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DIRTT

How we used Oculus tech at Oculus… and impressed them.

Oculus is a leader in virtual reality tech, best known for their VR headsets. You likely heard about their acquisition by Facebook in 2014. They engaged DIRTT to design phone booth pods. When I went to present to the team at Oculus, the power of ICE technology took center stage. And we used both their tech and ours to wow them. 

For a little background, ICEreality – core to building with DIRTT – helps our clients envision exactly what their project will look and feel like. Concurrently, the technology calculates the exact cost and sends precise building instructions to our factory. Clients can design in virtual reality and get instant feedback on their decisions. It’s a powerful tool. But don’t just take my word for it… 

I worked with the VR team in Calgary to get ready, ensuring we could showcase our latest capabilities. I was excited to present DIRTT’s next-gen VR to the “experts”. I virtually set up a 4’ x 8’ pod in a hallway at Oculus where one was to be installed. As I was setting up, the Facility Manager at Oculus struck up a conversation with me. She noted the thankyou card Oculus sent to DIRTT that I had made the background on the laptop. DIRTT was actually a Kickstarter investor in Oculus in its early days – something we’re proud to say years later.

 

Thankyou card from Oculus to DIRTT Thankyou card from Oculus to DIRTT

The Facility Manager put on the Oculus VR goggles and was positioned outside the door of the pod. She could hear background office noise that we programmed into the headset. Hand controllers of the new tech allowed her to see her virtual hands while wearing the handset.  Using the hand controllers, she pointed her finger at the door, pulled the trigger and the door opened. “Okay, Wow!” She stepped into the ‘room’, ‘closed’ the door behind her and the office noise went quiet. She turned the lights on and off. She turned on the computer monitor sitting on the height-adjustable desk, which displayed the homepage for their proprietary conference software. She raised the desk to standing height. At this point, I assumed her laughter was that of approval.

Then came the moment that defines the strength of ICE technology. Using her virtual hands, the Facility Manager explored the extent of the space, and declared, “I was concerned about the size, but now I see this is exactly what we want.” She took off the head set and handed it to a team member who said,

you mean these guys are using our tech with their tech to show us what they are going to build for us, right here in our building?! That’s amazing and how we always hoped this tech would be used.

I was proud to tell the Oculus team that our ICE team knew how transformative this tech would be for our industry, which is why we invested in it early. The irony of Oculus employees lining up to take a turn on DIRTT’s equipment was not lost on me.

We went into our design meeting and there was a question about some furniture that was not in the VR model. I had that option in my ICE file, so switched on the ICEreality app on my iPad to show them where it would sit. One of the Facility Managers looked at me and said,

Who are you guys? You’re really on it.

When asked, I gave the Senior Manager a ball park. She asked if we could get ten of them delivered in four weeks. It was my turn to laugh – of course we could.

One of the senior people asked me about ICE as I was leaving. They loved the interactive 3D and real‐time design reconfiguration. I told him we have a patent on the combination of video game imaging and design software. The concept was inspired by early exposure to the first‐person video game, DOOM. He said, “Really? The inventor of DOOM works here.” Sometimes the stars just align.

 

We move fast at DIRTT. Since this presentation, our tech has evolved even more. More powerful interactions in more immersive environments. Want to experience ICEreality? Connect with your local DIRTT team for your next construction project.
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Mike Iannone

DIRTTbag since 2005, Mike pushes the envelope on the best ways to use DIRTT in the real world, especially advanced healthcare applications. He breaks the barriers on misconceptions and develops new solutions for the industry.

About DIRTT

DIRTT Environmental Solutions uses its 3D software to create prefabricated interiors. Each space is tailored to our clients' needs. Manufacturing facilities are located in Phoenix, Savannah, Kelowna and Calgary. DIRTT works with 100+ Partners throughout North America, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and Asia. DIRTT trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "DRT".

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