What would you change about your home’s interior?
The color scheme? The lack of storage space in the bedroom? The light fixtures in the kitchen? How about painting your entire living room floor red? It’s certainly striking, and it would transform your living room such that it may feel like a brand new home altogether.
But how do you even conceive of how a radical change like that would shape your living space? You’re certainly not going to gain an insight into so bold a future by laying a few color swatches in a corner of the room.
To get a real representation of what’s possible you’ll need some computing power. And, to collaborate with those most likely to help get you that computing power, you’ll need video conferencing technology.
Designs in 3D
Designers like Closet America are already creating 3D renderings of living spaces to show clients a range of options before they commit. This company–which specializes in organizational solutions–uses exact measurements to digitally recreate the unique structure of any room, and then fleshes out the rendering with design details that lets the client yay and nay their way to the right destination.
Further embracing the digital age, Taiwan startup iStaging is pushing its augmented reality technology into the world of interior design by piggy-backing on the scanning power of Intel’s RealSense cameras. iStaging takes 3D scans of real furniture and fittings and overlays them onto 3D scans of real rooms to let designers totally reinvent any space in real-time. The app has been configured to work with virtual reality goggles to create an immersive experience wherein couches, kitchen tables, and chandeliers are moved by fingertip and swapped in and out of the frame with a flick of the wrist.
And if that’s not enough to get you redecorating in virtual 3D, researchers from Microsoft and Oxford University are developing a scanner that works within the limits of a smartphone, even when it’s offline. The MobileFusion project uses the cameras already found in cell phones to take a rapid array of images from multiple angles and reconstruct the image in 3D with just the computing power of an iPhone.
However, this 3D potential is only realized when designer and client can meet in a shared digital space to collaborate in real time.
Imagining Possibilities by Video Conference
So your designer of choice has a measured or scanned a rendering of the living space you’re tired of inhabiting, perhaps with a few notes on what you had in mind. After giving them some time to familiarize themselves with the landscape it’s time to team up and make some decisions.
Conventionally this meeting would take place in person, in an office or onsite. And with that comes all the limitations of the physical world. Clients leaning over each other to look at computer screens, designers having to go room by room like a PowerPoint presentation, the whole thing wrapped up in a limited amount of time within a fixed location everybody has to visit.
However, take that meeting online through video conferencing and the physics no longer applies.
Here, connected through shared screens that let viewers wander around a common desktop, the tour can flow as naturally as if the design were already implemented and the new flooring already underfoot.
While the designer talks through her vision, the clients can peruse the visual elements of the model. He checks out the new mirror in the hall, while she casts an eye over the new light fittings in the bathroom.
And you don’t have to supply VR goggles to get the effect. Such projects are easily viewed through a standard computer screen with the mouse guiding your movements rather than your head.
The designer could provide alternatives to each space or feature which the clients could swap in by creating simple in situ buttons to flip the scenery, much like paint shops do currently with color swatch demonstrations.
Interior Design Celebrities: Now Available to You
Of course the most obvious advantage to holding this session by video conferencing is that it doesn’t matter if each party resides on a different continent. Collaboration via video conferencing with interior designers allows clients and designers to find each other across the globe, without ever needing to set foot on a jet.
And, as the best designers are located throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia there’s plenty of incentive to seek out these far flung creative minds. Eliminating travel isn’t going to render the cost of hiring a world-class interior designer as cheap as getting some neighborhood kids to paint your house, but it can help.
In fact, the simple transaction of exchanging 3D-rendered images makes it far more likely such designers would be available for pro bono work on public spaces, and perhaps offer reduced-rate, single-meeting-only basic consultations for other types of spaces.
Perhaps some entrepreneurial designers will eventually package their ideas and custom furniture into a standardized collection that can be overseen by sales staff and sold to the public through a video conferencing call.
It could be the quickest way to find out if that red floor will clash with your portrait of grandma on the living room wall.