Scrapping the METAverse: My VR Journey back to Simple and Efficient Scheduling Solutions

Scrapping the METAverse: My VR Journey back to Simple and Efficient Scheduling Solutions

Over the last few years, we have seen many smart and successful people become enamored with the virtual world, like Mark Zuckerburg. I was also intrigued by virtual reality and seeing if the benefits can outweigh the limitations in the scheduling world. And Much like Zuckerberg did with his real-life dollars, I broke up with 4D scheduling. My losses won’t ever be comparable to the billions Zuck has squandered chasing the Meta-World-Verse thing, but I’m not going to waste more of my time with it.

We started HITO due to the same gap in the industry I see over and over: Schedules aren’t easy to understand. In response to that, I discovered, the more visual you make something, the more someone understands it. That assumption led me to create FlipBook, develop SiteWalker, and eventually dabble with virtual reality/4D scheduling. The logic being, the closer you can model reality, the more understanding and human experiences can be communicated. Right?

3D BIM models require high end computers and navigation similar to video game controls. Construction engineers have literally built custom joysticks and remote controls to make model interaction easier for field staff. Early users experience a steep learning curve filled with frustration, starting with the navigation. While I was being romanced about the possibilities, it felt like the rest of our industry was looking at me like I had an Oculus on. Kinda like the Metaverse-world thing.  

What I found is that virtual reality/4D scheduling is a slow, glitchy experience. Many schedulers do not want to interact in that environment for hours on end, and I don’t think the information consumed bears fruit proportionate to the effort. Easier to USE solutions are needed. And by USE, we need to consider both the preparation and consumption of the data.

I’ve come to understand the periodical nature of our product. If I’m on a job-site, I file old schedules with yesterday’s newspaper as quick as I find them. “If this is printed, it’s out of date.” That means our updates need to be concise to: not waste paper, and mostly: value our user’s time. They also need to be reproduceable and efficient across the company. My challenge with each document is to understand, “What information on this document does your user need to make their decisions?” same as a developer would ask about developing an app. Even though possible, we now know there may not need to be an “an app for that”. Same with reports, “are you sure they need that?” and “how are you going to maintain it?”

I’ve been enamored with FlipBook since I first “made it dance” at Fort Greely Alaska. It’s relatively simple, and we’re finding ways to extend its use for other reporting purposes previously unexplored. All our solutions will soon be connected and easier to maintain. FlipBook and SiteWalker support our more visual, data driven approach. And it will stop there, in 2D.

So I guess that’s it, I’m keeping it simple, sorry. I think the virtual world is pretty fantastic, just not for scheduling yet. I’m not faulting Zuck and his dream; our clients just don’t have his billions.

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