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Improving the Client Experience through R&D

Improving the Client Experience through R&D Banner Image

“Most of us understand that innovation is enormously important. It's the only insurance against irrelevance. It's the only guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. It's the only strategy for out-performing a dismal economy.”

Gary Hamel

Technology and innovation play a critical role in the success of fully designing today’s buildings and spaces. At one time Building Information Modeling (BIM) was a differentiator in the AEC marketplace. Today BIM is the standard among competitive architects; ensuring that detailed designs and system components are integrated and coordinated.

So the question becomes, how can we further our technological efforts to advance our mission of supporting an outstanding customer experience? Gary Hamel’s quote brings attention to the importance of Research and Development (R&D). We must invest in technology and future capabilities that go beyond the day-to-day needs. We need to look into innovations that will have a long-term impact.

As Director of Information Technology at Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA), I am putting an emphasis on thinking beyond the present technology needs and looking to the future. To do this, we are investing time and capital into an organized R&D process to provide our clients with the latest technology. These steps will keep our firm’s technology cutting edge and create a better client experience, ultimately saving our customers time and money. Take a look at the key areas we are currently exploring:

Augmented and Virtual Reality

  • AUGMENTED REALITY – Augmented Reality (AR) has the ability to enhance real life with a virtual overlay. Imagine placing a 3D model on a table, exploring design options and how they fit within the surrounding environment. Programming and design options can be altered and vetted, and avatars of those that are participating remotely are able to interact with those in the room.
  • VIRTUAL REALITY – We are using virtual reality (VR) to immerse users in a 3D virtual environment. Current VR technology allows EUA’s 3D models to be viewed with Oculus Rift goggles, Google Cardboard, or Samsung Gear VR. Clients and partners are able to virtually navigate through their designed environments by turning their heads to look around at different angles and directing movement with hand-held controls. Soon clients will be able to view project color and design options, which will shorten decision-making time and project delivery while increasing understanding of project options.

One example of successful implementation with this technology was at a client meeting run by one of our talented architects. Our architect, let’s call him Bill, brought the VR Cardboard Goggles to a client meeting thinking it would be a fun way to share the space. The client needed to decide between two very different design options that looked similar on a 2D floor plan. Using the VR Cardboard Goggles, the client viewed the space from what it would be like actually standing in the room. This demonstration resulted in great questions that led to decision making on the final design.

Performance-Based Design

EUA is also investing in new performance-based design software. These tools utilize our BIM model to produce energy analyses allowing our designers and clients to make educated building performance decisions. The results can then measure and track the energy efficiency and effectiveness of design strategies. Our goal through this process is to provide our clients with high-performance buildings.

Leveraging these new technologies will provide our clients the opportunity to experience their space before construction, allowing them to make more informed decisions on design and building performance. On the architectural side, in the future our designers may design environments while they are virtually inside the space at their desk; and as these technologies continue to evolve, so will the customer experience.

Whether you’re a current client or just interested in what EUA could do for you, feel free to direct message me for more information on how we can elevate your design experience.

Kenneth Seelow

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