As the Oracle Industry Lab celebrates its first anniversary, the two-story facility’s inaugural year of operation has been an eye-opening sensation since opening its doors in April 2022 to the thousands of dignitaries, customers, and partners visiting from across the globe.
With a mission to be “a unique idea incubator designed to help businesses in a variety of industries tackle their most complex challenges,” the lab hosted immersive “show, don’t tell” hands-on experiences and robotic challenges.
To also mark the year one-year anniversary, the lab published a one-of-a-kind reality capture and reality mapping experiment to serve as a guideline for multiple industries.
These are but a few of the landmark events held so far at the 30,000-square-foot lab in Deerfield, Illinois, which is just a 25-minute car ride from the city of Chicago, Illinois. Visitors also experienced some of the latest advances in autonomous equipment, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robots, and other developing technologies.
Four construction executives who have deep affiliations with the lab reflected on the impact it’s having on the construction industry.
Rune Vandli, of VREX, is an Oracle technology partner and has been affiliated with the lab for 18 months.
Porsche Townsend, application specialist at Burns & McDonnell, dates to the lab’s earliest days six years ago. They are customers as well as innovation partners.
Micah Callough, technical director, AEC and environmental consulting at Esri, has been affiliated with the lab as a partner for a year, working together to accelerate each other’s technology innovation.
Mark Mroczynski, vice president of construction and design services at FirstEnergy, is an Oracle customer and lab visitor who has personally worked with the lab now for about six months.
In separate interviews, they related their thoughts about the lab’s inaugural year and what lies ahead.
RUNE VANDLI: Phase I was a crucial stage in its development and launch. Our team was impressed with the level of planning and organization that went into it, and it was exciting to be a part of the process. But like with any new project, the initial launch was hectic and fast-paced as we all worked together to provide demonstrations to the first guests who came through the doors.
PORSCHE TOWNSEND: I remember the lab at the onset was a trailer on some gravel. The vision was clear because it was also something that we felt was needed. The concept was a really good one, and something that we supported initially when it was presented to us.
MICAH CALLOUGH: It was a little chaotic because we were in and out of COVID. But I got to know everybody there, learned the space, and understand what the teams are doing. Meeting the other partners was helpful. I've built relationships with them and continue to have discussions around how geospatial plays a role in some of the work they do. Opening the lab for the first time and meeting customers was a whirlwind couple of days. But it was great to see different people from different spaces come together to tell a story around their industry.
MARK MROCZYNSKI: I was there in October. We brought a team of about 12 from IT, our business process group, and some of our construction leadership to brainstorm with the Oracle team, viewing different applications with the partners and get some creative juices flowing.
There were two goals. One was “the art of possible”—discovering what is possible. The lab provided a great environment to get our team thinking bigger about what we can do. It was also nice to get to the lab because most of us have been cooped up and not collaborating in person. Second was to continue growing the relationships with the Oracle team. We were there for a day and held excellent conversations. It was a very productive day for us. And, by the way, the food was awesome. Don't pass up the breakfast sandwiches.
RUNE VANDLI: We are a virtual reality company and practice what we preach. As such, we are at the lab “virtually” several times a month, utilizing VR technology to access the lab from anywhere at any time.
PORSCHE TOWNSEND: I was there twice last year. Both experiences were completely different, and that's a bonus because the lab is flexible enough to address whatever use case that brought you to the lab. If we were to bring one of our utility clients to the lab and introduce them to that type of innovation, then there's trust there that it can be scaled to fit that industry. We also brought in a group representing multiple industries, and the lab was scaled to provide value to those who were in our energy sector, in the infrastructure sector, and those in the oil and gas industry. Everyone walked away with some knowledge gain from their experience at the lab.
RUNE VANDLI: This is exactly what the industry needs! An experimental playground where tomorrow's technology can be experienced today. Not only on a screen but in the practical demonstrations on a construction site. One feature that left a lasting impression is the outdoor zone. It showcases the potential for construction sites to be transformed through technology and innovation. The fact that the lab is designed as a practical demonstration area rather than a traditional showroom floor sets it apart and makes it a valuable resource for the industry.
PORSCHE TOWNSEND: My number one thing, I love the concept of the command center. I also love the smart apartment. It’s cool to see how technology relates to your personal living experience. And then the other piece was the AI and VR technologies. The lab did a good job focusing on collaboration with segmented teams, so if I have a team in Mumbai, or I have a team in Australia and everyone's working to deliver the same project, the technology shows how that collaboration could happen.
MARK MROCZYNSKI: When you walk into the physical part of the lab, you're in what feels like an active construction zone with gravel and exposed steel structures in the true environment that these technologies are made for. You get the feel of being on a jobsite.
MICAH CALLOUGH: It is just amazingly done. The arena at the top where people communicate in a theater-like setting is impressive. The space is highly flexible. I've seen it configured a couple different ways for different scenarios. The open space connects you to the real world. It doesn't feel so techie-driven. Construction workers talk dirt, sand, rocks, rivets, and steel. Their world has been very traditional, but it's evolving. We need to figure out how we meet them in the middle as opposed to dragging them into our space all the time. The lab is well equipped for that. It feels like a safe space to communicate and collaborate.
RUNE VANDLI: It was incredibly well-organized, with top-notch presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and interactive sessions. The participants were knowledgeable, and the discussions were engaging and enlightening. The lab showcased the cutting-edge technologies and the limitless possibilities in the construction industry.
MARK MROCZYNSKI: It was an awesome day. We started with a seed and developed the right way to move forward with it. We accomplished a lot in a short period of time, and I walked away very energized.
MICAH CALLOUGH: We've done three or four events. The key here is that the lab has made it a a repeatable process, and we're able to bring in and broaden it out to other people within the organization.
RUNE VANDLI: As we move into year two and beyond, the focus will shift toward further solidifying the lab's offerings and telling its story to a wider audience. Digitizing the workflow and making it accessible to a global audience will be crucial in reaching new customers and partners.
PORSCHE TOWNSEND: They did a really good job with year one, so the bar is set high. We had Spot the robotic dog out there, we had drones, we had autonomous vehicles drilling holes … it's like, what else can you bring to this lab that we haven't seen? It builds the anticipation to see what's next.
MICAH CALLOUGH: We did more showcasing, talking about what we can do, what the partners can do, and how it comes together. Now that Oracle is building a safe space, the lab should bring in people to experiment, get customer feedback on where we go, and seeing where the opportunities are as a collective group. By having different minds, collectively we can solve problems in a unique way.
MARK MROCZYNSKI: We can come back periodically. It gives us a place to get away but to an environment that keeps us grounded in what we do. And it gives us a place where we can get that collaborative, creative atmosphere while still being tethered to what the real world looks like. It's a great place to come see things in action.
RUNE VANDLI: Here's to another year of pushing boundaries and shaping the future of construction! Happy anniversary to the innovative and visionary Oracle Industry Lab. Cheers to many more years of innovative collaboration!
MARK MROCZYNSKI: Congratulations on your out-of-the-box thinking. You've provided a great atmosphere to create, collaborate, and grow for your customers and for yourselves.
MICAH CALLOUGH: It's been a great year, especially from the partnership perspective. Let's start to dig deeper into some of the problems and see where we can go in the future.
PORSCHE TOWNSEND: My anniversary card would be to Spot, and I would tell him I miss him, and I can't wait to see him again.
RUNE VANDLI: Even if you feel like you have a good understanding of what the future of construction looks like, seeing it come together in a real-life setting, combined with the added element of VR, provides a unique and eye-opening experience. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the future of construction in action.
MARK MROCZYNSKI: It's a very comfortable atmosphere. Oracle makes it easy for you. You won’t be disappointed.
MICAH CALLOUGH: Come to the lab to discuss your business problems. What are you doing from a workflow perspective? What keeps you up at night? If you come with that in mind and talk to us as a collective group, we can help you understand what would fit best in those scenarios. Let's partner and talk about where the industry needs solutions and how do we bring those solutions to fruition.
PORSCHE TOWNSEND: Go in with an open mind and be ready to immerse yourself in a virtual project experience. Because that's exactly what it is—an optimized, futuristic look at what is coming to the project delivery experience.
As the first year of operation comes to a close, Oracle remains committed to supporting customers on their digital journey. Contact your local Construction and Engineering account manager if you’d like to organize your own visit to the Oracle Industry Lab. If you don’t know your account manager, send an email to this account: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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