Part 2: The Laura Clark Experience | Making it a “Reality” | Augmented & Virtual Reality

The “Aha” Moment

It was around this time that I was introduced to last year’s company holiday card. It provided a virtual tour of the new home of VIP, featuring holiday décor. This unique holiday card was created through the collaborative efforts of our IT and marketing departments, along with the architectural division. It was sent to clients, along with a branded cardboard headset to optically create a 3D effect. The program utilized to create a virtual tour of the space was completed on a paid platform known as theViewer. The platform hosts a series of 360-degree panoramas that can be exported from a Revit model, and allows the viewer to navigate the space through marked location points or through a floor plan.

And here is where the Aha moment happened. Since the Post Standard Building was already one of the projects I was working on for visualization, why not utilize this platform for the Salt City Market project as well. Given that theViewer allows the scenes to be opened in VR (compatible with Google cardboard) or as a single screen that could be viewed on smart devices and web browsers, it seemed that we had our solution. After a couple of weeks of testing, it was clear that this option was the most user-friendly and indeed the perfect solution to handle both projects. It was easy for clients to understand and get their arms around it without having to utilize a headset; people are often hesitant to wear things that obscure their vision or make them look silly.

theViewer in Action

During a client walkthrough of the Post Standard Building, circles were placed on the floor of the space where the 360-degree panoramas originated from, allowing for a 1:1 comparison of the space. Though this was not the augmented reality program we had originally talked about, this mock AR experience allowed the client to visually transform the space into its final product.

So how did all of this work at the Salt City Market event? The pop-up event took place at the Rail Line in downtown Syracuse, which is across the street from the Market’s future location. Partygoers were able to stand on the roof garden of the Rail Line, look out over the construction site, and see what the buiding would look like once it was built within the surrounding landscape.

Those moments of handing clients and community members an iPad and giving them a glimpse into the future have been the best and most rewarding parts of this internship. When a person holding the iPad gets his/her bearings, and the first thing they say is, “This is so cool!”, makes all the research and hard work worth it!

The Experience

Beyond these two projects, I have worked on two more visualization projects –  one for the property development team, and the other for the future animal hospital at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, which will allow zoogoers to see how the landscape will be transformed. I continue to do research and present my findings to educate myself and the VIP team about what is being done, what is possible, and what is on the horizon. This internship has given me the platform to test and to experiment with different ways of visualizing the built enviornment. It has allowed me to bounce ideas off of others and showcase the newest technologies on the market. The feedback from everyone has been amazing, from “This is great!” to “How can we use this?”, “How can we push this?”, and “What else can this do?” I have been able to push myself, explore the how’s and why’s, and ask the question, “Is there a better way?”

The Takeaway

This line of work is like being given a puzzle box with a general picture on it and no pieces included. It is up to you to find the right pieces and assemble them to create what the final image will be. The catch is, you do not know which pieces are the right pieces until you are done with the puzzle.

Through this experimentation and research, I have been able to educate myself and VIP about visualization. Working for such a forward-thinking company has been a fun and exciting way to see how we can push ourselves to embrace new technologies to change the ways we are viewing and presenting our work. My hope is that clients and people within our community will share our excitement for these projects by being able to immerse themselves in the future of Syracuse.

Read Part 1