Middlebury grads develop high-tech design tool - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Middlebury grads develop high-tech design tool

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Nate Beatty hasn't even received his degree in the mail yet but he and his partner, Shane Scranton, are already pushing a product they developed while still in school.  They say it will transform the world of architecture through virtual reality.

"We sound kind of crazy talking about it. you put it on and it's this immersive headset. It's really great, you just gotta try it. It sounds like something right out of Star Trek," Scranton said.

The headset is known to techies and gamers as Oculus Rift. The duo have created a program for the device called Iris. It allows an architect or builder to create 3-D designs and virtually tour those designs by navigating through rooms with a handset. "So that all leads into, most of my days are spent at this computer doing renderings, which are pretty much just photo realistic images of architecture that isn't built yet," Scranton said.

The two met at Middlebury College in 2010.  After entering a building competition together and launching a web design company, they decided to try something new and ordered the headset in the mail from Oculus VR, a company out of California.

Once you put the headset on, your transported into a virtual world.  Touring a building before it's even built, right down to houseplants and decor. "It's moving quicker than I ever expected it to and everyday there's something new," Beatty said.

So far the two grads have met with architectural firms throughout New England. The goal is to get the boxy headset on the potential buyer's head and let the software do the explaining.
"When they put these things on, they suddenly realize that wow, they can have a pretty rough schematic space actually communicated well to a client," Scranton said.

The biggest challenge they hope to solve is eliminating the lag time between a person's movement and what you see inside the headset. They hope the software is ready for release at the same time the Oculus Rift hits the market sometime early next year. They're also looking to expand. "We'd like to add some more people this month. I think we can safely say we just added someone this morning, yeah," Beatty said.

Right now, they work out of a small office in Middlebury provided by the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. Once their product launches, they hope to have staff in California and a product that is synonymous with architecture and virtual reality.

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