Technology: Interactive Design

by Kacey Larsen
virtual reality

According to our 2019 Qualified Remodeler Remodel of the Future survey, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) ranked the highest when we asked readers to predict which technologies may have a “significant impact” on the remodeling industry within the next five years. The area of design ranked the second highest when survey respondents were asked which area of the remodeling process will change significantly in the next five years. Knowing these reader predictions, our editors explore a selection of design software and their current AR or VR integration solutions. With the growing number of VR headsets and technological advancements happening, we are sure that this story is to be continued.


An expansion of the design software’s Viewer family for reviewing any plans or designs, SketchUp Viewer for VR is compatible with Oculus Rift, HTC VIVE and VIVE Pro headsets. A Trimble account and the SketchUp Viewer for VR app are needed as is an active SketchUp Pro or SketchUp Studio subscription. It utilizes many of the viewing, navigation and information tools already found in SketchUp. Fly around model projects, toggle layer visibility on or off, and the Tape Measure and Entity Information tools allow quick access to model information.

Additionally, Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets are supported with the SketchUp Viewer for Windows Mixed Reality. Designs can also be viewed on an iOS and Android device using the SketchUp Viewer for Mobile app. Augmented reality models can even be viewed for all active SketchUp Shop, SketchUp Pro and SketchUp Studio subscribers on ARKit and ARCore enabled devices.

Because of updates to the AR|VR Extension for SketchUp Pro, projects can easily be published to any AR or VR device; this extension isn’t required but can enhance viewing models with a VR device. Additionally, users can engage in real-time, multi-user collaborative viewing sessions with co-located or remote attendees. An example given by SketchUp is that a person with a HoloLens in New York can join a collaborative viewing session with a Vive user in Toyko and an Oculus user in London.

For instructions on setting up the SketchUp Viewer for VR, visit


The 2020 Design software has a virtual reality mode within its 360-degree panoramic viewer, which takes clients beyond a 3-D rendering and into another form of visualizing the space.

2020 explores the use of portable VR glasses that operate using a smartphone device. Three options are available for loading a compatible 360-degree panorama onto a phone, and the design must have been created using 2020 Design v11.4 or newer. A VR icon will appear when a panorama is ready for viewing in VR mode. While many portable VR glasses are available, 2020 points to DODOcase, which designs custom branded VR viewers in several formats. Its 360-degree panoramic viewer images created using 2020 Design v11 will also work with the Oculus Rift headset. The “360Photos” app will need to be downloaded and installed from the Oculus store. Additionally, the Oculus VR headset—though an application, such as the MaxVR application, is needed to configure the images first—can be used to view panoramic images from the design software.

For instructions on using the 2020 Design Panoramas, visit

Chief Architect

This architectural home design software provides views of 360-degree images created within its design platform using VR Goggles or a web viewer; these 360- degree panoramas can also be embedded onto a website using the Chief Architect 360° Viewer. The company offers its own Chief Architect VR Goggles. These Cardboard goggles pair with a smartphone to provide a VR experience when viewing 360-degree panoramic renderings.

Additionally, the Chief Architect 3D Viewer offers both a web app and mobile app to view interactive virtual reality models on a phone, table or webpage. Available for both Apple and Android devices, the free 3D Viewer app includes Sojourn 3D Virtual Reality Navigation Controls (shown left), available when in the Room mode. These controls provide the ability to “walk through” the model, a gyro camera for free-form viewing, and dynamic camera height while in a fly mode. To export a 3D Viewer model, software must be Chief Architect Premier or Interiors, 18.3 or newer; exporting a model from Home Designer requires version 2019 or newer. Two VR headset models, HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift, are supported for use with the company’s software. To run virtual reality in Chief Architect—using Chief Architect Premier and/or Interiors—a computer must meet both the company’s system requirements as well as those of the VR headset, particularly for the graphics card. Steam, a game and software distribution program, also must be installed and SteamVR Setup has to run so the headset runs through it.

For instructions on using the Chief Architect 3D Viewer, visit

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