We’re very excited to have Stantec join the VR/AR Association as our newest Corporate member.
Albert Liu (Membership Manager) of VRARA Vancouver caught up with Aubrey Tucker, an innovative Technology Developer at Stantec to discuss VR/AR in engineering and what they’re up to.
Can you tell me more about Stantec and your role?
Stantec is a 22,000 person organization with over 400 offices around the world. We predominantly focus on engineering but we also work with all forms of design and large scale work. For example, we’re involved with skyscrapers and large transportation projects such as railways. My team is interested in emerging tech and they’re looking into business cases for adopting it. We want to improve computation design, visualization and the way people deliver work.
How long has Stantec been involved in VR/AR?
Stantec first became involved with VR/AR in 2015 through a R&D program called the Greenlight fund which supported creative and innovative ideas from our employees. There are a lot of us throughout the company that have adopted VR/AR for a broad range of use cases. Some of us were early adopters of the Hololens and create our own content for it. I was first introduced to VR/AR in 2010 with Vizard and World Viz through the Oculus SDK 1 and other older platforms.
Some of our designers use Enscape which is an AR plug-in that sits in their software design tool and provides real time rendering with typical artistry work such as BIM (Building Information Modelling). They’re focused primarily on using Enscape to design rather than creating raw content. They also use Twinmotion which is a simplified version of the Unreal Game Engine to produce architectural visualizations and VR environments.
What made you decide to join the VRARA?
We decided to join the VRARA to network, get access to events and see what everyone in the industry is up to. We want to be a more active member in the worldwide VR/AR community. My selfish interest for joining the VRARA is to provide all the different offices around the world with a way to engage with other technology creators that are local to them. We want people from these offices to attend events, meet new people, learn and experiment with emerging immersive technology.
What are some things that we can expect from Stantec in the future?
We were shortlisted for an award for our immersive design experience for the Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) and the Fraser Health Authority. We used VR to help the staff experience the interior rooms of the hospital. The nursing team noticed the types of storage that had been specified were too small in some areas and too big in others. They told us that they wouldn’t have noticed this without using VR. Real time visualization was a game changer for the RCH because it allowed for many more considerations within the interior and exterior spaces.
Stantec is also interested in moving into simulation and looking at how long it takes people to get to places. We’re seeing a lot of startups focused on these issues. It’ll also be interesting to look at collaborations where we can work together with others in a VR environment.
Recently, we worked with Archiact, another member of the VRARA to incubate ideas with them. Scenarion launched an extension for SketchUp called Rendezvue which makes it easy to review and edit 3D models in VR. We’ll also be working with them for another project on space planning. We’re always looking for other companies to work on projects with!
How do you see VR/AR making an impact in the building design/architecture space?
Design and aesthetics are the obvious ones but VR/AR is making an impact in many different ways. There are different mediums that can explored such as true immersive walk throughs and the potential for world building in VR. Another interesting challenge is the question of interfaces and how to set up complex interfaces in a VR environment.
In AR there’s a huge opportunity in construction by bringing in health safety applications to reduce and prevent danger onsite. There is also the use of Reality Capture which passively captures 3D models in construction. We can review these models and send instructions to workers to improve work efficiency.
Daqri and Microsoft are also breaking into these spaces with their AR headsets. Construction is an old school industry and there’s a lot of room for disruption but we’re still not quite there yet.
How do you see the future of VR/AR integrating into designing buildings and communities in the next 3-5 years?
It’s hard to predict what will happen in the future but I believe there will be a lot of progress made in construction. It depends on how advanced the hardware becomes because once it’s built, the software and other technologies will be easy. We know what we want in construction because if that works all of the other use cases will fall in line. At the end of the day hardware is the linchpin that will dictate the future of VR/AR in construction and engineering.
My team and I at Stantec are very excited to be members of the VRARA. We’re looking forward to building new relationships, pushing the technology further and meeting everyone.
See Aubrey’s talk from one of VRARA Vancouver’s events earlier this year