Arkio’s proprietary modeling technology brings real-time, collaborative, virtual reality design to the architectural industry for the first time, saving firms time and money by avoiding costly re-work.


Area of Research:
Virtual reality, 3D modeling, Architecture


While virtual reality (VR) design tools have been available for some time for many types of product design, startup Arkio brought VR into the AEC industry and changed the way architectural teams can design and collaborate. A proprietary modeling kernel developed for its spatial architecture application lets users design in real-time with consumer-level VR headsets, or on desktop and mobile devices. After the startup gathered extensive feedback from design firms, individual architects, and hobbyists during its year-plus beta test, it launched a commercial 1.0 version where up to 24 people can collaborate within a session in 2021.

Arkio’s software made several breakthroughs for architectural design in VR: working directly with one’s hands on all axes, interacting with designs at any scale (from bird’s eye view to human-scale), and going inside a virtual space with other designers, collaborators, and clients to design together in real-time.

These innovations help designers avoid misunderstandings and mistakes early in the process, which saves time and reduces costly re-work at both the design and building stages. Being “inside” the virtual space together enables teams to evaluate design choices like the placement and size of specific building elements more effectively and efficiently. Whether using hand controllers in VR, a touchscreen on a mobile device, or a mouse on desktop software, quick gestures can create and resize shapes, snap those shapes to edges and corners, and add elements like windows, doors, and so on.

Already some design firms have reported that Arkio helps them break down the barriers of a siloed modeling process. Many people, especially non-designers, find it easier to interpret the 3D VR designs than flat 2D drawings and models. Presenting models built within Arkio software also gives design firms a new way to pitch clients for work.

Since joining the Autodesk Technology Centers Outsight Network in late 2020, feedback from the resident community and the ability to connect with product teams helped the startup build and test integrations with Autodesk Revit, BIM 360, and Forge, expanding capabilities for both Arkio and Autodesk software. Plug-ins now allow pro-level Arkio customers to import and export files to and from Revit and BIM 360. While fine-tuning its commercial 1.0 release, Arkio is looking at using the Technology Centers’ additive capabilities to explore how to turn its models into 3D printable files to produce scale models.

Arkio has only scratched the surface of what’s possible with its real-time modeling kernel and continues to work on more advanced yet intuitive modeling capabilities. By making architectural design collaboration more effective and efficient, Arkio believes its technology will have a huge impact on the industry. Because buildings cannot be prototyped the way manufactured products are, the company sees a future where virtual collaboration is the industry standard.

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