TasarımATLAS Architecture & Design
Numbers of people working: 15
GG: Hello, We’d like to hear more details about TasarımATLAS. When and how was it founded?
Ahmet Burçin Gürbüz: Hello. TasarimATLAS was officially established in 2010, based in Istanbul however, its origins go back further to my various operations in Cyprus, Iskenderun and Ankara. I am an architect who started working during the university years. Even back in my time at the university I had set in my mind to establish my own business and a creative formation. At that time multidisciplinary operations and formations were not current as today, at least not outside the academia, yet as a result of my personal curiosities, my works and my approach were in a multidisciplinary manner.
While carrying out conventional architecture & design projects, I was in a good level on things like 3d modelling and animation. So, when setting the roots of TasarımATLAS, I was keen to set up the team with people who were good at or avid to improve on the said subjects. In addition, I always had technological and scientific discoveries on my radar and my attempts were to apply those to my profession whenever possible. In anyways I am the guy when bored plays video games or follows articles and books on things like tech, science and futurism. One can not help but integrate personal curiosities to professional works.
Over the last 8-10 years TasarimATLAS grew to include people who has curiosities and passions similar to mine. Today the team consists with a range of young and dynamic people who individually have differentiating strengths, meanwhile have goals and enthusiasm on common issues. To me it is a good point for any current team to arrive, at some point.
GG: Which fields do you focus on for development?
ABG:For the last 3 years or so we have been operating in two courses. One, is the Architecture field where we carry on “Design and Build” operations as we call it, which means from scratch to turnkey. We mostly focus on qualified, public projects like hospitals, museums and factories, in addition to competitions. The team’s majority consists of architects by the way and we call us as Architecture+ amongst ourselves. It is because we do not just conduct architectural project, which brings us to the second field that we follow. The notion of our last three years, XR…
We have partaken with the VR/AR/MR hype that budded about 5-6 years ago. We had the impression that with AI and machine learning technologies developing to a serious point, this was more than a hype and with that we decided to establish an R&D team within TasarimATLAS focusing on reality technologies. Before our works meeting the public eye last year, for about 2 years an intense learning and development process was carried out within. At the point where we knew that both our works and ourselves at a certain capacity, we made the decision to make our new field of works and ourselves, public; naming this sub-formation as GarageATLAS. Through the earlier stages of R&D we gave our focus on VR, first.
Right now we create custom content for VR, meanwhile we are working on software products that will meet the market in 2019. Unreal Engine 4 is the game engine that we utilize for VR, in addition to architectural visualization and animation. We have also been in contact with UE4 team personally, for a couple of months now. We also introduced and taught UE4 to enthusiastic students in several workshops. The number of attendance and the fact that the students were as excited about UE4 as much as we are, made us delighted. Right now we are working on building a regular series of workshops for 2019 on architectural visualization, animation an VR. I also started as an instructor in Bilgi University teaching UE4 this year.
So when we found ourselves to be at a good stage in VR, we started the groundwork on AR and MR. As the in-house team progressed, we also extended the team adding developers and engineers. In addition, we are working with university students in the AR&MR scope. We believe that the fresh blood and enthusiasm of students both contribute to both and their growth.
GG: How many people working for TasarimATLAS and are there any other offices and markets that you’re actively working outside of Turkey?
ABG: As TasarimATLAS Architecture & Design, we have done projects in a variety of geographies ranging from Britain to Mongolia. Over the course of 10 years, we have established architectural works over 1,5 million m2 in Turkey and Global. Now, our aim is Global, in terms of what we are practicing in the XR field. Currently we have partnerships in Vienna, Toronto and San Francisco. In the quarter of 2019, we will be officially establishing our San Francisco based office in the US and the details on our Europe office will become prominent.
We have a quality of network which comes from the 10 years of professional background in the Architecture field. The VR software that we developed AtlasHome, in consideration of this field, is in the Europe market, primarily Austria. Once again the we are about the finish up our deals in Dubai, for AtlasHome. In Turkey, in addition to AtlasHome, we do custom VR content development, for a variety of company and products. Currently, while it ranges project base, essentially we are 15 people.
GG: Let’s talk about Silicon Valley… How did you decide to start a business there?
ABG: Since the beginning of our r&d operations on XR, we had the need to compare our products with the ones in the same field, in reference to evaluating the quality and knowledge of where we are at Globally. It has been significant for us to be current and even beyond the current in this field where research and resources are relatively limited and the technological developments are in high momentum. We continuously would like to critic what we do and while reading criticisms in a true manner, we would like to know what we are in a good point in comparison to the Global.
It is a well known fact now, especially with the readers of GoodGamers I assume, that even though there are fundamental tech centers in Europe like, Berlin or Helsinki, Silicon Valley is the tech core of Earth. So we decided to go there first as guests, in order to observe in person what is going on there and to examine where we are at, in the XR field in comparison. We toured and interacted with anywhere that you can think of, from FB, Apple, Autodesk to Nvidia.
We already had the impression, before even working on XR, that our initial markets would be US, Europe and some of the Middle Eastern cities. Namely, Turkish market is still not fully ready to this field that we have devoted our years, sleepless nights and funds to. We are talking about a technology field that has not assimilated itself to daily lives, offices or homes yet and still considered mostly just as a tool of fun and games in Malls, events or expos.
Turkish markets aside, in the world it is at present a technology that is not considered as a part of the “normal”. But we are here still, working hard to convey accurate information, education and quality work/ products; especially for the sake of contributing to the adaptation and familiarization of XR to society. In this context I believe that it is an on point approach to have a headquarter in Silicon Valley. Besides we have already established partnerships and a certain network there.
All in all in this day and age where digital transformation is a significant subject, we support and work with a variety of companies; laying the groundwork of digital transformation
GG: What do you create in VR/AR/MR segment? Which tools you use and do you have your own software options?
ABG: When we say that we design and develop content for XR, each work of content is essentially a different software. Some of our software are specific product to be published in app markets, however we also develop custom software in accordance with the needs of companies. By the way as of this month we are a part of Samsung Turkey Innovation Center.
Our VR software are completely developed with UE4. The fact that UE4 is open sourced has been incredible valuable. Maybe we have found UE4 infrastructure to be advantageous and full of possibilities, because that we come from an architectural background. As hardware for VR, we have utilized HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, GearVR and Daydream up to now. HTC Vive especially has been our precious; we have worn it out, basically.
For AR/MR content as we continue to work with UE4, we are also evaluating and utilizing several engines and software. And Magic Leap is in our radar, the MR headset that the XR world was curiously waiting for over the last year.
I would like to also talk about some of our finished and on-going works. XR products are basically in two sorts. One is, we design and developed custom content. Mostly VR and AR software that we develop VR and AR software beneficial to the needs of marketing, promotion and customer relations for companies or their specific products. One instance, currently we are developing an interactive VR color chart for a paint company, which will be placed in a number of branches of the company. It will be a product where their customers will be able to enter a VR home, choose the color to their liking from a color chart menu.
Meanwhile the customers will also test and observe the chosen color with a variety of lights, from day to night and in kelvin values. So at the end, when they physically apply their chosen paint color, they will not be surprised with ranging natural and unnatural lights which effect color tones, sometimes immensely.
Our second method of products are the software that we publish in app markets. Some are directed for simple and daily use and a part of our products are r&d with long term projections.
Throughout 2019 these software will be published. For one, we designed and AR business card, in addition we have an AR measurement app that lets you take error-less measurements. As I mentioned previously, there is AtlasHome, a VR app intended for architecture, construction and real estate purposes. And currently our Yoga-Meditation VR app is under construction.
GG: VR and AR is a well known field in video games industry and how could you reconcile the work you do with video games?
ABG: We are absolutely on common grounds and we are also active players. We began doing game nights, in-house and with close circle and we have a plan to extend these nights to interested public.
What we do in VR/AR is gamification and UX design. The common ground with game industry is the experience design… To successfully accomplish a user oriented and ergonomic experience for the end consumer. Storytelling is another part that we meet. From the point right before the end user enters the experience to their exit, it is fundamental to foresee the scenario for the users’ end and for the content. To be able to design a fluent flux. In addition we are basically using game engines and even tough we utilize same tools and grow from a common point, we do not build games… Not just yet.
GG: How will the future VR/AR/MR world proceed? What are the most appropriate areas for use and what will change?
ABG: Currently, prominently use of VR/AR/MR is in education, health, promotional/ marketing, architecture & visualization and game/ gamification. What differentiates XR from other digital visual/ visualization technologies is that XR gives a multidimensional and real scale experience, which is much different from any 2d and even 3d experience. In this context as these technologies get to be more accessible and comfortable they will be assimilated to our daily lives, personally and professionally.
XR will be in our home, in our work, be a part of our daily tools and appliances. Needless to say not in their current form and shape. Through the next 10 years or so we will witness Iot and AI grow to be more stable and integrated, while new laws and regulations settle. I don’t regard XR isolated from smart living, machine learning etc. which are the technology of the current and future; quite the opposite, they are integral.
I try to illustrate this matter through analogies of some of the technologies of today’s daily life. Think of the TV or the smart phone, for instance. These are two of the most commonly used technological tools today, especially in Turkey. Now think of or just Google their history, in what form they were born to the markets, and in what form and feasibility they have now.
We for-see a significant increase in users and revenues when XR technologies reach mass use and with a multi-user capacity. I am not talking about something out of reach, there are already exemplary software of multi-user AR/VR/MR, one being one of our on-going products. As the network engineering and substructures develop to unveil more stable and safe access, this notion becomes more real everyday. Think of you and me, to access a simulation simultaneously and real time…
We are talking about the most problematic areas of globalization – meaning transportation, time differences, communication issues and even language differences and etc. – becoming obsolete with multi-user XR.
GG: Regarding the technologies and projest you’ve been developing, what could you say about your own ecosystem in Turkey?
ABG: This ecosystem is one that both frustrates and excites us at the same time. One of the most exciting moments come when we actualize what we have been working on over these years, and reach people through those works. And the humans that we meet on the way… There are people who are conducting valuable research and works around here. Communicating with people through common grounds and curiosities cultivates and motivates us immensely.
Meanwhile, some of these valuable brains have been and are still migrating outside Turkey, this is the reality. It is most likely because there are limited opportunities and climate to conduct works that go beyond the current time. In a way, the parts that struggle us come from the fact that we are working on the scenarios and systems of the future, in the now. Timing… However brilliant a product or idea may be, it needs to reach its audience in the right time. If a product is beyond its time, its users yet not exist; if a product is late might indeed miss its intended user market.
In the XR field, never mind Turkey, in the World it has not yet reach a mass use, and in this type of a climate we are producing content for it. The number of people that we can reach, that we can truly communicate with are still with limits. Honestly, we are not just promoting our products; we are most trying to promote, explain and teach a technological tool and a new way of systems, correctly and with a certain quality.
It is not comfortable, for sure but if it was comfort that we were looking for we would be continuing as a classically operated architecture office.
GG: What could you say about the human resources in this field? What kind of experienced people do you need and who can contribute to TasarimATLAS?
ABG:Currently as we continue our works with the in-house team, we have established project base partnerships in Turkey and abroad. Cooperation through bringing a range of fields of interest through common grounds turn out to be quite productive and the World operates like this now.
We are interested in people or groups that have technical information, ideas, experience or curiosities on subjects like VR/AR/MR, Iot, AI, Deep Learning, Machine Learning and as such. As we can speak the same language with people preoccupied by said subjects; through communication and collaboration, ideas and projects with real potential spring. It is not absolutely necessary for us that these people have vast experiences technically; it is just that we are keen on people and formations who are open to and even hungry for new experiences and apt to progress.
UE4 has been a tool that we have focused on and immensely utilized; so we are always open for communication with like-minded professionals and students.
GG: What are your plans for 2019? How will the expansion and growth move towards and what do you want to achieve in the long term?
ABG: We have been working B2B up to now. But throughout 2019 we will be partly transitioning to b2c via publishing products some of which I have mentioned here, in markets like App store, Google Play and Steam. And of course our second motivation is establishing our San Francisco office officially.
In addition, we will be moving our Istanbul office to Maslak region of Istanbul. Our new Istanbul office in addition to having a larger and flexible space, with that we will be beginning to do regular events like seminars, workshops and networking etc. 2018 has been a year that we have put ourselves out there, taking part in several events and expos, which will continue in 2019 as well, however we will be starting our own event calender in the new year.
In long term even tough the details are uncertain, in addition to our Istanbul and SF office, we will be laying the groundwork on our existence in Europe and Arabian Peninsula. We also have r&d projects that are on hold for their right time to be, for which we are working for prototyping and hopefully reaching for mass use over the next 5 years. And as the time comes, creating a cool game is a part of this plan, as well.