Rick Embers is a senior principal at Pulse Design Group and has been with the firm for 20 years. He is a Registered Architect in 22 states and is heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the firm. During his 30+ year career, he has worked with numerous health systems and has a true passion for healthcare design. He understands the complex world of healthcare architecture, the ever-changing needs of health systems, and what it takes to deliver a successful project. Mr. Embers has presented at various industry events and conferences throughout his career and is well-regarded as an expert in the field of healthcare design.
Known for leading the pack in architectural healthcare technology services, we wanted to get the story behind the story on their success with virtual reality modeling.
Tell us briefly how, when and why did this virtual reality exploration begin?
RICK EMBERS: "Pulse Design Group started pursuing virtual reality and its application to the architectural industry in 2013. Utilizing the latest virtual technology available, we leveraged our extensive knowledge of healthcare design to create highly realistic and detailed 3D virtual environments. The technology allows designers and clients to experience a space and visualize design concepts before the construction or prototyping process begins. Simulated environments are rendered with actual finishes, which allows for early aesthetic and functional decisions about the space, saving the client time and money. Virtual reality is a useful tool that helps bridge the communication gap by giving end-users a clearer understanding of the design intent of a given space."
What has been the feedback from your clients?
RE: " Pulse Design Group has received positive responses about the benefits of virtual reality and our capability to create highly rendered environments for proposed projects. We have also found that many clients have a preconceived notion of virtual reality. Many are unclear about the industry application and functionality of the technology. However, after a user experiences one of our virtual models, they often think of new ways technology can be utilized to solve specific challenges for their organization."
Speaking of challenges, did you hit any stumbling blocks along the way?
RE: "Some of the early challenges for our firm revolved around securing the right staffing to support this rapidly changing technology. We also had to overcome the negative stigma of virtual reality resulting from the poor quality and bad experiences faced by users in the 1980’s and 90’s. To this end, it is critical that each new user be provided with the best possible experience.
"Finally, it is critical to allow the user to experience the technology to clearly understand the benefits of virtual reality in design. We can talk about it, show renderings of models, even present live demonstrations, but until a user has had the full immersive experience, the true capabilities of virtual reality are not clearly understood."
What other technologies do you see Pulse adopting?
RE: "With virtual reality thriving in other areas of the country, our main focus is keeping up with the ever-changing VR industry to further position Kansas City as a hub for mass adoption.
"We are constantly researching related technologies, such as photogrammetry (recreation of physical environments in digital spaces), drone technology, and the further integration of virtual reality into production software for architecture.
"Augmented reality, which is related to virtual reality, is expected to become a vital tool for design, architecture, and healthcare in the next few years. Using an augmented reality headset, users are able to overlay information and vital statistics on their real-time environment. We are excited for the technology and look forward to utilizing the new visualization tool in our industry."
What other healthcare trends are emerging in your world and how are you staying ahead of the game?
RE: "Healthcare trends show that systems are moving toward community health solutions with smaller, decentralized clinics, emergency departments and hospitals. The primary focus is on Ambulatory Care and providing care early to reduce lengthy and expensive hospital stays."
"Pulse Design Group is solely focused on the healthcare market, allowing us to be experts in the industry and well-versed on the ever-changing guidelines and codes. The conferences we attend, articles we read, and the continuing education courses that we take are all specifically directed toward healthcare. Our focus is to thoroughly understand current and projected healthcare trends so we are able to successfully advise clients when planning and designing their spaces."
What is your firm looking forward to as we approach 2017?
RE: "Pulse Design Group experienced substantial growth in 2016 and projected growth is anticipated for 2017 and beyond. We look forward to working with additional health systems in the region to provide cutting-edge design solutions that align with the organizations strategic plan and support current healthcare trends.
"The firm services; interior design, equipment planning and virtual reality are receiving increased interest and exposure outside of traditional healthcare design projects. Healthcare architecture, the firm’s core business service, will continue to be the lifeline of the organization, but is strongly supported when combined with the additional firm offerings. These services can be combined with our in-house architectural service or operate individually. Clients and industry partners understand that these services add value to the overall design process and play a critical role in seamless project delivery."