Back in November at Autodesk University (AU) 2018, I had a chance to meet a brand new AR/VR software company called “The Wild”—showing their new product on the busy show floor in Las Vegas.
Meet Me in The Wild
During my visit to their booth, I had a complete tour of the immersive software application, using standard Oculus or HTV Vive headgear. Instead of being led through the VR application by someone in the booth talking to me and guiding my hand, I was guided by another person’s avatar inside the immersive virtualized space. The experience was excellent.
The Wild is not yet at version 1.0, the current version just shipping before the holidays; after I had experienced it at AU 2018, version v0.7 now supports Apple’s popular Mac computers, making it one of the only VR software solutions in existence that is fully native on macOS.
“The macOS app is a game changer for 3D presentation,” according to The Wild founder and CEO Gabe Paez. “To have the option to access The Wild using one of the most ubiquitous platforms in the spatial design field will open up the opportunity for stakeholders working in retail design, architecture, interior design, and experience design agencies by allowing them to participate in the design iteration and decision-making process directly from their Mac.”
As we have written about before on Architosh, the VR world has largely ignored the Mac platform due to Apple’s lack of putting in powerful enough GPUs inside their systems. That all began to change though with the current generations of the iMac, iMac Pro, and even MacBook Pro. The Wild has made massive efforts to optimize for macOS and is poised to support virtual reality on Mac once it is released shortly.
Also new in the latest v0.7 release is the ability to directly import SketchUp (.skp) as spaces in The Wild. The process automatically creates a collection of assets from components in the SketchUp file, streamlining the design workflow in a simple process.
During the AU 2018 conference, I was told SketchUp support was coming up and the company looks to have delivered. The 3D modeling application is the most important one to support for broad adoption potential for the AR/VR software provider.
The Wild’s Features
So what is special about The Wild, beyond its great product name? If you haven’t put it together yet, what you can say to a co-worker or client is something along the lines of “meet me in The Wild” when deciding to co-inhabit a virtual space.
So yes! The Wild was built for multi-party AR/VR immersive design collaboration. One or more users can enter the same space and see each other via human avatar forms that stop at the waistline. An AT&T logo blue banding defines your human form. Being able to see through half a body is actually quite nice, as compared to other full-body, human avatars. The advantage I found was that you can see through people and see more of the space you were designing.
Speaking of working. I found The Wild’s onboard 3D modeling really intuitive. You move both hands holding the remotes and drag out and that creates a rectangular box. You can grab the forms and copy and move them. At AU I felt that for the purposes of architectural design, the limited modeling was a wee bit on the limited side but useful for creating things inside rooms.
A really neat feature The Wild had was the ability to create what I would call a computer screen or window literally inside the virtual environment itself. And then create cameras inside that environment and aim them at stuff and then watch that on the screen you created. In the virtual room where I was situated, there was an architectural model of a house (virtualized, of course). I was able to enter that space at scale (“Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” style) and experience it virtually. In other words, I was able to go into a virtual space that contained an architectural model at say, 1/4 scale, and then zoom myself into that miniature space and experience that also. Wild, right?
The Wild does its VR processing on the local machine but then pushes that content up to the cloud. The benefit of this is then the cloud streams that data back down to multiple users. You can work with up to 8 people at a time. To communicate with your co-VR users you talk or use gestures. The headsets with audio are your audio devices. The Wild works with HTV Vive, Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality devices, in addition to AR or desktop (if someone doesn’t have a headset device).
The Wild integrates with SketchUp, Revit, and other major 3D workflows. You can import in FBX, OBJ, SKP, 3DS, and other file formats.
Quality and Things I Really Liked
In addition to the general UX (user-experience and UI), the rendering quality and dynamic lighting were excellent. There is also GI (global illumination). As mentioned earlier, you can model inside the VR-AR space. No need to go back to the original modeling program to add something small, you can create native content directly in The Wild.
Being that The Wild is cloud-based, your AR-VR immersive projects are accessible from anywhere and on multiple devices of various type and operating system. This means this solution works well for remote teams, clients, and project stakeholders.
Architosh Analysis and Commentary
The Wild was founded by Gabe Paez, a veteran of the digital design industry. Based on its job openings listings Unity technology seems to be employed. Based in Portland, Oregan, The Wild certainly got its share of interest at AU 2018 on the show floor.
There were three key things that stood out about this AR-VR software solution. The first was its UX-UI which I found to be one of the most engaging and charming, especially for multi-participant VR experiences. Two, the solution runs on macOS. That’s huge because few solutions do. Thirdly, the whole solution is partially cloud-based, meaning that your local device is critical in the rendering part of the AR-VR environment, but the assets and the participants in the experience come about because of the cloud. You don’t need to have three people in the same physical space, a client could be in Rome, an interior designer in New York and an architect in Boston.