Columbus, Ohio -- August 30, 2002 -- A revolutionary design project developed by the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) and OSC was recently featured in the widely-read magazine, Metropolis. In its August/September issue, the magazine spotlighted the Virtual Sketch Project, which allows design students to "create" an interior space around them, immersing them in a virtual environment and resulting in a digital model of space. The tool is featured in the magazine's nod to "21 Great Design Ideas for the 21st Century," published in celebration of the periodical's 21st anniversary.
The Virtual Sketch Project was a collaborative effort between Maria Palazzi, ACCAD director, Jeff Haase, ACCAD assistant professor of design, ACCAD GRAs and OSC. OSC's Interface Lab (Don Stredney, Jason Bryan, and Dennis Sessanna) were instrumental in helping develop this prototype by allowing access to some of their equipment, as well as brainstorming with the team. GRA Wayne Huang programmed the prototype
Says the magazine, "Like modern-day Gullivers looming over their creations, architects and interior designers have long been forced to visualize ideas at drastically reduced scale. But what if they could compose virtual surroundings that allowed them to fully immerse themselves in their designs - and even change them while they're at it? Soon they may be able to do just that." It goes on to explain that the virtual reality tool was engineered to stimulate student design skills by plunging them into "eye level versions of the real thing. By utilizing a kit of parts made up of various building elements - walls, windows, columns and cubes - students learn to manipulate their virtual surroundings on the fly."
The project currently uses existing virtual reality hardware, data gloves, a head-mounted stereovision display and a program that runs on a Silicon Graphics Inc. workstation. Haase and Palazzi, however, hope to transfer the software component to a more-affordable PC and streamline the rather-cumbersome headgear. Eventually, Haase sees the virtual reality tool as having applications for designers, architects, perhaps even for people who want to work in their own "virtual offices."