The Future of Design Communication is Virtually Here: Lessons from NewCo

Sarah Yanito

Account Manager

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

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It goes without saying that the methods of which we communicate are ever evolving in parallel with the constant advancement of technology. From a phone call to a video conference to Snapchat, we are immersed in a world where there are countless options for communicating, and the same can be said for the design process. It doesn’t matter what type of design you’re thinking of—graphic design, architecture, industrial design—the tools at our disposal continue to grow and improve, giving us more and more options for how we can bring an idea to life.

3D printing is perhaps the greatest example of a recent technology that has revolutionized design processes—shortening product development timelines, cutting cost, and ultimately, improving the overall quality of work. Companies no longer need to spend thousands of dollars on molds to have a physical sample of their product. They can now print one in a few hours, but not every idea warrants the creation of a physical model. Thus, there is still disconnect in communicating the idea of a three-dimensional product. For the longest time, the only way to communicate form to a client was by way of a 2D rendering, but that is all about to change. The next big evolution in product development is virtual reality, and Cincinnati is at the forefront of this movement.

A NewCo Experience

The creative community of Cincinnati recently came together for a citywide event called NewCo Cincinnati. As part of their mission, “NewCo identifies, celebrates and connects the engines of positive change in society. Through our events, media and business partnerships, NewCo connects people with businesses on a mission.” Over 100 companies in the city, including Intrinzic, participated as host companies, holding speaker series.

I had the opportunity to visit a variety of local design firms and listen to companies, large and small, tell their stories as they opened their doors to the public to showcase their work and inspire the community. Almost all of the firms I visited had ties to the CPG (consumer package goods) industry, which is not a surprise since Cincinnati is home to Proctor & Gamble, along with a plethora of world-class branding and design agencies.

Expansions in Product Development

One of my final stops was at Axiom Product Development, where they unveiled their one-of-a-kind VR Bar, a virtual reality space they built to run the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift platforms. Axiom provides industrial design, modeling and simulation, and engineering services for a variety of product categories, with much of their work in the CPG industry. They are currently working with ESKO, using the Store Visualizer software with a Oculus Rift plug-in to import their own CAD data. At this event, they affirmed they're currently the only ones in the world attempting to use this technology for this specific purpose.

Imagine being immersed in a store or home environment and interacting with a product, minutes after it was designed. You would be able to view the form of the product with materials, labels and textures mapped to the surfaces as if it were a production part. Oh, and the software calculates physics in the environment. So stress testing, drop testing or simply making sure the bottle will stand up straight on the shelf can all be verified in virtual reality.

During the NewCo presentation, Axiom explained their vision is to create a new communication method for their clients, but also create an opportunity to collaborate with local graphic design firms for a holistic developmental approach.

This is a great example that demonstrates virtual reality has the ability to change the game for how a creative company can share work with clients. For now, it seems that the tools we currently use for creation will widely remain the same, but don’t be surprised if (when) virtual reality starts to impact the methods in which we design.

How could virtual reality change the way your company does business?

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  • Joseph L. DiPietro

    Great article! Very comprehensive. I do believe VR is the future of design with the advent of Xiaomi, Envelope VR, and Netflix new release ‘ Stranger Things ‘ Have FUN. JD

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