A New Age of Virtual Reality
“The ultimate display would, of course, be a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter. A chair displayed in such a room would be good enough to sit in, handcuffs displayed would be confining and a bullet displayed in such a room would be fatal. With appropriate programming, such a display could literally be the Wonderland into which Alice walked.” – Ivan Sutherland
Ivan Sutherland, who is often referred to as The Father of Virtual Reality, described it most similarly to the Virtual Reality we know today, with the idea being that one could change the world they know to be real, along with the one they do not. Virtual Reality has served many purposes, from flight simulation and military training to getting entranced in a video game.
Myron Krueger, another Virtual Reality visionary, was earning a Ph.D. in Computer Science during the early 1970s when he developed some of the technology that laid the groundwork for what we are seeing in 2016. He created the “glowflow,” which was a virtual environment controlled by a computer that had a response to those inside it. From there, he went on to develop Metaplay, which was the combination of “visuals, sounds, and responsive techniques into a single framework.” His work is groundbreaking formany reasons, most importantly that it makes Sutherland’s hopeful allusion to the “Wonderland into which Alice walked,” a reality.
Sutherland and Krueger are two of the most influential in the field but in the past few years, we have seen something that has ventured into new territory. At DIRTT, we see how mixed reality, a hybrid reality that combines augmented and virtual realities, changes interior design. With mixed reality, a virtual world is placed on top of the real world in order to create a singular experience. In 2014, we saw the release of ICEvr™ (virtual reality) at DIRTT Connext, which is just another picture of the ICE experience with its vivid visuals, real-time changes and instant pricing. In 2016, the release of ICEreality™, built upon ICEvr and can be considered the beginning of mixed reality at DIRTT. It allows clients to experience what the space will look like, while also keeping to their vision, both aesthetically and monetarily with a 3D design placed into a space that already exists. Barrie Loberg, VP, Software Development and co-founder of DIRTT is the inventor of ICE software. His take on ICEreality is that, ‘it’s not just participation. You can be productive.”
ICEreality is in research and development at the ICElabs and is always evolving, with new hardware and software equipment arriving frequently to test and play with. At 2016’s DIRTT Connext, R&D ICEreality was shown, a positive change in how construction is planned and the experience the customer gets before starting a project. With the new version of ICE released in summer of 2016, there is integration with virtual reality and support for the Oculus Rift headset. This is the start of something revolutionary in DIRTT’s approach to building.