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Using VR In Collaborative Town Planning

Scenario: City planners and inspectors want to explore a proposal for a new urban shopping development, to help them complete their environmental impact assessment before construction begins.

Virtual reality is used to tour a computer-simulated prototype, using remote, multi-user collaboration meeting tools.


Vritual Reality Collaboration

As Project Manager, and meeting convener, you sit down at the table, don your VR headgear, pick up the wand and turn on the Dome. A large image projected on the wall extends the table "through the screen."

The other participants are represented around the table by Avatars, virtual humans capable of appropriate gestures, facial expressions and body language known of the actual participant.

At another global location, New Zealand, the chief architect arrives, appearing to walk into the room and sit down. She speaks with an American accent. You don't really know whether you are hearing her directly, or through an automatic translator.

The usual preliminaries are over, so I take the group through a virtual walk-through of the proposed mall. The sounds of participant footsteps reverberate through the spacious, brightly lit virtual corridors.

The city planners seem impressed with the internal layout, so I decide to take them on a simulated drive-through around the perimeter. We step into the underground parking garage, and together assume seats in the virtual car.

Already, one of the safety inspectors notices there are only two fire escapes. He instantly pulls up the building code on his PC and projects the relevant information on the garage wall to the left.

To rectify the ommission, the architect quickly sketches in a third exit-way. The error remedied, we continue outside, with compliments on the choice of tiles.

The city planners are pleased with the outdoor landscaping, especially consideration given with wall design to minimize light and noise impact to neighboring residences. Looking further afield, the planners are concerned with the neigborhood environmental impact and note any changes in traffic flow as I accelerate the 24 hour clock to show peak, normal day and night traffic to and from the center.

One planner is concerned about the impact of nearby ancillary buildings blocking the the view of a historic landmark, but with minor adjustments the project was approved for immediate construction.

The team sign off the appropriate electronic approvals and I breathe a sigh of relief.

This is just one possible use of "virtual reality." This section includes other scenarios to help you envision applications for VR technology.

NEXT: Using VR In Treating Anxiety

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