This company is redesigning how it works with virtual reality


Interior construction company DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time) is using Oculus Rift headsets to show clients exactly what their banks, office buildings, and other projects look like before construction has even begun.

The company designed a wireless set-up that includes a backpack and Polhemus technology, which uses an alternating current magnetic field to track movement. Clients can walk around the room untethered and experience everything from the layout of the furniture to the location of the columns and windows.

“We allow the physical freedom to explore, and as part of that we’ve also integrated technology for motion tracking,” Barrie Loberg, CTO and co-founder, says. “When you physically walk forward, you walk forward in your virtual world. It’s an extremely compelling experience for the participant and it eliminates the motion sickness that’s common with VR because we’ve completely synchronized your physical motion with the virtual motion.”

DIRTT developed its ICE 3D design and specification software 10 years ago for 3D visual communication, and recently integrated VR into their custom set-up. The company, which generated $187 million for fiscal 2014, has seen its business increase while also saving clients time and money by offsetting expensive fixes before they physically occur.

Loberg points to a recent oil and gas project the company was working on, where the client’s design included a large column in their floorplan. They could see it in the plan view and in the renderings, but they weren’t sure if it was going to be a problem until they put on the HMDs. They unanimously agreed the column was in fact a big problem, and they changed their design.

“People need to form their intent and vision into a design, and they need to commit to purchasing that design so we can move forward,” Loberg says. “What VR does is take all of this to an entirely new level. With VR, you can feel the space! You are in the space, you are experiencing the space in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

DIRTT president Scott Jenkins credits video games for leading the wave of VR advances over the past few years. DIRTT built its ICE platform on video game technology and will soon be using consumer VR headsets designed for gaming to transform the interior construction industry.

“As soon as one of the VR units becomes commercially available, our plan is to send it to our entire distribution sales network so people around the world can experience VR with ICE and what it means for interior building,” Jenkins says. “We envision hundreds of people using it immediately within our network, and then ultimately growing to our end users. Ultimately, our VR experience will connect right to your computer in the way that a mouse connects today.”

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