The typical technology predictions disseminated this time of year often suffer from at least one of two problems: they are too vague to be meaningful or they are too disconnected from most readers’ everyday lives. With the input of other architects, I offer this year a set of concrete and accessible interface-based technologies that appear poised for significant advances—with the input of architects.
The following digital-meets-analog applications and apparatus are readily available today and being tested by some designers and techies; and with your help, the next 12 months could witness their more mainstream—and thus more influential—utilization in architecture.
Virtual reality (VR), a popular platform for immersive gaming, advertising, and media, has significant potential for design applications. Early uses of VR in architecture have typically involved placing audiences within rendered computer-generated imagery (CGI) environments. While this is likely to remain the primary architectural function, other compelling uses of the tool exist. One such purpose is the ability to evaluate existing yet remote locations immersively. For example, Google’s Cardboard Camera app for iOS and Android enables users to use their smartphones as VR-capture devices. The interface is similar to that of a typical phone camera in panorama mode but in this case, the software is designed to create seamless 360-degree images—including captured sound. Once the phone is placed within a headset like Google Cardboard, the application switches to VR mode—transporting any user to the location and time of the capture, surrounded in all directions with imagery (and noise) from the place.