Arc: Bridging the Gap between Community Members and Architects

Terrence Masson is the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit and experiential learning at Northeastern.

As an Executive Professor at Northeastern University’s College of Arts Media and Design, Masson enjoys sharing his passion for interactive media with students. His resume boasts impressive experience such as single-handedly creating the original animation for South Park, serving as an on-camera Image Analysis Expert for the History Channel series UFO Hunters, and writing the widely-acclaimed textbook CG 101: A Computer Graphics Industry Reference.

Having dominated the on-screen scene, Masson decided to broaden his horizons to start his own virtual design venture.

Three years ago, Masson identified a major disconnect between architects and community members: people were not able to view architectural plans for their neighborhoods, and architects were not able to gather feedback from community members.

Masson collaborated with George Thrush, Director of the School of Architecture, and Northeastern students in his two-semester long Interactive Media Capstone course to create an augmented reality application prototype to help bridge this gap between the real world and architectural plans.

         arc - Terrence Masson Northeastern

Since then, the prototype evolved into a sophisticated multi-purpose augmented reality application, arc. Arc provides users a model of proposed building projects in real time and space through the camera of an iPad. It also allows users to submit feedback both in-app and online, giving community members a voice they did not have before.

Arc allows users to toggle through virtual design options in real-time, accurately geolocated on top of real buildings, streets, and terrain. Users can experience infrastructure and design at 360 degrees of augmented reality through the lens of their device. The app can be used for large-scale projects in cities to plan buildings and view inputs such as shadows, wind patterns, auto traffic, and foot traffic. On a smaller scale, users can plan the architecture of their homes.

As a friend of IDEA co-founders Dan Gregory and Marc Meyer, Masson experienced firsthand the resources IDEA offered for students, faculty, and alumni to take advantage of. Whereas most ventures enter the IDEA process simply as an idea, Masson already had a working prototype, business model, and mature concept.

“I was coming to IDEA in the middle of the process,” Masson explained, “But it really helped me take a big, deep pause and go to all of the workshops instead of stumbling and learning coincidentally.” Despite the fact that not all of the information was new to him, the workshops presented by industry experts helped reinforce business models and ideas for Masson.

Masson is currently in the process of creating a proposal to the Olympics Committee to utilize arc to allow Bostonians to experience the architectural plans of building projects for the proposed 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston. He plans on applying for IDEA’s Gap Funding to further help arc grow.
           arc - architecture technology. Terrence Masson.    

Sarah Urbonas is a Student at Northeastern University Marketing and is Communications Project Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific. You can find this and related Blog posts on Northeastern IDEA's Blog here and follow IDEA on Twitter @IDEANEU.