Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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6 0 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 How To "Small will be something like simple 3-D panorama or a 360-degree virtual walk-through of a site, similar to what real estate agents do. It allows you to give a clear picture, move that 360-de- gree picture around and look at the fur- niture, layout, fixtures, etc. And then we can create a 3-D model of that to show how the space will look when we're done with the design. Using your phone and a wireless Google Cardboard unit, you can get a good feel for how the space will look, how the lighting will work, etc. This is the small T-shirt because it doesn't require a lot of hardware; it's very low cost and accessible to anyone." Medium, in Arora's example, jumps up to include a live virtual reality (VR) walk-through of the space. The client either comes to MBH offices or his team goes to them, bringing along the necessary VR headsets. Employing specialized headsets and more com- puting power, this medium level offers even more realistic views, taking clients into a virtual model that shows, for example, how lighting would work at a certain time of day or a certain time of the year based on the weather, accord- ing to Arora. Finally, the large T-shirt in the analogy adds the element of interactiv- ity within the 3-D virtual environment. In this case, Arora says, "We either bring the client in or take the computer to their site. We can use some gaming technology that enables us to inter- actively design with the client and do virtual mock-ups. They see the space and, in real time, work with us to swap out colors or finishes or fixtures. We can come to design decisions much faster than with traditional drawing and ren- dering. So that's the really high end. It takes a lot of effort, in part because we have to program it into the virtual envi- ronment, but it's very attractive because it's so realistic and immediate." Which "size" clients opt to try on depends a lot on budget — how much they have to invest in programming time. That alone can add up to a couple of weeks for the large-scale, interactive example compared with a few hours for the medium. "We've done the full-scale interactive models with a few large cli- ents, but most aren't quite there yet," Arora says. "But even if the client isn't willing to pay for it, however, it's a good way for us to be designing. Compared to how you would visualize the space in other models, here, you're standing at your height in the space, so if you're a tall or short person, you'll feel that. Traditionally, there's no way of really knowing a lot of aspects of a space until the thing is built." Arora suggests that broader adoption of the programming-intensive design models will require a shift in thinking about how project dollars are spent. "The basic premise is that designing this way saves money down the line," he says. "You spend a little bit extra in the begin- ning, but you can make better decisions and more easily come to consensus later because the technology has come to the point where it can really replicate the actual physical aspects — the texture of a fixture and fabric and lighting. And there's no lag time. Earlier, if you wanted a rendering of how this piece would look, it could take a few days to produce that. Now, if I have a model in 3-D, I assign the material, and within a few seconds, I can see how it's going to look. And if you're going to be opening multiple locations, you can do prototyping once in virtual reality and then start building, quickly making modifications for future locations as needed." Evaluate Client Capabilities Even clients who are willing to spend the extra dollars up front to deploy high-tech design solutions may still not be ready or able to do so, however. Those with a hodgepodge of aging hardware or those who lack IT support, for example, could wind up being more frustrated than wowed. Liddil says his Digital Design Lab team has seen software platforms im- prove to the point where, over the past four years or so, they've added virtual reality, augmented reality and gamifica- tion within virtual models to their list of services. And business enterprise solutions make it fast and efficient to send such models directly to clients and make updates in real time. A major challenge, however, is that many clients simply don't have the IT support and/or hardware necessary to get into the game. "One of the biggest things in terms of hardware is people on the client side might be using a variety of different devices," Liddil says. "That can be a huge drawback because we might have to tell them that they can only use it on a particular device, like the iPad. And then Apple could come out and say they no longer support this particular type of graphic on older iPads. So we have to tell them that if they want it to work efficiently, they have to have it on this kind of hardware in their company." Lack of IT support at the opera- tor level is another challenge. In larger companies with IT support, Liddil says

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