155: ‘Shortening the Feedback Loop’, with AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci

A conversation with AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci.

155: ‘Shortening the Feedback Loop’, with AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci

AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci join the podcast to talk about how they have worked together during the process of developing and testing the Autodesk Workshop XR platform which aims to evolve how professionals in architecture, engineering, and construction industries collaborate by using extended reality (XR) environments.

Today we talk about the benefits of immersive VR experiences for project visualization and coordination, and how such tools foster enhanced decision-making and empathy in design processes.

Additionally, we talk about the practical aspects of adopting XR technologies in firms, including hardware recommendations and strategies for wider organizational implementation.

This episode not only highlights Workshop XR's potential to democratize design processes but also emphasizes the ongoing evolution of digital practice in creating efficient, sustainable, and highly collaborative project environments in the early phases of the design process, which also leads to the opportunity for professional development and mentorship of design professionals along their career path.

About AJ Lightheart:

AJ has been an emerging technology leader in the AEC industry for the past 14 years. As a trusted advisor for SMB to ENR top 500 companies, AJ has consistently found a passion for connecting technology to a practical ROI. Outside of work, AJ loves trying new craft beers and trying to keep up with his boys.

About Jon Matalucci:

Jon is a versatile design professional with expertise in failure modes and effects analysis, risk management, and lean process improvement methodologies. He holds certification in risk assessment methodologies from Sandia National Laboratories for critical infrastructure applications. Jon has experience designing and manufacturing recreational watercraft, delivering over 1 kilometer of vessels for export to 5 different countries.

Currently, Jon serves as a Building Information Modeling/Virtual Design and Construction Manager within the Buildings division of Stantec, in support of healthcare and science and technology projects. Stantec is a community of more than 28,000 employees working across over 400 locations throughout 6 continents.

Connect with Evan:

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155: ‘Shortening the Feedback Loop’, with AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci
AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci join the podcast to talk about how they have worked together during the process of developing and testing the Autodesk Worksh…

Episode Transcript

155: ‘Shortening the Feedback Loop’, with AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci

Evan Troxel: [00:00:00] Welcome to the TRXL podcast. I'm Evan Troxel. In this episode. I welcome AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci.

AJ has been an emerging technology leader in the AEC industry for the past 14 years and as a trusted advisor for small and medium-sized businesses to Engineering News Record top 500 companies AJ has consistently found a passion for connecting technology to a practical return on investment. He currently serves as the Senior Product Specialist in the Extended Reality group at Autodesk.

Jon Matalucci is a design professional with expertise in failure modes and effects analysis, risk management, and lean process improvement methodologies. He holds certification in risk assessment methodologies from Sandia National Laboratories for critical infrastructure applications. He has experience designing and manufacturing, recreational watercraft delivering over one kilometer of vessels for export to five different [00:01:00] countries.

Currently Jon serves as a Building Information Modeling and Virtual Design and Construction Manager within the buildings division of Stantec in support of healthcare and science and technology projects.

For scale, Stantec has more than 28,000 employees working across over 400 locations throughout six continents. It's staggering.

In this episode, we discuss how AJ and Jon have worked together through the process of developing and testing the Autodesk Workshop XR platform, released late last year, which aims to evolve, how professionals in architecture, engineering, and construction industries collaborate by using extended reality environments.

Today, we talk about the benefits of immersive VR experiences for project visualization and coordination. And how such tools foster enhanced decision making and empathy in the design process. Additionally, we talk about the practical aspects of adopting XR technologies in firms, including hardware, recommendations and [00:02:00] strategies for wider organizational implementation.

This episode, not only highlights Workshop XRs potential to democratize design processes, but also emphasizes the ongoing evolution of digital practice in creating efficient, sustainable, and highly collaborative project environments in the early phases of the design process, which also leads to the opportunity for professional development and mentorship of design professionals along their career path.

And my ask of you before we jump into today's conversation, please do me a favor. If you are a regular listener and are enjoying these episodes, please push that subscribe button, both on YouTube and in your preferred podcast app, to let me know that you're a fan of the show and to automatically get notified when new episodes come out. The full show notes and transcript can be found at trxl.co, where you can also subscribe to get them sent to you via email each time a new episode is released.

[00:03:00] And so now without further ado, I bring you AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci.​

I am joined today by AJ Lightheart and Jon Matalucci and Jon and I used to work together, so full disclosure up front here that we have a friendship that already exists. And so it's great to have you on the show. AJ, this is our first time meeting and, I'm excited to Learn more about you and what you're working on.

So, welcome to the show, both of you.

AJ Lightheart: Thank you.

Jon Matalucci: Thank you.

Evan Troxel: so Jon, long time listener, first time caller, is that

Jon Matalucci: right?

That was my line.

Evan Troxel: Great. Well, so AJ, you're at Autodesk. Jon, you're at Stantec. You guys have been working together on what was kind of a new ish announcement back in November. We first learned about Autodesk's Workshop XR. And you guys have been, uh, Doing a lot of work on this, uh, kind of [00:04:00] behind the scenes. And I only became aware, Jon, that you were working on this when I saw your name and a quote and some images.

I think it was actually in a, in a video that was ultimately published on YouTube, uh, and I'll put links to all those in the show notes, but you were in some of the press release material for Workshop XR and I was like. Jon Matalucci. There's only one Jon Matalucci,

Jon Matalucci: I recognize the forehead, right? Right. Right.

Evan Troxel: it was, it was absolutely awesome to see you there because I know that we've had a lot of digital practice, technology implementation, uh, conversations over the years. Um, we've also been working a long time on the whole idea of meeting in the model, which is exactly where this is led. And back in the day, it was Iris VR's Prospect for us when we were working on this.

And then AJ just gave me a quick rundown on the history where the Wild acquired Prospect from Shane Scranton, who has been on the show. I'll put a link to that. episode in the show notes. [00:05:00] Gabe Paez of The Wild, CEO and founder, He's been on the show as well. So I'll put a link to that in the episode too. And so now here we are, November, 2023 Workshop XR is announced. I wrote a blog post about it that went out in my newsletter, but I haven't had a chance to really talk about it on the show and at Autodesk University, I got to go through the Workshop XR experience and see Gabe there and kind of touch base.

So I, I have had that, that experience myself, and I would love it if, before we get into the whole XR, AR VR, I guess all encompassing XR side of things. AJ, let's hear your story and, and I, I would love it if you could kind of give us an idea of how long you've been working in the XR side of things and, and how that began for you and, and why it matters.

AJ Lightheart: yeah, No, again, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this conversation. So, um, first off I'm based out of Vancouver, Washington. Um, so North Northwest, like [00:06:00] yourself, Evan. Uh, I've been around XR coming up on six years now. My whole career has spanned the architecture, engineering, construction industry around technology in some ways, a lot of things in life, you kind of just, into something, uh, not with a focused plan and intention.

That's definitely was the case for me with the wild, um, you know, moving from my former, uh, role, accounting project management for this industry. I wanted to stay in the industry. I wanted to stay in the Northwest and having a small kind of tech community in the greater Portland, Oregon area, had some connections to Gabe and, uh, some other members of the team.

And one thing led to another where I was able to be like the ninth employee. Um, prior to that, I had no experience with XR whatsoever. I'd never been in a headset, maybe other than maybe at a friend's house once, uh, in the evening. But I think that proved to be advantageous for me because I came in from a [00:07:00] very practical workflow mindset of what is the real value this is going to be creating in day to day processes for, for firms.

You know, how can you get past the cool factor, the sizzle and spice? which XR definitely brings to the table, but it's starting to have more, when the rubber meets the road, why should someone care? Why should an organization like Stantec or others actually think about deploying this consistently? So it's been a very fun journey over the last six years of just seeing how the industry and just our, I'd say our world, our culture is starting to embrace this more and not feeling like Sci fi, pie in the sky, but really a mechanism to democratize the design process.

And I think in its purest form, take what can be very complex topics. That is the work that this industry does and break it down to a very digestible level. So that anyone can understand, feel like their voices are being heard [00:08:00] and ensure we're getting that alignment earlier in the process. So that continues to be my shining light of what's always, exciting, going into these environments with people for the first time and seeing them have that light bulb moment of, Oh, now I understand how this can help us move our processes in a positive direction.

Evan Troxel: I always, I love that, light bulb moment myself, watching other people experience that for the first time, especially because they have an idea about what VR is like, and because they're watching it on a screen. And a lot of times, I mean, that never tells the story, right? Watching it on, watching someone else's experience on the screen is not experiencing VR in any way.

And so when they actually get in there and they have that moment, it's like, whoa. And I, I think. What I want to experience what I want to do in this podcast is talk about There's, there's a difference between that first experience and kind of understanding and then where the rubber actually meets the road, the actual practical [00:09:00] application of it in the design process.

And I, I, this is the perfect group of people to talk about that. So, Jon, give us an idea of where you're coming from. Tell us all about, um, boat manufacturing and logistics. And, uh, you've, you've had a really cool history and now you're at, you're at Stantec. I want you to kind of tell the story of, you've been and how you've gotten to where you are.

Jon Matalucci: well maybe I'll start with just the lens of kind of the outside experience. you know, child of the seventies, uh, was gifted, uh, an, uh, Sawyer Viewmaster. It was a model F, you know, the Bakelite. Um, and, uh, it was a really cool one that had the light, um, which my friends didn't have. And I think that the first experience was a 6 million man.

And I know it sounds strange, but, uh, it wasn't, you know, the, the world, um, world fair. Um, you know, it wasn't, The Grand Canyon, it was this, uh, you know, assemblage, um, models, characters, figurines. And, [00:10:00] um, the, the, the tweening was quite jarring, you know, you go from slide to slide. Um, but your brain could fill in the gaps.

And, uh, I spent hours on that thing. Must have, must have blown through a lot of batteries. Um, and then there's a big pause, right? Um, then I learned how to take that, um, calibration, that we understand as space, the understanding of how big things are.

And I kind of had to force it into plan, section, elevation, and scale drawing.

And this was back, you know, at some point there was output on vellum and mylar, hope I'm not dating myself too much. But, but, at some point it became a building, but you weren't really a part of that. There was this design intent and this fabrication piece, and, and the communication of what we were trying to do didn't really actualize until you did the walkthroughs, right, until you were out, out in the field.

Um, and, so for, you know, for years I kept thinking, something's wrong, I don't quite, I can't live in that plan, the plan brings me no joy. [00:11:00] Uh, and I tried, I tried to live in section and that wasn't enough. Um, so eventually I just gave up and, and left and joined the circus. Uh, I went into boat building. Um, because I wanted to get from the let's sketch to let's make.

I wanted to have a really, really rapid pace for that development cycle. You know, two years, three years on a hospital project, it's a long time. Uh, and You know, you tend to forget where you were and where the decisions were made and the continuity. If it's difficult for us, and we do it all the time, imagine what it's like for the users, or for the owners, or for the facility managers that follow along with that project.

Um, so, trying to shorten that feedback loop, uh, and, uh, bring everyone into a space where, uh, it's neutral. The calibration's innate. Um, we understand space, we touch door handles and things like that. Um, And there's a layer of, of, of data. So this is, this was the big key for me, the big [00:12:00] jumping off point. We have a lot of work outside of the model environment that tends to live outside of the model environment.

And as a result, those, those, uh, that bifurcation and those separate, uh, separate streams, the, the value's in two buckets. The reality on a project is that all of the intellectual capital, all of the value, lives in that model until the project opens. Until it becomes a thing that can be occupied and used.

Um, however we all have different levels of access to that data. And the, the, the Hard part, and when you're trying to make decisions, it's ensuring that the right data is in front of the people who need to make the decisions. And I can't discern that, and my teammates can't discern that. So you, you, you try to build a better sandbox, right?

This is where the construction cloud jumps in. It's how do we, how do we get document sharing? How do we get information sharing? Um, in a format where more people can access it. And, uh, that's Where would you rather make decisions? On a floor [00:13:00] plan or in an XR space? Uh, I guess it's pretty obvious, at least it was for me.

Evan Troxel: I love how you just framed that. That was, man. Okay. So number one, Jon, Jon is brilliant. Jon thinks very hard about things and the way that you kind of weaved a story from your early childhood to bringing it all together at the end there was, Really well done. Amazing. So now we have to zoom back out because I think Jon, the thing that we're going to get into with you is where the rubber meets the road, actual practical implementation, adoption, how hard that actually is in a firm of any size.

Let alone Stantec size, because this is the thing that we've always had, had a struggle with, which is like, Back in our day, it was actually getting someone to walk 10 feet to get into the VR station, and now, you don't even have to walk 10 feet, and it's still hard to get people.

into VR, but I love how you framed it. Where would you rather make decisions? I think that is, that is a really insightful [00:14:00] comment that I want to come back to. Before we get there, AJ, can you just give us an overview of WorkshopXR for people who are not familiar with what it is? The name even, people may not be familiar with The Wild, they may not be familiar with Prospect, and Iris VR, and the history and everything.

just frame what we're actually talking about here, what the offering is currently, uh, because I think that's going to really set the stage of, of getting to the implementation side.

AJ Lightheart: Yeah, Yeah.

you know, I'll start with the name itself. Um, the name was very strategically chosen. Uh, when you think of a workshop, You think of multiple applications, not just a one trick pony. And that really is kind of a re education that we're continuing to try to evangelize for the industry, that this is not something that gets used in just one small minute part of the design workflow, but can really span the totality.

And that really continues to be one of our charter. We want it to be the go to spot where peers are coming together just to bounce [00:15:00] ideas off of each other, maybe even rather than hopping on Zoom or Teams. For that matter, we want it to be the spot where you're meeting with your other subs and industry partners, where you're meeting with your customers at key milestones.

I think, Gabe, when I joined you in the past, let's talk about the concept of virtualizing transportation. Can we meet in an environment like this versus hopping on a plane or a train, still have the same output, but minimizing our carbon footprint, so having a good sustainability factor. So the name is very much a key element of this whole branded story, no doubt about it.

And, you know, it's been so advantageous that we had two, uh, and still two of the leading products on the market in The Wild and Prospect because it gave us a multiple year test pool, if you will, to really identify how are people using this, but what are the biggest stop gaps? Preventing more deployment and consistent usage.

And that really helps shape our kind of strategy and roadmap as it relates to, to [00:16:00] Workshop. You know, one of the biggest ones being the whole concept of, this is more just my own personal analysis of the industry itself, is we need to stop thinking about things in terms of files. And usually disconnected files and start thinking about things in terms of data connected data to a platform accommodated platform environment, which in our case in our world is the Autodesk Construction Cloud, ACC Jon hinted at


So a key, key part of Workshop is that it is just a part of what is now becoming the common ecosystem that a lot of the industry is embracing around ACC. So that can be just a window into your ACC data, a workflow versus this separate product and rogue experience that always feels like it is out in its own world and how do we connect that virtual world back to the real one.

So, key, key foundational piece of, of Workshop is that bi directionality and just what you have in ACC is what you have in Workshop. And I shouldn't even say what you have in [00:17:00] Workshop because it's just a part. of the Autodesk Construction Cloud. So, if people take nothing else away from this in terms of Workshop, it would be that.

But the same token too. Jon was having, Jon, sorry to put you on the spot here, Jon was having IT and firewall issues getting into our recording here today. And just some simple things of the fact that it's going to work with one's SSO and credentials. They don't need to have a separate login and password.

It's something that IT has already approved if they're working with the likes of other Autodesk products. That it's going to be handling larger data sets with more democratized, available, stand alone hardware and headsets like a MetaQuest 3 or a MetaQuest Pro. Uh, so you're not having to have the biggest, baddest laptops and hardware in the world.

It's like a rocket ship ready to take off. So opening up the pool to a wider audience of users. We want XR to be more spontaneous, something that can be like, let's just hop in, and it seems like no different than let's hop into Revit, or let's hop [00:18:00] into, to ACC, and not this grand event that has to get planned out, you know, weeks in advance, all this model optimization and prep time, but something that can just help move the conversation forward at a faster clip, so that spontaneity and quick access is a key aspect that we're developing a workshop around.

Evan Troxel: And I think it's, it's important to say now that, Not every project is in ACC, especially in the beginning, right? And so, just, just for the audience's sake, The Wild and Prospect are still a thing, right? because early in design is when I would have been using it as a designer, and my project isn't in Revit yet, it's not on ACC yet.

It might just be on my desktop, it might just be in, it might even be in a cloud model. But I did have to export it, so there were barriers, like you just spoke to the barriers. I had to make the model so that it was ideal to be a VR model that I could then go experience. But, and so there were some barriers there, which is I think a lot of times why, [00:19:00] Jon, we had trouble getting people to get into the VR station was because there was a process that you had to go through of optimization or whatever.

it wasn't difficult, but it was, it wasn't trivial either, Uh, I think it was still more of a behavior problem than a, than a tech problem at that point, right? So, um, just, just maybe AJ, if you could just verify where we're at with what's available and when they apply to different phases of design, as far as the products go.

AJ Lightheart: Yeah, The Wild and Prospect are still viable, available options to the industry. And I've always thought about the, uh, I'll break it into kind of the flow of the, the, uh, the workflow. The wild definitely thrives on the front end. For some firms supporting their charrette, their iterative kind of war room type of, of elements.

It brings a dynamic of being able to interact with geometry, bringing in other forms of communication that we use in this industry, 2D assets, video content. Yeah. So a lot of firms use it very heavily in their bid and their proposal process or the whole [00:20:00] concept of like a virtual job trailer or virtual war room, if you will.

Evan Troxel: Mm hmm.

AJ Lightheart: I'd say once a project starts to get to like the 30, 40 percent mark, that's oftentimes where we've seen the baton get handed from The Wild to Prospect, where we are trying to do more of just the walkthroughs, identify issues, coordination.

exactly. And one of our goals with Workshop going forward is, it's too simple to say, Let's just take the best of The Wild and Prospect.

There's an element of that, like let's validate again how these firms have been using it. But we feel there's so much more there than just saying, Let's meld these two together and here's Workshop at XR. Certainly the ACC piece is a big part of that. But I think too, it's just the repeatability of the workflow.

Again, not having to import, export. Connect here, connect there, just the, the flow of it, while it's not a sexy sizzle and spice [00:21:00] feature, if you will, we believe and I believe that that, if we can nail that and do that very well, that that is going to make this a much more consistent daily driver for firms and how they're thinking about and leveraging these technologies.

Evan Troxel: Let's just broach the subject of adoption. And Jon, I would love to get your take on this because maybe to get there, let's talk about what the objections we've seen over the years. And from your perspective, you tell me, because you've lived this much more so than I have, but over the years, we've seen this go from, okay, it's, it's an interesting thing.

It's it's, or maybe people see it as a. a distraction from the real work of, of PDFs, right? Which is still true to, to some extent that that is the actual deliverable. But, there's definitely a value in the coordination in multiple people being in the same virtual environment at the same time, making decisions together, kind of to, to AJ's point, war room or big room concept, you know, when it comes to BIM coordination.

And so, you know, [00:22:00] Talk about the kinds of things that you've seen over the years and maybe how it's starting to change or has changed in the adoption side of things.

Jon Matalucci: Let's talk about the client facing piece of this, because I'd like to roll it back from that. You put a headset on a client, I just experienced this recently, and the first question was can I see the ocean from the roof? And I thought, you know, yes, um, that's going to take my team another month. Or you can wait 18 months and you'll actually be able to touch the door handles too.

Right? It was this understanding that he wanted to be wowed in television, ready player one kind of experience. And, um, There wasn't the right time for that. I mean, there are tools that operate that way. There are experiences that can be provided. Usually they go into marketing material. Um, they become press releases and things like that.

Um, what I wanted for him at that moment was for him to get excited about the roof deck and about the [00:23:00] spaces that were important to him, but how they related, where we were in the project life cycle, and then get those decisions out so we could accelerate and get him into his building faster. And I think my greatest takeaway is that the visualization as a vignette, kind of conceptually, it means to accelerate.

It's a means to, it's a velocity more than a speed. There's a vector piece that's really important. Um, AJ alluded to the alignment. Um, I think coordination should start at the very beginning. Uh, we, we, we tend to create, for lack of a better word, risk silos, right? There's the design intent risk silo, the constructor risk silo, and the owner risk silo.

And getting everyone to play in the same sandbox, that alone is a challenge. Um, and then to get them to agree as to a sequence of decisions. Um, and, and, you know, sorry, but that's my job. A full time gig now, right, is trying to, trying to bridge those sandboxes and, um, uh, get the [00:24:00] integration process rolling.

If I can have something that, uh, is always on, right, that you can just put on, I don't have to be asked to output sheets. Um, I don't have to, you know, spend time kind of, uh, looking at views or scenes. It's just on. And you go in and you find what's important to you. And better yet, if I have the time to come with you, then I can see that.

Um, I don't have to ask the questions. You can ask the questions. And, um, things accelerate. I think that, so that's the iterative part, tends to go away. You have that alignment early. So from an adoption standpoint, you have to see that. You have to kind of experience that to be able to assign value to it.

Um, the. I started with the Rift S, uh, which had the long cable and, I mean, I still love the thing. It's sitting on my desk and at some point I'm going to have to change the connector so that I can use it with my, kind of, future proof it for my other devices. Um, and it was prohibitive. Uh, [00:25:00] you felt awkward.

Uh, and then, you know, instantly, this is the, the kind of the VR challenge, instantly it takes whatever space you're in and makes it junk space, right? So it's a, it's a solo experience. I'm gonna bring out Koolhaas with that. Um, and it's even stranger when you're doing it with somebody else next to you, right?

Because you can see the avatar, you know physically they're, they're adjacent to you, but you're not really connected. Um, and so, uh, So, the adoption piece is I don't want to look silly. I don't recognize the controllers. It doesn't look like my mouse. Um, so some of the things you'll say, Do you remember when we had single monitor, single head video cards?

Do you remember when you got the second monitor? Like how amazing that process was? So this is the third monitor and mouse. It's no different. It's just going to open it all up for you. Um, and you just kind of stand back. So, uh, users, they'll have that experience. Uh, on the, on the owner's side, [00:26:00] when I say users, excuse me, I'm referring to the future users of these spaces.

Um, and then, uh, the ownership team, they tend to invest. So we've sent them, uh, I don't want to say the budget dust, but the headsets are really low cost. Um, certainly lower cost when you compare it to the number of hours it takes to do the other things that you would be doing if you weren't sending a headset.

So we just send them off, um, to clients with some connectivity issues. Uh, and to manage, and then allow them to, uh, navigate at their own pace. Uh, they're part of the same production cycle that we typically have with our, with our output. Um, so again, everybody having access to everything is, it's, it's beneficial.

Uh, in terms of, it's the start that's the difficult part. Um, when, when somebody has used it on a project and they've rolled it out and they've seen the benefit, it's, The next is when, when do I get 10? When do I get 50? So, in an organization, we are 28, 000 souls. Um, and, [00:27:00] right, it's, we're, we're, we're, I don't, I don't want to talk about my company in the, in the light, but the perception is we're the Borg.

Right, and I'm, I'm like you, you know, one of 28, 000. Um, but that's not, absolutely not the, not how we operate internally. Um, So when I put in a request for an unusual, um, piece of technology, or for, for a teammate, there's a person at the other end of that that walks me through it and helps me make that decision.

So, you know, Evan, when I was working with you, uh, Digital Practice, I think you sent me my first Rift S to use, uh, Chris Grant. Um, similar process now, I now have the opportunity inside this organization. Somebody says, Wow. you know, what is that? What's going on? I said, well, let me send you a headset, take a, take a look at it.

So there are the onesies and twosies. And where it's, it's great, I have little pockets, right? And I can probably pull up a spreadsheet and show you where they all are in the company. I don't want to get to that spot. I, I would like one on every single desk. Uh, I think, I think we're at that [00:28:00] stage. As I walk around and I go from office to office, and we're, we're, uh, Plenty of offices to choose from as an organization.

Every desk has at least two monitors, and I thought, well, that's it, right? That, it's no more sophisticated than that. In fact, the headsets in many cases are cheaper than some of the monitors we have sitting around on the desk. Um, so, that, that's the rollout question. How do you, how do you get the hardware into the hands and do the hardware management on, on the backside?

Evan Troxel: Yeah, there's an IT component to it, right? Which

is, and, and it may not be strictly IT, but there's definitely a hand holding that needs, or a handshake at least, that needs to happen for that first time. But hopefully, I mean, with, uh, with advances in connectivity into the model now, where it really is, maybe a push of a button to get in there, it does become just easier.

to your point, Jon, a third monitor, which is a fully immersive experiential monitor, which is incredibly different. And going back to where you started out, where you give a little bit of [00:29:00] your background, the disconnection in scale, like scale drawings versus real world experience. I can't tell you how many times I walked onto a job site for the first time after having been quote unquote immersed in my 3d model on a 2d screen, not in VR back in the day, right?

Totally disconnected from the scale, even though I really thought I understood that building. Even though I had placed people in there so I could understand the size of the thing. When I walked out on the real site It was completely mind blowingly different. It was like, Whoa, this is huge. This is bigger than I, it was always bigger than I thought.

And I always thought, we've got to find a way to bridge that gap back to the earliest stages of decision making and the design when it comes to scale, because these spaces are about people. That's why they exist, right? And so, If we're overbuilding, we need to know that. If we're underbuilding, we need to know that.

And we need to understand the way that the affects the space. We need to know the way that shade and shadow affect the space. [00:30:00] And to not be fully immersed in it, to be looking at drawings, like architects are trained to do that, and it still doesn't make sense 100 percent of the time. And to effectively bridge that gap with technology is an incredible experience.

And for people who haven't experienced it themselves. You actually can't have an opinion about this. Like you, you have to try it yourself. And to go back to the barriers part, I mean, there's plenty of people who don't want to mess up their hair. Right? They don't want to mess up their makeup.

They, they have, it's like, these are real things. These are real world objections that we have to deal with all the time. And I can tell you, we had an experience where we brought clients in for a job that we were going after and we wanted to give them an experience of the design process, which included VR.

And the design process that they could go through if they chose us, right? That was kind of a part of a differentiator, kind of an exercise. And It took one person to make it okay for everybody [00:31:00] else in that room. And I think that is something that people need to know when they go into situations like this.

Like if you're going to lead a virtual tour, you need to have the person who is excited about it. Go first to basically give permission even though it's not explicit to everyone else in the room Because that just makes it easier. It's somebody they already know it's somebody they already trust and if you can find the Person to go in there and and have fun with it to poke their head through walls to levitate To have fun, to do all the things that you want to do the first time you experience something in VR.

It really does make a difference for everybody else in the room. it breaks the ice. It just lowers the barrier to entry, which is I don't want to mess up my hair in front of strangers. I don't want to mess up my makeup. I don't want to look like a fool. I don't want somebody pulling the chair out from under me.

I don't want people making faces at me when I have the headset on because i'm disconnected from them visually. [00:32:00] It really matters. And I just want to put that out there. Like as a, as an architect who constantly studied my client's body language, it was incredibly important for me to be in the room with them when they did it.

So Jon, you talked about mailing these out. That's scary thought to me. I want to be there. I want to be there because I want to, I want to. I want to help them and I, and I also want to get that visual feedback of their body language of what they're experiencing, how they're reacting to a space. and the other thing that I, I'll just bring up that I think is worth pointing out, um, because I'm sure this has only gotten more and more, more better, is, is, When, when I would take the headset back off or when a client would take the headset back off, they were completely bored with the space that they were in all of a sudden, because they had just experienced something entirely new.

And even if the graphics weren't photo real, like you said it earlier, Jon, our brains fill in the gap and it makes it okay. It doesn't matter if it's just flat shaded. It doesn't need like. Obviously, these things have [00:33:00] all helped bridge the gap. Ambient occlusion, textures, lighting, all of those things. But at the same time, like, they're not actually required.

our brains allow a lower fidelity of the model, because the experience is so much better than trying to read plans, sections, elevations, and even renderings. Right? And so, I, I just want to get all that out there, because these are the things that I've experienced. I know, Jon, these are things you've experienced.

AJ, I would love to hear kind of feedback that you've been getting from people as you're doing the hard work of bringing these technologies to more and more people, right? Actually during the design process to make better buildings. And I would love to hear kind of the adoption story from your side of things and what you're being, what you're seeing still with objections.

I'm sure they still exist, right? Um, go, go for it. Jump in.


AJ Lightheart: to travel the world, uh, but it stayed in my office. Uh, so I feel so thankful for that. Doesn't even feel like work [00:34:00] most days, but there still are certainly hurdles as it relates to these technologies. But something that I consistently harken back to, and then I've heard multiple times when meeting with organizations is we don't want to be doing 2D work in a 3D world.

Um, and I've been very surprised to see that the individuals that you think might be the most apprehensive and abrasive to going into these environments are much more open minded to it than ever before. And I think there's a number of things that are creating that. One, you know, subconsciously or consciously, we're more exposed to this hard, I'm gonna say hardware, headset, specifically in this case, more than ever before, right?

If you watched. At the time of this recording, it's a few days out from, from the Super Bowl. Uh, Vision Pro commercials on there. If you watch anything on TV, you see the MetaQuest commercials out there. It's been like the number one holiday gift over the last handful of years. So I think just that [00:35:00] exposure itself.

And then the connection that's being started made like, Oh wow, we could actually start to use this. I mean, we work in space. We work in communicating spatial intent and spatial understanding. That just, that open mindedness, that door is starting to become more and more. So that in itself, just more providers, more credibility from these big name brands putting their name in the hat, is making this a more consistent conversation that people are like, Okay, we should give this, give this a go.

It could add value to us. I also think an adoption standpoint that's proven very helpful, Jon mentioned earlier, it can be hard doing onesie twosie purchases, right? But as these multi device managers, whether it be like ArborXR, ManageXR, now the Quest for Business, allows for a more enterprise deployment at scale and greater security.

It's lowering the hesitation. I think a lot of IT teams have of, well, our people are just going to be playing video games on this, but not doing anything productive. So that's played a big role in helping drive [00:36:00] adoption, uh, forward and moving the needle, uh, in the right direction there. I think it just ultimately is the reality that, and as we've talked about, when we get in there.

There is a sense of scale perception that we can't get through to 2D. So many things that come from my meetings with organizations, it's, I'd say it's the soft clashes or issues. Sightlines, ergonomics, throughput, capacity, ADA compliance, things that really start to stick out like a sore thumb when we're in here.

And that goes back to that whole light bulb moment that people start to, to have. And like, Hey, you should come in and take a look at this. And I don't want to lose sight too, of how important the multi user dynamic is in these environments. Because I think the, the exposure that a lot of the industry has had, if we step back.

6, 7, 8, 9 years ago, it was one person having to go in, as we've talked about, and you know that everyone in that room is like, sitting and [00:37:00] staring directly, you can feel the eyes coming at you. But now if you have a running mate, it's like, hey, let's two or three of us go in at a time. It's almost like a Batman and Robin and there's a, I think, a strength and a confidence that people have of like, Hey, I'm going in with Jon and Evan.

We're in there together. We're experiencing this together. So one individual doesn't feel ostracized. So I think that multi user dynamic, while it's not necessarily, you know, new as new in the industry and these technologies, But I, I think that gets overlooked oftentimes of how important that is of moving adoption forward and getting more people open minded to trying the experience for the first time.

Evan Troxel: I'm glad you brought that up because my, the thing that I was talking about, it was totally a single user at a time experience and the multi user thing, Jon, this takes us back, right? Chris Grant is the one who first said, we're looking forward to being able to meet the model. And then Prospect came, came out with that ability not too long after that.

And it's not like the game changed overnight, but it was a big [00:38:00] deal to be able to have, Anybody, anywhere in the organization jump into a model at the same time to bounce things off each other, to coordinate things, to understand when they were drawing a line in Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, whatever it was, what that meant in 3D space as an experience.

And I think that that is, uh, it's, it's really, uh, can't be understated how important that is. I, I agree with you, doing it by yourself. There is an isolating aspect to it. You can get lost in it and that, and you can have a wonderful experience, but to do it with other people, again, if they're in the same room, if they're in the same office, if they're in different conference rooms, if they're in different offices, if they're in different locations, like every, all of those layers, they have been Like that is, that's, you, you can literally be anywhere and meet in the model when it, when you're meeting in the cloud like this, that is an absolute game changer when it comes to the psychology [00:39:00] of overcoming these different roadblocks of adoption.

I think that's huge as well.

AJ Lightheart: going back to something you mentioned earlier, Evan, of you wanting to observe people's body language when you're I do the same thing when I'm in XR with, with people. I'm looking where they're gazing in the model. I'm seeing where they're, while you want to maintain control in this, you don't want to be a herding cats exercise.

You do want to allow some level of freedom of people to navigate in certain areas themselves. And that immediately becomes a conversation that can be had that Realistically would not have come from a 2D environment. Like if Jon's going down this corridor and you're going over here, I have different topics to discuss with you, Evan, versus what I have with Jon, but that would not have happened if we're all isolated, looking at the same thing.

At the same time.

Evan Troxel: Right.

Jon, you, you guys have a couple of projects in ACC, right?

Jon Matalucci: oh, Just a few. Ha ha, just, just a few. Ha ha.

Evan Troxel: just wondering what it, what this means to [00:40:00] your organization. Maybe, maybe there's a real what it means and there's a potential what it means. Um, but, but give us an idea of, of that when it comes to how, how Stantec operates and, and projects and what this could, could possibly do.

Jon Matalucci: Sure, I mean, the biggest barrier, um, with anything, it's kind of not mainstream acceptance is procurement. It's always been the case. Um, uh, it's, you know, making a business case, having to transition from, um, Um, what would normally be a project expense to something like a capital expense, right? This is referring to like laptops and monitors.

Um, you know, that was a, that was a battle in of itself. We, we, we, As I mentioned, kind of risk silos. We're broken into a lot of different business centers. Uh, and we have unique reporting structures associated with that. Um, and it's difficult when I approached one of the smaller business centers, you know, Hey, I think you need to get five headsets.

Your teams are asking for it. And they look at the costs and they're like, well, I need a big enough project to do this. [00:41:00] And, you know, an organization like ours, this is the biggest challenge is we have mega projects, mega projects, they, they suck the brain. Power that we have, right? They get the best people.

Um, there's a, a draw with that. Well, you, as you look at the, kind of the standard deviations, um, with our, our, the bulk of the work that we actually do.

it's, it's not the mega projects. All right. Um, and so it's, that's the piece that was probably really key for me was rather than target and say, let's go look at the 20 billion job and we're going to use this tech here.

It's, it's, Can I use it on a TI? Can I, can I, can I demonstrate how it works well on that small TI? And, uh, and it, it was, it was evident. The use cases are there, the, the business cases have been prepared. Um, it's finding ways to, um, to release the work as quickly as possible. So what business doesn't want, um, you know, to accelerate?

we still charge for time, right? I mean, that's our, our, our [00:42:00] primary function. How can you take a fixed fee and go massively parallel with it? Right, how can you, where are the barriers and bottlenecks? For me, the best technology is the one that's invisible. It's just there, right, it works, you turn it on and it's present.

Uh, and, uh, that was, when I was able to demonstrate that, look, we've got four headsets, They're, they're always on, our general contractors are bringing them, um, get on the phone with the trades. Hey, do your kids have them? Can you bring them to the next meeting, right? Oh, and it sounds silly, but that's what it took.

And from, from that point, one experience solving one large change order ish issue, right? Uh, poof, light bulbs and you never want to go back. Um,

Evan Troxel: your number one way to convince The people with the purse strings is you just have to buy it yourself and bring it in, give them that experience.

Jon Matalucci: I actually did that, Yeah.

I mean, it does, we weren't quite to [00:43:00] that level. And we had, again, as I mentioned, we have pockets of, uh, you?

know, kind of advanced experimentation. Um, people are doing sideloading and we have developers on staff. Uh, it's, but this isn't that side of a problem. We, we need to get the buildings faster.

Uh, and, uh, , this is not a visualization exercise as much as this is a production tool, and AJ and I talk about this a lot.

Evan Troxel: Yeah, I mean, I think this is a really important piece of information that you're sharing right now. And I would love it if you would, if you have any kind of ideas about the kinds of, uh, uh, positive change in that direction that this is making so that other people can use This is kind of evidence of, or at least directions to look in to say, when they're trying to convince somebody, when they're making the argument for this kind of technology to somebody who is hesitant or whatever, like, like give some advice here.

What, what are the kinds of things they should be looking at [00:44:00] when they're formulating that argument to make?

Jon Matalucci: Yeah. It's a simple understanding that our deliverable is not a set of drawings, right. It's a, it's a building that, and the more, the more that becomes integrated, uh, the more it's easy to understand that constructability is not a review. Right. Constructability is all of it. All the way through, right? So, early coordination, as early as possible.

Um, and by, by, by stating things in those terms as production tools, now I can, I can, I can bring in my junior staff and my senior staff into the same space. Right now, that exchange in most firms is via PDF. You produce a document for me, I sketch over the top of it, I send it back, and we don't even have to communicate, it's just an email back and forth, or maybe it's a session somewhere.

There is no knowledge transfer in that process. I'm going to misunderstand by looking at a single frame of reference, usually a deprecated document. The minute I hit print, that document's [00:45:00] old. make?

a decision, gonna hand it off to a teammate who's gonna execute it. crutch, ladder, or bridge, right?

Those are the three things we typically are in our career. And, um, the PDF process, that's crutch. and the bridge piece is the invisible technology that I was referring to. Uh, it just happens organically. So, if you can set up pairings.

It's typically what we do. We've got the senior staff and junior staff, um, sharing that space, um, and then stand back. So, uh, you know, AJ was mentioning the, the directive or the facilitation piece of this, um, herding cats happens, right? But going back to that massively parallel opportunity, it's, it's, you create the environment and then you stand back.

You just allow it to go. And what better environment, not an office environment, better environment is the one that you're working collectively to build together.

Evan Troxel: Yeah, this doesn't happen enough. And staff [00:46:00] are often chained to their desk and not able to go out to the site to see how things go together. If you know, they're, obviously that's happening all the time, but your job is to sit there and click the mouse faster, right? So there's not enough time in the development process once you're in a firm to get out and do that.

And usually that senior project architect. person that you're talking about their schedule so full, they don't have time for active mentoring. Right. And, and so it may happen. It may not happen when everybody was remote. It happened a lot less than it does when it's in an office, right? Because a lot of times an emerging, you know, a new graduate, somebody who's green can just sponge up what's happening in the office by just overhearing it that happened.

Very little when everybody was remote, unless there were office hours on zoom or, you know, open comms happening, um, which I don't think happened that often. [00:47:00] So I think this is a conversation that you and I had, Jon, this is something I wrote about in my blog post when XR came out was the opportunity for knowledge transfer is what I'm most excited about here because you can get two people together in a model talking about architecture.

it's a fully immersive experience. You can point at things, you can talk about those things, you can highlight those things, and you can really talk about how this is all going together before it actually goes together, which is an amazing time to do that. It's, it's better than lessons learned.

It's, it's like lessons in progress. And that's a way better time for those to happen too. Like why wait? For the project to turn out badly to talk about the things that we should have done like, but this is, this is an amazing opportunity and they don't have to be in the same location to do it. They just have to have the willingness and the time to get together and agree to do that.

I think that that is a, that's a big, big, big deal that should not be [00:48:00] understated. And it's a huge opportunity for the future of this profession to be in a better place than it is right now.

AJ Lightheart: yeah, It's a lot easier to make, uh, changes to a 3D model than concrete. right? So there's also the dynamic of minimizing and Jon can do that. RFIs, change orders, and. It's the most wasteful industry in the world, so if we can start to do that coordination, these conversations earlier, it can have an only positive impact on that downstream as well.

Evan Troxel: Right. Right. Well, okay, so AJ, let's talk about the real experience and, and Jon, I'd jump in at any time here.

I would love it if you guys could bounce this between yourselves as you talk about this. Give people an idea about what they actually experience inside of WorkshopXR. I've, I've had the experience myself, but only a very short amount of time, but give people an idea of, What it's like to meet in a model.

What does it look like? What kind of data do we have access to? Do I understand where other people are standing around me in air quotes, spatially? I know that all of these things play a [00:49:00] part in it, and that's what kind of makes this feel kind of magical is that these pieces really are coming together.

But I would love it if you could paint a picture on an audio podcast of what this looks like when you're actually experiencing it. What are the kinds of things that people experience?

AJ Lightheart: yeah, and uh, for all of you when you're listening to this podcast, you'll see the, kind of, the bio pictures that Jon and I did is the, our avatars in Workshop XR. So, you know, feeling like you are representing yourself, XR environment I think is important. It gives a level of confidence for individuals, but you're welcomed with a very nice kind of boardroom type of setting.

Nice sky drop. Always want your work to be the center point of attention on the main table or stage. Different chairs slotted around so we can look at the dollhouse view before we hop down in at one to one scale. I can know when people are looking at me. You'll see the avatars. You'll see their mouths moving, see their [00:50:00] eye, eye contact.

So even in the virtual sense, I think, you know, talking to people and knowing where their gaze is at is equally important. No different than in real life. So we replicate that very nicely. But when you're going down into, to the environment, so much of it is, as we've talked about, you know, spatial awareness and, and intent, but

how do we document?

How do we again, bridge this virtual experience back to the real world in our larger ecosystem and, and workflows? So, we have a very nice issue tracking, uh, aspect in Workshop XR, allows us to, you know, flag it, add additional color, and we know that instantaneously this whole concept of always on and live, is going right back to our common data environment from a documentation workflow standpoint.

So even if someone that wasn't part of this session, they'll know what came out of it, what potential actions that need to come from it. So it always is allowing us to kind of keep an ongoing dialogue and conversation of moving the design [00:51:00] forward in the way that we want to. But Jon, certainly you being a power user of these environments, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it as well.

Jon Matalucci: Yeah,

so people ask, here's your title, Jon, you're the BIM VDC manager, whatever that means, what do you do? And the answer is always continuous onboarding. Right, and that's, that's a full time gig, is getting everybody to play nicely in the sandbox and hopefully play in the same sandbox. The thing I loved about Workshop in that first experience was that it was immediately recognizable.

It was everything I had already been doing. Just in there. Um, and there was no, uh, there was no gap. The tools were present, the experience was present. The files, being able to browse just outside of my environment to see other content and bring that content. I mean, I can't really speak to features. Uh, yeah.

Sorry, aj. Right. Give, gimme the look. . I know. A little look. Um, but it, there, there, it's, that's amazing, right? As, as a worker, that's amazing. Um, as a teammate, um, [00:52:00] uh, just knowing that when I, when I, uh, instruct a team or recommend to a team that we have a, a workflow in place. Uh, workflow process that they can follow, that it's, it's the one they already know.

Um, and, and that experience will continue. So, there is no on ramp, there is no on boarding necessary for this, it's plug and go.

Evan Troxel: I love how you frame it as continuous onboarding. It's so true. And, and AJ mentioned the flow of experience kind of going from the bird's eye scale model, sitting on the table in the boardroom and then jumping into the model. So Jon, I would love to hear from, from your perspective, how important is that experience for onboarding and making sense of something that's immersive like this because I think, I think that's where this matters.

Jon Matalucci: Yeah. Right, uh, uh, So there's the film Brazil, uh, with, um, Harry Tuttle, Harry Tuttle, Heating Engineer, I don't know if you've seen the movie Brazil. And I'm sorry for obscure movies, uh, [00:53:00] movie references, Robert De Niro, Right. And it's kind of propelling down out of the sky, um, you know, bouncing above the ceiling.

That's the traditional VR experience, Right. All of a sudden you're just like, Whoa, it's all on, all at once. So, you know, the, the initial, uh, uh, dojo slash workshop, that initial experience is very good for, for level setting, kind of managing expectations, um, collecting thoughts and, and working on alignment.

We're not there, you know, explicitly to, to chit chat, right? We've got a job to do. We're there to execute work. So the alignment piece happens early, um, and the understanding is there. And then people at their own pace, right? They, they bungee jump in like Harry Tuttle, as I mentioned. Um, Yeah.

but fully prepared, um, as a facilitator, you know, the ability to gather is still present.

Um, and that's kind of key if, uh, you know, a lot of people to, um, venture off, look at things that they, maybe this is the first time, maybe this was [00:54:00] the first meeting they had a chance to get in. Right. acclimation piece. Um, and then, you know, having that structure on the back end. Um, being able to walk them through the issues that they created outside of the model environment, create some new ones while we're inside the model environment.

Um, and that continuity, I think the, the headset on off becomes less of an issue. I think, uh, I, I didn't rub my head clean by moving my headset on and off, but it is, um, every five minutes, Right.

If I've, I've got a question and I'm, can't see it quite right, I'll just pop it on. Um, I don't, There's that, the processing piece is not a lag, and I, I can't talk about this in terms of pockets of experience.

Um, Evan, I can't really stress the, the, the, the wonderful aspect of this just not being in the way. Um, and, you know, A. J. knows the, the, you know, Gabe, uh, and Derek, and, and the team. Sam, these amazingly [00:55:00] talented folks at Autodesk. Um, Have, have given us a Sawzall, a torque wrench, right, and a blowtorch. Um, and it's up to, it's up to us what we want to do with it.

And I think that, that's the excitement piece is okay, that the tech is going to get out of the way. And the project becomes the focus.

Evan Troxel: There's two different user groups that I keep bouncing back and forth in my brain because I've gone through this experience. There's the internal users, the day to day decision makers, the people who are working on the project, and then there's kind of this presentation aspect of the owner and client side.

And that could also be decision making for sure. But, but I am separating these two groups because I think. What I was talking about when you start at the bird's eye and then, you know, the scale model on the table and then jump into it is really, really, really important for both of those groups for their first time, for sure.

It's inherently architectural to do that. We've been through the times when we have scale [00:56:00] models. We have 3D printed or we have handmade. physical models sitting on the table, and we hold them up, and we look into those spaces, and we experience it in that way. It's a great way to bridge the gap between the physical and the digital, to replicate that experience inside VR, because, and I think this is where it starts to get really important for the, the client and owner side of, of the experiences, I get to look wherever I want, right?

This is not a curated presentation of just the views that I want the client to see, which totally makes sense in an architectural presentation process, right? We're talking about this, so we're only going to look here, is a very good way to get decisions made about certain things, right? We're talking about.

How the space feels. we're not talking about the color of the walls. We're talking, we're not talking about the textures and materials. We're talking about light. We're talking about progression of space. And so I might curate my views based [00:57:00] on the conversation that I need to have with them.

VR is a little different, right? We put people in a space and they can wander off and they can look around and they can drive. Which I think is incredibly empowering for their experience of the design process to feel like there's ownership over the decisions that are being made, much more so than ever before, right?

Of course people were making decisions on paper, plans and sections. There is a, there is an enormous difference when people are making decisions based on subconscious emotions, and that is a very difficult place for us to get. In 2d paper as architects is a very difficult place to get. Sometimes people are making decisions and we don't understand why they're making those decisions and they don't either.

but it still matters, right? And I think this is where a tool like this, and more and more tools are like this. It's not just VR. They're real time rendering. There's tools that are coming [00:58:00] into the pipeline way earlier than they ever have before, and they help us make decisions and drive those decisions along the way, rather than just being an output at the end, which is what PDFs are, right?

Like that, those are documentation of the decisions. They aren't, you know, They aren't the experience of making those decisions. And so I think what's super interesting to watch, uh, I talked to a lot of different people in a lot of different aspects of the field, finding a way to tap into that emotional subconscious decision making I don't know why they like something, but they like it or they don't, they have a reaction and that helps me. Make a better experience for them along the way, include them in the process, and it's a better outcome because they know exactly what they're getting, they get to experience it much earlier.

And I think all of these kind of help make the argument of this particular type of technology adoption in firms and why it should matter, because it's not just about the bottom line. It may help us [00:59:00] get there faster, but it isn't something that is a, it's not just about the bottom line. Getting there faster and being more efficient.

It's about connecting with people. And that's why we do architecture for people, right? So I feel like tools like these, I sound like a VR evangelist. Like I, I don't have a firm based on doing VR, but I really feel like there's opportunities here that people, because it's not the traditional workflow, it's not the way we've always done it.

There's an inherent kind of bias or barriers or however you hurdles, however you want to say it there, because. What do you mean there's a new way to do it? Why, how is it better? Why is it better? It's some, at some level it's a little bit intangible and you just have to watch people do it or you have to do it yourself.

AJ Lightheart: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think, uh, there is a level to your point there, Evan, of openness and even vulnerability to, to a degree, right. Um, that does create a human to human connectedness, even though we're in a virtual environment, but I think that pervades the rest of the design process and how we're communicating, [01:00:00] interacting with other people.

And I can't take credit for this statement, but it's something that one of my customers shared with me years ago, but it was really stuck with me that. These purist forms, these technologies are really just an empathy engine. Where all parties can better articulate and advocate for project priorities.

And if they can do that, if they can accomplish it, if they can impart that feeling of, I'm a part of this, my voice matters, and people are taking and fully understanding what I'm saying, we can leave crystal clear that Evan knows what I mean, I know what he means, we go back to the real world, then that's a raving success of what these technologies can do for the industry as a whole.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. So we've talked about the Quest headsets, and let's just talk about what it works on, um, right now, because that is actually what matters, is what it, what it works on right now, and then we can, we can talk about how, how people can get, get into this.

AJ Lightheart: Sure, yeah, I mean, currently within Workshop, and we work really close with Meta throughout the development of Workshop, is supporting the [01:01:00] Quest 2, the Quest 3, and the Quest Pro. I personally consider the Quest 3 my daily driver, in terms of a headset. Um, And surprisingly it does have higher resolution and the latest processor in compared to the Quest Pro.

And, and I don't want to lose sight of the fact that in terms of, you know, raw cost, it's about half of what the Quest Pro is. And I think that, and I'm not saying, Going against the Quest Pro, but I think one of the biggest challenges we've talked about here is availability of hardware, and I think it's much more in a firm's best interest to go out and buy three or four versus one, because via one, you're still kind of in the same moot point challenge of how do we actually get people in there, and it's one person at a time, and that whole ostracized feeling.

So I think the Quest 3 is the best bang for a buck of the industry as a whole. I should say too that, you know, as a team, we have to be very mindful and very much connoisseurs of the industry as a whole and hardware. Undoubtedly, the whole world has heard about what Apple's doing at this point and, you know, other, uh, [01:02:00] players are putting their name in the hat.

And as we start to assess how the industry is embracing this hardware, that helps us from a development standpoint to determine what else we should support in, in, in the future. Uh, so we're open minded on branching out outside of Quest line in, uh, the upcoming. So that's the hardware, hardware side.

In terms of availability, the best thing for people to do, we can put it right into the show notes, Evan, is to get people to sign up for our waitlist, which is going to be turning into trial access, uh, here, here, shortcoming, you know, uh, Workshop XR is, you know, still very much in its early infancy and development stages.

We're hitting some key milestones that are really getting us Uh, much more comfortable of starting to open up more first user access and more commercially available. Uh, but the best thing that people can do right now is sign up for the, for the wait list, which will turn into trial access for them upcoming.

Evan Troxel: Jon, do you have a preference on the headset? I, I know one of the other differentiators is weight, right, with the, the 3 versus the Pro. I think the 3 is a little bit [01:03:00] lighter weight as well, so maybe you could wear it longer, a little more comfortably, but I would love to hear your thoughts on, on hardware.

Jon Matalucci: yeah, well, it's making sure that the backstrap, um, works, right, uh, cause out of the box, uh, they, Meta didn't do a great job, um, I can say that publicly, uh, but so, having a little counterbalance, whether it's an extra battery pack, uh, some extra padding on the headpiece, um, I get very, uh, animated, uh, sometimes I'll do my, um, meeting sessions out in my backyard, right, walking in the grass, uh, so having straps, um, Uh, is great, as opposed to just the angle dongle that makes, so you're not, you know, uh, Flinging your expensive, uh, hand controllers across the yard.

Um, but from a price point standpoint, you know, I would much rather have nine co workers in that space, or five co workers and four random people that I want to find their opinions. Um, so, you know, from my perspective, the more people you can get into that environment, the better. [01:04:00] Um, and the price point where Meta has the Quest 3 right now is perfect.

Evan Troxel: And AJ, you mentioned earlier that there is kind of an enterprise, um, deployment system in place, which is the first time I've heard that. So that's great to be aware of as well. So when it does come to kind of making the case for deployment and IT and control and, and all of those things, can you expand on that just a little bit more to give people an idea of what that involves?

AJ Lightheart: Yeah, I see some very consistent multi device MDM, uh, providers that are customer base is, is using, you know,

Quest for Business. Uh, just kind of recently, I believe at AU as well, uh, kind of announced what they're going to be doing and came to market. Yeah. But there's ArborXR, ManageXR. The simple way of saying it is, it minimizes having to do the onesie twosie purchases And, have it almost be more of a consumer grade without the extra level of enterprise security and administrative oversight.

So you'll have a, with [01:05:00] one of these MDMs, you have an administrative console where you see all the different headset units. where it's deployed to, have complete control over what's installed on that headset, have it connect back to your kind of other IT firewall and SSL pieces. So it just takes out a lot of the bottlenecks that, you know, Jon has spoken to and experienced and probably been in the bane of his existence for years now at this point, of how to get it into a hands of a wider audience in a segment of your peers.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. And, lastly, just thinking about this from a earlier in the design stage, you don't have to, obviously get on the wait list and do all those things for Workshop XR, but there are other experiences and tools that you can use now. Jon, are you guys using those at Stantec as well?

Are you using Prospect? Are you using The Wild?

Jon Matalucci: we are, we are in fact a Prospect in, in its current state because of the, uh, the wait list. Uh, that's my daily driver. Um, and I, we do all of our projects, uh, in [01:06:00] that platform currently. And then the early design stages, of course, the charettes are done in The Wild. Um, and not to make this kind of Autodesk centric, but there are a lot of other utilities that are out there.

Um, I use, uh, Arkio on a regular basis. They all have different kind of. Uh, entry points as to what, what utility they can provide. I would guess for, for the, the typical listener, um, don't let your entry, uh, stop you, right? Make your decision to whatever solves your immediate problem, because I, as Autodesk knows, we will all eventually, right, um, become familiar with all of the tools.

Evan Troxel: Yeah, I'm glad you brought up Arkio. Johan's been on the show as well. And I mean, that's a great experience to actually be able to model in VR. You can do that with other people involved. It's multiplayer, if you want to say it like that, um, which is, you know, it's not just meeting in the model, but multiple people can actually be We'll be playing in there and designing in there and doing real work in there as well.

So there's a lot of really great [01:07:00] stuff going on around this space in the new AR, VR, XR ecosystem. And what it brings to us as designers of the built environment I think is incredibly exciting. Thank you both so much for taking the time to share your story, share the story of how this is being implemented in a real world scenario, even if it is at a 28, 000 person firm, which is mind blowing to me.

Uh, I know it's not just architecture, it's a lot of things, but it's still a big, a big, uh, thing. organization. So thank you, you both for, for sharing that. And I'll have links to everything that we've talked about in the show notes to connect with you both on, on LinkedIn, or if people have questions, I'm hoping you can, um, continue to be as helpful as you have here with, with the audience.

And, and I look forward to our next conversation. This has been fantastic.

Jon Matalucci: I don't think your listeners know how impactful, uh, you were as a digital practice lead, um, it's There were a few of us that, that, um, had that [01:08:00] opportunity, uh, to study under you. I would love to have been one of your students.

Uh, and certainly you've had a huge impact on the industry kind of outside of that. Um, but, you know, thank you, Evan, for giving us a chance to kind of think, um, talk, uh, bounce the ball off the wall, and, um, you know, kind of embrace, uh, what was coming. Um, that can't be understated, uh, and, you know, I think you deserve a lot of credit for that. Thank you

Evan Troxel: Thank you so much, Jon. I, that means a lot. And, uh, again, I, I love, every opportunity that we've had to talk together and, uh, I just love the way that you think and the way that you string words together. It's always an amazing, amazing conversation. So thank you once again for, for what you just said, but also for just who you are.

Uh, it's been, it's been fantastic and I'm glad we have this opportunity to put all this together and, and, and then obviously record it and put it out there for everybody else to get the benefit of. So, uh, Anyway, that's it. Thanks guys.

AJ Lightheart: Thanks, [01:09:00] everyone.