The global civil engineering and infrastructure giant AECOM recently announced that it has signed an MOU with Mushroom VR, a subsidiary of Super 78, the theme park entertainment design and multimedia studio. The companies will jointly develop a collaborative platform that intends to transform the theme park visualization and design processes. They hope their partnership will catalyze innovation in their creative processes and enhance the quality and effectiveness of theme park project planning, which can be quite complex.

Mushroom VR is a next-generation, immersive, enterprise-level virtual reality product that enables stakeholders to imagine and design projects together, reviewing and approving project designs and concepts simultaneously from anywhere in the world. Architects, engineers, fabricators, media designers, developers, and investors can all use the tool together in order to plan and approve a project. Together, the companies plan to market the product’s visualization experiences to design and planning teams across Asia’s theme park industry by the third quarter of 2018, believing that the theme park sector is ideal for their collaboration because, at least in Asia, the sector is growing rapidly; clients are looking for market-leading concepts but may be unfamiliar with the complexities behind planning, designing, building, and operating large-scale, capital-intensive theme parks.

“Through this collaboration, AECOM is bringing together our complete and exceptional array of proprietary, integrated program management services for large-investment theme park projects in Asia with the unique technology of Super 78,” said Chris Yoshii, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Global Director of Economics, AECOM.  “We will be offering an incredibly robust and flexible program of benefits to support both new ideas and new developers.”

“Super 78 has been designing and developing media-based attractions for theme parks, museums, and all kinds of special venues for almost two decades, for clients around the world. Because we are both story tellers and media creators, part of our mission is to find and invent new technologies to make the development process as collaborative and as streamlined as possible.  We’re excited about the potential that a new collaboration with AECOM may present, particularly with their extensive experience across key growth markets in China, South and Southeast Asia,” said Brent Young, President and Creative Director for Super 78.

AECOM and Super 78 premiered a beta test of the Mushroom VR Collaboration Studio immersive virtual reality tool at the AECOM booth (#1302) during the Asian Attractions Expo at the Hong Kong Convention Centre last week.

This isn’t AECOM’s first foray into construction industry virtual reality applications. Last year, and as you may recall, AECOM went into beta testing with HTC on applications for the Vive Focus virtual reality headset at a new VR laboratory in Taiwan. The lab is hosting demonstrations of innovation for VR in design and construction and developing content to underscore the breadth of potential that VR can offer to the industry. HTC is also creating a special service portal for the Focus that is dedicated to the AEC industry and used to promote adoption of VR solutions across the construction landscape.

Analysis from AEC Labs

There are a couple of important takeaways from this initiative. First, we think this is the first time that we’ve seen a construction market-sector specific application of virtual reality technology. That’s notable because it suggests that the construction tech space is evolving rapidly here in 2018. Anecdotal, for sure, but still notable nonetheless.

Second, there is clearly value that can be extracted from applying technology to complex construction industry applications. Theme parks are risky and complex from both technical and legal perspectives. Using VR is just one way of building a better mousetrap for clients across the globe, driving cost out of the development process and reducing the risk of claims and erosion of profits down the road.