VR Connects People While COVID-19 Grips the Globe

In short order, businesses across the globe have been forced to change how they communicate and interact both internally and with customers. Despite these disruptions, our goal of bringing people and communities together through innovative designs continues to drive every project. By harnessing technology, including virtual reality, our team at Overland continues to seamlessly communicate and collaborate with clients and consultants across the country and globe.

With projects in every time zone, Overland became early adopters of virtual reality—VR, to connect with teams in real time, and as a result, has built a robust system to securely collaborate with our partners. Such investments have uniquely prepared firm members to work remotely without diminishing productivity or service.

“One of the reasons we like to use VR in our projects is that it immerses all players into the project holistically. It enables diverse user groups to look at relatively the same thing, in 3D, while incorporating size, scale and setting of projects,” said Robert Shemwell, FAIA, LEED AP.
Shemwell explains that clients and stakeholders no longer have to take mental leaps when looking at models or renderings. “Interpretation is much clearer when using VR to engage stakeholders; it affords a common currency and experience to those involved,” he said. VR allows visualization of projects that open up discussions of details or design elements that sometimes do not easily convey through traditional means like renderings.

However, curating a guest experience is important says Shemwell. “You can’t just throw tech at them—technology is there to facilitate human interaction.” In fact, Daniel Carpio, Overland’s IT Manager and Cyber Sherpa, guides guests on virtual journeys that are fun, exciting and engaging. Once guests are in the virtual world and common ground has been established, that’s where the magic begins!

Using long distance collaboration strategies for a decade, Overland team members have become experts in how best to adapt technology for specific architectural and design uses. “What we do routinely is take different technologies and fuse them together because there isn’t one best single platform that satisfies our needs – we customize tools from different sources to create the best digital platform for creativity and collaboration,” said Shemwell.

Shemwell goes on to say, “The nice thing about the way Overland uses its VR platform is that visual, audio and text are all incorporated, and while each of us is working remotely, we feel connected because we are meeting, drawing and collaborating in real time in the digital space. This way designs are felt and therefore understood much more deeply, as if you are actually there together.”