Designing VR and AR products is a challenge that's not particularly well-suited for this reality.
Unity and Epic Games have made great strides in adapting their workflows to allow users to edit virtual reality content in a very precise way, but at the same time, they're both still very technical programs tailored towards people who are technically skilled.
Today, Sketchbox is launching out of Y Combinator's latest class of startups to help designers create virtual and augmented reality experiences inside VR without typing a line of code.
The goal with Sketchbox is to give designers a sophisticated tool to craft and refine VR environments without requiring them to have an engineering background and a deep understanding of desktop 3D modeling tools. The app seems especially skewed toward designers interested in rapid AR/VR prototyping.
"Right now we’re really focused on designers that don’t have the 3D expertise in desktop design tools," Sketchbox co-founder Joe Connolly told TechCrunch. "Because for a lot of companies, it's difficult to find an engineer that’s also a designer."
The software isn't just for rough-and-tumble sketches, you can import 3D models, drop in custom graphics and get as detailed as you need to. VR allows users to stick their head right up into the most granular details while they can also shrink the designed environment to the size of a pea.
As a result, designers have to think about the big and small pictures in a way that's different than other mediums, and it's a lot easier to do all of this from inside VR to begin with.
For a lot of different companies and studios, there's a fascination with VR, but also a knowledge that it's expensive to create and the audience for it is small. Even creating a proof of concept requires a good amount of resources, but a designer showing a team a dozen pages of scribbled-out sketches or a diorama still really doesn't give a great idea of what's going on in their head.
Sketchbox users can send project files or walk people through a presentation mode that showcases their thought process. From there, annotations can be made and the file can be exported and sent to Unity or uploaded to Sketchfab. Sketchbox aims to be a great space for designers to dump their brain into a 3D void then refine, organize and present what exactly they are planning for a product or project.
The software is available for use on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, you can download a free trial here.