AutoCAD. 

3. Difference between VR & AR?

Ans: These could be looked at as variants under the umbrella of Immersive Technology. Augmented Reality is when, in a physical space, we augment its experience through a computer-generated image. Imagine sitting in a room where you want to place a model inside it. So, in AR you are essentially using the existing reality and just inserting a virtual object. Whereas, VR is all about creating CGI – computer-aided imagery – that masks the existing reality completely. It doesn’t borrow any structure from the real world and completely creates a new world. It is going to a different geography altogether, irrespective of one’s physical location. So, VR is creating a new reality while AR is just augmenting or adjusting the existing reality.

4. COVID will be a blessing in disguise for this wonderful product of Virtual Collaboration. Any comments on that?

Ans: Unfortunately, we needed a pandemic of this nature to push the envelope, but it has certainly got many designers and product manufacturers to take to Trezi for design collaborations. If we go by the numbers, our product usage is up 50%, free trials have surged by almost 200% and demos have grown during the pandemic. Our product’s acceptance has increased manifold. People were taking baby steps towards this technology before and they had a lot of doubts; now their trust and reliability has increased. They don’t hesitate to use it anymore especially when it’s the need of the hour.

5. How far are we from the Matrix-like immersive experience? Is there any app where we can import our models on our phone? Use cheaper software/any other applications to integrate this with the phone?

Ans: It’s not about picking the cheaper software but about gauging the correct value that it adds to the practice and workflows. Please use the free trial to understand its contributions to your designs, and workflows. Trezi is about strengthening our understanding of design, our interactions with customers or clients, and coordinating with other stakeholders. I suggest picking up software based on how they add value to your workflows and your practice. 

6. Is VR incorporating other senses like hearing, smell, etc, or is it just visual? Scope of improvements/add-ons to the software?

 Ans: Hearing certainly adds value to the whole experience; it activates another sensory function to our benefit. We are working with products that have acoustic considerations. We are exploring sound-based computation and lighting-based computation. Soon, we will be able to resolve issues around sound and lighting. And probably even ‘touch’ in the near future.

7. Comparing it with the other software, especially VRay, how is it different from 360 VRay renders? Can the VRay renders be viewed in VR Headset?

Ans: VRay does not function in extending an immersive environment. VR products can typically create panorama views, improved 360-degree view renders along with new finishes to work with. The 360-degree viewing offered by V-Ray and some other similar tools is different from a VR immersive experience. In a 360-degree view, one is at a hotspot that allows limited navigation while, in VR, one can walk through space and experience the design seamlessly in an immersive environment that mimics the realistic movement in space.