Analysis

Immersive solutions step up as remote working becomes the new normal

21 April 2020 | By Clay Walsh

Clay Walsh, marketing & communications director at immersive collaboration platform The Wild, explains how extended reality can foster collaboration and can keep projects moving.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, architecture, engineering, and construction firms have made major adjustments to the way they work to maintain social distance while still providing services.

Technology can help us communicate and collaborate, but our tools will be put to the test as we forego travel and in-person meetings, and begin working from home in ways most of us haven’t done before. In a time of quarantines, travel restrictions, and an economy at risk, finding efficient ways to collaborate remotely is crucial to keeping our businesses running.

Collaborating with stakeholders and teams in virtual or augmented reality can keep your projects moving forward by enabling you to enter an immersive space, experience your designs spatially, and ideate together in real-time.– Clay Walsh, The Wild

While it sounds appealing to spend more time with the dog and work on design projects in our joggers, we can all also agree that remote work has its own unique pain points. Conflicting schedules, lengthy email threads, and endless conference calls can make collaboration hard to manage. Tools for asynchronous communication can be helpful, and even necessary, but on their own, they are just a stopgap and not a comparable replacement for in-person meetings. This loss of human connection not only affects our productivity but our mental health as well.

One of the best ways to get everyone on the same page (if not in the same room) is extended reality (XR). Collaborating with stakeholders and teams in virtual or augmented reality can keep your projects moving forward by enabling you to enter an immersive space, experience your designs spatially, and ideate together in real-time. XR can also help provide the human connection that’s often missing from video and conference calls with features such as voice, spatial context, hand gestures, and body language.

Keep the workflow lean

Before diving into XR, it’s important to optimise your workflow setup, especially for previously in-office teams that have now gone fully remote. Most BIM 360 and Revit models may not have been built with cloud collaboration in mind, so you might experience broadband deficiency when attempting to work with them.

Giant file sizes and bandwidth aren’t a problem when you’re in an office, working within a local area network that your IT team manages, but they become a much bigger issue when you are working from home. So optimising your files for performance is a must. You can do this by keeping models lightweight, and with Revit, the best way to do this is by using section boxes.

Adapt for diverse devices

Then there’s your hardware. Standalone VR headsets like the Quest don’'t have the same processing power as their tethered counterparts, so they require solid wifi to work well. This is another reason why it’s important to keep BIM and Revit models lightweight. If you don’t have a VR headset at your home office (and due to the supply chain issues, you might not be able to get one anytime soon), you still might be able to take advantage of some of the key features of XR software. For example, you can hop into The Wild via augmented reality on our iOS app or via desktop mode on a Mac or PC.

At The Wild, collaboration is at the heart of what we do. It’s why we built this platform—to enable teams to do their best work together, across distance, by connecting into a shared experience. We understand how crucial it is for teams to be able to collaborate during this time, and we’re working hard to better facilitate remote work.

We recently released a significant performance upgrade, and The Wild now runs two times faster on desktop. We’ve also made it easier to navigate The Wild on desktop and iOS. In the coming weeks, you can expect new features designed to make remote work a bit easier for us all.

https://www.thewild.com

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