January 7, 2021

Architect: The Technology to Drive Innovation, Design and Culture in 2021

Our Director of Visualization Ernesto Pacheco kicks off Architect magazine’s newly published report on the breakthrough technology that will define design in the year ahead.

As the Architect piece notes, those asked “highlight increasing array of remote work tools, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality platforms, and crossover capabilities from the gaming world. And, notably, the question arises of whether these new capabilities are making design more accessible and accountable to underserved populations.”

The full Architect piece is available online. Below is Ernesto’s full response:

On the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on design technology
Prior to the pandemic, the AEC industry was significantly skeptical about technology’s ability to drive collaboration. Over the past year, this skepticism has diminished as firms have had to rely entirely on technology to adapt their workflows and network systems with remote staff. Virtual calling and web-based whiteboard applications also became part of our daily lives.

When we can collaborate in person again, technology and virtual work will remain a part of our culture and design DNA moving forward. We have learned that staff can work from anywhere effectively and efficiently. With technology proving its power in 2020, we can move beyond skepticism to focus fully on innovation, design and culture.

His predictions for breakthrough tech in 2021
Interoperability is one of the hottest topics in the AEC industry today. We spend significant time exporting and importing different file formats from disparate design applications. Our partners at Autodesk, Nvidia, and Epic Games understand this workflow issue and are moving forward with the adoption of the Universal Scene Description file format and Material Definition Language to allow for true interoperability among all design applications. Autodesk has been working to implement this into the next version of 3ds Max. Epic Games has provided Datasmith as its solution for data preparation and exchange among applications.

At the moment, Omniverse by Nvidia is the product that stands out: It creates the opportunity to both consume USD and MDL data and create and manage USD/MDL assets. This positions Omniverse at the center of the AEC workflow of the future.

Another product showing promise for 2021 is Arkio, a cross-platform VR and AR collaborative platform for AEC work. (CannonDesign has been close partners with the developer since Arkio’s alpha release three years ago.) In 2020, Arkio’s ability to communicate design through virtual environments helped us secure high profile projects.

The mixed reality realm also holds opportunities. Apple is moving toward that goal with its devices. Nvidia and Epic Games are embracing pixel streaming and cloud based extended reality (XR), which encompasses VR, AR, and MR. This will eventually free users from hardware restrictions while offering high-quality immersive and collaborative experiences.