ROTU’s CEO Jason Parks, was able to connect with Gabe Paez, CEO and co-founder of The Wild, a cloud-based, real-time collaboration platform for designers to create and share immersive experiences.
Jason: This is another episode of The Virtuality Podcast. This is your host, Jason Parks. Today we have Gabe Paez, the founder and CEO of The Wild. Thank you for joining us.
Gabe: It's nice to be here. Thanks.
Jason: Okay. Could you talk a little more about the company, also where you guys are located, and any information for our listeners who would like to learn first about The Wild?
Gabe: Sure. So, The Wild is a cloud based collaboration tool for teams to come together and share design and ideas amongst the group. It's a full XR platform connected over the cloud. So, we're not just talking virtual reality, we're embracing the entire spectrum of virtualization. So -- virtual, augmented, mixed reality, traditional, desktop, laptop… The Wild is a connected platform to bring people together across distance, on these different devices, and into a shared workspace, so that they can collaborate in real time, share ideas, provide feedback, and create a new way to both think and design.
Jason: Love it, love it, where's the company based out of?
Gabe: So, predominantly, we're in Portland, Oregon, though we do have some remote people on our team as well that join in over The Wild. We have a lot of our weekly meetings and communications happening inside of The Wild.
Jason: Excellent. So, putting your money where your mouth is, and actually using your own platform to be able to have offices all around the world.
Gabe: Absolutely. I mean, it's a big trend these days that workers are more and more working remotely. And, even workers that live centrally in a city aren't necessarily going into the office every day. And yet you do have some professions where by force of necessity, they have to be physically together, because type of work that they're doing requires it. And, with XR as a now, like, a really feasible workplace solution, you have all new forms of the way that we can work together. And, the physical barrier of having to be co-located in a physical space to have a physical experience is no longer a limitation.
Jason: So, where does The Wild name originate?
Gabe: So, The Wild started with the idea of the acronym W.I.L.D. – Wake Induced Lucid Dream
Jason: love it.
Gabe: So, that being, lucid dreams that not only you have, but that you’re intentionally trying to have. And, that's what has always fascinated me about spatial computing is the ability to create a dreamlike state, but one that you have agency in, that you're able to control, that doesn't control you. And, even beyond that, the ability to, you know, it's not just a platform, or a technology, but we're really literally creating spaces for people to join together inside of that. And, it's that shared reality that is really fascinating to us at The Wild. And, really what The Wild is all about, is a place for people to come together and share ideas.
Jason: So, were you inspired by your own lucid dreaming to come up with this? Or where does the interests lie?
Gabe: You know, honestly, when I was a kid, I was very obsessed with lucid dreams. And, I just thought it was an amazing superpower to, like, know you're dreaming and to then fly around or, you know, do anything in your dreams, you're actually incredibly powerful if you can get over it, especially if you know that you're having this experience. And, it's weird, I don't know if it was conscious at first, but my, early obsession with that idea, and that state, really led to this career choice, I guess, eventually. And, that's why I'm so obsessed and passionate about this field, is because it's unlocking entirely new potential in humans, that is only possible through this technology.
Jason: I agree. It is pretty incredible what we can do and what the consumer has seen, and B2B has seen in just the last two, three, years.
Gabe: Yeah. And, the other piece of it is that it's so accessible. I mean, The Wild, we're a relatively small team. And, obviously, we have a lot of really talented people on our team, but that even a small team is able to create something so massive, and so ambitious, is an amazing testament to the time that we live in and the state of technology, because we really have the power to create these experiences and platforms that are just incredibly powerful beyond the means of, you know, a small group of individuals even 20 years ago, to be honest.
Jason: So, what file type support do you have for The Wild? And what can a partner bring onto the platform?
Gabe: So, we support, I believe it's, 11 different file formats for importing of all the common formats that you're going to be working with, to bring your models into the wild. And, this is a big part, that's very hard that we worked a lot on, basically making sure that whatever you're working on in SketchUp, and Robin 3D Studio is going to look the same inside of The Wild or better than it looks in your other product or program.
Jason: That's a huge strength.
Gabe: It's a huge strength. It's a huge challenge and something that we're still working on. So, we started, and we've launched, by supporting the file types themselves. And, we're in the process right now, and starting launching slowly out each of our plugin integrations with the different applications, so that you never even have to leave the application. But the advantage of especially supporting the file types is also it doesn't necessarily require the application. So, if somebody sends me a SketchUp file, and I don't necessarily even have SketchUp, for whatever reason, I can just upload it straight into The Wild and get started.
Jason: That's fantastic. I mean, because a lot you see a lot of companies come in and offer the option, at least in the cloud services, for OBJ or SPX, but that's where they stop. And, the fact that you're able to reach that wide variety of object-oriented formats is really important. Because, I know just from personal experience, and I'm sure a lot of the listeners of the Virtuality Podcast, know that it's even difficult to transfer between Sketchfab to Unity, or Sketchfab to Unreal. And, the fact that you have the ability to do that so easily is a big plus. So, one part of the wild is that you at first are going to be focusing on architecture, engineering and construction, and reaching out to those groups. Now, is there a particular reason that you are looking at those areas?
Gabe: Well, so, The Wild is a communication tool for people to come together and share their ideas. But then the second question, there is like, what are you sharing? And, it's very easy in XR to get really spread, like anything is possible, this is going to change every industry. And yes, it will be a transformative technology over time. But, right now, based on the state of the entire industry, we felt it was, important to look a certain vertical square in the face and say, how can we create a solution that really addresses the needs of this group of users in a in a compelling way? And, not just AC, but really, environment designers, especially those environmental designers who are looking at their work, not as structural design, but really as designing an experience that will play out in that environment, is really our core market. Because, you know, honestly, right now, without this technology without The Wild… their work… they're really limited in terms of how they can embody, especially across distance, their ideas early on in the design process. So, we really felt like focusing down on experienced designers working on environments, with our way to really understand a problem and solve that, before we set The Wild into our bigger vision for where it's headed.
Jason: I see. I see. So, where do you see that in five years then?
Gabe: So, we see it being used broadly across different industries. I mean, there are a lot of compelling ways, and even today, some of our early users are in education and training, in automotive, in all these other, you know, honestly, even financial, like, there are different ways to visualize and experience ideas, and share ideas other than our traditional means of these 2D forms. And, I think as more and more people are exposed to this, they’re normalized to the idea that we can work with our hands and interact with digital content in varying degrees of physical to virtual reality… you'll start to see different types of professionals really adopting the technology. And, so we see The Wild as, a place to bring all those people together.
Jason: So, over the years, you see more and more companies coming on to The Wild, onto the platform, and ultimately growing both in virtual reality and also on other hardware devices. So, how else can a company and an individual utilize The Wild?
Gabe: So, with The Wild, you can join from a number of devices, a VR headset – so, like, the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift, a windows mixed reality device, like the Odyssey, those are all really great ways to get into The Wild, completely immersed in a virtual space. But, then you can also join a space in real time; you can see and connect with someone who is joining from a tablet like an iPad or an iPhone. And, that can be in AR mode. So, you're actually projecting that digital space inside of The Wild into the physical space that that person is standing in; anyone inside of the space in a VR headset, you can see them in avatar form, you can talk to them, they can talk to you. And, so you have this bi-directional collaboration happening across different devices, and really mediums at that point. Then, you can also bring people in from a traditional desktop computer, so like a Windows workstation, or even a Mac computer. And in that 2D form, it's cool because you can fly around, and you can also get piloted around, so if you're presenting to one of your clients, you can have them join from a laptop, their office, and then you could be in VR, presenting to that person, guiding them around, and showing them your design, your experience.
Jason: Now do you see the platform moving toward virtual reality in its entirety? Or, do you see other forms of hardware being used in definitely?
Gabe: Oh, no, I very much see that it's not just necessarily hardware, like, I really see a convergence starting to happen, where even what you see as a VR, or an AR, or MR headset, are going to start to be more and more multi-capable of moving between modes. And so, you know, the way that we as an industry, like are really traditionally looking at this as a segment of thing, where “I focus on virtual reality,” “I focus on augmented reality,” is really a short term look at the entire industry. There are many use cases and just scenarios, where you'll want different levels of virtualization even within a single use case. So, if I'm designing something in a virtual space, and you walk in, I want to go into more of a mixed reality mode, and see you in the space so I can have a conversation with you. And then, I want to cut you off again, and go back into a totally virtual mode; an all-in-one working session, just based on the circumstance of what you're trying to do, and who's in the space physically with you, and who's not, and where you are. Augmented reality is great if you have a need to be physically connected for your digital content to be physically connected to the space. So, if I'm designing a new skyscraper on an empty lot, I can stand there, and with either mixed reality glasses on, or I can have a mobile AR like a phone or tablet, and I can visualize on that lot the building that I'm designing, you know, and maybe work on it in real time right there, because I'm there. But, you know, that's less useful if I'm on an airplane. And, I don't want to necessarily go on that airplane; I want to be just totally virtualized. So, all I'm saying is that we really see as a core tenant of The Wild is that it's not just about creating a separate virtual reality. It's about creating a platform that lets you, the user, decide how virtualized you want to be at any given moment, based on your needs, and The Wild will accommodate that.
Jason: I love that. I love that a lot. Now, the wild is an unlimited 3D cloud storage space as well. Right? That's primarily what it is? It's also a real-time collaboration. And, you also have a lot more involved in what you offer too. Now, could you talk a little more about that cloud service and why that's different from a competitor, or if there is a competitor?
Gabe: Yeah, so, it's really key to what we're doing, and a major differentiator. What happens in The Wild is that it's a persistent cloud based storage space. So, it's similar in that way to maybe like how you look at Google Docs, where that content lives in the cloud, and you can access it either at the same time as somebody else and work on it together, or asynchronously at different times. But, every time I go back, it's right where I left it, no matter the device I joined from. So, if I go to your office and login to my account in The Wild, I have access to all my spaces, all of my content, which we called “the library,” which is sort of like a Dropbox inside of The Wild, that gives you access to all of your stuff. And, you have a consistent experience across platforms because it all lives in the cloud, and it's being streamed in real time.
Jason: Excellent. Are you able to speak about any of the companies that are utilizing it right now, and they're experience thus far?
Gabe: Yeah. So, we've got companies in a range of sectors and industries already joining up -- a lot of interesting AC use cases, different companies using it to build stadiums we've heard about already, and office buildings, and a mall. So, those are really interesting, and it's exciting now to be a part of these projects in some way that will eventually be realized out in the physical world and built. We're still early on, so a lot of those projects are still in their very early stages, but we're excited for that. Then, in the retail use case, one of our early partners was Adidas. And, they're using The Wild for collaboration on retail space, and merchandising of how their products will live in a Footlocker or DICK’S Sporting Goods. You know, traditionally they're physically building prototypes stores, where they bring retailers in and show them how the products will look in those stores. But, those stores never see the light of day, and it's incredibly expensive and time consuming to do that. And, so, in The Wild, they can just iterate at a fraction of the cost and a huge factor of the speed, like creating an entire store in, you know, minutes instead of weeks. And, so, all of those use cases, you know, different tangible professional use cases, make it really exciting and validating for what we built.
Jason: How does The Wild team work with these partners? Do you just provide the service and then troubleshooting and questions for anything that arises? Are you working closely with them to make sure that what they want on your platform happens?
Gabe: So, we've worked really hard to launch during this early phase, with a very high degree of service. It's still a Saas platform that you're subscribing to, but we tried to help bring on every customer, and to really understand not just the platform and what we're doing with The Wild, but more broadly, the technology and where the industry is headed. And, for that reason, we haven't yet gone to a self-serve model where you go to our site and just sign up and get going. We've talked to every single new team that we onboard, and make sure that they have their questions answered, and get them up and running in The Wild. And, so, that's been a great experience for us, because we get a lot of feedback from that. Though, we do eventually see it moving to more of a self-serve model where people can just come in, you create an account, and you get inside and start working.
Jason: Okay, so, if any of our listeners would like to reach out and learn more about how they could utilize your program, what's the best way to contact The Wild?
Gabe: It's super easy. Just go to TheWild.com and there's a big “Get Started” button in the top right; click that button and we'll take it from there.
This has been another episode of The Virtuality Podcast. We'll see you in this reality and the next.
To find out more visit https://thewild.com/
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