We are in the process of refining a design for the refurbishment of our office. We are not a big company and the investment we are going to be making is substantial to us. In financial terms, it would be a substantial cost to any organisation as the expense is relative to organisational size. In other words, a refurbishment is a large overhead cost for any company and it requires careful consideration for several reasons. We have been deliberating over proposed designs and we ‘thought’ we’d finally cracked it.
Pete, Hidden’s Creative Director, thought it would be useful to have the team build it in 3D so we could gain a better perspective of what we were considering. Why not? The 3D team we have is great and as usual the office they modelled was superb. The problem was that we were viewing it in a traditional way, on a screen and in two dimensions. Without experiencing the environment first-hand there was no way to truly know how we would feel once we were inside the finished space. Pete and I agreed that it would be interesting to view in VR.
Before we knew it, we were being called in to our testing area to check out a new experience, which we always love to do. To my surprise, the team had very quickly converted things to VR and I was standing in our new office. Using the HTC Vive controller I could navigate quickly to any point in the new environment. It was no different than any other VR we create in terms of quality and, it was immensely helpful in determining, from a first person and completely immersive perspective, how it would actually work for us. I could experience things from anywhere in the office, including sitting at my virtual desk.
Pete and I spent only a brief time in the virtual version of our new office before we realised it wasn’t going to work how we had envisioned. Areas of the office were obscured from view and we found several ways to alter the design to be more effective and less costly, therefore avoiding the potential discomfort and a costly mistake.
We ensured that every person in the office was given an opportunity to review the VR. We received a lot of productive feedback that will be incorporated in to the final design. This was a fantastic way to give every employee a way to experience their new workspace and larger office environment beforehand and to contribute to the design from their own perspective.
Since the first version of the experience, the team have gone so far as to incorporate colour pallets so we can alter the surfaces of the virtual office with potential design patterns, decorative schemes and carpet layouts.
This wasn’t a complex task for the team but the benefit we received from it was overwhelming. Aside from all the business-related advantages, it was amazing to see how quickly the team could create and coordinate everything, and then bring it to life in VR. The excitement it created in the office was remarkable.
Our next step is to create an app that links a catalogue of furniture and other decorations etc to the experience. The user will be able to configure the initial space with furnishings and fittings via an iPad or other tablet device and then transfer the space directly over to VR. From there the user will be able to move objects, change colours, fittings and furnishings. We haven’t yet decided on what functionality is appropriate, but watch this space.