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    The Shortlist

    Program Spotlight: Exploring AR/VR for Marketing Purposes

    You’ve all heard the talk around AR/VR and how it’s supposed to revolutionize the A/E/C industry. However, the fact is there’s still a long road ahead before its fully integrated into design and construction. Still, what we’re seeing now is that AR/VR is being used more commonly in marketing endeavors, emphasizing a firm’s forward-thinking, and showcasing projects and designs in a creative, if not radical, way. We sat down with HOK Visualization Specialist and AR/VR guru Rotimi Seriki to ask a few questions for the Shortlist!

    How’d you got into the AR/VR?

    I’ve always been very passionate about graphics. Growing up I was really into computers and video games. So, when I started studying architecture, I gravitated towards graphical tools and software. I was always fascinated about how we can use those tools to leverage and present our designs. What I learned is that it’s far easier for people to understand your ideas when you present them graphically.

    As I got into the profession, I started seeing a trend. I would go online and see people experimenting with different ways of presenting information graphically. That’s where I found research from people who were attending a conference called SIGGRAPH, which publishes papers on advances in 3-D graphics. People were discussing AR/VR even before it was even mainstream.

    That’s when I realized that AR/VR could be a really good market for architecture. Because what we do as architects is we tell stories. To tell a good story, you need to be able to take people through that story visually. For people to understand and connect with what we’re trying to explain emotionally, we need to immerse them into that experience. That’s how I started investigating AR/VR and it just took off from there.

    What influence do video games have on AR/VR?

    AR/VR actually started with video games, way back when. A lot of the things we see now are things that people experimented with when they started creating video games in 2-D. They wanted to make games more three-dimensional and immersive.

    If you think about architecture, it’s very visual and it just lends itself to 3-D, so it was very natural for us to adopt that technology. In order for us to engage with our clients more, we had to start investigating that technology and how we can use it. Thankfully, advances in computers and GPU technology has caught up with the computational requirements needed to display realistic graphics. It’s now good enough for us to start showing what we’ve done with AR/VR to our clients.

    What video game had the biggest influence on the work that you do?

    That’s a tough one! Some of the early games that I played really influenced me, but I would say it wasn’t actually a game, it was more of a cartoon I used to watch growing up. It’s called Voltron. I can remember my cousin and I would sit in front of the tv, watching all the robots come together to form a giant robot. It was fascinating to me at the time because I wondered what it was like to be inside the robot and view the world. That was basically how I felt when I first put on a VR headset. I was just transported.

    Is it your goal as a designer to make the AR/VR experience as real as possible?

    It depends on the audience. If I’m presenting to designers, they understand the language of design, so they can quickly critique the idea. So, my aim is to make it as realistic as possible because it adds to their experience. If it looks unrealistic or cartoonish in a way, it takes them out of the whole experience. My rule is, if I can get them to pay attention for five seconds, that’s a win for me; because they can engage and start asking questions.

    When it comes to non-designers, it can go both ways. If the goal is for your client to understand what you’re trying to design, simpler is always better, because, at the end of the day, you want your client to make a decision. Then again, it’s a Catch 22 because if you make it too basic, the client can’t imagine what the space is going to look like and they’ll have a lot of questions. But simple is always better than complex when it comes to explaining things to clients.

    Is our industry ready for the AR/VR revolution?

    I think we’re ready. A lot of things are happening on a daily basis in terms of this technology. It’s not just AR, it’s machine learning and computation. Computers are getting more powerful every year and right now we’re primed and ready because we have a lot of data that basically represents the physical world. All the beams and columns and walls that we design are data points that correlate to a position in the real world. That data opens up the potential for AR/VR.

    AR/VR guru Rotimi Seriki

    Want to know more about AR/VR? Join us Thursday, May 21st to learn from leading experts on how they use immersive technology and the value it brings to the AEC industry.

    Phillip Gangan is the firm-wide Marketing Knowledge Manager for Sustainability at HOK. As a former journalist, Phillip brings his editorial expertise to HOK’s marketing, research, and public relations endeavors. He joins the SMPS SFBAC Communications Team as a writer and editor.

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