Imajion’s CTO, Adrian Hatch, works alongside a team of all-star developers as a programmer and project manager, contributing the codebase of the HoloLens application, directing product development, and acting as a translator between the customer’s requirements and our engineering efforts.
Thanks to ProjectxR, Imajion employees like Adrian are able to work from remote locations, effectively changing the way work is done. Read on to learn more about Adrian and his experiences working remote.
What did you do before you had access to ProjectxR? Did you try other collaboration tools?
We’ve used a litany of collaboration tools at Imajion as our team and processes have scaled, and we’ve drawn on those experiences designing ProjectxR. It’s been fantastic to transition from Skype to ProjectxR and see a real improvement in call quality, and I’m looking forward to moving from Slack to our own solution. It’s not that those aren’t great applications – on the contrary, I’m excited for us to switch because it shows ProjectxR can compete with the best in the business. Moving from several different communication solutions (Skype, Slack, phone, email) to a more central process with ProjectxR feels like how modern remote work should be done.
Tell me about the post from Afternow that changed the way Imajion does work.
Charlie and I were researching state-of-the-art design for mixed reality, and he came across a blog post by the team at Afternow explaining some of their approaches to developing experiences for the HoloLens. They represented the planned holographic UI using physical models like simple foam blocks and an actual plastic pointer for the user’s gaze and acted out the software experience to develop the design flow. Reading that post led us to work with Afternow, and during our working relationship, their expertise helped us incorporate more of a design-driven approach to development, which has been critical as our team has grown to include top design talent of our own. Their use of rapid prototyping and iteration with simple models has informed our own use of Unity for fast iterative design, and learning from their understanding of application design and development was a huge boon for our own process.
Were you part of the team that came up with ProjectxR? What was your thought process behind the development? How did you know you needed it?
I’ve been with Imajion since Charlie and I set out to change the future in fall of 2016, and we circled the need for ProjectxR for a while before we found the right solution. We recognized the potential for head-mounted display technology to radically improve certain business processes, and that effective communication between experts with different data sets is still an unsolved problem. Historically, major waves in technology innovation have empowered major improvements in human communication: the global postal system, the telegram, the phone, the internet, etc. We identified the construction site as a uniquely suitable place to solve this problem now, because of frequent cost and time overruns, known communication challenges, and frequent decision-making between different experts (customers, architects, builders, etc).
Construction has been underserved by technological innovation, but our users were thrilled for us to try and solve these problems from the beginning. That said, we didn’t arrive at the concept for ProjectxR until after some iteration with those users. We first tried 360 video recordings of the site played back on mobile VR headsets by stakeholders, but our “eureka” moment came when a customer asked how they could send a message back to the person on site who had recorded the video. We realized we needed to build a real-time communication system, and that it would have to include data and interactivity somehow. That led us to evaluate the HoloLens and develop the concept for seeing through the eyes of the superintendent on site, creating holographic annotations in real-time 3D by interacting with the video, and connecting the experience to project data and spatial documentation like plans and CAD models.
How do you use ProjectxR to facilitate remote work?
ProjectxR is Imajion’s main VoIP communication platform, so I depend on it to connect me to my team members for everything from company meetings to one-on-one conversations. Soon, we’ll all be using ProjectxR all day as our instant messaging platform too.
How do Imajion employees collaborate and hold meetings? What do you use to communicate? How do you track work?
We follow the scrum process, with the dev team holding a brief sprint meeting every Monday prior to a company-wide meeting where project progress is summarized and milestones and events are shared with the team. The whole team meets again on Thursdays for another check-in, and throughout the week we communicate constantly over Slack, email, and video calls. We track our work in a Jira project derived from a master user story visible to the entire team on Google Drive.
How does ProjectxR simplify your work?
ProjectxR makes remote work possible for us by providing a performant, reliable platform to communicate with each other visually and verbally.
What components of ProjectxR do you use on a daily basis?
I use the video calling features of ProjectxR every day to talk to the rest of Imajion, and I use the in-development features of ProjectxR every day iterating or testing the product!
What are the biggest struggles you face with remote work?
I often remark to the team that the big “con” to remote work is never being able to grab a beer together to unwind after a long day or to celebrate a big achievement. One of my favorite parts of working at Imajion is the friendly banter and humor we enjoy during meetings, and I think it’s particularly important in remote teams to allow some levity when you’re crunching away. Keeping a spirit of team camaraderie can be more challenging working remotely, but it’s critical to get right because success demands passion.
Is there anything that ProjectxR has enabled you to do that would have otherwise been impossible or extremely difficult?
I was in rural Croatia when Kyle Foley and I shared holograms in real-time over the internet for the first time, watching as he drew holographic annotations on my walls from thousands of miles away in Boulder, Colorado. I’ve been lucky enough to help make the impossible real as a daily job at Imajion, and true 3D telepresence is only the beginning of what ProjectxR will make possible for the AEC industry and beyond.