Leo A Daly is an Omaha headquartered architecture firm that combines planning, architecture, engineering and interiors.
The challenge for us in working from home was that we love to roll up our sleeves and make drawings, bleed all over the paper, use different types of pens, all different colors, and then bring in computers and iterate. And so we had the challenge of not being able to get together and hear each other, see each other, and take visual cues from one another. Not being able to hear people's voices, see their reactions, and experience things visually together was a huge challenge. But with The Wild, we were able to enter an environment where we had a lot of content. We had the model at our disposal, whether we’re looking at it as a scale model or getting inside the model; we weren't limited by the platform. We could do SketchUp, Revit, AutoCAD sketches, or even our own massing. Being able to throw things on the wall like we do in a charrette type of scenario, and then respond to it graphically, and hear one another agree or disagree; those are the things we were able to navigate with The Wild better than other platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or WebEx.
We were looking at VR as a different way to take things on the road, and we discovered [with The Wild] there's a new way of putting multiple users in a VR environment to collaborate in real time. I had to do a double take. When we looked at how different industries are using this technology, it became apparent to me that this was a tremendous opportunity to get the team together and collaborate, share ideas, and throw things on the wall. It was as close to the original concept of presenting in person that we could get during the pandemic. We looked at other platforms—we looked at SharePoint spaces, and there were limitations we couldn't get past. We found that The Wild was the one that worked the best. The team at The Wild was the best one also—there was immediate support, the people were so available to help us when we hit a wall, couldn't find the right button, or couldn't understand the limitations.
We’re able to upload the file formats we need, such as SketchUp, Revit, and Autodesk. The other workflow involves drawing in real time in front of our teams. They can be a participant without a headset. As the platform has been updated, we've folded in those new pieces. For example, LIDAR scanning—somebody with an iPhone can capture an object and put it in an environment without having to hire a super expensive consultant and fly them all over.
The Wild feels better than the alternatives, which stay in a 2d environment. It’s like using shadow puppets—saying, “No, move your mouse to the left!” Or, “Move your mouse to the right!” It's better for our design souls than that environment. The Wild lets us engage with people around the world and do it while hearing their voices. We can say to them, “Come over here look at this!” You’re able to control their focus rather than getting emails or getting their cell phone with their dog barking in the background. That’s what’s fantastic about The Wild—when you put on the headset and you're in the space, distractions disappear. If I went to three Wild environments in a day, it might be more productive than going to three conference rooms and meeting with separate teams face to face.
The proof of concept for us is that we keep getting more headsets. We kept our license. And it's one of those things that I keep circling back and saying, “Oh, by the way, did you know The Wild has this capability?” Or I'm telling my Chief Information Officer how to use these things as an architect and designer, rather than him bringing me to a conversation about technology. We blew away some civil engineer who had ground-penetrating radar and six-foot drones by just pulling out our iPhone and then throwing on a headset. We want to get it in more people's hands. I can put my kids in the headset, my wife in the headset, who are not in the design industry and not power users of any major computer programs. That's proof of concept when a young person and an old person can both get in it and do it. They're not computer savvy, yet they can grab the handles and start flying around the space. You know that's a fun lightbulb moment.
I would absolutely recommend The Wild. I don't know why anyone wouldn't. If we want to do a presentation, we can do that in our virtual office. You can go set up your board room and have everybody show up in The Wild. You can have the war room or the walls plastered with the content you need. You can play video, you can take notes, people can walk around and X things out, make posts, add content. And that's a tremendous way of saving money for travel. You're sending people a $400, $700 headset, rather than risking their lives getting on a plane and traveling during COVID. There's a tremendous benefit and value.