Change the colour of the wall or the pillowcase with one click and also try sitting on it? A dream comes true! What could previously only be achieved statically with computer visualizations can now be experienced by users themselves in three-dimensional space on their own bodies using “Real Virtuality” (RV). The RV technology developed by VAVE not only blurs the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds, but also promises an authentic and interactive staging. Tobias Geisler, managing director of the Offenbach agency, explained to us in detail what RV is all about and how the technology differs from already known “Virtual Reality” (VR) concepts …
“Digital and analogue worlds are not mutually exclusive: Both worlds have their advantages and disadvantages – but the combination offers new possibilities to sensually expand both the real and the digital space.”
Tobias Geisler, with VAVE, you have developed a tool for real-virtual space experiences. What exactly is it about and what was the decisive reason for its conception and implementation?
We were given the exciting task of developing a living experience showroom for a real estate company – a platform that can be used to simulate a wide variety of room situations and furnishing variations. We asked ourselves the question: How can a simple room be transformed into something inspiring and innovative? How can a room be designed in such a way that it can be varied at any time and is always accessible? Because we all know this: on the Internet, in a furniture store or showroom, we see a great piece of furniture and at first glance everything always looks great – but does the new furniture also fit in with the existing furnishings and the room situation? What about the style and colours? Or maybe another piece is more suitable? So with Real Virtuality we have created a completely immersive environment that can be experienced through the use of wireless VR glasses: where everything can be tried, combined and touched. Real Virtuality gives me the opportunity to discover my new home with my family or friends in an exciting way – and thus offers endless possibilities in a limited space. This is a real added value.
Virtual Reality and Real Virtuality – at first sight, they sound quite similar. Could you please explain again exactly the difference between VR and RV?
A very clear difference between the two experiences is that with “Virtual Reality” (VR) I only need VR glasses – and that in any room, which can be anywhere. Here the user interacts exclusively in the virtual world. With “Real Virtuality” (RV), on the other hand, I need a suitable room to wear glasses. This application can only be carried out there, and is therefore location-bound, but offers a multi-sensory experience for seeing, hearing and touching. Due to the haptics, users have a much more immersive experience, which we see as a great advantage.
Certainly, the technology behind RV is more than complex and difficult to explain to people who have no background in information technology. Can you nevertheless try to give us an insight into the RV implementation?
In a completely white room there are white furniture and objects such as a table or a chair. All objects are equipped with sensors that are virtually detected. When entering the room, the users put on a VR-headset. This headset is used to synchronize and superimpose the virtual environment with the physical environment in real time. This means that the real objects are given a digital “coating” or the digital objects are given a physical counterpart and can thus be touched or moved in a completely normal way. The magic starts here: I can sit my ass down on a digital chair, or drink real water from a virtual glass. Physical and virtual experience thus become one and the same and enables an unprecedented interaction between the real and the digital world.
Maximum tailored user experience in a virtual space with almost endless possibilities – that sounds almost too good to be true. To what extent can the customer journey at RV be individualized, or is the visitor in the modus operandi rather bound to ready-made standards?
Colours, fabrics or surfaces change with a click, users adapt their environment to their own needs with simple gestures. The range of materials and surfaces is indeed unlimited. But of course I am bound to the design elements of the room: A chair doesn’t suddenly become a bed or a kitchen a bedroom. But this is exactly what makes Real Virtuality so authentic: I can move around in a virtual space with real objects. The big benefit for the customer is that ten different furnishing configurations can be experienced with just one room. In the past, a separate room had to be designed for each of ten design variants.
And finally, a daring look into the glass sphere: Where do the virtual worlds go? Will RV be the future of immersive spatial experience, or is “analogue reality” not so easy to replace after all?
It will never be possible to replace the experience of space in a real space. Material, climate, mood, smells, acoustics, light – we take all this subconsciously and feel that we are in a real room. In our eyes both can exist in parallel. Digital and analogue worlds are not mutually exclusive: Both worlds have their advantages and disadvantages – but the combination offers new possibilities to sensually expand both real and digital space. So there are no longer any limits to the imagination – but real life still takes place out there, and that’s a good thing!
Tobias Geisler, thank you very much for the enlightening interview!
ABOUT TOBIAS GEISLER
Tobias Geisler, born 1983, studied interior design and visual communication at the Art and Design Academy in Valencia (EASD) and at the RheinMain University in Wiesbaden. Afterwards he worked as art and creative director for several internationally renowned communication and design agencies before he ventured into self-employment in 2013. Together with his partner Haijie Hu, he now runs the agency VAVE, which is based in Offenbach am Main and Shanghai.