From the Cool to the Useful: An Interview with Gabe Paez

Do you know The Wild’s Founder and CEO Gabe Paez? A recent guest on the AEC Podcast Simply Complex, Gabe shares his background and how immersive technology can solve collaboration issues, making for a more human experience.
Clay Walsh
March 18, 2020

Our Founder and CEO Gabe Paez was recently on the Simply Complex Podcast, a show dedicated to providing simple solutions to everyday complex problems in the AEC industry. In this episode, hosts Marcello Sgambelluri and Carl Storm talk with Gabe about his background and how immersive technology can address AEC collaboration, making for a more human experience. This is an edited transcript of the episode, shared so you can hear more about the vision behind The Wild. Enjoy!

Marcello: We have a very special guest today, Gabe Paez from The Wild. Gabe, welcome! We want to hear more about you, how The Wild is impacting the industry, and how you're going to make the world a better place. Did I get that right?

Gabe: That’s the idea! The Wild is an immersive collaboration platform for designers, engineers, and everyone in the AEC lifecycle, offering effective collaboration on projects at one-to-one scale. It's cloud-based, so you have persistent access to these spaces that centralize your data and make it accessible to everyone on the project. You can explore the spaces in a meeting, asynchronously, or one-on-one through a virtual reality headset, an augmented reality device, or Mac or Windows. We also integrate with Revit, SketchUp, or BIM 360, allowing you to bring that content into The Wild and work with it there collaboratively.

Marcello: Very good. What made you decide to create this software?

Gabe: I've been working in immersive software for my whole career, so I’ve always been at this intersection of the digital and physical worlds. Around 2015, when VR was coming of age, I did prototypes for Google and Samsung around how user experience would play out in this new paradigm. In that R&D, I centered on what separates the cool from the useful. The insight I gained is that it's not just the visualization or the ability to simulate environments at one-to-one scale. To me, the great innovation is what this does for the virtualization of transportation. It’s the ability to instantly take anyone into a shared space and do that more sustainably than flying or driving—and more effectively. Even if you physically transport yourself into a conference room, you're still making decisions out of context.

The Value in Extended Reality

The real value of VR collaboration software comes from looking at it as extended reality (or, XR). If you're on site and you've got a shell of a building you're remodeling, you can augment your design directly into that physical environment and meet with people on the other side of the world who are in virtual reality inside of that space. We're blurring the line between the physical and the digital in a way that the building industry really needs right now.

“We're blurring the line between the physical and the digital in a way that the building industry really needs right now.”
Gabe Paez, Founder and CEO of The Wild

Carl: That's good stuff. I think now is a great time to mention that Gabe and I were both at Autodesk University 2019 in Las Vegas, where we attended a meetup hosted by Shaan Hurley of Autodesk. As soon as I came in, a photo was snapped of me. Then the next day, there was a cool video posted that showed a model of the hotel suite inside of Revit. There was a live walk-through, and then it cut into the virtual world, where all of those pictures that were taken of the attendees had been transposed as images. I thought it was an amazing use of your technology to merge together social media, the Revit model, and virtual reality, all in one fell swoop. Can you address the magic behind that video?

Gabe: That was a fun event. What we really wanted to show was the real-time convergence of all of this data. There are so many new ways to express and communicate environments that go beyond what we're accustomed to in our traditional tools. That's why it's called The Wild. It is fundamentally a place where we have new and expanded capabilities.

It's also a different way of looking at the role that software plays in the building industry. It's not just about modeling and creating something—it’s about collaboration. Collaboration isn't a feature of The Wild. The Wild IS collaboration. 

This next generation is moving towards a more human form of collaboration, similar to what we get from being co-located in a physical space. We're trying to virtualize that process and extract the human benefits, while making it so much more efficient and powerful.

Marcello: Good points. While the idea of virtual collaboration is not new, your angle is unique in its emphasis on the human aspect. So is the ability to actually model in 3D and virtual reality. A lot of applications are “look, don't touch,” but you have look AND touch.

Gabe: Right. We see immersive collaboration, not just as multiple people coming together and looking at something, but also as ideation. We want you to be able to experiment inside of that space. With The Wild, you can incorporate imagery, videos, and all of this interactive content in addition to your Revit or SketchUp model. Or maybe you're starting from scratch and doing a massing study inside of The Wild. Maybe you have a shell of a space and you're trying to live ideate inside of it at one-to-one scale, sketching and leaving feedback. All of these are forms of ideation.

Two colleagues ideating together, from different locations, on a Revit model in The Wild

Bringing BIM 360 Collaboration to Life

Marcello: The ability to interact with the BIM 360 platform is also ripe for the taking. I can't think of any other VR software that supports that in a good way, can you, Carl?

Carl: I can’t. Viewing a BIM 360 model in VR by clicking on it and popping it into The Wild—that's the first time I've seen that, for sure.

Gabe: I love the BIM 360 integration because it’s doing something really new. From The Wild, I can directly connect my space to any of my content in BIM 360 Docs. Then, if I push an update to BIM 360, it updates it in The Wild. It removes the import step entirely by creating this persistent connection between BIM 360 and The Wild, with the added benefit of being able to access the content with my team members immersively.

The Wild for BIM 360

The Beauty of All the Platforms

Marcello: Now, I know that your software supports more than virtual reality. What other devices does The Wild support? 

Gabe: First, we support desktop virtual reality, which is going to use the VIVE, the Oculus Rift, Rift 3, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. We also support the Oculus Quest. Then, on desktop, you can access The Wild on both Mac and Windows. The desktop mode is great when you just need to jump in and look at something, or if you have clients who want to look at the space. Lastly, there is augmented reality where we support iOS on the iPad or the iPhone 10 and up. 

The beauty of all these platforms is they're always connected. Everyone logged into a space can see each other and talk to each other, so you can mix and match these platforms based on your use case, what you want to accomplish for this design review, this presentation, and so on. 

Marcello: Do you have a plan for exposing an API to give people the ability to customize and add more formats? 

Gabe: We do that through The Wild itself. You can import formats like FBX, OBJ, JPEG, or MP4. Then, we have specific add-ins for SketchUp and Revit, and on BIM 360, we support Navisworks, Solidworks, and other major 3D apps. You can also create composite spaces inside of The Wild. For example, you can take an MEP model from Navisworks and combine that with a Revit model with an FBX. That's where The Wild opens up its capability to experiment in new and interesting ways. You can create multiple spaces and move between them, using different content from different sources.

“The beauty of all these platforms is they're always connected. Everyone logged into a space can see each other and talk to each other, so you can mix and match these platforms based on your use case.”
Gabe Paez

Marcello: It sounds like you have excellent ways of getting stuff into The Wild. What excellent methods do you have to get stuff out? 

Gabe: There are a few options. First, we have a comment export that exports all of your annotations and comments into a PDF. Or if you're creating something from scratch, you can export the entire space into a file. I’ll add that we're not trying to create a replacement for the design flows that we use today. We see The Wild as a layer on top of that. We're offering collaboration—it’s serving a different purpose—and for that reason, there have to be elements of design in The Wild for people to collaborate effectively.

Marcello: You have something really great and powerful here. Where can people find more information about your software?

Gabe: You can go to thewild.com and @TheWildXR on all of your favorite social sites. Please reach out to us, or you can chat with us anytime. Most people who request access, we end up meeting in The Wild. We’re in Portland, but we talk to people all over the world inside of The Wild every day. It's great to have that interaction with customers and prospects.

Like what you read? Share this post on social media and tag @TheWildXR on Twitter and Instagram, or follow The Wild and tag us on LinkedIn. You can also reach out to Gabe directly at hello@thewild.com—he’d love to hear from you. 

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