With a virtual reality degree program and an internationally renowned design firm just down the street from each other, Sarasota-Bradenton stands set to have real influence on how virtual reality is both seen and applied in the 21st century.
At ROBRADY, we constantly evaluate how new technologies can transform the design process. And, with the launch of a BFA program in Virtual Reality Development at the Ringling College of Art and Design, VR has evolved from an entertainment gimmick to a transformative tool with near-limitless application.
As Ringling President Larry R. Thompson explains:
“Virtual reality will change everything. The opportunities extend far beyond the worlds of gaming and entertainment — this technology will revolutionize the way we live and work, and it will offer unexplored opportunities for artists and designers. We want our students and graduates to be leading this monumental shift, advancing and defining this new field, and laying the groundwork for tomorrow’s generations of creative leaders, companies, and organizations.”
Ringling’s new VR program, in its inaugural year, envisions the technology not as a tool or application, but a wholly unique medium for expressing and engaging ideas. Inside the virtual space, traditional limitations imposed by physics, geography, expense and even a user’s identity can be circumvented, which fosters fresh perspectives that could yield original solutions that might never have been found otherwise.
One area where VR’s impact will be felt is in automotive design. A team from ROBRADY had the chance to see this firsthand at the Tokyo Motor Show last October. At the event, which emphasized technology over horsepower, several exhibits allowed attendees to interact with vehicles that had yet to be realized in the physical world. By donning VR headsets, passengers could sit inside a simple skeletal structure and have an immersive experience of completed concept vehicles as they drove through various digital terrains.
Closer to home, VR is already having a significant impact on time, effort, and expense across various industries. For example, design professionals can test new instruments or equipment concepts without needing the physical materials (e.g. foam, clay, etc.) to create numerous prototypes. Building contractors can troubleshoot renovation layouts to ensure their success before the first nail is driven.
ROBRADY’s team is inspired about the revolution VR represents for industrial design. As applied storytellers, we express ideas through products and processes. The capacity to develop prototypes and refine processes in a virtual environment before they exist in the real world doesn’t just enable us to work faster, more effectively, and economically, it signals a paradigm shift in how we think about, understand and interact with the world around us.
The Sarasota-Bradenton area has a well-deserved reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship thanks in large part to institutions like the Ringling College of Art and Design and firms like ROBRADY design. Now, the addition of a VR Development major to Ringling College’s world-class curriculum means Sarasota will continue to attract the talent that shapes tomorrow.
This article originally appeared on the Tampa Bay Business Journal and is syndicated here with permission.