How Are Eye Tracking, AR and VR Influencing Architecture?

How Are Eye Tracking, AR and VR Influencing Architecture

Not only can technologies resurrect lost history from the past, but they can help you build the home of your dreams.

Back in 79 A.D., the lost city in Southern Italy, Pompeii, had been buried by the Vesuvius volcano. The ruins of this ancient Roman city have inspired designers to reimagine the interiors of ancient households in virtual reality (VR).

By using VR technology and spatial analysis powered by geographic information system (GIS), researchers from Lund University in Sweden, Danilo Marco Campanaro and Dr. Giacomo Landeschi (authors of the “Space and Movement in a Pompeian House: the Contribution of 3D GIS” project) reconstructed the House of Greek Epigrams, a Roman residence in ancient Pompeii, in VR. GIS is a system that “connects data to a map, integrating location data (where things are) with all types of descriptive information (what things are like there)”.

In this project, the researchers used data from Lund University’s Swedish Pompeii Project, which used drones and laser scanners to map the whole neighborhood in Pompeii, and managed it with GIS to create a digital iteration of the house. Visitors can explore the house in VR to learn more about the Roman architecture. 

The newly-designed homes from Pompeii’s past ruins depict how immersive and eye-tracking technologies can transform architecture.

Using eye-tracking technology to meet people’s design needs 

In the virtual reconstruction of the House of Greek Epigrams, eye-tracking technology was used to determine what caught the attention of the visitors as they walked through the house in VR. The eye-tracking technology tracked, for instance, visitors’ head position, eye movements, duration of gaze and what their eyes focused on as they looked around the space.

With eye-tracking technology, interior designers and architects can identify each client’s likes and dislikes simply by showing them various virtual design models or even just some pictures. Moreover, it can also curate a database to help designers come up with more popular designs and products. 

By tracking people’s eye movements, architecture studies found out that people tend to ignore buildings with a blank exterior wall; the incorporation of fixation points prompts attention and exploration of viewers; and people usually look for other people in a space. These are crucial insights to take into consideration when designing a space or a building.

Using AR and VR to design spaces and buildings

Immersive technologies, like AR and VR, help us see a design in 3D and better visualize how it will turn out to be. For instance, with spatial analysis tools, like GIS, traditional principles of interior design, like scales and proportions, can be taken into consideration when building a virtual space that will actually be practical and constructible in real-life. After all, you can’t just build whatever you have in your mind like Green Lantern—any building has to obey the laws of physics, at least. 

Various AR/VR applications have been designed to accommodate the basic properties of interior design. It is cost-effective for home builders as they can put less time into designing. Additionally, designers can also use AR or VR to convey their ideas clearly to clients. 

With AR, users can place the 3D model of the products into the camera view of the physical environment they are in. This helps them visualize the placement of products or furniture at home or in an office. One example of using AR in interior design would be the IKEA Place app, which allows you to place true-to-scale 3D furniture in a certain space captured through your phone camera.

While AR relies on real-life images, such as those of their room, VR allows users to move around in a virtual space, such as with a VR headset, to explore the spatial patterns or even the movement of objects. The Design Specialist at global design firm HOK, Jess Bayuk, claims that AR and VR allow users to have a “better sense of how a space will look and feel in a 3D mode of representation”.

AR and VR design apps to help you build your dream home

AR and VR technologies are commonly accessible nowadays. Even if you are not an architect or interior designer, you can still try designing your own space with the help of some applications. Here are some apps and software that you can explore more about architecture with:

ArcGIS Pro

Also used in the reconstruction of the Pompeian house, ArcGIS Pro provides a spatial distribution of a building structure. It analyzes 2D or 3D data to map an area with accurate details. ArcGIS Pro is also known for its accuracy in geo-referencing (the process of transferring aerial images into geographical data to calculate the actual distance and areas of landscapes). 

With that, designers can understand the floor plans and sections of the house, thus making the best use of available space. 

Planner 5D 

Planner 5D is an interactive software application that precisely (and virtually) arranges all the elements essential to a home. The application adds shadows and lighting to make users’ “dream home” appear more photorealistic. This helps users visualize their homes with realistic features. Be it the texture of the furniture or the positioning of the electrical appliances—customers can have a material preview to mix and match things to fit their liking. 

ARKit 

ARKit is an app that helps users with furniture and fittings using its AR content. It is widely used by IKEA, the renowned conglomerate that sells furniture and home accessories. Traveling to IKEA may be a hassle for some, since it is not accessible in remote places; the ARKit solves this problem. It can assist home builders with choosing furniture and fittings through an instant scan of your room. You can later match the selected furniture based on the image from the scan. 

The furniture is displayed on the phone as a virtual image, and users can adjust the position or patterns to fit their liking. Not only can users match colors better, but they can also understand the balance between textures and designs. 

It is time and cost-efficient to fit the chosen article or product to the designated space at your home or office virtually in advance. It saves the time you would otherwise spend on measurements and trials. 

Primer

Primer is an AR app that helps users envision retailing products of their choice in their homes. Once the app is downloaded, users can swipe through the collection of wallpaper, tiles or other aspects of interior designs that match their own homes. 

Installing the app on the phone will allow users to visualize how the product of their choice will match the interior of their homes. Say you are designing your home but can’t decide on the right tile for your living room. You can play around with Primer to find the perfect size and color for your wallpaper.

From understanding architecture better to saving time and cost when designing a space, technology assists home builders to create beautiful homes. 

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Header image courtesy of Freepik

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