Technology

VIDEO: Google launches VR paint brush

16 May 2016 | By Tom Ravenscroft

Tech giant Google has launched an app that allows designers and artists to paint in 3D within a virtual environment.

Named the Tilt Brush, the app for “painting in 3D space with virtual reality (VR)”, comes bundled with the HTC Vive VR headset headset, which went on sale earlier this month.

Advertising the app, Google said: “Your room is your canvas. Your palette is your imagination. The possibilities are endless.”

The app’s virtual toolbox lets creators choose colours, brushes and a selection of other tools, and has been hailed as “like Microsoft Paint for the year 2020”.

Although aimed at artists, the VR paint brush has obvious potential to be used by architects for sketching initial designs. Its future iterations can be used for editing or marking up 3D BIM models.

Architects were keen to get their hands on the tool. Alistair Kell, director of information and technology at architectural practice BDP, told BIM+ they were already utilising VR for client engagement and he would be tracking the progress of the Tilt Brush closely.

“The Tilt Brush is an interesting proposition,” he said. “At the moment we are making very good use of VR at a basic level, by sending models to Autodesk cloud and producing dozens of different VR models for client presentations.

“Initially I thought that VR was little more than an interesting toy, but now I think it’s one of the more powerful things that has come out of BIM as it puts people within the building. It’s incredibly useful as it allows clients to visually far better understand spaces and volumes.

“I am unsure how the Tilt Brush fits into this. I’m sure it will find a use, but at the moment it feels very much like a conceptual tool. In the future we could see tools like this being used for making markups in BIM models, but the technology is not commercially there yet.”

Simon Hart, built environment innovation programme leader at Innovate UK, believes that the brush has the greatest potential applications for community engagement.

“There are obvious potential applications in interior design and architecture, however, I believe the applications to community and citizen engagement maybe more interesting,” he said. “It’s certainly one to watch and I’d been keen to see how the UK’s tech community adopts it.”

There are obvious potential applications in interior design and architecture, however, I believe the applications to community and citizen engagement maybe more interesting. It’s certainly one to watch and I’d been keen to see how the UK’s tech community adopts it.– Simon Hart, Innovate UK