Perkins+Will has launched an early prototype of an augmented reality (AR) app that will eventually allow designers to engage with their models in a hybrid real-world/virtual environment.
The app, known as AX—short for “Augmented Experience”—is currently in beta: it allows users to become familiar with its interface by exploring Perkins+Will-designed spaces in a 3D, augmented reality setting. Imagine, for example, seeing scaled models of the Shanghai Natural History Museum or the River Beech Tower right in your own living room, office, or neighborhood—and then being able to share those scenarios on social media. In subsequent beta versions of AX, users will be able to engage with even more building models and experiment with tools that alter those buildings’ design characteristics, like massing, glazing, and fenestration.
“We wanted to explore the potential of this new technology and have some fun in the process,” says Nick Cameron, Perkins+Will’s digital practice director. “We couldn’t wait to tap into the current excitement swirling around AR, so this initial release only scratches the surface of what is possible.”
Ultimately, AX will be refined so that it can be used both in the design process and by developers who want to interact with and see the impacts of certain design decisions to better understand their value. The goal is to positively transform how clients and designers can collaborate during the project-delivery process.
AX takes advantage of the augmented reality features in Apple’s latest operating system and is free through the App Store. It’s available to users with an AR-capable iPad or iPhone running iOS 11. Navigation within the app is easy, and no headgear or architectural training required.