How AR, VR and Mixed Reality Are Redefining Urban Development and Planning

Augmented and virtual reality these days are becoming participatory instruments in urban planning. These technologies are able to convert the perception of reality, but each with its own different levels of immersion and interaction. As AR allows the superimposition of digital content onto the real environment, VR enables users to experience a virtual environment that is isolated from the real world and is immersed in a different space where users can explore with their senses.

VR simulations are particularly effective for design and planning purposes as the tool provides users to visualize project outcomes and potential errors. It can assist users to better conceptualize projects and landscapes. By leveraging virtual reality to create a simulated experience that mimics the real world, the 3D models that the VR experience is built on must be accurate that can ensure the information is being displayed and conveyed properly.

Urban Planning with Extended Reality 

Extended reality presents users with a new immersive perspective of the world. It covers all those technologies that enhance users’ senses, providing additional information about the real world or creating an entirely different world. Extended reality encompasses VR, AR and Mixed Reality technologies. In urban planning, extended reality technology has already brought significant changes in numerous areas of the world.

For instance, in Canberra, the development of a light rail system demonstration leveraged VR to provide diverse perspectives of the project. In one another instance, Andorra, in collaboration with MIT, deployed a project that allowed nearly 7,000 of its citizens to make use of an AR mobile app in rendering and reviewing a 3D model of their city at home.

Improving Visualization with AR and VR

Urban planning typically assists in structuring the development of cities and urban landscapes. This can be done through redesigning or improving physical plans, supporting policies, and legislatures, or any activity towards enhancing the environmental and socio-economic status of an urban area. As VR provides a virtual world tailored to a user’s needs and AR can project and augment information in real-time to enhance work and processes, both technologies have proven an invaluable asset in advancing architectural and urban planning and design. They are also creating better people-centric holistic communities and spaces.

By embracing the technology best suited to the specific situation, urban planners, city developers, architects, or lighting designers can practice AR, VR and MR to render their projects visible and intelligible to all. With these technologies, they can also animate citizens to play an active role in urban development.

Thus, the use of AR and VR have not just limited to games today, their applicability has now expanded beyond this space and is supporting the creation and reimagining art, design, and space. They have also helped lift up the art and architectural design, and it is expected to move towards even more industries in years to come.