Reality changes… you’ve got to keep up

Virtual reality has entered the main stream. Clients are asking for it. After decades of being the odd stepchild of rendering and the world wide web, virtual reality has come into its own thanks to developments in mobile and supporting technologies.  Some of you may remember the introduction of VRML in 1994 and the promise of Web3d a few years later. Prior to that, Morton Helig devised a multimodal stereoscopic machine called Sensorama, immersing the user into a virtual world for entertainment. Today, Design industries are seeing much value in virtual and augmented reality. For the healthcare industry, VR has proven to be invaluable and generally a real crowd pleaser. For instance our staff walk around existing Hospital Emergency Departments with our clients and their staff, displaying the virtualized renovations on iPads and Cardboard viewers. Decisions to design questions are quickly provided and feedback is ample. Miscommunication is minimized with these tools and attendees leave with a clear understanding of the designs presented. Value.
I look forward to discussing VR and AR with colleagues at the Design Technology Summit this summer in Toronto. Being a forum of leaders of large firms, DTS has got the answers you are looking for and the experience to tap as you venture into new avenues of design technologies.

The upcoming Summit looks to cross-pollinate with individuals and expertise outside of our industry, to inspire ideas and solutions to challenges you face. Discussion of your firm’s design-technology challenges is part of every Summit. Join the community of Design Technology Leaders this summer in Toronto and take a step towards driving increased value, new client opportunities or better quality in your firm.

Technology as a Starting Point?

A couple of weeks ago, on a long drive, I found myself listening to a show called Radiolab. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a radio show in which two musically passionate hosts discuss what interests them in contemporary music – styles, artists, or individual pieces.

This particular episode* featured a group called Dawn of Midi. They play acoustic music, contrary to what the name might suggest. As the hosts played bits from the album ‘Dysnomia’, they marveled at the sound – it was very electronic, yet was created entirely with acoustic drums, bass, and piano. I think I heard a guitar in there, too, but it’s hard to be sure. The longer it played, I, too, felt increasingly like I was listening to a modern electronic piece.

One of the hosts noted that machine-like music is clearly part of the group’s musical aesthetic, but what really sets the music apart is that it’s both electronic and ‘human’ at the same time. I’m paraphrasing, but he commented that this type of music could very well have not been made without machines – it took a machine to show humans the possibilities, but humans then took the idea and improved upon it, adding dimension and depth.

Naturally, I was led to finding parallels in design technology. Have you seen a great design develop with the aid of technology, only to become even better after tech has been abandoned? If so, what are your thoughts on that? Is it because technology has a limitation in design, or have we not figured out how to use it most effectively?

*If you’d like to listen to the Radiolab segment, you can find it here: http://www.radiolab.org/story/313542-dawn-midi/
(Image credits: Autodesk community forum user diagodose2009/ Gerard Petersen/ muzikdiscovery)