Virtual Architecture

Imagine putting aside a lifetime of savings to buy your dream house, investing in a property that comes close to a perfect fit, only for you to move into a house that does not -come close to what you thought it would be.

Now, imagine this: You are walking through a completed property and it is right up there with your expectation. It is built exactly as you dreamt it would be. The only thing is that it has not yet been built. Not in reality, at least.

Virtual Reality / 3D Technology

Welcome to the world of Virtual Reality (VR), where you build virtually before you build actually - lessening challenges you may face in later stages of design and construction, and saving money and time. This is the technology we are building at SmartVizX.

Right through my journey of being an architect - from my days as a student right up to being a partner in one of Asia Pacific's largest design practice - the field of Design Visualization has been a significant challenge and an area of potential disruption.

You just need to see the way it works right now.

The 3-D Technology Marketplace

Usually, in construction and design, a buyer is made to decide on basis of static pictures and predefined walk-throughs with practically no interactivity or control. Most of the time, buyers see what designers want them to see. If changes are needed, then we have no option but to ask for more time to revert.

This is exactly what I wanted to change through SmartVizX. Bring in interactivity, control and engagement for the buyer. Put the control where it should really be: with the person who is actually doing the spending to manifest the design into physical form. In the exploratory stage of our business, we looked at many solutions to bring in the desired features into design visualization. In very early stage of our exploration, we realised the answer could well be Gaming Technology. Games are inherently immersive and interactive. So that is exactly what we did: merged design visualization and game technology and put the entire visualization content in a virtual environment.

Once done with the exploratory we set about building Proofs of Concept (POCs) for our online and offline visualisation products. For 12 months, our clear area of focus was to build POC's, take market feedback and develop virtual reality (VR) products. However, as soon as we stepped out to take feedback on the POC's, something unexpected happened. We generated so much interest that we started getting requests from various businesses to build solutions for them. It was only prudent to monetize in a productised service mode and that is what we have done over last 12 months - built VR tools and generated decent traction with the same. Till date, we have serviced RE, Design, RE classifieds, and Insurance sectors, and there has been significant interest from many other sectors such as education and automobile sectors.

Applications of VR are immense: we might see it becoming a part of our day to day lives sooner than we expect. As the technology develops and becomes more affordable, VR might be as intrinsic a part of our lives as the mobile phone. While it is still seen primarily as a gaming technology, once mainstream, this could potentially turn into a virtual selling tool in every industry - from aircrafts to refrigerators.

Architecture, Engineering and Construction see an obvious use of VR technology, and we aim to take the technology much beyond. SmartVizX is not jostling for the hardware space; the big boys have crowded that market already. But for any hardware to succeed, it needs content. Palmer Luckey, Founder of Oculus Rift, himself said that without content, head-mounted displays are just paper weight. SmartVizX aims to make a massive impact in the content creation space. We're aiming high. Our plans in the pipeline include building a VR-backed platform helping people use the technology as and when they need it. We will definitely be the best in India, yet our aim is to be amongst the best in the world.

If architecture is constructed in 3D, can cities be far behind? It would be a bit premature to talk about it now, but the opportunities are boundless.

To summarise, VR has been around since a long time but it is only now that the hardware has emerged to support the VR dream. It is still early days and there are no clear winners yet. We do aim to be the front-runners in this race.