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As part of the third instalment of our mini series on design reviews, we’ve taken a look beyond 2019 to see what we could expect to see in a future design review...

What will the future of Virtual Reality bring for design reviews?
Over the coming 18 months or so, we’re expecting to see incremental growth in the design review process, providing the foundation to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual world. What happens when we cast our eyes past this? What innovations can we expect to see moving into 2020 and beyond? We’ve taken a look at some specific tools which we feel will continue to revolutionise the way in which design studios conduct their design review.

Finger Tracking
The majority of design studios are pioneering the use of handsets to conduct their design reviews. The configuration of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift handhelds are currently the easiest way for designers and developers to interact with their Virtual Reality design experience.

Wouldn’t it be a game changing breakthrough if at some point in the near future, handsets are no longer needed and everything can be done using only your hands? Introducing Leap Motion...

It is important to remember that for something like finger tracking to become a mainstay in design review applications, a few changes/improvements need to be made:

  • Several companies need to dedicate time, money and resources into finger tracking for it to replace handsets. By doing so, companies will not only raise the exposure of the concept, but create multiple solutions through different ways of thinking to become the best in class. This approach would singlehandedly improve the features available to design teams, as well as the supporting technology to go with it.
  • Technological improvements won’t be enough; design studios need to have the confidence to alter their processes and move from handheld controls to finger tracking concept. Does a design team discontinue years of research, development and optimisation for VR handsets and start from scratch? Finger tracking will bring us closer to a truly virtual design review, but the time and effort needed to integrate a solution may not be worth it.

The potential for improvement in visual range and quality
Huge gains can be found in the visual quality of VR headsets because they simply cannot replicate the behaviour of the human eye… at the moment. Virtual Reality in 2018 provides a field of view of around 90 degrees and a depth of focus of 2 metres. In comparison, the human eye has a field of view of around 220 degrees with a variable depth of focus. You can see there is a long way to go until VR behaviour can mimic the human eye.

Thankfully, technological breakthroughs in visual quality are laying the groundwork for this. The HTC Vive Pro currently boasts a resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixels - there’s every possibility that we’ll see the rise of 4K resolution in years to come. Again, a lot of research, development and testing is needed before VR headsets can replicate the pixel density of the eye.

It’s not just development work into resolution that needs to happen; there needs to be a focus on the hardware used to run devices such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Currently, these headsets tend to use fresnel lenses or fish-eye lenses, an instant drawback as they struggle with distortion and image blur after 100 degrees. There isn’t currently an alternative on the market which plays the same role as these lenses and reach the field of view required. We are expecting this to change as VR headsets become more ingrained in design reviews and society in general.

The rise in Mixed Reality as a design review tool
Of course, Virtual Reality is where we see design review for the foreseeable future, but what about the ability to mix the virtual world with the real world? We predict that this concept, known as mixed reality, will be used more frequently across multiple industries as we move deeper into the next decade.
The question is, how can global design review studios use mixed reality to enhance their design review experiences? Instead of spending time recreating your interior design review space, mixed reality will allow you to see your virtually created design in a real, familiar space. Think of the following Mclaren design, only on a larger scale and in a full-size studio.

How do you determine the features that matter the most to you?
Whether a particular concept currently exists, or could become a crucial design review tool in years to come, design teams need to resist the urge to incorporate everything into their VR experience. The key to success for any design review is planning; there is no need to create a design review facilitating everything that is possible. Design managers need to identify the features which will enhance their design review and take their capabilities to the next step. This reduces the research and development phase for features, whilst reducing the possibility of things going wrong with implementation.

Even better, if design teams identify and develop features that can be incorporated into a design review, there’s every chance they are stealing a march on the competition through pioneering approaches that competitors simply can’t replicate.

Check out our website to find more information on SLIPSTREAM as a Virtual Reality design review experience.

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