NBBJ Partnered with tech startup Visual Vocal to develop virtual reality tools that will eventually be available industry-wide.
NBBJ NBBJ Partnered with tech startup Visual Vocal to develop virtual reality tools that will eventually be available industry-wide.

NBBJ isn’t the first firm to explore the business case for virtual reality (VR) technology, but it’s certainly ahead of the game and is breaking into the new market in a big way—all without the expensive headset. The global design firm, which has offices in 11 cities, announced yesterday that it will partner with tech startup Visual Vocal to develop a novel cloud-based, mobile virtual reality tool that will let designers, clients, and more explore projects before they’re completed. All users will need is a smartphone, the companion app, and an inexpensive viewer, Fast Company’s Co. Design reports. The goal is to provide project teams' options beyond a 3D model for seeing a finished project or visualizing changes throughout the design and construction process. The partnership is a first-of-its kind, with “an established design firm incubating a VR startup inside its own offices and developing new tools to improve decision-making and remove waste from the design process,” explains NBBJ in a press release. NBBJ is a financial backer of Visual Vocal, and the startup will beta launch its platform for NBBJ exclusively later this year; the design firm says it will focus its application on healthcare, corporate, and urban-planning projects. The pair hopes to eventually open up the tool to the rest of the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. [NBBJ + Co.Design]

ICYMI: Tips for managing your firm’s material and sample libraries in the digital age. [ARCHITECT]

The world’s largest cities are replacing nations as major global players, taking connectivity among inhabitants, institutions, and infrastructure to a new level. A similar scenario is playing out in smaller metros, too. [CityLab]

Mass-manufacturing facilities in China are exploring the development of factories run almost entirely by robots. [MIT Technology Review]

Augmented reality software developer Augment now lets users input 3D models straight from their desktop or laptop into the company’s mobile program, helping, for example, design clients visualize a finished space. [Augment]

The United Arab Emirates, with Dubai in particular, is a global leader in 3D printing. The UAE is taking its positioning a step further with the recent announcement of a three-pronged plan to enhance its 3D modeling work, which includes construction and building as one of its tenets. [3dprint.com]

The Google Labs–offshoot Sidewalk Labs is planning to build a model city within an existing one to test new technology and features like self-driving cars, public Wi-Fi, and plenty of sensors to gather data and streamline the way the city moves. [The Verge]