photo of backyard pool design
In the future, users will be able to virtually enter the backyard environments depicted in pool designs like the one below (pool by Cameron Leth, Polar Pools, Nelson Bay, New South Wales, Australia) to move around and experience the projects from different angles, according to Noah Nehlich of Structure Studios in Las Vegas.(Photo courtesy Structure Studios)
rendering of backyard pool design

Noah Nehlich is the founder and director of operations for Structure Studios, a Las Vegas firm that develops and publishes 3-D software. Here's what he and his company see for the future of pool design.

Nehlich: Five or 10 years from now everybody is going to be on tablet computers; a lot of us won't even have desktop computers anymore, and we're going to be running things strictly off the cloud, or off the Internet. Right now you go to the customer's home, measure, take those measurements, go back to the office and put them into your laptop. The future will be about automating the whole ecosystem of design into on-site design, presentation, costing and even ordering the products on the spot, with the tablet, in a matter of minutes instead of the hours it takes right now.

AQUA: Looking further into the future, where do you see the industry headed?

Nehlich: True 3-D is a little ways off, and before that really makes its way into our industry they've got to come up with a system where you don't need glasses. I mean, to get the homeowners together and get them all set up with glasses just wouldn't make for a very good experience. We get asked about that from time to time, but the technology is just not there yet.

There are some prototypes out there for TVs and computer monitors that don't require 3-D glasses, but they're pretty jumpy. Once that technology progresses, that's something we'll be keen on implementing into our 3-D software. But in the mean time, we're focused on mobility and moving into the cloud, because that's where all software is headed; and we're investing millions of dollars into making the 3-D effects as realistic as possible, because we want that emotional connection to the product to be as strong as possible in the consumer's mind, and we want them to be able to "test drive" their pools in a totally realistic way.

AQUA: Joe Vassallo's use of your program along with web-conferencing software strikes us as pretty cutting-edge.

Nehlich: Joe is doing the GoToMeeting thing right now, which works great, and we do our training online that same way. But one big drawback of that way of designing, and designing in general, is that it's not a very interactive experience where the user can control the mouse and walk into the project, and things like that. Down the road we'd like to be able to email a fully interactive presentation to the customer that they can access over the web where they can explore the project, jump in the pool and play around with what the pool designers have created instead of just watching a video and watching somebody else control what they're looking at in the project. So that's going to be another way to look at these design projects, and it hasn't been done before in any other industry.