How a Melbourne based virtual reality company is transforming urban design and public engagement

Date: 27 October 2017
Location: Melbourne

Melbourne based technology company, Snobal’s intelligent virtual reality (VR) technology was unveiled recently as part of the opening of the Hoddle Street Community Hub. The technology is being used to foster public understanding of a complex built environment.

Snobal with its engineering design client, SMEC applied its technology to transform road safety design of  Melbourne’s most complex and busy arterial road, Hoddle Street. The VR technology enables the public to experience what the intersection will look like when physically built from the perspective of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

The use of emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) in public infrastructure development is an innovative undertaking.

While virtual reality is tentatively being used  in commercial construction in terms of visualisation, Snobal’s  artificial intelligence assisted VR  goes beyond visualisation enabling city planners and engineers to collaborate on design in virtual reality.  The technology also enables the public to be immersed in proposed design and provide feedback to help tackle challenges such as improving road safety design.

Snobal was also one of a handful of startups profiled in a report launched last night by not-for profit, StartupAUS.  The report outlines the current state of play of Australian Construction Technology  and highlights the potential impact of digital solutions in the space.

Snobal, a HTC Vive  backed company was founded in 2014 by Murray James and Ann Nolan. Integrating with existing 3D modeling and geometry data including building information modeling (BIM), the technology enables the ability to create 1:1 scale environments where city planners, local councils, engineers and commercial construction companies can collaboratively design, test designs and foster understanding and feedback from the public.

Quotes attributed to Murray James, Co-Founder & CEO Snobal

“The Hoddle Street Streamlining has been a fantastic application of our smart virtual reality technology both for collaborating on design, including road safety and enriching the public’s understanding of a complex physical environment. Innovative companies like SMEC and its partners have been able to use our technology to gain a deeper understanding of the potential impact of design, for example being able to identify safety risks that may not have been picked up using traditional engineering design.  At Snobal we like to say it’s about building things better.

Quotes attributed to Daniel Gregor, Manager, Transport Engineering Consulting Services, SMEC

“Snobal’s technology has been influential in the road and urban design outcomes. Their virtual reality technology has potentially huge impacts in terms of helping avoid rework and errors through the ability to make data driven decisions faster and more often. Their technology  provide the  ability to deepen relationships with communities and enrich their understanding of complex designs before they are physically built.  We’re really excited about its application and the potential it enables”.

About Snobal

Snobal is an award winning Melbourne based virtual reality (VR) company that creates VR Tools for business specifically the architecture, engineering and construction markets. Founded  in September 2014 by Murray James and Ann Nolan, the company is a prominent player on the Australian virtual reality startup landscape. In 2015 Snobal was awarded the 2015 iAward Victorian Merit Recipient. In 2017 the company joined the HTC Vive X Global Accelerator program, which supports VR companies that are building compelling frontier technologies that will help lay the foundation of the industry as a whole. Snobal is also an invited participant on the IBM Global Entrepreneurs Program.

Media inquiries

Ann Nolan – ann[at]

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