XR for Business

Alan Smithson from MetaVRse

Meet the leaders who are changing the face of virtual and augmented reality

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2020's been a hell of a year, huh? Not just in XR, but for everyone around the world. But the COVID-19 pandemic and the year's other trials have definitely left their mark on the Metaverse (and MetaVRse), for good and ill. Alan chats with Julie, and VP of Marketing Alex Colgan, about all the biggest changes the XR sector saw this year in our 150th broadcast. Alex: That's one way to start a podcast. Alan: Well, I figured since we're about to end 2020, and I also figure that since this is our 150th episode, I would crack a beer while we record this episode, because what a year we have had. It has been awesome and awful all at the same time. This year has seen the demise of many companies. It has seen the birth of new companies. It has seen explosive growth of others. And wow, what a year. All I can say is, yeah, cheers to everybody who made it through this year unscathed. Even if you happen to be caught in the crossfire, lose your job, whatever the circumstances, know that as a community, we will get through this. We're all in this together. And I want to just say to all of you, thank you for the effort and the work you've put into the XR industry. It is wonderful. And on behalf of everybody in this industry, we're here for you. We're here to help each and every one of us get through this together. So I want to just start with that. And moving on, I want to say that 2021 is looking pretty damn amazing to begin with for the XR world. We saw a world go into lockdown. We saw teachers try to teach online. We saw the entire economy move online instantly. And we're not going back to the old world, the way it was. So the virtual worlds that we know are now serving us in ways of gaming, which they always have. But now expanding that, that whole gaming idea and bringing it into retail. Balenciaga just did this amazing 3D retail experience. We're also bringing it into our concerts. We had massive concerts this year by Marshmallow and others, who attracted millions and millions of viewers. And not just viewers, but participants. And this is something that I think is really, really cool, because people were actively engaged. We saw Burning Man go online this year. And together as an XR community, there's no better time than right now to blow this up. Our VP of Marketing and Strategy, Alex Colgan, will turn the tables and interview me on what happened in 2020 and what we can expect from 2021. So, Alex, welcome to the show. Alex: Hey, thanks for having me on once again. It's yeah, it's been a hell of a year, definitely the sort of year that could drive one to drink. But I think we're all looking forward to 2021, and what it's going to mean for all of us. I wanted to take this opportunity to look back not just at the industry, but also at MetaVRse over the past year, it's been a bit of a rocky road, an exciting road. We've closed a number of different projects. We've made some really major advances on some of the core features. I was wondering if you could maybe talk a little bit about that before we start looking at the big stories of the year. Alan: Certainly. I think the biggest thing for us is that in June this year, we launched the MetaVRse engine and it was something that we were super proud of. But at the same time, when you look back, if you're not embarrassed by your first release of your product, you released too late. Well, I can say that in the last nine months we have come leaps and bounds. We have a full universal system now, that it works on every browser, every device, it works everywhere. And we pushed an update that allows you to do that, without having to code. Of course, we've always had the JavaScript editor on there and you can wrap code in five different languages into this. But the ability for non-programmers to participate in the 3D revolution, I think is the biggest accomplishment we

Dec 2020

45 min 46 sec

The world received a gift three years ago, in the form of AR technology from the likes of Google and Apple - ARKit and ARCore. But most businesses had no one on-staff at-hand to take advantage of this gift without some extensive upskilling to do. John Martin shares how BundlAR makes AR easy for everyone, and what is needed for wider adoption. Alan: Hey, everyone, I'm Alan Smithson, and today we're speaking with John Martin, the CEO and co-founder of BUNDLR, an augmented reality platform company empowering training, learning, and development innovators with on-demand and mobile immersive experiences. John and I met at the VR/AR Association Chicago meetup, and would become amazing friends as we built the future of communications together. In this interview, we will discuss one of the largest barriers to the widespread adoption of AR and what organizations need to do in order to deploy AR experiences instantly and on a global scale. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. John, it has been a pleasure to get to know you over these years, and I'm super excited to have you on the show. Welcome to the show. John: Thank you, Alan. And I'm looking forward to a great conversation with you, as always. Alan: It's been a couple of years since we got to know each other. I stayed at your house in Chicago. That was very lovely of you, I got to meet your family. And I've watched your platform go from kind of the infancy stages to being a global phenomenon, now. Let's-- I want you to have the stage to really tell people what BUNDLAR is all about and what you guys are doing. John: Well, BUNDLAR, we had a pretty clear mission about a year and a half ago. We were very fortunate to be working with some of the world's great innovators on what I'd call augmented reality projects. It could have been a prospective student tour at Arizona State University. Google gave a grant to the DuSable Museum in Chicago, so they wanted to reboot the Mayor Harold Washington exhibit. Proctor & Gamble had projects at upcoming conventions and shows. Remember when we used to have those? And from all of these engagements-- Alan: In real shows, like IRL, in real life? Like in--? John: Yeah, like in person, back in the good old days. Oh, do I miss that! But at any rate, what we realized was when Google and Apple gave this gift of AR to the world just three summers ago, saying they were all-in with AR, meaning that the hardware was going to work, it was like, wow. Most corporate IT or marketing teams really didn't have anybody on board their staffs that could take advantage of this amazing capability of the mobile device. So at any rate, for us, there's was like, well, what if we could take all of these engagements that we had created, and put them into a repeatable self-serve augmented reality content management system and platform? So it was a very big idea, but we thought one that was worth the journey. So we started to build out a team of 12 really focused AR professionals on the development side to build out this platform. Alan: Well, I know your CTO, Matt [Wren]. I mean, his whole experience in life was creating content management systems for massive corporations, so-- John: Exactly. So it started with Matt and Gareth [Davies], who's on the product side, but really knows AR. We were so blessed to find literally the man that wrote the book on Unity [chuckles] Joe Hocking, to join the team. And Lewis Gardner on our CMS. So we were very fortunate to have a great team come together. And we shared a vision, which is, let's build out an augmented reality platform that would make it super easy and affordable for businesses and organizations to weave in augmented reality c

Dec 2020

22 min 11 sec

Plumbing a problem for developers in Germany, where old pipe systems can make renovating any structure a challenge. Holo-Light’s Florian Haspinger wants to help with problems like this using XR technologies, to enable an XR economy. Alan: Good morning, everyone, it's Alan Smithson here, the host of the XR for Business podcast. And today we have a very special guest, Florian Haspinger, CEO and one of the founders of Holo-Light. And today we're going to be learning how Holo-Light is redefining engineering across automotive, manufacturing, chemical, and myriad other industries using XR technologies. So with that, thank you and welcome to the XR for Business podcast. Florian, how are you, my friend? Florian: Hi, Alan. Thanks, I'm fine. It's a pleasure to be here and thank you very much for having me. Alan: It's so great to have you on the show. And I'm really excited. But for people who don't know, why don't you just kind of tell us a little bit about what is Holo-Light and how did you get into it? Florian: Sure, of course. Let me take a bit of time and I will tell you how things started. We have a few stories back in the beginning of everything. This would explain a little bit better how the story would end up. So good stories should start with something like "Once upon a time, there was a big economy and The Problem," and so on. Or "It was a cold, dark winter night in the mountains back in 2015, snow was falling down and you saw the light of the lantern outside flickering inside an old house." But honestly, that's not how it started. Alan: [laughs] I was all-- you had me on the edge of my seat! "Once upon a time, it's snowing." I could picture it! Florian: [laughs] Alan: [laughs] Alright, so carry on. Florian: We were really frustrated students. We studied theoretical physics in Tyrol. And as a theoretical study -- especially on physics -- also, the study is extremely theoretical. And also the funder. And we sat together in my old child's room. So it was a 2015, around in the beginning. And we were overthinking our life decisions. And just to notice, we were just 24 years old and we thought about how we can invest our lifetime in something, something makes a difference in the world outside. There we thought about how can we make things easier or better in matters of industry and engineering, because also our background was a little bit in engineering. And later and after some silence and after a few questions, Alex [Werlberger] -- our CTO -- came up with the idea to think about augmented and virtual reality. And then we started to talk about how this kind of technology would be able to drive digitization, revolutionize industries, and change the way we consume content in the future. Alan: What was that, to put a timeframe on this? Florian: It was in January-February 2015. To be honest, it was really a little bit snowy out there. Alan: So here you are in the beautiful mountains of Tyrol, probably doing some skiing. Snow's glistening, your CTO says "Aha! I think it's going to be XR!" Then what? Florian: [chuckles] Exactly. And after this, this brilliant thought about AR and VR we just said, "Okay, yes, let's do it." And we founded a company in April 2015. And after founding the company we sat together and said, "Okay, now we have a company. But what about the business idea and the business model?" So first we had the idea to drive digitization with XR, then we founded the company, and then afterwards we had to build up the business model. So it was a little bit funny in the beginning. But in-- I remember it was later 2015 when we were able to get t

Nov 2020

30 min 11 sec

Last year, Deloitte’s technology allowed golf fans to browse three historic holes right in their homes with XR technology; this year, they recreated the entire 18 holes of the U.S. Open. Alan chats with Allan Cook & Kaitlyn Kuczer who drive home how immersive tech is the next technological leap forward. Alan: Welcome back to the XR for Business podcast, it's Alan Smithson, your host today. And today we have two very special guests: Kaitlyn Kuczer and Allan Cook from Deloitte's Digital Reality practice. They're working with clients to develop and implement their strategies, pilots, and technology solutions in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, 360, spatial, and immersive; all known as XR. We're going to dive into an incredible project, the US Golf Association using augmented reality to bring a live golf tournament to your living room in full 3D. In addition, we're going to be discussing the multimillion dollar XR practice at Deloitte and how they're serving the needs of customers around the world. All that and more coming up next, on the XR for Business podcast. Allan and Kaitlyn, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining us. Allan: Good morning. Alan: Good morning. Where are you guys calling in from now? Kaitlyn: We are coming in from Denver, Colorado. Alan: Amazing. And so let me ask you a quick question. How did you both get into XR, and what was the spark that you saw? And then we'll talk about the Deloitte practice and how that's evolved over the last little bit. And then I want to really dive into this amazing experience you guys made at the USGA. So perhaps, Kaitlyn and Allan, tell us how you kind of got into this, and what was the specific factor to get into XR within Deloitte? Allan: So I'll jump in here. Kaitlyn and I have been working in what we call digital reality -- it's all things: AR, VR, spatial, immersive, and nowadays 3D -- for about four years. Originally, Deloitte was looking at that next generation of exponential technologies, to look at where we think our next generation of consulting revenues, consulting technologies are going to be coming from. Within that, we'd started off a kind of a deep dive analysis of the marketplace and quickly realized that there was really a huge potential for not only ourselves, but for many technology firms, many consulting firms. Since then, we've grown to between 70 and 100 dedicated staff now within the US. We are working with a huge variety of clients. Our main focus tends to be in four broad areas. Firstly doing a lot of strategy work with clients, so helping them to figure out where to play, how to win, where they should be experimenting in this area, but also where they should be implementing projects and helping them to realize significant returns. We're doing a lot of work in immersive learning. I like to say, if it's too dangerous, too difficult, or too expensive to do the training in the real world, why wouldn't you do it in a virtual world? The next big area we're focusing on is really that frontline work, field service engineers, see-what-I-see, do-what-I-do, digital twins. And then finally what we call digital reality experiences. So this is a lot more consumer facing, whether that's retail type events or -- like you mentioned in the intro -- the work that we did with the US Golf Association on the US Open over the last few years. Alan: So there's a pretty wide swath or pretty wide spectrum here. You've got consumer facing application -- bringing the USGA into your living room -- but then you've also got companies that are manufacturing products that want to see maybe a digital twin of a factory, or even support systems where you can point your phone at a manufacturing machine and h

Nov 2020

42 min 46 sec

Talon Simulations was making great strides in the location-based entertainment industry, until COVID-19 hit. Now they’re pivoting the technology to suit more training-based use cases, and CEO Brandon Naids is on the show to explain how. Alan: Hey, everyone, welcome to the XR for Business podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today's guest is Brandon Naids. He's the CEO and co-founder of Talon Simulations. They are a provider of virtual reality experiences, but not just any virtual reality experiences. They have full motion simulators for entertainment and training. We're going to dig into how these amazing simulators can push forward the reality behind virtual reality. So, Brandon, welcome to the show and thanks for joining me. Brandon: Yeah, thanks a lot for having me, Alan. Definitely look forward to our discussion. Alan: I'm really excited. You get to play with probably the coolest toys in the VR space. You have motion simulators for racing games, and it's not all fun and games, but man, you must have a pretty cool office. Brandon: Yeah, we definitely have a lot of fun here, and we used to take the simulators home for weekend testing, but kind of got to the point where we play with it enough at the office. [chuckles] Alan: [chuckles] Do you have Thursday night is race night, and everybody shows up and they make bets on each other? Brandon: Yeah, usually Friday afternoons, it's a good time to decompress and have some competition. So it was a lot of fun. Alan: And you guys are right in the heart of simulation country in Orlando, right? Brandon: Yeah, we are. And that's definitely been one of the main factors that we attribute to the success we have, it's just being in the heart of the amusement industry, as well as simulation and training. It's a big hub. And gaming technologies, so couldn't have picked a better spot. Alan: It's true and I love the fact that you're kind of right in the middle of entertainment or training, so that your teams can enjoy the gaming aspect and the fun, but then also the serious aspect and really bring this technology to businesses in ways that can improve their training and improve their safety, as well. So with that, this is the XR for Business podcast. But I wanted you to just maybe introduce Talon Simulations and kind of give us the elevator pitch, if you would. Brandon: Yeah. So Talon Simulations specializes in dynamic and immersive experiences for entertainment centers and training institutes. We'll create cockpit based experiences that we're able to adapt for specific projects, or we'll develop our own specifically for the arcade industries. We've put together a comprehensive turnkey, fully automated virtual reality arcade cabinet that we put together all the hardware and the software. And now we launched last year. And you're able to just purchase it, plug it into the wall and run it, whether with a credit card or arcade card reader, or put in free play, whatever the business model is. And for our training products, they are a little bit more customized for each project. Or we sell just the simulators to different integrators, and they're able to take our SDK and create their own experiences within Unreal or Unity. Alan: Amazing. Brandon: And those are really the exciting ones, because we'll work with universities, or digital marketing companies, or military contractors, and all sorts of different scenarios have been developed with our motion simulators. So we've seen a wide spectrum of use cases. Alan: All right. So on that, I'm looking at your website now and there's people racing a

Oct 2020

25 min 18 sec

The ability to bring the sense of touch into the virtual is the final frontier of true immersion, and some of that technology already exists. Haptics, however, can be prohibitively expensive, even for some enterprise. Gijs den Butter visits the podcast to explain how SenseGlove can bring that power to business for a fraction of the cost. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today, we have a very special guest, Gijs Den Butter. He is the CEO of SenseGlove. Now, if you're not familiar with haptics, we're going to get right into this. It's going to be awesome. But before we get to that, I just want to say, Gijs, it's really a pleasure to have you on the show. Welcome to the show, my friend. Gijs: Thank you so much. Real pleasure to be here. Alan: It's really, really cool what you guys have built. A little while ago, I had the opportunity to try haptic gloves, and I put them on and I was able to reach out in virtual reality and grab an object and feel that object in my hand. And I can tell you, it was one of the most incredible ways to connect the physical world with the digital world. It was an amazing experience. And I'm really, really excited to have Gijs explain us and walk us through SenseGlove and what they're doing. Not only have you built haptic glove, but you've built a haptic glove that has force feedback. And so when you reach out and grab something, it stops in the shape of whatever you're reaching. Like, just explain how you got into the where you are right now. Where did this come from? Gijs: Yeah, I think this force feedback component is indeed the crucial part of feeling in VR, because you can have haptic feedback -- like vibro-motors and those kind of things -- but really the moment when you're grasping an object and you feel that there is something that isn't actually there, that is a key moment in what touch enables you in VR. And then you can really interact in VR, as you would do in a normal situation. So, yeah, with this belief, we started off in 2015 from a robotics group at the University of Delft -- Technical University of Delft -- here in the Netherlands. And we tried to get-- to make a wearable that is, well, doing exactly this -- so touch in VR -- but was also affordable for every professional use case. We started firstly with a use case of rehabilitation, but we then found that this rehabilitation-only use case was a too limited scenario. And that was mainly because we were on a larger business fair called the Hannover Messe. And one of our current clients, Volkswagen, came to us and said, "Well, this training of impaired people, could you also do that with healthy people, so that they also can experience feeling in VR?" And that was kind of the start. We pivoted from a research group that was searching for a quest where their technology could be used in VR, to a company called SenseGlove. And that's where we're today. So in 2018, we launched our first product. That is really a development kit where researchers or R&D organizations -- like within Volkswagen -- can test, "OK, what does this component of touch add to my virtual experiences?" Alan: How is Volkswagen using it? I mean, that's a really, really amazing company. Volkswagen Group owns pretty much everything: Porsche, Audi, and BMW, and so on. Gijs: As maybe the followers of this podcast know that Volkswagen is quite a progressive company if it goes down to VR. So what their two use cases that they're interested in, which one of them is the training of assembly personnel inside of your environment. You can imagine if you are about to become an assembly worker in Volkswagen, you need to assemble those cars. The first day on that line is a pretty challenging day. Alan:

Oct 2020

28 min 19 sec

If you sell a couch that comes in 1,000 different patters and colours, what’s cheaper: printing out a swatch for each variation, or creating a configurator that lets you do that digitally and photo-realistically? The obvious answer is the ethos behind ThreeKit’s product customization software, which CTO Ben Houston joins Alan to discuss. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today, we have a very special guest, Ben Houston. He's the founder and CTO of Threekit. Threekit's a platform used by some of the world's top brands like Crate & Barrel and Steelcase. And what they're able to do is create amazing visual customer experiences through virtual photography, augmented reality, 3D imagery, saving companies enormous amounts of time and money, having to get these photographs, set up studios. And at a time of COVID, we just can't do that anyway. So I'm really excited to invite Ben to the podcast today. Ben, thank you so much for joining us. Ben: Hey, thank you, Alan, for such a great intro. Alan: Oh, it's my pleasure, man. You guys have really been working hard in the space. You've been in the space since, what, 2005, I believe? Ben: In the 3D space for quite some time, but in doing 3D for e-commerce, we've been doing that since 2015. Alan: Wow. So five years of experience. Let's kind of go back to 2015. What did you start doing and what are you doing now? What are the services that Threekit offers, and how has that changed from 2015? Ben: When we first got into it, we were actually-- our background's Hollywood visual effects. We started making-- this company originally was creating software for Hollywood films, and we did that quite successfully on a lot of films. And then what we did is we started moving that 3D content creation to the web. Once we had done that, we did that around 2013. In 2015, people started using our 3D content creation for the web, for e-commerce applications. Specifically, they were doing it for configurable products. So interactive 3D product configurators. This is-- Steelcase is a good example of an early adopter of this technology. We started doing that, and that had a lot of success, especially for companies that have massive configuration problems, such as Steelcase's office furniture. As we evolved down that path, the next thing we started doing was virtual photography or also called synthetic photography. That's where you will create a number of renderings of products for companies. A good example of that is Crate & Barrel. We've created hundreds and hundreds of thousands of renders for them, of their furniture, and it all looks real. And so now they don't have to build every piece of furniture and every fabric and then take a picture of it. We can just render those off. Alan: Gotta be some massive cost savings. We'll get into the numbers later. But wow, that's like-- if you don't have to take photographs, I mean, I can only imagine a photo shoot's expensive to begin with. Ben: And every one of their sofas is a couple of thousand dollars. So it's just simply not possible. And then what we've done more recently is the rise of AR. That has really been embraced by furniture realtors specifically, and so that allows them to see the furniture, how it would fit in their room or office. And so those are the three main offerings that our platform has. To recap, you have configurators, so companies that have -- maybe it's a chair -- and it comes in 50 different colors, and five different lumbar supports, and people can configure their office furniture, or chair, or any product, really. The second is -- which is a term I've never heard -- synthetic photography, basically being able to cr

Oct 2020

34 min 49 sec

Avid listeners will have noticed a few weeks without a podcast - that’s because Alan’s been hard at work behind-the-scenes building capital for several MetaVRse projects, including the MetaVRse Engine. This gave Alan a chance to reflect on the investment landscape of 2020, and is joined by VP of Marketing Alex Colgan to discuss the new normal that COVID has ushered into the VC world. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today, we have a very special episode. We're going to be talking about the investment landscape of virtual and augmented reality as it pertains to investment in startups, companies going public. What is the investment landscape look like between now and the next few years? How are things going to be funded and what can we expect from the markets in terms of returns? And what can investors really count on to drive those returns as high as possible? Today, I'm joined by the MetaVRse VP of Marketing, our wonderful Alex Colgan. He's going to be joining me today and he's going to be interviewing *me* today. Alex: Hey. Alan: Hey, what's up, Alex? Fun fact about Alex: he also lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Or near Halifax. He's in the eastern part of Canada. So, Alex, thanks for joining me on the show today. Alex: Canadian born and bred. Glad to be taking over the reins today. Thanks for having me on. And, yeah, let's flip it around. Alan: It's really interesting, Alex, before we get started I have to really just punctuate a couple of things. Over the last few years, there has been an enormous amount of capital invested into virtual and augmented reality startups, in the hundreds of millions, billions of dollars. And it almost feels like we are going through this kind of winter, where investments have dried up in the area. So I'm really excited to talk about that, because I believe that as much as we're going into physical winter in Canada, I believe that we're going into a beautiful spring with regards to the investment landscape of this technology. So I'm really excited to dig into it today. Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Bad economies are often some of the best times to invest, and there are also some of the best times to build a startup. COVID has had everybody scrambling over the past six months, and trying to identify the best path forward for the future. As a result of that, we've seen a lot of different sectors have been getting shaken up as a result. What are some of the biggest disruptions that we've seen over the past six months in some of these areas? Alan: Well, I think the major one is that with regards to investment, everybody just closed their wallets. COVID came and people went, "OK, there's so much uncertainty, just stop everything." And so pretty much all investment across all sectors dried up in March, and basically hasn't really come back until you were starting to see funding rounds happen now in September. And I believe this will continue October-November. Now we find ourselves in a time where there's actually a lot of fresh capital sitting on the sidelines that needs to be deployed. And if it's not deployed, it's losing money. So you have a ton of new startups on the market as well. We have a platform called xrcollaboration.com, and there's been over 70 startups that have created XR collaboration tools that allow you to go in VR, go into AR glasses, and communicate with people around the world. And not only if you have the VR and AR glasses, but there's new opportunities around using 2D screens like computers to navigate these 3D worlds, almost like Second Life, but kind of Second Life 2.0, if you would. And this is giving a huge opportunity for investors. There's a company called VirBELA and they have done really well. Their ma

Sep 2020

29 min 50 sec

Alan recently discussed immersive learning with his partner in life and business, Julie Smithson, on her sister podcast, XR for Learning. We thought it was a good episode, so this week, we’re sharing it here for XR for Business listeners. Julie: Hi, my name is Julie Smithson. Alan: And I’m Alan Smithson. Julie: And this is the XR for Learning podcast. Alan: Well… which podcast are we on? Is it mine or yours? Julie: I think it’s mine. Alan: Yours, so the XR for Learning podcast. Julie: Yeah. Alan: I’m going to interview you. Julie: Yes. Alan: OK, cool. Julie: Hi, my name is Julie Smithson, and I am your XR for Learning podcast host. In all of my episodes, I talk about the way that we need to change the way that we learn and we teach, to adapt to the immersive technologies that are being implemented in enterprise and business today. So today, my guest — my special guest — is Alan Smithson. Alan: Hello. Julie: My partner and husband of almost 20 years. And we’re going to talk about education. So welcome. Thanks for being on *my* podcast. Alan: Thank you so much for having me. I’m a little nervous, I’m not going to lie. This is an interesting podcast dynamic. Julie: It really is. We’ve never done this before. Alan: No, we have not. So I want to ask you questions, because you are the guru in immersive learning systems. So we’ll hopefully kind of dig up where this lies, and what we have to do as a society to really push the needle forward. Julie: So what I like to do with all my podcasts is start with a baseline technology. Where are we today? Like, what’s going on today? Which is really good question, because it’s definitely different than it was six months ago. Alan: I would say, in the industry– I’m coming from the business side of things. What we’ve seen is there’s been a hyper-acceleration of digitization. So in retail and e-com, it has been decimated. People couldn’t go to a store physically, and so everything moved online. And in e-commerce, we’re seeing shopping trends that would have existed in 2030 happen today. This is trickling down to everything, not only retail, but then also meetings. Everybody’s meeting on Zoom these days. Everybody. There’s just– we’re moving to digital and we’re moving to these things much faster than we had ever, ever hoped to do. Plans of digital transformation that would have taken five years are now happening today. So it’s an interesting time to revisit and relook at what does education look like in an exponential world of digital transformation. Julie: And this is where the skillsets that are now needed — in enterprise, business, and organizations today to digitally transform — those skillsets are not being taught in the school system today. So COVID coming in and forcing people to virtually connect online, the education systems were forced to actually be online and rethink how they’re teaching things. But the unfortunate thing is, is that we didn’t get to the point of talking about what we were actually teaching. It was just more of a digital connection for the past six months. Alan: Well, I think since this thing has hit, it’s been really just how do we make the technology work in a seamless way that is comfortable for both the teachers and the students? And to be honest, we’re not quite there yet. My kids

Aug 2020

35 min 19 sec

Geenee is an AR content company granting the wishes of their clients by creating new ways to market to their audiences, from interactive book covers, to hosting live concerts digitally. Geenee’s Cory Grenier and Elena de Sosa explain how those who master this new communication format today will dominate the market tomorrow. Alan: Hey, everybody, Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Cory Grenier, the chief revenue officer, and Elena DeSosa, director of strategic partnerships at Geenee, a platform that delivers cost effective WebAR and scalable image recognition to the mobile web, powering XR experiences with no app required. We'll be talking about the power of the spatial web to connect us across time, geographies, and space to transform our workplaces and give us superpowers that drive commerce. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Without further ado, I'd like to introduce Cory and Elena to the show. Welcome. Cory: Hi. It's good to be here, Alan. Elena: Thank you for having us. Alan: Thank you so much for joining me, guys. Cory, we'll start with you. You're the chief revenue officer at Geenee. I met with one of your colleagues, Luke, a few years ago. We became friends. He showed me this Geenee platform. Maybe just give us the sales pitch on what is Geenee? Cory: Geenee is a new SAS WebAR platform, which is-- a scheme on your mind, it's like a Wix for WebAR. So before Wix or Squarespace, there were a lot of web developers, and it was really expensive to hire a developer to make a website. And then there was these companies that came along, decades after the initial Internet, and simplified that creation process through templates and intuitive interface. And that's what we've done with Geenee. And so we have years of proprietary image recognition technology and also tech IP and AR for Web browsers. And so we brought that together in a templatized form to allow anybody to create, publish, and share WebAR experiences directly to the web, without requiring an app. Alan: You've created these, I guess, SLAM algorithms and image recognition algorithms. One of the things that Luke showed me before was the ability to track moving objects or videos. That was pretty cool. Cory: Yeah. And so we've been leveraging that for a range of businesses across the entertainment, book publishing, and CPG brands, to promote soft drinks and so forth. And so it's really unconstrained what vertical you're in, how you can use the power of spatial computing to connect to your consumers and ultimately transact. Alan: So are there examples that we can put in the show notes, that link directly to a live example? Cory: Yeah, there's many that we can direct your audience to. Scholastic just released a new book in the series of The Hunger Games, and we brought the cover to life in an augmented reality experience on the Web. And at the end, you can buy the book across any channel. So we actually have all the purchase sites integrated for some of the movie releases recently. Even during the time of COVID, the studios are looking to connect with consumers in the home and you can experience the film in a 360 environment through AR and learn fan trivia, but also to make a purchase. Every time we believe that AR is a feature, it's not a product, and it's how you use that to connect directly to the business result that the client is looking for to get ROI in that ad spend. Alan: Interesting. It's great. I was just looking at it, and if you want to try, then go to geenee.me, and then you can just search down the case studies and The Hunger Games one is there. So that's pretty cool. How does it work whe

Aug 2020

19 min 59 sec

Developing a pilot or a proof of concept is among the first steps to introducing XR into your industry, but that’s only going to provide so much ROI unless you can fully implement that idea. Dave Beck from Foundry 45 discusses how to make that leap. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Dave Beck, founder and managing partner at Foundry 45, an immersive technology company that develops enterprise level virtual reality training experiences. They've created over 250 experiences for notable clients such as AT&T, Coca-Cola, Delta, and UPS. We're going to be discussing going from PoCs, pilots, and case studies to full scale deployments. All that and more, on the XR for Business podcast. Dave, welcome to the show. Dave: Hey, Alan, thanks so much for having me on here. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. I'm super excited. You guys have been doing so much work in the VR training space. First of all, let's just talk about, what is Foundry 45? How did you get into this? And we'll kick it off from there. Dave: I guess first off, it's nice to chat with you again. I went back and checked my email, and it looks like the first time you and I talked was way back in 2016. So a lot's happened in that time, hasn't it? So, OK, we put VR to work by creating virtual reality training experiences for enterprise partners. And we specialize in industrial-- think hard skills type training. I've actually been working in immersive technology for almost a decade now. Initially it was in augmented reality, which was something that we added on the side for a SAS product we built, that was actually our main business during that time. And we did a lot of stuff where you would hold up your phone or a piece of industrial equipment, and it would tell you where to wrench on it or how to change the filter, things like that. It was cool technology, but we pretty quickly realized that no one was going to hold a phone or an iPad over a piece of industrial equipment on an oil rig. They weren't going to set it down and start wrenching on something, and then pick it up with greasy hands. [chuckles] So what we wanted to do was hands-free AR, but the technology just wasn't there. We exited that company in 2014, and we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do when we grow up. Alan: You exited your company in 2014. Most people didn't even know what this technology was when you guys were exiting your first one and getting into the second. Think about that. Dave: Yeah. I mean, we were trying to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up. And one of my co-founders bought an early innovators edition of Samsung Gear VR. Do you remember that one? Alan: I have the one with a solid strap on top. Dave: Yeah. Did you strap the Android phone into the headset? Alan: Exactly. Dave: Yeah. And you could use that camera on the back of the phone as a pass-through. Alan: Yes. Well, not very well, but yes, you could. Dave: Well, yeah, it's funny. You know where this is going, right? Because we wanted to use it for hands-free AR, but it didn't work at all. Alan: Not without making people very sick. Dave: Yeah, the processor wasn't good enough. It was super laggy, which kind of made it nauseating. So that wasn't going to work. But wow, VR was awesome. That's when we made the decision to start down our current path. Alan: And that was before ARCore and ARKit. So planer tracking really wasn't a thing. Slim mapping, it was not that easy to do. Dave: Yeah. I mean, just

Aug 2020

21 min 59 sec

Of all the jobs that are difficult to train for, surgery is especially challenging, what with needing a body and all. But our guest Aravind Upadhyaya is working to make surgical training virtual, with the help of XR technologies. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson, host of the XR for Business podcast. Today, we're speaking with Aravind Upadhyaya, co-founder and CEO of 8chili, an Oakland, California based startup, bringing the dream of telesurgery to the real world. Today, we're going to talk about how virtual reality is improving the outlook for remote surgeries globally. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. I want to welcome Aravind, thank you so much for joining me on the call. Aravind: Thanks, Alan. It's a real pleasure to be on your podcast, and to get to know you, as well. Alan: It's such an honor. You guys are working on something that is a true game changer for surgeries and remote telemedicine. Maybe just tell us what you're doing and the problem you're solving. Aravind: Definitely. So, just to do a quick intro: I'm a technologist, so I'm an electronics engineer. I've spent the last two decades leading R&D projects in mixed reality, computer vision, Internet of Things, and robotics at one of the biggest, largest conglomerates, the Tata Group. And in 2016, I had my Tony Stark moment when I had the Hololens. It kind of felt like I could hold the power of x-rays in my eyes. And that's when the journey started for 8chili. So we've been working on this technology with surgeons for the last two years, kind of in stealth mode. And this year, GPM, we finally kicked it off. In a nutshell, we wanted to reimagine surgeries with mixed reality, by building a remote collaboration platform. I want to start with this: 60 percent of new residents universally are not confident to perform core procedures. And just about 3 percent of the surgeons globally have access to high quality continuous training. And why is that? And that's because we have a very legacy training system. So, there's a great adage that goes like, "I hear and I forget. I see. And I remember. I do and I understand." And that's why we are building NAVIX AIR, because experience cannot be explained. So you have to experience to really get to be an expert. And NAVIX AIR allows residents to experience what a surgeon does in a surgery. So this, what we want to do, is take the platform to a very immersive collaborative experience. Now, NAVIX AIR is a platform that allows residents to transform into the surgeons eyes and follow their steps simultaneously in the virtual world, without disturbing the surgeon. So let's say you can fail and repeat as many times as you want, even post the live surgery. And the big difference is being able to see what the surgeon sees brings this feel of reality into the residence. And that's what is missing in the cadavers or the existing VR simulators. Because what happens is no surgery goes smoothly or perfectly. There are complications, there are surprises that happen, like another surgeons encounter. And these cannot be captured. So it's the surgeons experience that come into play when something is not going as they expect it to go. And this feel of how to react in such a situation-- let's say, what does a surgeon do? What is the communication that they used to talk to the nurse, the anesthesiologist, or the other juniors who are helping the surgeon? Or what kind of technique? Like, if there is a bleed which was unexpected, how do they go about tackling that? So all these things are scenarios that will be happening in the real world. So there's no substitute for it. Alan: That makes a lot of sense. So when a surgeon is operating, when these things pop up, it's almost impossible to train for every scenario, but you can record it. Aravi

Aug 2020

21 min 8 sec

Happy Finish’s CEO Daniel Cheetham’s XR bread and butter was virtual experiences and LBEs, until the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to stay indoors. Now, he explains, he’s exploring the power VR has to help enterprise and the environment. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Daniel Cheetham, CEO of Happy Finish, a creative technology and content firm based in London, UK. They've done XR experiences for Ford, Exxon Mobil, and many more. We will learn today how they're using digital twins to add real business value. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Daniel, welcome to the show, my friend. Daniel: Thanks for having me. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. I've been looking forward to having you on the show for so long. It's really exciting, the stuff you guys have done. You've done everything from putting people from the real world into VR on a bicycle, to help give them a sense of what it's like to be on the other side of a driving scenario. You've done all sorts of things. Tell us, what is Happy Finish? Daniel: So, Happy Finish -- or HF, as we're now more commonly referring to ourselves -- we're really in the space of creating content and experiences for grand clients, right from the very beginning. And this is second hand information; I joined Happy Finish about six, six and a half years ago. Now the business is fifteen years old. We have been employing post-production and CGI techniques to create versions of the real world -- or different flavors of the real world -- over the last six to seven years. I think we built a reputation in the immersive technology space. We started working really early on with the DK-1 from Kickstarter, testing, playing around with Unity, seeing what we could do, up to now where we're easily 200+ commercially funded, brand funded XR experiences. And we work across the whole gamut of immersive tech, from 360 video -- which is less the flavor of the month now -- through to real time based experiences across Microsoft Hololens 2, and in AR. Alan: I've got a call one thing, that I saw here on your site, and I just got to ask: VR bungee jumping? Daniel: [laughs] One of my crazy ideas. It was in the context, we were chatting -- watercooler moment -- chatting about how we could make some noise about untethered VR, particularly around the Oculus Quest. And it just dawned on me as well, what better way to really test what can be done in untethered VR, than tether it to a bungee rope and have somebody jump off a bungee platform? Alan: So were you the first one to try this? Daniel: I wasn't, actually. We a couple of guinea pigs who put their hand up first, but I did try it in the end. It was not without its challenges. We were really putting the tracking system on the Quest to its absolute limits. And so on a few occasions, it was bungee jumping with a blindfold, rather than in VR. Alan: [laughs] Still pretty amazing that you even bit that off. So was it a brand activation, or was this just an internal--? Daniel: This is an in-house piece for us. And back until very recently, an area of focus for us was LB. So we've created a number of -- I think -- pretty recognizable motion platform based VR experiences. One that I know got a lot of sharing couple of years ago, that lives at the top of The Shard -- the tallest building here in London -- where the user will fly virtually -- or slide virtually -- around the top of The Shard. We got a lot of screamers and yeah, we had a real focus on building out that as a product. We have four or five of these VR slides around the world now. However, LB has taken somewhat of a hit --

Jul 2020

24 min 14 sec

With the recent launch of the MetaVRse 3D content creation engine, Alan chats with Sikaar Keita from Oracle’s XR LAB about what he's building and why he thinks it’s a game-changer. Alan: Hey, everybody. My name's Alan Smithson, the host of the XR for Business Podcast, and today we have a very special guest, Sikaar Keita from Oracle. Sikaar is the customer experience specialist and XR lab leader, based in France. And today, we're going to discuss how Sikaar is using the new MetaVRse web-based 3D creation platform to invent the future of customer experiences. All that more coming up next, on the XR for Business Podcast. Sikaar, it's such a pleasure to have you. Sikaar: Thank you very much. Alan: Today is a very special day for me personally, because we're going to talk about something near and dear to my heart, the MetaVRse platform. We've been working on this for four years, and we finally came out of beta, and we released it to the world June 1st at AWE this year. But while it was in beta, you got in there and you started creating some crazy things. And I really want to dive in there. But let's maybe just have in your own words, what is the MetaVRse platform and why did you choose to start working on it? Sikaar: So basically, it comes with two main things that were really key to us. The first one is that it's a WebXR tool. And we really believe that leveraging the web to deploy XR experiences is really what will drive adoption. Also, it was super easy to use, and the way we were prototyping really changed leveraging this platform, compared to what we usually do with other platforms. Alan: So what is the normal path to prototyping, compared to this workflow? Sikaar: Normally what we would do is that we would do sketches like most design agencies would do. And we sometimes leverage 360 degree virtual tours, because it's super easy to showcase something very quickly to stakeholders, which has a sufficient quality to make them understand what the project is about. And what we figured out is just that leveraging MetaVRse, it was extremely fast to build things that looks good. So we are usually buying our models, we don't model everything ourselves. But it was super easy to come up with something that was good enough to be seen, and to help us get budget, or get the stakeholders' approval to move forward. And that was really a game changer for us. Alan: The amazing thing that we noticed is that you hadn't been on the platform more than a few days and you started doing things that we had never contemplated ever being done. And one of them blew our minds: you connected an IoT sensor to our web-based 3D platform. Can you tell us, what was the thought process behind that? How did you come up with that? Sikaar: So basically what we do in the Oracle XR lab is testing, prototyping, and training every possible integration of XR technology with Oracle technologies. And so in this endeavour, we emphasize what comes with feeding XR experiences with data, but also getting data out of XR experiences into record systems. So it just felt normal to get this IoT device connected with an XR experience, so we can drive the experience from out of it, and also get the data back. So basically the idea behind it is very known in the engineering industry and it's all about digital twins. But we have our own platform for that at Oracle. And the idea was can I connect it with MetaVRse, and especially how long would it-- actually, it was done in a flash. Alan: What made it so quick, though? One of the things that I didn't understand is how did you connect it? Is it because of the ability to code in i

Jul 2020

15 min 51 sec

In countries like China, the camera on a smartphone isn't just for fun selfies -- it's an everyday practical device, for everything from banking to shopping. Michael Agustin wants to fast track this sort of adoption in the west by giving retailers AR IoT technology with Curie. Alan: Hey there, it's Alan Smithson with the XR for Business Podcast. And today we're speaking with Michael Agustin, co-founder and CEO of Curie. They're an augmented reality shopping platform that enables consumers to make better purchasing decisions quickly and visually. All that coming up on the XR for Business Podcast. Michael, welcome to the show, my friend. Michael: Thanks for having me on. Alan: I'm so excited. We had the opportunity to meet recently at., well, these two things, really. It was the VRARA gathering in San Francisco, and then we went from there to Verizon's head office and we went for a meetup where we learned from Apple and a bunch of other people about what's coming up in virtual reality. So it was really great to meet you in person. I want to unpack what you've been doing, but let's talk about what is Curie? We're Curie-ous. Michael: Yeah. So I see that you're AI-curious. So Curie is an AR shopping assistant that allows people to make decisions very quickly. This sort of ties in to the journey of any customer that is looking to make a purchase about any type of thing. So we're kind of giving people this on-screen HUD, to be able to make decisions on the fly about any different type of product, especially the ones that they would want to save money on. And it also enables retailers to sort of keep other apps from participating in show-rooming in their stores. So we're looking at big box stores by giving them the powers of augmented reality and enabling all of the same tools that shoppers would typically have online, offline. So things like online reviews and movies and people who bought this also buy these things. Alan: That's really interesting. I think it's it's something that's coming really quickly. And, you know, you guys have listed on your website that you're computer vision company. Walk me through the consumer experience of this. So I have my phone. I'm in a store. I point my phone at a pair of shoes. It recognizes the shoes and says, here's some Amazon reviews on it -- or some reviews from that store, I guess -- and then here's some other things that you might like that aren't necessarily in the physical store, correct? Michael: Yeah. So typically, you don't have these tools available to you offline. The reason why we say we're a computer vision company is that computer vision is like G.P.S. for your camera. So think about all the times you use G.P.S. and Waze and Yelp and Google Maps. We're doing that from a first-person perspective and providing the ability to sort of connect to things that are in front of you, via services and information. The reason why you would want to do this is that information is typically still not in front of you when you need it, but it's available online. So we were named after Marie Curie, who sort of dedicated her life to seeing what was invisible. And we would argue that right, now information is invisible, and you can't really see it when you need it on top of things. Alan: Amazing. So are there any companies actively deploying this now, or is this still in early phases, or where were you in the food chain of startups? Michael: So our lead investor is 500 Startups, and we are gaining customers through a program that's backed by Wal-Mart and Sam's Club and Tyson. We're talking to several OEMs and other types of retailers about incorporating our technology into their shopping apps. Alan: Inter

Jul 2020

15 min 35 sec

With the next generation of Playstation set to hit shelves this holiday season, the big news in the gaming circuit is the revelation of Unreal Engine 5. But this game engine is good for more than just the next top video game experience. Unreal Engine manager Marc Petit explains the many other use cases this technology promises. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Marc Petit, general manager of Unreal Engine at Epic Games. If you're not familiar with Epic Games, ask your kids. They're probably playing a video game built on their development engine. For example, Fortnite is built by them. We'll be discussing the myriad ways 3D and XR can be used for organizations. And of course, what's coming up with Unreal Engine 5? All that more on the XR for Business podcast. I am super excited and thrilled to invite Marc Petit on the show. Marc, welcome to the show. Marc: Well, thanks for having me, Alan, and thanks for the introduction. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. This has been one of those episodes that I've been really excited. And I don't want to hear myself talk anymore, so please tell us, what is Unreal Engine, and how is it being is now OK? Marc: Well, that's a pretty broad topic. So first of all, maybe we'll go back to the basics. What is a game engine? A game engine is a piece of software, it does a lot of things in real time. What is a game? I mean, a game is everything about a simulated world and a story mixed together. So what a game engine do, they can provide you with real time simulated worlds and/or stories. It's based on complex technology, like real time rendering and rules and physics. But at the end of the day, you can be and interact with the virtual world. And I think that's all XR is about, is empowering and connecting the virtual and the real. So game engine, we're kind of the-- think of it as an operating system for visual development. That's the software on which you can build a game like Fortnite, or you can build a car configurator. So where this lower layer of software comes as a bunch of tools. Alan: One of the basic things that people misunderstand is that 3D is a little bit different than creating a PowerPoint deck. There's a lot more to it involved, you're rendering many more things all at once. Marc: Yeah, no, absolutely. Again, think of it of a simulated world. I mean, good 3D, things react when you interact with them. And so you have-- somebody has to go and program those multiple layers of artificial intelligence to bring the right look and also the right behavior of things in the virtual world. So what the game engine does it makes this process very easy, makes it a cross-platform. It's a very, very involved and complex piece of technology. But for users, it's pretty simple to use and that's all we are about: making that process much, much simpler for everybody. Alan: So one of the things that you guys just released is a video showing the new PlayStation 5 running the Unreal Engine, and the demo was -- and I'll quote -- there's billions of polygons running. I think we start with, what's a "polygon" and why is that important to be able to push so much data? And how does that pertain to a business? How would a business use that then? Marc: Polygons and triangles, this is how we present 3D geometry in the virtual space. It's basically a way to represent the v

Jul 2020

32 min 2 sec

Why trek up to the Arctic circle to capture 360 footage of the aurora borealis yourself, when you can license stunning footage someone else already shot? That was Alan’s thinking when he availed Blend Media of their services, whose founder — Damian Collier — is our guest. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Damian Collier, co-founder and CEO of Blend Media, a centralized hub for all things VR and AR content. From stock 360 images and videos, right up to fully customized interactive experiences. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Damian, welcome to the show. Damian: Hey, Alan. How are you? Alan: I'm so amazing. It's been a long time since we spoke. I think the first time we met was probably four or five years ago, when you started this wonderful journey. How did you get here? Damian: Yeah. Well, I'm just thinking back to a panel that we did at VR LA, which must be at least three, if not four years ago. It must be about that time. Alan: Got to be four years ago, yeah. Damian: It's crazy how time flies. And obviously, having been in VR and AR, we've seen peaks and troughs, and ups and downs, and all in between. Alan: That panel, because it was with-- the one with Saul Rodgers, right? Damian: That's right. Alan: I haven't had Saul on the show, I haven't reached out him. That panel at VR LA, to me, was like the pinnacle of the VR hype. That event was so amazing. And it seems like we kind of took a step back a bit in subsequent years, and now it's starting to pick up again. Damian: Yeah, it was great. It was a big event. But you know what? This week I attended Laval virtually. And I think they had something like ten thousand attendees and dozens, if not up into hundreds of speakers. And I have to say, for me, it really felt engaging. I didn't attend in the headset. I attended it on the web app that they built. But it felt buzzing. It felt-- there were some great presentations and keynotes. Alan: I have to say yes, where was: my wife, Julie Smithson, was one of them. [laughs] Damian: Oh, great. I'm sorry to say I missed Julie's lecture, but I saw some great keynotes. Alan: What was the highlight of Laval Virtual for you? Damian: Well, I think it was reconnecting with people virtually. There were people there that I -- like you -- I haven't seen physically for some time. And seeing their avatars and waving at them across the room, and then kind of setting up separate meetings together, it was really well done. Alan: Amazing. The last time I was on your site, there was Blend Media, and then it ended up being Blend Market, Blend Stock, Blend Studio. Walk us through kind of the progression of where you were when we met, and where you are now and what's what's changed. Damian: Yeah, we started off as just a new footage business, because I am a serial entrepreneur, they say. I have businesses all in the content space. So that is my background, kind of rights management, IP. My last business was a viral video business that I sold in 2014. And I just had this idea when Mark Zuckerberg posted the first 360 video around about November 2015, I just had this idea for creating what I guess would be described as the Getty Images for 360 video. And that was the original idea. And I raised a bit of seed money, built the first platform in the first part of 2016 as a 360 video stock footage site, helping creators monetize their 360 video content through a platform. Alan: I have to interj

Jun 2020

21 min 3 sec

IKEA might be best known for its affordable furniture, cartoon building instructions, and hard-to-pronounce product names, but that’s not all its about. They’re also exploring how they can improve lives with XR technology, as Martin Enthed explains.  Alan: Hey everyone, I'm Alan Smithson. Today we're speaking with Martin Enthed, digital manager at IKEA Communications, who's also part of the IKEA Digital Lab, looking five to seven years out into the future of how we bring retail to the masses. Martin is also part of the Khronos Group, an organization working on the open standards for spatial web and 3D world. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Martin, welcome to the show. Martin: Thank you, Alan. And thank you for having me here. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. This interview has been long overdue. You've had to get a ton of approvals and everything. So we're very, very lucky and honored to have you on the show. And thank you so much for joining us. Let's get into it. Maybe you can describe how you got to where you are, and the role that you're at with IKEA. Martin: I started 13 years ago now in 2007, and I was hired to try to make use of computer graphics into a volume production, instead of just doing a few models or images a year or two, large volumes. And building those back-end tools, coding, setting up standards and everything, up to 2011. And then they hired me to do all development for that company, IKEA Communications. And I've been the IT manager and development manager for that all the way up to now, two years ago, when I became digital manager there. Then I headed up what's called IKEA Digital Lab, that you mentioned. Now I'm working mainly with that, looking into the spatially aware 3D future. Alan: So how is IKEA using these tools now? Because I think it's a big shock, when you explained to me how the magazine that we get, some of the photos in there aren't real photographs, they're renders. Martin: That story has been told a few times. But if I take it very short, it started really in volume 2012-ish. So it took like from 2007 to 2012. And in 2011-2012 we did about 10 to 12,000 high-res images a year, and I would say maybe 1,500 of them were 3D. In the last five, six years we have been doing about 50,000 high risk images a year. And about 35,000 of them is 3D, mainly the product images and those things you find there. And then, of course, a lot of kitchen brochures and such are 3D. You take a kitchen brochure from our stores and look at through that one, you will see a lot of 3D. If you take the IKEA catalog, then it's much, much, much less, because most of the time we also do video sessions in those. And that's so much easier to do in a real set. But it's a lot of 3D. But that's the offline rendering stuff, that's in huge production right now. Alan: So that's kind of pervasive now. So when you're looking at the kitchen catalogue, most of those renters are all in 3D. It's funny, because Helen Papagiannis -- author of Augmented Human -- she's got this game, "Augmented Reality Or Real?" And I've gone through the magazine, I can't tell. I really can't tell what's real and what's 3D. So kudos to you guys for making it realistic. So we render something and we have the best quality of everything. What about real time rendering? I know a couple of years ago you guys experimented with VR and also the IKEA Place app, and real time rendering of spatial objects. What's kind of on the roadmap there? Martin: The exploration stuff internally started already in 2010, when we made some things that was running in a browser, and then we sent off a small little file that's told how that sce

Jun 2020

32 min 42 sec

Labster CEO Michael Jensen was on XR for Learning not-too-long ago, talking about how XR can teach kids science in the classroom. Now he explains to Alan how that same technology is making professional training safer and more cost-effective. Alan: Hey, everyone. Alan Smithson here. Today we're speaking with Michael Jensen, CEO of Labster, a venture backed, award winning company that focuses on revolutionizing the way science and safety is taught at companies, universities, colleges, and high schools all over the world. They started with creating multimillion dollar science labs in a VR headset. And now they're ready to take on the enterprise training world. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Michael, welcome to the show. Michael: Hey, Alan, thanks so much, honored to be here. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure to have you. I know you were on my partner and wife Julie's podcast, XR for Learning. And I learned all about how Labster is revolutionizing how we teach science, and making it more exciting, gamified, but also bringing the opportunity to create multi-million dollar science labs for the cost of a cup of coffee. So let's unpack that. Michael, how did you get into this? Michael: Yeah, so that actually started about nine years ago, when my co-founder and I saw an opportunity to create much more engaging online learning content for students and learners around the world. Basically, most people were learning in very boring, non-engaging formats as we saw it. And at the same time, we saw these billions of dollars being invested into the gaming industry to create really engaging games. And we thought, why not find a way to combine and merge the learning world and the gaming world in a more engaging way, so that we can engage learners in the content, make them more excited about the topics, but also use these mechanisms to help them understand some of these more complex concepts in a much better way. Alan: Walk people through what a typical Labster lab looks like, and why this is exciting. Michael: There's two main components that we really looked at. One is engagement -- as I just talked about -- and the other one is timesaving, cost savings. And so what we looked at was, how can we best address some of the biggest challenges in the industry by presently creating virtual training -- similar to a flight simulator that was revolutionizing pilot training -- and then create, for instance, virtual laboratories to simulate dangerous experiments or dangerous scenarios -- like safety training -- and then that way help the universities, in our case as well as high schools -- but now also corporates -- dramatically reduce their cost and saving, as well as the time spent on this training. And we did a huge research project now -- about two years ago -- a $6-million research project involving hundreds and hundreds of employees around the world in large pharma companies, to really analyze and understand, does this really help? Is there a way for us to create better, more engaging content? And if so, does that really help students or learners understand it better? And does it also help save costs? And the results were quite overwhelmingly positive, was published and peer reviewed -- among others -- in Nature magazine, where we saw more than a doubling of the learning outcomes, as well as engagement for learners, compared to -- for instance -- standard online e-learning training, or even personal one-on-one training. So even compared to a personal one-on-one trainer, we found that this virtual immersive training format can be far superior, both in costs, as

Jun 2020

24 min 57 sec

Even in a virtual world, you still sweat. That’s why it’s important to keep your HMDs clean, especially if there’s multiple users. Cleanbox devised UV light technology for just such a purpose, then found a higher calling during the Coronavirus. Alan: Hey, everyone. Alan Smithson here, with the XR for Business podcast. Today, we're speaking with Amy Hedrick, co-founder and CEO of Cleanbox, a smart technology hygiene company that's providing hospital grade decontamination of shared hardware, which I guess we can all agree right now, is very necessary in the current situation. In this podcast, we'll also learn how the team at Cleanbox is helping hospitals maintain mask hygiene. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Amy, welcome. Amy: Thank you, Alan. It's great to be here. Thank you so much for taking time. I know you are crazy busy, working probably 20 hour days right now. You are on the front lines, bringing hygiene in a time where it could not be more important. So thank you for joining us and taking the time. Amy: It's my pleasure. I'm happy to do it. And you're right. It is very timely. Everybody's focus right now -- globally -- is on hygiene and public safety and public responsibility, and how we can better stay safe when we're able to go back out in the world. Alan: Absolutely. So I'm going to get right into it. I know you were working with the VR community very heavily, but I think right now this is just kind of top of mind with everybody. So maybe in your own words, you can explain what Cleanbox Technologies does. Amy: Sure. Well, OK, so Cleanbox technology provides hospital grade decontamination of shared hardware. We designed our core technology with-- actually with XR in mind, with the idea and the belief that virtual and augmented reality had great potential in terms of business and enterprise purposes, as well as in healthcare, and of course, entertainment. Seeing the value there and thinking ahead of what would be the pain points that would prevent a successful global deployment, or a successful corporate deployment, and adequate actual consumer adoption. Few years ago, thinking back on how we would be able to meet some of those pain points and eliminate them and lower the barrier of entry, hygiene seemed to be one of those things that was easy to forget. So with XR technology, it's so sexy and there's a lot of very interesting and cool and unique things you can do with it. So the logistics sometimes gets gets a little bit lost. We came at the XR community from the point of risk mitigation. How could we reduce the risk of contagion transfer and thus some detrimental event happening within the industry? And we've grown since then. Alan: So right now it's an interesting time, because we're all stuck at home. So things like location based entertainment facilities are empty. Where is your business coming from now? I know you-- from speaking with one of your advisors, Terry Schussler, that you're booming right now. You can't fulfill the orders fast enough. Where's this business coming from, if it's not coming from location based entertainment? Amy: Well, we've always been addressing multiple markets at once. Location based entertainment is, of course, first and foremost in people's minds because that's -- I guess -- the best education for the average consumer into what immersive technology can do. So it's-- and it's very dear to my origins and we definitely take care of the LB community. On that note, I would say that there are plenty of organizations looking forward to the day that they can reopen, and realizing that not only just the idea of hygiene, but actual hygiene is really critically important to reopening those busine

Jun 2020

17 min 14 sec

For most of the world, a cross-country, gapless 5G network is still the realm of futurists. One exception is South Korea, where a 5G network is quickly proliferating. Korea Telecom’s Joonmo Park discusses how his company is using the network to evangelize VR. Alan: Hey, everyone. Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Joonmo Park, new media business development manager at Korea Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in South Korea. We're going to be talking about 5G, virtual reality and transportation. All that coming up next, on the XR for Business podcast. Joonmo, welcome to the show, my friend. Joonmo: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Alan. And I'm really happy to be here. Alan: It's an absolute honor to have you on the show. I was really impressed with some of the work that I've been seeing come out of Korea. And I was very impressed to find out that it was the work of you and your team, that have put these things together. So maybe just talk about the projects that you've been working on at KT Tel. Joonmo: Okay. Our company -- KT -- is the largest telecommunications company in South Korea, with more than 30 years of experience in mobile telephone service, and broadcasting, and Internet. And I've been with the company for over three years across a variety of different functions, including business strategy, B2C business, and B2B business. But about one and half years ago, as a company, we decided to establish a dedicated team that's purely focused on what's new and what's next. So we focused on the emerging consumer landscape and the emerging technology landscape, and make sure that the KT brand continues to be relevant not only today, but five or ten years from now. So we are focusing on looking at new business models and emerging technologies, then tying those to our strategy businesses. So we wanted to make sure that any new innovation that we bring into the society has a lasting impact. But more importantly, a monetary impact that is actually moving the needle. So to introduce a little bit about South Korean XR market, South Korea's telecom operators are really striving to create the right range of immersive mixed reality content to leverage their 5G network and attract more customers. And there are three local carriers, including SK Telecom, and Korea Telecom, and LG Uplus. And they rolled out their 5G network in the nation in April 2019, and together are drawing more than three million subscribers in the first seven months of the launch. Alan: Sorry, three million subscribers to the new 5G network? Joonmo: Yes, right. Alan: So do these people have 5G devices? Is there a lot of 5G devices available? Joonmo: Yes, right. Because as the launch of Galaxy S10 with 5G, and that many people bought that device and using 5G network right now. Alan: That's incredible. So how many would you estimate are using the 5G network with 5G devices? Joonmo: I think until the end of the 2020, more than the five million people will use it. Alan: Wow, that's way far ahead of North America. In Canada, we have zero 5G deployment. We only have it in research parks and research areas. Joonmo: Well, you need to think about that. South Korea is a very small country with very many numbers of populations. So it is really easy for companies to make the decision to build new 5G infrastructures, because even though they build small 5G networks, many people would use that. So many tech companies feel that building a 5G networks is attracting more money than just using 4G network. Alan: So how is 5G -- or just the ability to h

May 2020

30 min 31 sec

Seeing is believing, but in the age of 3D product views through AR technology, seeing is also conceptualizing. Simply Augmented CEO Boaz Ashkenazy comes on the show to explain how AR-enabled 3D viewing will revolutionize everything from how we shop, to how we work. Alan: Hey everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today we're speaking with Boaz Ashkenazy from SimplyAugmented. We're going to be talking about how 3D is revolutionizing furniture views and products on the web. All that coming up on the XR for Business podcast. Boaz, welcome to the show, my friend. Boaz: Hey, thank you very much. It's good to be here. Alan: Oh, it's my absolute pleasure. I love the work you guys are doing. Let's get right into it. What is it that SimplyAugmented does, and how is it benefiting your customers now? Boaz: Well, we have a 3D platform that benefits customers both in the sales and marketing teams, and one of our products is called Simply3D. It allows for sales and marketing teams to easily share augmented reality. We found a lot of challenges around sharing augmented reality online and Simply3D.io is a vehicle for helping folks share. And we also create product and room configurators that exist online that allow people to experience environments and products really easily with augmented reality integration. Alan: So I got a chance to try one of the samples. I got to configure a-- it was like a quiet room or almost like a study room for open office furniture. So you go in, you close the door, and make yourself a phone call or whatever, but I got to configure it on the web. I hit a button, and it was in my living room here, this giant pod. And I was like, "Oh wow. This pod is huge in real life." So it was a great understanding of how big these things are, and I think that's truly the power of this technology. Maybe you can speak to some of the specific clients that you've worked with. What are they seeing, results wise? Boaz: You know what's interesting about what you said is a lot of folks have trouble visualizing products at scale, especially with the bigger the product, the harder it is to visualize. I am an architect by training. And I spent years designing spaces, and a lot of times people are surprised about what those designs end up looking like, because it's hard to understand objects at scale. And the pods that you mentioned, they're called Nook pods. And they're large rooms within a room, basically. You can have a quiet room inside an open office, which is pretty typical these days. For two people for four people, for one person. And to see it online and configure it is one thing, but to see it in the environment and walk into is another. One of the things that we recognized was there was two things that people really wanted to do. They wanted to quickly customize any of their products -- We're used to doing it with cars and vehicles, customize your products with colors, with options -- but then immediately be able to drop that in your environment and walk around it, look underneath it, walk inside it. And that's really what our configurator does. One of the challenges that a lot of folks face in the XR space is how do you spin up augmented reality with so many possible variations? That's the hard part about building these configurators. There's so many options, that you would never be able to create the augmented reality content beforehand. You wouldn't be able to predict it. And so what we've done is we've allowed for on-demand, real time augmented reality, depending on the choices that you make. Alan: So once I've configured it -- and I don't know, I didn't actually think about this until now -- but once I've configured -- let's say -- the Nook and I drop it

May 2020

23 min 53 sec

Surface miners, like the ones safety instructor Nick Ullrich teaches, get to play with some pretty big toys, like loading trucks with tires three times taller than the average person. But tires that big come with some pretty big blind spots, and Nick is using VR to get them used to those blind spots before putting them behind those gigantic wheels. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast, with your host, Alan Smithson. We all know safety comes first, and today, we're speaking with Nick Ullrich, a safety instructor from Gillette College, who's focused on using VR to train mining employees to become safer and better operators. Coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Nick, welcome to the show. Nick: Yes, Alan, thank you very much for having me. I appreciate it. Alan: Oh, it's my absolute pleasure. I read an article about how you're using VR to train mining employees. How did you get into this? Tell us a little bit about your background. Nick: Ok. Yeah, so the first project that we've done is a blind spot recognition, using virtual reality 360 photography as well. And it's to help miners -- when they're on the mine side -- understand the blind spots of heavy equipment. So we started with that because MSHA -- the Mine Safety and Health Administration -- has an initiative out there about powered haulage. And that's kind of where the idea came from. We see fatalities every year in the mining world. So I wanted to give everybody an understanding of what the blind spots for the heavy equipment that they're working around are on, and give them an idea of that. And virtual reality gave us an opportunity to do that without actually having to have all the equipment here at the college. So it works out great to give them a vision of what they would see if they were in that equipment. Alan: That's pretty cool. So you're talking about those big, huge dump trucks with the giant wheels and loaders and all these type of things? Nick: Yeah, absolutely. We have-- in the program that we have now, we have 10 pieces of equipment, it includes the 400 ton haul trucks, which is the largest haul trucks in the world. Those tires are approximately 15 feet high. Alan: Whoa. Nick: Yeah, next to them, you will go about to the middle of the tire. Alan: That's incredible. So you've got these trucks. Now, did you create them as 3D models and then climb inside of it? Or is this taken from like a 360 video type of thing? Nick: So we do a couple different things with it. We do have 3D models of all the pieces of equipment. So like I said, we have about ten pieces of equipment right now, and we just have 3D models of those, where people can walk around them virtually and see how big they are, put them to actual size or as close as I could get to actual size, by my recollection of them. They can get into them -- for the most part -- and just kind of see it in a virtual spot. And then we did go out to all the different mine sites and take 360 photography of each of those pieces of equipment. And we did it a really cool way. We set up a scene, so we had a whole lot of different things around the piece of equipment. So let's just say a haul trip, we have several different people and smaller vehicles, like light duty vehicles, such as just your normal pickup or van. We had those all set up in a special way, where you couldn't see them from the cab, so they were *in* the blind spots of that equipment. We took that 360 photo from the cab of that piece of equipment, so we can show everybody what the cab looks like and what they could see outside of it, knowing that they couldn't see any of the things in the blind s

May 2020

18 min 45 sec

Aggreko’s in the business of temporary power - you need an outdoor installation set up for electricity? They’re who to call. But that means that the less time to train, the better. Walter Davis explains how AR is helping trim some time off a new employee’s intake. Alan: Hey, everybody, welcome to the XR for Business podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today, we're speaking with Walter Davis, head of talent and learning technology at Aggreko. We'll be learning about how they're using XR to train technicians and speed up their time to competency, for new and existing employees. All that and more on the XR for Business podcast. Walter, welcome to the show. Walter: Thanks, Alan. Glad to be here. Alan: Really excited. Why don't you start by telling us your role at Aggreko and how you started working in XR in this role? I think first thing to do might help to paint a picture of maybe what Aggreko does, which will help in then showing how we're applying augmented reality to our services. So, Aggreko is the largest provider of temporary power and cooling solutions. We work in over 100 countries and we power things like Super Bowl here in the US, which many of you might know, or the Olympics that are coming up in Japan. That's another project we're doing. We also work everywhere, from remote parts of Africa, to powering up a data center that needs some backup power. So we're sort of everywhere in the background, if you would. Just ensuring that major events and operations run smoothly. And with that, obviously, we need to ensure that we are providing an expert service and minimize any potential downtime. We need to have expert staff to support that. Alan: So basically, if the lights stay on, you guys are there. Walter: Exactly. That's a great way of putting it. We make it a point to ensure that we have a highly reliable service. Alan: So I was reading, Aggreko specializes in seven key areas, oil and gas, manufacturing, mining, petrochemicals, construction. And then events, the live events thing almost seems like an add-on to this, but it seems to fit perfectly. Walter: It does, yeah. So events are really what we're known for, right? I mean, that's where we will pop up on occasion. Actually, I could say that we are actually in one-- we're in a recent country music video in the background, because we are powering the stage that they recorded the music video at. But yeah, like I said, keeping the lights on, making sure that entertainment can happen, events can happen, and everybody has a comfortable experience. Alan: So how does VR/AR/XR relate to temporary power? Walter: With the nature of our business -- as we operate in over 100 countries -- we operate very broadly but very agilely. And one of the challenges that we tend to sometimes have is ensuring that we can bring new hires and products together really in that introductory period of time, when someone is just joining the organization. We don't always necessarily have every type of fleet available for them to familiarize themselves with and educate themselves on, to start developing those competencies. And where we're seeing AR in particular, is in allowing those individuals to gain that knowledge really right when they join the organization. They're able to go through an immersive experience in full scale, so as if the product was right in front of them. Going-- both familiarizing themselves with the key components and aspects of the product, but also going through a key service procedures th

May 2020

21 min 47 sec

We’re used to navigating our computing with keyboards, mice, and maybe track pads — analog input. But those inputs work for desktop computers; they’re clunky for XR interfaces. That’s why we need gesture controls ASAP, according to today’s guest, Clay AIR’s Varag Gharibjanian. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today we're speaking with Varag Gharibjanian, the chief revenue officer at Clay AIR, a software company shaping the future of how we interact with the digital world, using natural gesture recognition. We're going to find out how Clay will bring our real hands into the virtual world. Coming up next, on the XR for Business podcast. Varag, welcome to the show, my friend. Varag: Hey, Alan. Glad to be here. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure to have you on the show. I know you guys are working on some cutting edge stuff, so why don't I not ruin it, and just let you tell us what is Clay AIR? Varag: So Clay is a software company, we're specializing in hand tracking and gesture recognition, mostly in the AR and VR space. And we're also tackling a couple other industries, automotive. And our third product category we call Clay Control, which is kind of all the devices that can use gesture interaction at a distance. Alan: Are you doing this from single cameras, or is this from infrared cameras, or a combination of everything? Varag: Yes, so Clay's-- we're hardware agnostic. So it'll work across all those types you just said. It could be one camera, two cameras, or more. And all different types, so we'll work on RGB cameras that you'll find on everyday smartphones, to what you might find embedded in AR and VR devices, to monochrome ones, time-of-flight ones, and so we're pure software and we've worked across a lot of those different types and have compatibility with most of them now, which gives us a lot of flexibility and it's really useful. Alan: So I'm going to be able to look at watches on my wrist in AR, right? Like I'm going to be able hold my hand up and see what the newest, latest, greatest watch is? Varag: It's actually pretty cool that you say that, because that is one of the use cases that comes in often inbound to us, as companies -- it hasn't happened yet -- but those companies definitely brainstorming around how you track the hands even with just a smartphone, like overlaying something. Alan: We actually did it. We did a project just using Google's hand tracking library. We managed to make the watch sit on the wrist, but it was kind of glitchy. It would sit weird. And yeah, it was-- it was not great, but we made it work, it just wasn't sellable. Varag: Yeah. Alan: So this is really a foundational software. And I know you guys are working with some of the larger manufacturers. You want to talk about that -- or can you talk about that -- and then what that might look like? Varag: Yeah, I can speak a little bit about that. So we feel -- like you said -- this is software that really needs to be optimized for the hardware that it's working on. The deeper it is in the stack, the better performance you'll get, and the better synergies you'll get with all the other technologies that are working on these devices. So that's why when I joined the company, really, I made the focus to get as deep into the stack as possible. We looked at the market that time a couple of years ago to look at who is really central to defining the reference stack. What's going to most AR and VR devices? And to me, Qualcomm made the most sense. So we spent a lot of time working with them. As you know -- and some of our listeners might know -- they really do define a l

Apr 2020

28 min 2 sec

Today’s guest got his start in the world of game development. But soon, Arash Keshmirian saw the writing on the wall that XR’s current usefulness was better-suited to the worlds of industry, retail, and journalism. Arash and Alan discuss how he made that transition. Alan: Hey, everyone, it's Alan Smithson here, the host of the XR for Business podcast. Today we have Arash Keshmirian, co-founder of Extality. His personal goal is to create powerful content that delivers results. We're going to dig into using Magic Leap and Hololens and mixed reality headsets as a tool for business. So all that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Arash, welcome to the show, my friend. Arash: Thank you for having me. Great to be here. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. You guys have done some pretty cool stuff. I was on your website playing with a shoe. What is Extality? Arash: Were a lot of things to many people. So we built Extality out of a long, 10 year experience in the games industry, building mobile games. Did a lot of games, including Zombie Gunship, which ended up being this kind of worldwide sensation of shooting zombies from an airplane. That company -- Limbic -- we ended up doing a lot of XR stuff. And kind of around 2016, 17, 18 we built a game for ARKit, called Zombie Gunship Revenant. And that ended up being a huge hit across the app store. Apple featured it a whole bunch of times. It was one of the 2017 games of the year. And it spread ARKit to a lot of people, trying new things on their new iPhones. And we later did a project called Zombie Guns Raptor with Oculus and Oculus Go, Gear VR. But really kind of around that time -- 2017 -- we started to feel like it was getting way too crowded in the games business, and we were starting to look around and try to figure out what we could do with our experience in high-performance graphics and making cool experiences, immersive experiences. I started talking to a guy named Ryan Peterson, who's the founder of a CEO called Finger Food out in Vancouver. And he was telling me about all these exciting opportunities in AR and VR for enterprises. He was talking about how they'd saved millions and millions of dollars for a truck company that was looking to move their design to virtual reality from using clay models. And this got our head scratching, we were like, "You know, maybe there's an opportunity to use all of our games experience, to help big companies and do more than just give people an entertaining hour on their phones." So we founded a new company called Extality. And we set out to essentially discover companies that really wanted to explore XR, be it on their phones, on headsets, iPods -- every type of XR -- and leverage our background in doing just really hard graphics problems, building scalable global servers and connectivity, all those hard things that you learn how to do making games, we quickly realized that we're super, super applicable to building enterprise solutions as well. Alan: Actually, I know Ryan very well from Finger Food, really great guy. And they've done some amazing work in the space. What are some of the highlights that you've done for enterprise? And first of all, I just want to say that having a flying zombie shooter game? Pretty awesome. Arash: [chuckles] Thank you. Alan: The fact you guys had a hit with ARKit is pretty amazing, because there's not too much out there leveraging the power of ARKit yet. Arash: Yeah. I mean, if you want to talk about games for just a second, it's an interesting thing. I mean, it gives people a totally different experience using their phone as the controller and running around the room. We have all these videos during our user tests

Apr 2020

31 min 21 sec

There’s not a lot of good coming out of the current situation affecting the globe, but if there is an upside, it’s the rare opportunity to learn from something this unprecedented. Through her work with National Research Group, today’s guest Lauren Xandra has been able to study newly-emerging work-from-home behaviours, and how that applies to XR adoption. Alan: Hey everyone, I'm Alan Smithson from the XR for Business Podcast, and today we're speaking with Lauren Xandra, vice president of strategy and innovation at National Research Group, a leading global insights and strategy firm, about the original research on XR, AR, and collaborations in a time of Covid-19. All that more coming up next on the XR for Business Podcast. Lauren, welcome to the show. Lauren: Thank you so much for having me, Alan. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. I'm in day 22 of my quarantine. Nothing really has changed in my life, because I work from home anyway. So how are you doing? Lauren: I'm doing well. It's a healthy adjustment for me, but it's rather timely that we're here today, because I'm excited to share new research, looking at how different demographics are adapting to our work-from-home reality, and to share some exciting findings that we see in the space with new, broader, addressable audiences for virtual solutions in light of all of this. Alan: Well, the timing on this couldn't be any better. Some dedicated, hard-working people in this industry have banded together this week to pull together an XR Collaboration guide, talking about everything from security to device management to vendor selection to feature lists, and really put a lot of effort into creating a tool online that will give people the opportunity to figure out how these tools can be used for their business or school or education, and which one is the right one for them at the time, for the need they have. And so we're really excited about that, and the information on that will come out on XRCollaboration.com. So, Lauren, please tell me, what is the basis of this study? Lauren: Sure. So, when suddenly millions of people -- seemingly overnight -- became remote workers, we're faced with these huge questions about productivity, state of mind, social and cultural impact of the situation, and the lasting impact, too. We really set out to understand how people are adapting, what pain points are felt across work-from-home, and in doing that, we can better understand and address whitespace to solve for these pain points, to ease our adjustment to this new -- and bizarre -- reality. I'd love to walk you through some of the key findings, perhaps starting with generational differences in adapting, and then perhaps looking at more industry-specific challenges and opportunities. Alan: Sounds wonderful. Let's let's dig in. Lauren: So we see that the pre-Covid-19 context really impacts different generations' concerns and expectations for the future. Probably one of the most counterintuitive insights is that the youngest in the workforce is actually the least well-equipped for work-from-home. The digital reliance of this generation already makes them victims of social distance pre-Covid-19, and for them, the effects of isolation are amplified. The impact of Covid-19 on culture is really their front-of-mind concern. And here we're thinking about culture in terms of how we connect, how we collaborate. Gen Z has really struggled to disconnect from technology. They're citing irritation from too much screentime, bad work/life balance, well ahead of other groups. And this impacts mental health, with already about half of Gen Z professionals saying that staying

Apr 2020

20 min 19 sec

One of the best use cases for XR technologies is training and enterprise solutions, as long-time listeners know. Today’s guests, Jamie Fleming and Bharat Ahluwalia from Altoura, pop by to explain how they’re optimizing workplace productivity. Alan: Hey, everyone. Alan Smithson here, with the XR for Business podcast. Today, we're speaking with Bharat Ahluwalia and Jamie Fleming from Altoura about augmenting enterprise productivity for frontline workers using spatial technologies. All that and more coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Jamie and Bharat, welcome to the show, my friends. Jamie: Hey, thanks, Alan. Super happy to be here. Alan: I'm really excited. So, Bharat, I know offline you were just-- you were mentioning that you were part of the original Hololens team. So I know how you got started in this. Jamie, you've been building experiences for 15 years in technology. So maybe just give us a bit of your background and we'll go from there. Jamie: Sure, yeah. For starters, this is Jamie. So I actually started out in architecture. I have a masters of architecture, and worked as an architect for a number of years. And that's really where I was given an introduction to 3D modeling and building out immersive experiences in the day-to-day practice of design and got the spark of an idea of, hey, I could create a company where we really just focused on creating experiences, and making them more and more interactive that helped -- in the early years, particularly -- help designers understand what their designs were. And over the years, that has just become more and more sophisticated and we've gotten deeper, deeper into the software side of things. Now we really have a lot of interesting ways that we can leverage these digital twins to help augment enterprise productivity. Bharat: And this is Bharat here. I got started in this space when I joined the Hololens team. It was an interesting experience. The project was top secret, as you know, and I wasn't even told what I would be working on until I agreed to sign the offer letter. But I knew a couple of key people then said, "OK, these guys get involved and it will be an awesome product." And it was. The first time I saw the vision video and the vision of the device, it was, wow. That's what I want to work on. So I worked on it for a few years, shipped the V1 of the device and was so in love with this technology, that I decided to leave the company and build experiences on top of the device and the platform that I was part of. I did a small startup that led to being acquired by Studio 216, which is now named Altoura. And here I am. And I have been building Hololens and VR experiences since then. Alan: It really comes down to the experiences, because the devices themselves-- the Hololens 2 is a magical piece of kit, but if nothing's on it, it's kind of useless. So you decided to go into the experiences. And what are some of the things that you've been building? Because I've seen some of them, but I'll let you guys speak to them. What are some of the experiences that you've been building? Jamie: Yeah, we're really-- the one that we're super excited about right now is the work that we've been doing with Qantas Airlines. So what we've done with Qantas is we've taken the 737-800 cockpit and we've re-created it as a digital twin. And then using Hololens 2, we allow you to interact with that cockpit as if you were there, so you could be sitting in your living room or a classroom or anywhere really in the world, networked together and interacting with functions inside the cockpit, the same way that you would do in a physical simulator. So as we know with Hololens 2, it's tracking all 25+ points on each of your hands. You just-- there's very

Apr 2020

34 min 13 sec

Making any sort of head-mounted AR display has been a challenge, both on the technology front, and from an adaptation standpoint. But Stefan Alexander from North challenged himself even further - by making them look chic, to boot.         Alan: Hey, everyone. Alan Smithson here, with the XR for Business podcast. Today, we're speaking with Stefan Alexander, vice president of Advanced R&D for North, the company this created Focals, the world's first consumer AR glasses. And of course, they're also a Canadian company. And we're really excited to talk about their new product, North Focals 2. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Stefan, welcome to the show.   Stefan: Thanks, it's great to be here.   Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. As you know, I have had a pair of North glasses for almost-- actually over a year now. I was one of the first 100 people to be lucky enough to get these. I went in for my fitting in Toronto, got these wonderful glasses, I got my little ring. And I proceeded to try all sorts of different things. And super excited to have you on the call and really learn more about what's coming up next for North.   Stefan: Yeah, great.   Alan: Maybe you can just describe the North glasses to the listeners, and how they came about.   Stefan: So, I can give you a kind of brief history of how this whole thing started. So originally when North was founded, it was actually called Thalmic Labs, and the product was a gesture control armband. So this kind of went on your upper forearm. You could make motions with your hand and it would detect your muscle movements and you could control computers, music, do presentation control. But one of the things that they were really passionate about was controlling heads-up displays like Google Glass, which had just come out at the time. I was actually the first person hired to not work on the Myo, that was this armband. And about a year before it came out, they hired me and they said, "Stefan, we think that the control of smart glasses and the control of head mounted displays is really important. But we're not sure if anybody's going to make exactly what we have in mind, what we think is gonna be so big, which is glasses that look exactly like regular glasses. And we don't know the tech to do this, and I don't think it exists yet. But can we work on a way to do these type of smart glasses?" So I had a display background. I was working at OLED displays. And so I started this research program, that turned into the first generation of Focals. And eventually it got so good that it really just took over the company, and we stopped doing the gesture control and we've just kind of went all in on smart glasses and changed our name to North. And that's kind of how we ended up where we are.   Alan: That's fantastic. I wonder-- you started off life as a gesture armband. And it's funny, because I remember this. I was part of the Ryerson Digital Media Zone at the time. And I went to Communitech, which is where North was founded, or I guess Thalmic Labs at the time.   Stefan: Yeah, yeah.   Alan: And I remember going into this tiny little lab with I think there was probably 10 people at the time, and they said, "Hey, try this thing on your forearm." And it was this kind of stretchy, almost like a bracelet with a bunch of black sensors on it. And after that, I went on to create The Emulator, which was the see-through touchscreen DJ controller. And we worked-- we ended up working with Armin Van Buren, who w

Mar 2020

37 min 8 sec

Macy’s has been in the news a lot this week, and many are worried about what the latest round of store closures mean for the long-running retailer, and the future of in-person shopping in general. But Macy’s resident XR guru Mohamed Rajani came by our podcast a little while back to suggest that the future of retail exists in the virtual world. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s guest is Mohamed Rajani, responsible for VR and AR initiatives at Macy’s. Mohamed is part of the new Business Development and Innovation team at Macy’s, and is responsible for driving change through the development of new retail concepts and partnerships amidst an evolving retail landscape. “Mo” also leads Macy’s immersive technology initiatives, including VR and AR in furniture, which is removing key friction points for the customer, enabling an AR view in-room capabilities on the Macy’s mobile app. To learn more about the work he’s doing, you can visit macys.com. Mohamed, welcome to the show. Mohamed: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Alan. Happy to be here. Alan: We had the opportunity to to have a few calls prior to Augmented World Expo. We were on a panel together, and you were talking about the amazing work that you’re doing at Macy’s. So let’s start unpacking that. Mo, tell us about what you guys are doing at Macy’s. Mohamed: So just a little bit of context that our team does. Our team’s about two and half years old. I’ve been with the company for over eight years, across a variety of different functions. But about two and a half years ago, as a company, we decided to establish a dedicated team that’s purely focused on what’s new, what’s next. That’s focused on the emerging consumer landscape, the emerging technology landscape, and making sure that the Macy’s brand continues to be relevant not only today, but 10, 20, 30 years from now. So as a team, we’re purely focused on looking at new business models, new concepts, emerging technologies, but then really tying those to our strategic businesses. We want to make sure that any new innovation that we bring into the organization has a lasting impact. But more importantly, a meaningful impact that is actually moving the needle. So if we think about from that context of how we ended up playing in virtual reality and augmented reality, in our business we have a strategic business fillers, and furniture is one of them. It is a business that is high touch, a high margin business, so it’s margin accretive, more profitable to the company, and it’s destination business for us. We’re top of mind for the customer when they’re thinking about furniture. And if you’ve had any experience in buying furniture, it is not a very easy process. It’s one of the few businesses that’s still overwhelmingly physical purchases. More business happens in-store than online, and by a higher margin. And part of it is just the friction involved in it. You don’t know how it’s going to look, how it’s going to fit. And it’s a business that we, as a company, need to fortify. It’s a business that if we want to remain relevant for the next five, 20 years, we want to make sure that we’re not only fortifying the business, but growing and capturing market share. So is that context, whereas we came across emerging technologies as part of our job, we were navigating the landscape and looking at what’s coming out. This was 2016, into 2017. We started seeing virtual reality technologies, especially in the furniture space, and we started exploring and we wanted to make sure that there was a practical a

Feb 2020

34 min 47 sec

This week’s episode goes all the way back to last year’s Curiosity Camp, when Alan shared a ride with Unity Lab’s Timoni West and Vapor IO CEO Cole Crawford, recording a podcast along the way. The three discuss the challenges that will arise as AI begins to replace human workers. Alan: In a very special episode of the XR for Business Podcast, we’re driving in a car with Timoni West, head of XR… Research? Timoni: Director of XR in Unity Labs. Alan: Director of XR at Unity Labs, and Cole Crawford, CEO of Vapor IO. So we’re driving on our way up to Curiosity Camp through these beautiful winding roads, and we decided that we would record a podcast, because Cole, in his incredible company building the infrastructure of cloud computing, they built an AR app to help service that. And I thought, what a cool way to use this technology and this time on this beautiful drive. Wow. Look at the size of those trees. Timoni: They are enormous. Alan: Oh, my God. Wow. Well, anyway. Timoni, how are you doing? Timoni: Excellently. And I’m also enjoying the view. Yeah. Yeah, actually, Cole, I’m really interested to hear more about why you chose to go with that, and what the process was like. My team is working on tools for mixed reality. So for Unity itself, that’s used to make, I think, 90 percent of all Hololens applications right now. Century is using Unity for that. But the tools that we’re making today are allowing, I think, for you to more easily make robust, distributed applications that can work across various devices and for various users. Cole: And that’s very needed. First off, Alan, I just want to say, you sound like you should be a podcast DJ. Timoni: So it’s cool that you are. Cole: Well done. But yeah, I mean, the issue for us when we started down this journey was very much a question of, how robust can we make an experience, about how widely could we make that experience? And the vertical integrated solutions that you had to choose from in the early days of AR/VR, I think, are primed for disruption. I’m super glad to hear that Unity is working on the open APIs, etc., needed to bring this technology to more users, as I’ll quote — maybe a little cliché being where we are and where we’re going — but– Timoni: Yeah, I want to hear it. What is the problem you company solves? Cole: Yeah. So we have to think about not four, but 40,000 different data centers; we’re an edge computing/edge data center infrastructure company. And with that means you can’t Mechanical Turk what was originally done in data centers. It works with four buildings. It doesn’t work with 40,000. So we had to build autonomy into every aspect of our business, in every aspect of the infrastructure. And that means building really simple interfaces for what would otherwise be really complex problems. And at scale, from a logistics supply chain — remote hand, smart hands, all the things that you do in data centers — what that means is your FedEx guy, your U.P.S. guy, a contracting company that otherwise would need specialized training, now it’s visually assisted capabilities for what would otherwise be a job that you would train for and then go work in a data center. We simplify that. Alan: So basically what you’re saying is that you’ve given real-time tools to anybody to be an expert on the field, in the field. Cole: It’s fair to say that the software is the exper, and what you need are opposable thumbs,. Alan: Haha! Which democratizes the

Feb 2020

52 min 15 sec

We pick up where we left off, with Part 2 of Alan’s interview with Kent Bye, host of the Voices of VR Podcast. In this half, the two VR podcast hosts discuss the ethics of XR, building a strong economic ecosystem for emerging technologies, the AR Cloud, and more. Alan: Coming up next on the XR for Business Podcast, we have part 2 of the interview with Kent Bye from the Voices Of VR podcast, the podcast that got me started in this industry. I’m actually one of the founding members of the Open Air Cloud Group and Kronos Group is is really kind of trying to pull together these standards for 3D, as well for e-commerce. I know there’s a group right now trying to standardize 3D objects for e-commerce and retail because right now it’s a dog’s breakfast. Facebook accepts glTFs, Hololens is FBX models, VR is usually OBJs. So you have all these different 3D file formats. None of them really work well together and you can’t– it’s not easy to convert one to the other. And then of course, Apple came along and created USDZ. Or in Canada, USDZed. It’s crazy right now to think that there’s fifteen different 3D model types and it’s kind of like we need to settle on the JPG of 3D, whatever that happens to be, which in my opinion is probably glTF. But I think we need to standardize that and just pick, it so that– can imagine trying to send a photo to somebody and you send it in one format. And we saw this 10 years ago on the Web, just– it was 10 different ways to send a photo in different formats. Your camera would take one format, and it wouldn’t work with your MacBook. I think the tolerance for interoperability, I think the world just demands interoperability now. And if you’re not building for that, well, then you’re going to end up like Facebook and get broken apart. Kent: Yeah. And I published a podcast with the managing director of Open AR Cloud, and one of the other founding members. And yeah, they were talking a lot about these various different issues. So, yeah, it’s something that you don’t see necessarily a lot of news on, until– unless you’re sort of deep into the weeds of helping design these protocols. But I did go to the Decentralized Web Summit last year, and one of the things that I saw was that there’s kind of like this pendulum that swings back and forth between the centralized systems and the decentralized systems. And I’d say that with cryptocurrency, with the containers being able take different aspects of a server and be able to push it out to the edge. We have it self-contained within either Kubernetes or Docker containers. And just in general, it’s kind of a movement away from centralized systems into more decentralized architectures. That’s a interesting trend that I think that paying attention to the rise of the decentralized web and what that is going to afford. I feel like it’s a lot more about open protocols and collaboration and having people collaborate in different ways. And that’s something that I’d say has been a little bit lacking within the VR and AR industry. I mean, there’s been a certain amount of not sharing of knowledge, but in terms of like real meaningful collaboration. There’s been a few things like OpenXR and WebXR are of the big standouts, as well as probably the Chromium browsers that a lot of different companies are working on. But in terms of specific things to grow an ecosystem, it’s been difficult for companies to figure out what does it mean to grow community and what it mean to grow an entire ecosystem that you may be a part of. And I feel like the cryptocurrency world has had to deal with that a little bit, in the sense that they’re creating these open protocols, and they have to prove that there’s a buy-in to pe

Jan 2020

38 min 54 sec

One of Alan’s biggest inspirations to start XR for Business was the prolific catalogue of Kent Bye, who has released 884 recordings for his VR-centric podcast, Voices of VR. Alan has Kent on the show for a chat that was too big for one episode! Check out Part 2 later this week. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here, the XR for Business Podcast. Coming up next, we have part one of a two part series, with the one and only Kent Bye from Voices Of VR. Kent Bye is a truly revolutionary person and he has recorded over 1,100 episodes of the Voices Of VR podcast. And we are really lucky to have him on the show. And this is two parts, because it goes on and on. Welcome to Part 1 of the XR for Business Podcast, with Kent Bye from the Voices Of VR podcast. Kent has been able to speak peer to peer with VR developers, cultivating an audience of leading VR creators who consider the Voices Of VR podcast a must listen, and I have to agree. He’s currently working on a book answering the question he closes with every interview he does, “What is the ultimate potential of VR?” To learn more about the Voices Of VR and sign up for the podcast. it’s voicesofVR.com. And with that, I want to welcome an instrumental person to my knowledge and information of this industry. Mr. Kent Buy, it’s really a pleasure to have you on the show. Kent: Hey, Alan. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. Alan: Oh, thank you so much. I listen to probably the first two or three hundred episodes of your podcast, and I went from knowing literally nothing about this industry to knowing a lot. And it’s those insights that you’re able to pull out from the industry that’s just amazing. So thank you for being the voice of this industry. Kent: Yeah. And when I started the podcast, I wanted to learn about what was happening in the industry. And so I felt like one of the best ways to do that was to go to these different conferences, and to talk to the people who were on the front lines of creating these different experiences. And so at this point, I think I’ve recorded over 1,100 different interviews and have published over 760 of them so far. So it’s about for every two interviews I publish, I have like another interview that I haven’t. So I just feel like it’s important to be on the front lines, going to these gatherings where the community’s coming together and to just be talking to people and see what they’re saying. See what the power of this new medium is. Alan: I had the honor of being interviewed by you at one of these conferences. I don’t know if it ever got published, but it was an honor anyway just to speak with you on the subject. But you get to talk to literally everybody, anybody who’s anybody in this industry. And it’s really an amazing experience to listen to these podcasts. And you really go deep into the technology of it, the listeners of this podcast are more maybe in the business, maybe they’re not really into VR. What are some of the business use cases that you’ve seen from these people that you’ve been interviewing that made you go, “Wow, this is incredible?” Kent: Well, first of all, virtual and augmented reality as a medium is a new paradigm of computing: spatial computing. And I think one metaphor to think about is how we usually enter into the computer is by pushing buttons and moving a mouse around. And it’s almost like we have to translate our thoughts into a very linear interface in order to interact with computing. And it’s usually also in a 2D space, so a lot of times interacting and designing for 3D spaces. And so there’s kind of like this weird translation t

Jan 2020

35 min 58 sec

The VR experience Firing Barry by Talespin is getting a lot of press lately, and on the surface, it may look like a slightly uncanny valley way to train someone how to give an old fella the can. But Talespin CEO Kyle Jackson tells Alan it’s more than that; it’s a tool to help humans flex their core competencies in everything from leadership skills to confidence-building.  Alan: Hey, everybody, Alan Smithson here, the XR for Business Podcast. Coming up next, Kyle Jackson, founder of Talespin. You may have seen Barry the virtual human that you can fire in real life. We’ll be talking to them about their enterprise software solutions that leverage immersive technology to transform the way global workforces, learn, work,, and collaborate. We’ll also be discussing how you can use immersive technologies as an assessment tool to better prepare your workforce for exponential growth. All that and more on the XR for Business Podcast. Kyle, welcome to the show, my friend. Kyle: Hey. Thanks, Alan. Thanks for having me. Alan: Oh, it’s so exciting. Ever since I saw the video that popped up of Barry, the lovable older gentleman avatar that you can fire. How did that come about? Tell us about Talespin, and how did you get here, where you are now? Kyle: Yeah, Barry became famous very quickly, because it’s such an ironic idea. And that’s really what I think caught people’s attention; the idea that you could use virtual humans for soft skills training was something that just seemed sci-fi and ironic. But then once you started to peel back the layers of it, it just starts to make a lot of sense.So how we got there, was we started looking at all of the future skills gaps, surveys, research, everything that was surfacing from the Shift Commission, to the World Economic Forum, to McKinsey Global Institute. And we just kept seeing — obviously opposite AI and automation and robotics, all the things that are going on one side of technology — that there was this increasing index toward soft skills for some of the most underserved areas for businesses going forward. We’re building this platform which is supposed to help transfer skills and really align us to the future of work. And every single survey says soft skills is one of the things we should be looking at. And we went, “Wow, is there anything we can do there?” The thing that was most important for us in thinking about that was we have to hit emotional realism to do this. This isn’t like a point-and-click replacement. It needs to be something that when I’m sitting in there and I’m opposite Barry or any other virtual human now, that I believe the emotions and the frustration and all the things that are thrown at me. And to do that kind of at scale. From both an assessment standpoint, content, and deployment to large companies. Alan: So how did you guys overcome the Uncanny Valley of Barry? I’ve seen so many human avatars that are almost there, but they got that creepy feeling. And if you’re going for emotional realism, creepy is not what you want on the delivery side. Kyle: No. Well, we kind of pulled up short in our opinion. So we were pushing further than where we landed. And you can get to even more photo-real than Barry is. But soon as you do, you start to push over that ledge and it starts to really be creepy. We’re kind of right in the sweet spot of north of Pixar, but not hitting realism. And that seems to work. We focused a lot on micro-expressions and figuring out like a programmatic way to add a lot of micro-expression to the silent moments too, because I think one of the things that technologists immediately do is we had to figure out how to do animation systems, lip sync systems and things like that for when people are t

Jan 2020

31 min 58 sec

Upskilling things like floor management or assembly time, that’s easy in XR. But soft skills, like understanding and empathy? A bit more challenging — but importantly, not impossible. Cortney Harding talks with Alan about how emerging tech, like VR and 360 video, can help us all be a little kinder to one another. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today, we’re speaking with Cortney Harding, founder and CEO of Friends with Holograms, about their full service VR and AR agency, that focuses on soft skills training and best practices for creating powerful content that delivers results. All that and more on the XR for Business Podcast.Welcome to the show, Cortney. Cortney: Oh, thanks for having me. Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure. I’m so excited to have you on the show. You guys have done some incredible things and you’ve been a pioneer in this industry for quite some time. But I’ll let you talk to everybody about how you got into this and where you are now and where you’re going. Cortney: Yeah, great. So I got into VR about almost five years ago now, which is crazy to think about. I have a background in the music business and specifically I was a journalist.I wrote for Billboard. I was an editor there for quite a while. I then went into the music tech space right around the time Spotify launched in the US. It was a great music and tech ecosystem. Alan: You and I have a very similar background. Cortney: Oh, funny. Alan: I was a DJ for 20 years and then created the Emulator, the DJ touchscreen. Cortney: Oh, cool. Alan: Yeah. And then I got into VR. I was like, “What?” Go on. I didn’t mean to cut you off. I was like, “Wow, this is great.” Cortney: No, it’s great. Yeah. So anyway, so I did music tech stuff for several years. I was– I lead business development, and strategy, and partnerships for a couple different startups. And then I saw this VR piece at an art museum about five years ago, and it really broke something open for me. And I was fascinated by it. So I spent about a year — I was still on contract with a music tech company — and I was still writing at the time. So I wrote about VR, I learned about VR, I met a lot of people. And in 2016, at South by Southwest, I did a panel on music and virtual reality. And one of my other panelists was this guy, Kevin Cornish, who’s starting a VR production company, he’s a VR director. And he and I had a really nice conversation, we hit it off. And I joined his VR production company, leading business development strategy. I worked there for about a year and a half. I learned a tremendous amount. It was a very, very intense experience and a very gratifying one.And then I split off to do my own thing. And so Friends With Holograms has been around for about two years now, sort of in its current incarnation. And in those couple of years, we’ve done a lot of different projects, which I’m really proud of. Sort of our our best known project is the Accenture Avenues Project. So we worked on that with Accenture. And the backstory behind that is pretty fascinating. So Accenture came to us, I believe, right about two years ago now, right when we’re first starting and said “We have this idea, we want to do this really amazing social work training project. And would you like to bid for it?” And we, of course, said yes. So we bid for it and we were awarded it in the spring of last year. And then everything kind of went quiet for a while. And we were working on some other projects. And I just kind of in the back

Jan 2020

36 min 16 sec

The average concert is a tour de force for one’s sense of sound (and, if the bass is decent, one’s sense of their bones vibrating). But Anne McKinnon from The Boolean isn’t interested in “average” concerts. She wants to use XR to make concerts a sensation for all the senses. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s guest is Anne McKinnon from The Boolean. Anne is a VR and AR consultant and writer. She is an editor and contributor to Charlie Fink’s book “Convergence.” Charlie, as you may remember, was one of the very first episodes we had. Her consulting bridges the gap between entertainment and technology. As an advisor, Anne grows and curates a community of digital artists to leverage new and emerging technologies. Anne is actively engaged in the entertainment industry at the intersection of music, arts, gaming, and tech. You can learn more about the great work that Anne and her team are doing at theboolean.io. Anne, welcome to the show. Anne: Thank you, Alan. I’m really excited to speak with you today, and also cannot wait to speak to a lot of the listeners. Alan: Yes, it’s been a while. We’ve known each other quite some time, and you do some work with VR Days and they’ve been on the show as well. And it feels like a family, like a network of people that are all just kind of coming together. So how did you get into this crazy world of technology? Anne: Actually, VR Days was one of the major events I went to and I started working in tech. And it was as a blogger and just kind of looking at how can we solve problems in VR, what can we use it for, and how can we make improvements to every aspect of our lives? And VR Days was one of the best conferences that bridged the gap between technology and arts, and also brought together everyone from military to education to healthcare, and also the creatives to drive that innovation. So that way, I guess I met some of the teams that I work with now and we’re looking at how to solve all these problems and to bring it to audiences around the world. Alan: Let’s unpack that. What are some of the problems that you’re working on solving? Anne: I want you talk a lot today about one of the projects we’re working on for almost two years, and that’s with Miro Shot. So Miro Shot is a band and we’re touring a virtual reality live concert around the world. So to kind of put in detail about what that looks like, is that the audience is physically present and the band as also physically present. And when the audience enters, they have VR headsets on and they are immersed in dreamscape visuals, and the pass-through camera’s a big part of what we do to connect the realities, and to experience music in a new way. And one of the problems that a lot of VR experiences have is how do you reach audiences around the world with live performance, and also how do you reach a large scale audience? A lot of what we’re focusing in business is how do you grow experiences from live to at home. And this is something we’re doing with the band, with up to 30 people at a time for live concert. Alan: People simultaneously in VR? Anne: Simultaneously in VR. So a lot of it is based around the concepts of gaming. So we’re really looking at VR as something that’s not contained, taking from classical genres, from theater and cinema and gaming. So everything starts in a gaming lobby. And they start the experience together and depending on where they look, they’ll be able to experience different parts of the world of the music. And they’re also because of the live perf

Jan 2020

41 min 31 sec

It’s been said on this show before; XR doesn’t have a technology problem, it has an adoption problem. In Dan Lejerskar’s experience, everyone from universities to governments see the value of XR — they just lack the content to make it a worthwhile, everyday tool. He and Alan explore how EON Reality is addressing this discrepancy.  Alan: Hi, it’s Alan Smithson here. Today we’re speaking with Dan Lejeskar, founder and chairman of EON Reality, a world leader in virtual/augmented reality based knowledge transfer for industry and education. They believe that knowledge is a human right and it’s their goal to make knowledge available, affordable, and accessible for every human on the planet. We’re going to find out how, in the next XR for Business Podcast. Dan, welcome to the show, my friend. Dan: Thank you so much. Alan: I’m really, really excited. I know you guys have been working– well, you specifically have been working in the 3D virtual space for many years now. How did you get involved in VR and learning? Dan: In my past, I used to work with simulators — big aircraft simulators, etc. — and I got really excited about seeing the effect it has on pilots and soldiers, and I always thought that it would be useful to do the same, but for normal people, nurses, etc. But obviously these people couldn’t afford a $50-million simulator. So I had to be patient and wait until the computers follow Moore’s Law; become cheaper, faster, better. And by ’99, the hardware was there, so you can start running this on PCs. So we were very early adopters of virtual reality already in that period. Alan: We’re talking 20 years. Most people know VR and AR as if kind of something in the last five years. But what was it like kind of going through these growing pains of going from a million dollar simulator — millions of dollars simulator — to now we can buy an Oculus Quest for 500 bucks? Dan: It’s been an interesting journey, with a lot of ups and downs. And very much VR has been like AI. I’m sure you’ve read about the “AI Winter”, when things didn’t go that well. We’ve had quite a few ups and downs in virtual reality. ’99 was fantastic, because that was the era of dot-coms. And we started with something called Web3D, so you can do 3D on the web. It had actually millions of users. Then we had a hard landing 2001. Remember when dot-com crashed? And we had to move our business from industry and education to defence because we had September 11th. So that was kind of what saved our business, doing homeland security centers and the like. And then slowly and surely, we picked up the business up to 2007, 2008. And during this period, there were several iterations. There was something called people avatars and virtual worlds, that was very popular around 2007. That raised and crashed also, pretty tough. But we managed to navigate those water until I would say 2011, 2012, when the hardware became available for mobile devices. So this was before Oculus. Already then we could see where the industry was going. Alan: Oh, you guys, you never lost your path. You’ve veered a little bit from military, to industry and education, back to military, and then back to industry and education. Obviously, the passion is in the industry, knowledge transfer and education. What are some of the projects that you guys have done in the last few years that really just made you go, “Wow, this really is something that, quote unquote, normal people can use?” Dan: So, you’re right. We realized quickly that the biggest value has to do with knowledge

Jan 2020

37 min 35 sec

Getting future workers excited for the jobs they might have tomorrow can be challenging, especially when many young workers tend to enjoy challenging themselves with new tasks. Dr. Björn Schwerdtfeger says that AR training can allow those workers to qualify themselves for all sorts of tasks, and have fun doing it, to boot. [Transcript coming shortly] Alan: Hey, everybody, and thanks for joining in on the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. I’m really excited today. I have Dr. Björn Schwerdtfeger from Germany. He has more than 15 years experience in augmented reality. Together with the German industry, he’s evaluated almost every idea for AR in applications in the industry. He’s been a co-inventor of Pick-By-Vision at TU Munich. And during that time — when computers for AR glasses were still carried in large backpacks — Björn holds a PhD in industrial augmented reality as a serial entrepreneur. And among other things, his company, AR Experts, is advising about a third of Germany’s most important production companies, and is shaping their augmented reality roadmaps. You can learn more about them at ar-experts.de. And they have another product that they’re gonna be talking about today. It’s ar-giri.com. Björn, welcome to the show, my friend. Björn: Yeah. Welcome, Alan. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you online. I’m looking forward to this podcast. Alan: It’s so exciting. The work that you’ve been doing over the last few years — like a decade and a half — is really starting to come to fruition now. I mean, all of the hard work that you and your team have done to evangelize a technology that — let’s be honest — 15 years ago, the technology really wasn’t ready for the market. Tell us, how did you get into this, into AR? Björn: It was actually quite funny, while still studying at the university, computer science, and then somewhere else, augmented reality which popped up. And someone had a demonstrator, where someone took some glasses and glued a webcam — we had external webcams earlier — just hot-glued to some glasses and using some [unclear] stuff and highlighting it. I think it was just a cube. A virtual cube… And it was so fascinating that you can bring this computer interface into the real world. Quite a long time ago. But it was really nice. Alan: Björn, did you say there was a webcam hot-glued to a pair of glasses? Björn: Exactly. That’s how we did augmented reality 15, 20 years ago. Alan: Amazing. You are one of the OG, the originals of this industry. You’ve been building and advising brands and companies around their strategy for production. What is the one thing in augmented reality right now that you’ve seen the most ROI? Björn: It’s probably… we’ve seen a lot of companies trying to do everything. Basically every single one of us have tried to out, in the last three decades, and failed with it. And we’re figuring out what is actually the core of augmented reality. And the core of augmented reality is not– it’s not a measurement tool, it’s not a tool for everything. It looks like a display, and it is a good display. But where its core is, where it’s so good in, is in communication. It displays communication and augmented reality is big. It’s so much more close to your reality, that perception is getting much better. So what you tried to communicate with exosheets, nice PowerPoints; it’s getting so closer to the user with augmented reality. And they figured out that the communication got so much better using augmented reality — using *good* implemented augemnted real

Jan 2020

47 min 8 sec

Regular listeners will know that podcast host Alan Smithson is no stranger to the conference circuit, and is often asked to present or speak at the big XR expos. In a special episode of XR for Business, you’ll get to hear Alan in his element, as we present his opening remarks at this year’s VRX Conference. “Well, thank you guys for joining. Again, welcome to the Blue Room at VRX 2019. My name’s Alan Smithson, and we’re gonna be talking today about the transformation of education using XR. I want to just quickly talk about MetaVRse. We’re building a platform for future-proof learning. And what that means to us is as more spatial computing technologies come on board, what we want to do is make sure that organizations — from training and enterprise, and also schools and organizations in high schools and universities — all have access to not only the content, but the platforms to let them make their own content. So what we’re building is a platform marketplace for technologies and content to grow. We’re entering into the exponential age of humanity. We’re hitting the point at which all of these technologies converge together. So in the next 10 years, more wealth will be created than all of previous human history. We’re entering into an inflection point, where education systems are going to be stretched beyond our wildest imaginations. Over the next 10 years, more wealth can be created, but right now — currently — we’re building a city the size of Manhattan around the world globally, every single month. Yeah. We’re going to experience massive changes, from environmental changes, to job force changes, to educational changes, all of these changes are happening to us at a pace that we’ve never had before. It’s happening faster and faster. And somebody said this to me the other day. They said “Today is the slowest it will ever be.” It’s terrifying, it’s so fast. But learning is required at every level, whether it’s skilled trades, unskilled trades, whether it is retirees. We’re working on technologies that will make people live to 150 years old. What are they going to do? We need to rethink learning from a ground-up level. All types of learning, whether it’s at work or at school, all of these things that need a complete rethink. Here’s a crazy stat: 75 percent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2023. Who else is terrified by that fact? Right? 120 million people need to be reskill, retrained, and upskilled due to AI and automation in the next three years. We don’t have the systems in place to deal with this. Two trillion dollars, that is the global impact that VR and AR will make over the next 10 years, by 2030. And this is an estimate by PWC. So why is now the perfect time to get into virtual and augmented reality for learning? So over the last three decades we saw the rise of the personal computer and it took 20 years — 30 years, almost — to get everybody onto the personal computer. And then we saw the rise of mobile, and that took about 20 years. XR is going to take about 10 years to go to global mass. So by 2030, we’re gonna be wearing glasses around and those glasses will be inexpensive. They’ll be running on the cloud, so the compute power won’t be on your phone or on your glasses. It’ll be in the cloud, it’ll be all edge computing. So we’re gonna see this massive growth. And right now, we’re past the hype cycle. We’ve already seen proven business use cases. We’re seeing real ROI being driven. And if you look at the compounded annual growth rate of this industry, it’s unprecedented. The only other industry that’s growing as fast is AI. And it perfectly c

Jan 2020

7 min 12 sec

Today’s guest — Sector 5 Digital‘s Jeff Meisner — hopes to put grave robbers out of business, among other things. He pops in to talk to Alan about all the experiential learning experiences his company has developed, from digital cadavers to study anatomy, to the VR design process of Bell Helicopters. [Editor’s Note: due to an uploading error on my part, this episode was previously released last week with the wrong audio. We’re re-releasing today with the correct audio. We appreciate your understanding, and in particular, Jeff Meisner’s understanding in this matter – Chris, Podcast Editor] Alan: Hi, I’m Alan Smithson. And today, we’re speaking with Jeff Meisner, CEO of Sector 5 Digital, about their pioneering work on the Fantastic Journey Anatomy VR Ride, Fork Lift Training Simulator, and the work they did with Bell Helicopters, shortening design times from years to months. All of this and more on the XR for Business Podcast. Jeff, welcome to the show, my friend. Jeff: Thanks, Alan. Alan: I am super excited. So, Jeff, you are doing some incredible work at Sector 5. Let’s start with the Fantastic Journey Anatomy VR. Right. This just blows my mind. Jeff: Yeah. Yes. Just as a historical perspective on this, we’ve been working with this particular healthcare client for a couple of years now. And we started out initially doing a 3D digital cadaver, basically, that allowed them to do facial anatomy. And the company is in the business of doing injections into the face and hand. And so they needed a way to have safe areas so the injectors would have training. So we created a basic virtual training tool and that was initially in 3D, not in VR, but it was driven through our tablets and things like that. So it had kind of an AR component to it. Alan: You will learn in 3D dramatically better than even just on a 2D screen. Jeff: Yeah, exactly. And we actually did a conference which had over somewhere between 200-300 of their folks training with a massive 3D screen in front of them. So it was used as a training aid, and really now, it’s gone global. So it started initially in the U.S. and got picked up by this company, because they are a global company. And what they wanted to do was take that next step, if you will. And so We’re creating this, what we call a VR Fantastic Anatomy Journey. We’re going to be taking their folks through… well, if you know what Fantastic [Voyage] is —- as most people do — but taking them through the human body. So you’re going to have a really cool edutainment-type experience, whereby you’re going to be on somewhat of a of a VR roller coaster, although it being through the body, we’re going to be adding some elements of teaching at various points. So it’ll stop and you’ll be asked questions. It’s really, the major focus is to be very much a learning experience. But one of the things we’re finding —- and I know you are too, Alan —- is if you make it fun or people, it becomes a much more memorable experience and they want to do it again and again. We’re combining kind of that gaming-type element, if you will, but with actual data and experience, to make it something that their injectors are going to be learning from, and not just the entertainment element. Alan: When you guys started rolling out the 3D digital cadaver, how are they measuring against baseline? So, what was their baseline learning before? Just a textbook? Or..? Jeff: No, they were actually using “live” cadavers, and cadavers — and this may sound a little gruesome — but they’re somewhat h

Jan 2020

24 min 25 sec

We live in a three-dimensional world, and according to today’s guest — You Are Here Labs president John Buzzell — our computers are finally starting to catch up with that. John shoots the proverbial breeze with Alan on how spatial computing is going to fundamentally change our relationship with computers, and thus, our relationship with the world. Alan: My name is Alan Smithson, your host for the XR for Business Podcast. Today’s guest is a good friend, John Buzzell from You Are Here Labs and You Are Here Agency. John is an award winning 28 year veteran of the digital industry, creating interactive experiences across augmented reality, virtual reality, video games, mobile apps and numerous high volume websites. To learn more about You Are Here Labs and You Are Here Agency, visit yahagency.com. John, welcome to the show. John: Thanks, Alan. Good to be with you. Alan: And of all the people we’ve had on the show, you have a lot of experience in this field. I mean, you built the AR Porsche visualizer where you could drop a Porsche right in your living room and I actually have a photo of a Porsche in my living room from your app. John: [laughs] That’s great. You know, that was an interesting project, because we started off on the Hololens and it was a really interesting project. But at some point, Porsche said this is a little too future for us at the moment and we need something that the dealers and the salespeople can use without fear. And so when ARKit popped up from Apple and they said surprise, now everybody with an iPhone 6 and above and use augmented reality, it really changed the game. And we very quickly converted that experience from the Hololens to the humble iPad and it took off from there. So we were really excited to have one of the first ARKit apps that was really connected to a major company or brand. And I’m glad you liked it, too. That’s cool. Alan: It was really special. Can people download it now still? John: Well, no, they can’t. That was about two years ago that we did it. And for all of us in technology, who knows how fast it moves. Porsche is a global company and they were very impressed with the innovation. And I think they were excited to kind of pull it back to HQ and see what they could do globally with it. And also our clients left for jobs at other companies simultaneously. [laughs] So– Alan: That’s the challenge in technology, you’re working on a project with somebody, you’re all in it, and then they leave. [laughs] John: I mean, I think that’s one of the neat things about emerging tech is, is it really can help vault peoples careers into the next dimension, in the sense that these technologies are so profound and they will affect the work that we do and the way we live our lives for so long in the future, that people that have this experience, it’s really great for them individually. Alan: You’ve been doing this a while longer than myself, but I’ve been in early VR since 2014. And I’ve noticed that a lot of the people that were just building demos and stuff like that, now are running huge companies. HP and Microsoft, they’re running huge departments in this, just because they were early and learned how to do it. And they learned in a time when there was no YouTube video on how to make AR, you had to just kind of guess. John: Yeah. I mean, my career resembles that, in the sense that I got started doing interactive marketing on diskettes before CD-ROM. Our friend Cathy Hackl says, “Don’t talk about that, it makes you sound old!” but I think the experi

Jan 2020

37 min 13 sec

Your various realities — virtual, augmented, X, etc — are often talked about in the realm of vision, since we humans lean on vision as our major sense. But the folks at Bose, like today’s guest Michael Ludden, know that there’s room for sound in XR too. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s guest is Michael Ludden, global head of developer advocacy and principal augmented reality advocate at Bose Technologies. Michael is a technologist, futurist, strategist, product leader, and developer platform expert who loves to operate on the bleeding edge of what’s possible, and is a frequent keynote speaker at events around the world. Michael was previously director of IBM’s Watson’s Developer Lab for a AR and VR, among some other career stops. To learn more about the work he’s doing at Bose, you can visit developer.bose.com. Michael, welcome to the show. Michael: Wow, what an intro. Thanks for having me. Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure and honor to have you on the show. I’m super excited. I was talking to all fine and last week. I was flying from Toronto to San Francisco, and I just happened to sit beside a guy who we started talking about AR and I pulled out the North Glasses. He pulled out the Bose Frames; we swap. And we had this kind of meeting of the minds. I had the visual, he had the audio and it was really cool that I got to try the Bose Frames. What an amazing piece of technology. Michael: Glad you liked it. Alan: So you’ve had a storied career here. You’ve done everything from IBM Watson, to Google, to HTC, Samsung. How did you end up in technology, and why did you get so fascinated on futurism? Michael: Well, it’s sort of been a running theme in my life. I read a lot of science fiction as a kid and I was always interested in technology and — not to date myself — but at a certain point in my life when I was a young adult, technology started to really aggressively eat everything, starting with mobile. And I just found that was really the point of inflection in my life where I studied musical theater in college, I went to UCLA. I thought that’s what I was going to do. I really did. And I did get a B.A. so I got a little arts education, too. And at the same time, I was always tinkering with stuff, building my own PCs. I started my own web development company at one point to make Web sites in Flash, CS2, and CS3 in the early days; it was brutal. Alan: There’s a conference in Toronto called Flash in the Can; FITC. Michael: Nice. Alan: That’s old school. Michael: It is very old school. And, you know, I never really thought I’d make a career out of it, but I needed money. I was a starving actor in L.A. and one of my friends who I just made by being nerdy, worked for a company called HTC. They were releasing the first-ever Android phone, which was called The Dream — or the G1 in the US. So I was in contact with this guy; he got a promotion. He said, “you should take my old job,” which was L.A.-based, and I was living there. And I said, “I want to do it.” I was working on a podcasting platform called This Week In — not This Week in Tech — but This Week In. It was a Jason Calacanis-led network out of the old Mahalo Studios in Santa Monica. But it paid me pennies. And when they told me what the job paid and what I’d be doing, I said, “OK, I guess I’ll do it.” I needed the money, and it was very flexible. It felt really easy to me, like that’s really all you need me to d

Jan 2020

27 min 29 sec

Today's guest -- Sector 5 Digital's Jeff Meisner -- hopes to put grave robbers out of business, among other things. He pops in to talk to Alan about all the experiential learning experiences his company has developed, from digital cadavers to study anatomy, to the VR design process of Bell Helicopters. Alan: Hi, I'm Alan Smithson. And today, we're speaking with Jeff Meisner, CEO of Sector 5 Digital, about their pioneering work on the Fantastic Journey Anatomy VR Ride, Fork Lift Training Simulator, and the work they did with Bell Helicopters, shortening design times from years to months. All of this and more on the XR for Business Podcast. Jeff, welcome to the show, my friend. Jeff: Thanks, Alan. Alan: I am super excited. So, Jeff, you are doing some incredible work at Sector 5. Let's start with the Fantastic Journey Anatomy VR. Right. This just blows my mind. Jeff: Yeah. Yes. Just as a historical perspective on this, we've been working with this particular healthcare client for a couple of years now. And we started out initially doing a 3D digital cadaver, basically, that allowed them to do facial anatomy. And the company is in the business of doing injections into the face and hand. And so they needed a way to have safe areas so the injectors would have training. So we created a basic virtual training tool and that was initially in 3D, not in VR, but it was driven through our tablets and things like that. So it had kind of an AR component to it. Alan: You will learn in 3D dramatically better than even just on a 2D screen. Jeff: Yeah, exactly. And we actually did a conference which had over somewhere between 200-300 of their folks training with a massive 3D screen in front of them. So it was used as a training aid, and really now, it's gone global. So it started initially in the U.S. and got picked up by this company, because they are a global company. And what they wanted to do was take that next step, if you will. And so We're creating this, what we call a VR Fantastic Anatomy Journey. We're going to be taking their folks through… well, if you know what Fantastic [Voyage] is —- as most people do -- but taking them through the human body. So you're going to have a really cool edutainment-type experience, whereby you’re going to be on somewhat of a VR roller coaster, although it being through the body, we're going to be adding some elements of teaching at various points. So it'll stop and you'll be asked questions. It's really, the major focus is to be very much a learning experience. But one of the things we're finding —- and I know you are too, Alan —- is if you make it fun for people, it becomes a much more memorable experience and they want to do it again and again. We're combining kind of that gaming-type element, if you will, but with actual data and experience, to make it something that their injectors are going to be learning from, and not just the entertainment element. Alan: When you guys started rolling out the 3D digital cadaver, how are they measuring against baseline? So, what was their baseline learning before? Just a textbook? Or..? Jeff: No, they were actually using "live" cadavers, and cadavers -- and this may sound a little gruesome -- but they're somewhat hard to come by, especially outside of the US. The regulatory issues that you deal with are very, very high barriers there. When we came along with the virtual cadaver initially, as I said, it was really only being used in a very small area. But when they realized that they could take this globally, and they now didn't have the same barriers that they had in the past, that really opened things up for them and opened up their eyes as to the value that this would bring. <

Jan 2020

47 sec

Today’s guest, Lance Anderson of Lance-AR, got tired of seeing so many XR providers only help clients achieve their stated ROI goals, then leaving them to their own devices to scale. Lance helps those companies today, by understanding the need to marry emerging tech with legacy systems, so disruptive tech doesn’t seem so disruptive. Alan: Coming up on the XR for Business Podcast, today we’re speaking with Lance Anderson, founder and CEO of Lance-AR, a consulting and services company for enterprise AR space, focused on helping organizations scale deployment. We’ll be learning about the challenges and learnings from his experience. All that and more on the XR for Business Podcast. Lance, welcome to the show. Lance: Hey, great, thanks for having me on. Alan: My absolute pleasure. It’s very exciting to meet somebody as passionate as you are about bringing augmented reality to the enterprise. But before we start, explain how you got here and what is it you do for customers? Lance: Sure. So I’m coming from — let’s just round it down, let’s call it 15 years — in the enterprise space selling software and services and automation, things like that. Ended up at Vuzix in 2015 and had a great run with those guys. Late 2018 I left Vuzix and started Lance-AR, because I was just frustrated. Frustrated with the lack of companies deploying augmented reality at scale. Everybody talks about the dizzying ROIs that are out there to get, and all the wonderful things and advantages that this technology brings. Yet no one was deploying at scale and I had this unique position at Vuzix — because there are so few hardware providers — that we were able to see thousands of pilots and POCs, in all different regions and different use cases. And we just saw so many of those either fail, sputter, or just kind of evaporate. So I wanted to take all that knowledge and bring it to the enterprise space and see if we could turn some things around. That’s why Lance-AR came about. And really what we do now is we connect enterprise users, AR hardware manufacturers and AR software providers, the problem solvers. We connect them all in an agnostic way, and try to make sure that these folks are set up in the right way for success, that they have a strategy for achieving success and then for taking success and moving it into what I would call scale deployment. So success could be a five unit pilot, but I don’t consider it success until it’s 500 units or a 1,000 units rolling to the company. So that’s in essence, what we do. Alan: That’s amazing. My first thought when you were talking about the challenges and pitfalls of getting caught in what they call “pilot purgatory” would be if you had to kind of focus on the five main things or six main things, what are those main challenges that make it so difficult to go from pilot to scale? Lance: Everybody’s at fault, frankly. So I’ve done a lot of sales and marketing in my day. The marketers in our industry are at fault. Promising future worlds today that just aren’t quite possible. There’s fault in the hardware manufacturers. Alan: We’ve got to call out Microsoft on making videos that people will go, “We want that!” Lance: It was Microsoft, SAP did one in 2014. Alan: Everybody’s been making these beautifully Hollywood produced videos on “Look at what you can do with AR!” And then they put the glasses on and are like, “Well, why is the view cut off?” They’re like, “Oh, yeah. Well, about that…” Lance: Not really. Not really. Well, almost. U

Jan 2020

31 min 55 sec

Access to the Internet can be spotty in Northern Canada. But heavy industry happens up there all the same, and Bit Space Development’s Daniel Blair wants to bring those workers the same access to XR-driven training and remote expert assistance as anywhere else enjoys. He chats with Alan about how he hopes to bring that about, in the first XR for Business of 2020. Alan: Hey, everyone, it’s Alan Smithson here with the XR for Business Podcast. Today, we’re speaking with Daniel Blair, founder and CEO of a Canadian VR company called Bit Space Development. We’ll be discussing how virtual reality is revolutionizing industrial training and why it’s vitally important to define your key performance indicators to release you and your customers from the Pilot POC Purgatory. All that and more on the XR for Business Podcast. With that, I want to welcome my good friend Dan to the show. Welcome to the show, Dan. Daniel: Hey, thanks for having me. Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure. Let’s get into what you guys are doin; making serious purposes with VR and AR. What does that mean? Daniel: Basically, what that means is we utilize immersive technologies to create games. But those games are used for training, education, and really serious purposes. We aren’t generally building applications that are going to be sold on Steam or sold on the Oculus store. But what we’re building are tools that integrate with clients infrastructure to help augment their workflow or create a safer workplace. Alan: I know you guys have done a ton of things. One of them was a hand tool training simulator. Maybe walk us through what are these things, and how are people using them? Daniel: For sure. Some of our most recent deployments include exactly what you’re talking about, the power tools simulator, which we created with a provincial organization here. That tool utilizes the room-scale six degrees of freedom tracking of any of the open VR-capable headsets, to put new entrants and kids on job sites and teach them about safe operation of power tools. And that can range from anything from a drill or a hammer drill or a circular saw. But we put some really interesting tools in there, like concrete saws — which would be extremely dangerous for a new entrant to use in real life. Alan: I actually know all about that, cement saws. When I was a kid, my dad was grinding some bricks with a grinding wheel and the wheel shattered and cut both his legs wide open. And I remember as a kid, taking him to the hospital and them having to sew up right down to the bone. I mean, this was a real problem. I know this firsthand. This is a very, very unsafe tool if used incorrectly. Daniel: Yeah. And the worst part of building these applications are the shock value photos that my clients will send me. I’ll wake up in the morning and they’ll say, “hey, this is a good example of why to learn about the safe operation of these tools.” And they’ll send me a photo of something similar to what happened to your dad, which is super unfortunate. And additionally to that, we’ve done a lot of work in the welding space, and on the more promotional side, our most recent deployment is called Level Up VR, which we developed with the USAF Workers of Tomorrow, an organization that promotes safe work sites and safe work practices for both employers and employees for youth. And that tool actually won an Impact Marketing Award for the use of the virtual reality tool in the campaign that was created to raise awareness. So we see both the marketing side and the education side. Alan: That’s amazing. Safe working is something that we need to market to. Tr

Jan 2020

35 min 42 sec

Alan puts it best in this episode of XR for Business: Sam Schoonover’s job with Goldenvoice is to create “wow” moments at music festivals like Coachella. Sam talks about the groundwork they’ve laid at Coachella for immersive reality so far, and where he plans to take it going forward. Alan: Coming up next on the XR for Business Podcast, we have Sam Schoon over from Goldenvoice and Coachella, my favorite music festival in the world. We’re going to be talking about augmented reality spaceships, augmented reality portals, bringing video to life in a AR and El Pollo Loco. All that and more coming up next on the XR for Business Podcast. Sam, welcome to the show. Sam: Hi. Thanks for having me. Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure, man. As you know — and as people on the show who know because I’ve mentioned it before — Coachella is one of my absolute favorite music festivals. And having been a deejay for 20 years myself, I’ve been to a few. Coachella is just this magical place. So I’m really excited to unlock two of my favorite things — music festivals and XR — with you on the show. So, thank you so much. Sam: Yeah, absolutely. Me as well. I think a lot of people out there would agree with you. Alan: Yeah, man. So tell me, how did you end up working with Coachella and what have you done before and how did you get there? Let’s just get into it. Sam: Previous to this job, I was doing a whole assortment of different things in the music industry, and I guess the technology industry as well. I was a freelance website developer, and had also been curating music and had developed a playlist curation application. And then alongside that, I was promoting with various promoters in San Diego and Los Angeles and touring shows. And that eventually — that and a music blog and I was doing at the time — introduced me to the guy who started Splash House, which is a smaller music festival in Palm Springs. And through him, I met the Goldenvoice team and I got involved at Goldenvoice Digital, and in a roundabout way, ended up focusing entirely on innovation just for Coachella. Alan: What a dream job for somebody like… “here, your job is to focus on innovation, make really cool things that nobody’s done in the world, for the most impressive festivals in the world.” Sam: Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun to be able to focus on new things every day. And we have like just such an incredible team at Goldenvoice, the people who have been doing Coachella for the past 20 years are still involved and still loving it. And they’re really the reason why this job even exists, because they appreciate innovation and they understand its place and our future. And and they understand that innovating and experimenting and sometimes failing, but always trying is a part of what makes things great and stand the test of time. Coachella is in a unique situation, where it’s a successful music festival and it’s a successful business, so we have the ability to spend money on experiences like that, while not every festival out there is so lucky. Alan: Yeah. And you guys — well, “you guys,” I think it was before you even got there — but Coachella is no stranger to virtual and augmented reality. I remember in, oh man, it must be 2015/16, Coachella livestreamed 360 content to VR headsets and I believe it was pushing to the — it was! — it was the Samsung GearyVR at the time. I remember watching one of one of the shows from there and thinking, “oh man, I’m literally like getting crazy FOMO.” Sam: Yeah, you&#

Dec 2019

36 min 53 sec

Most kids who grew up spending too much time at the video arcade wound up with fewer quarters and a few earfuls from their parents. That’s not the case for Kevin Williams, who turned his arcade addiction into a career as an out-of-home entertainment guru. He drops in to talk about how XR is taking old ideas and breathing new life into them. Alan: Hey, you’re listening to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. In this episode coming up is Kevin Williams. He is the out-of-home location-based entertainment expert, and he’s what’s coming up next. We’re going to talk about Disney vision, the 90s, immersive entertainment, dream craft, driving go-karts in augmented reality, Great Wolf Lodge and magical wands. All that and much more coming up on the XR for Business Podcast. Founder of the DNA conference and publisher of the ever-mindblowing Stinger Report and my guest today, Kevin Williams. Thank you so much for joining me on the show. Kevin: Thank you, Alan, a real pleasure to be here. The check’s in the post. Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure. You don’t know this, but you’re one of my very first mentors in this entire industry. You were the first person I reached out to and you were so gracious with helping me understand this world of VR and AR before anybody really caught on to this. That was back in 2014, and I’ll never forget it. So thank you for being there for me. Kevin: Oh, thank you for remembering. Our industry only grows by the new people that you can introduce to it. Alan: And with that, I want to make a challenge to everybody in the industry who owns some sort of VR or AR device — and I am included in this. It’s easy for us to not remember the journey and excitement of our first few times of trying these technologies. I implore everybody and make a challenge to everybody that owns a device — or many devices, in our case — in the next seven days, to put it on as many heads as possible; to get those reactions, to re-energize yourself to the fact that wow, this technology is revolutionary, it is mind-blowing. And we have it sitting in our backpacks, sitting on our desks, sitting in our labs. Let’s show everybody. Kevin: Well, that’s part of the reason why I’m so passionate about augmented reality and virtual reality being used in out-of-home entertainment. We can get a lot more heads in it, rather than it just sitting on a shelf in the development studio. Alan: I couldn’t agree more. I had the opportunity to meet with Dream Craft Attractions on the weekend, and oh my goodness, they’ve even solved the problem of hygiene! How do you put people in those masks without having to sterilize all of the devices? So they came up with this ingenious plastic helmet. Like, so smart. And then the VR headsets lower down. Kevin: It’s interesting; you talk about how long this industry has been going. I was just having a conversation. You do understand that that two-part liner system is actually based on the original idea that Walt Disney’s Imagineerium had for their Disney-bution system. Alan: “Disney-bution system!” Kevin: So, Disneyvision was the system that was its Epcot in the 90s. That’s where a lot of people first heard about virtual reality in the theme park sector. And because Disney at the time was trying to work out which was the best way to get people into virtual reality — and this technology is clunky, was using CRTs — they came up with a two-part system where there was a liner that you put on first, and then the head-mounted display component clipped into that liner when you go to

Dec 2019

40 min 24 sec

Imagine owning the digital real estate surrounding the Taj Mahal. Well, to be real with you, you can’t have all of it – today’s guest, SuperWorld co-founder Hrish Lotlikar, already has a piece. But he’s made it easy for anyone who wants it to buy the rest, and other plots of digital real estate around the world. He also talks about The Rogue Initiative and SingularityNET! Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s guest is Hrish Lotlikar from the Rogue Initiative, SuperWorld app, and SingularityNET. Hrish is the co-founder and chief business development officer for the Rogue Initiative, a Los Angeles based entertainment company composed of award winning entertainment industry professionals, including alumni from Amblin Entertainment, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, Disney, Activision and they are creating new original feature films, television, AAA cinematic interactive VR, and gaming content. He’s also the co-founder of SuperWorld — superworldapp.com — which is Foursquare meets Pokemon Go meets Monopoly in the real world, building a community in AR, powered by the blockchain. They’ve built an AR real estate marketplace, ad marketplace on the blockchain, which also acts as a social AR app, allowing users to personalize their real world by adding anything, anywhere in augmented reality with photos, videos, texts, and 3D objects, and share those experiences with their followers. He’s also an advisor of SingularityNET, a decentralized marketplace for AI algorithms allowing companies, organizations, and developers to buy and sell AI at scale. Previously to this, he was in venture capital, but he got better. If you want to learn more about Hrish’s initiatives, you can go to the Rogue Initiative, which is therogueinitiative.com, SuperWorld, which is superworldapp.com, and SingularityNET, which is singularitynet.io. Hrish, welcome to the show, my friend. Hrish: Hey, thanks so much for having me, Alan. I appreciate it. Looking forward to having this conversation. Alan: Oh, absolute pleasure. You do a lot in this space. And the first time we met was at– I think it’s now called Global World Summit. But it was called– what was it called before? Hrish: The VR/AR Conference? Alan: Yeah.The VR/AR Association Conference. But let’s unpack these amazing initiatives that you’re doing. Let’s start with the one that’s Rogue. Hrish: Yeah. Alan: Tell us about it. Hrish: Sure, yeah. So, Rogue Initiative we started back in late 2015. My co-founders, Pete Blumel and Cathy Twigg. The goal of the Rogue Initiative was looking at the convergence of linear, Hollywood, traditional entertainment and interactive entertainment. And how could we — from the ground up — create new original properties that brought those forms of entertainment together? Because there is a confluence of technology and Silicon Valley in Hollywood that was coming together. And how do we how do we kind of leverage that, to create new original content that goes across all of those medium? So building and developing a new story that starts on the feature film side and then organically moves to interactive all the way through TV, through all the way to amusement park rides and toys. So building franchises from the ground up, bringing in top Hollywood talent and interactive talent, and knowing from the foundations of creating that content, that we’re building it to go across all those mediums. And that’s the kind of hig

Dec 2019

29 min 18 sec

In between your regularly-scheduled XR for Businesses episodes, Alan has a brief update and recap of his recent trip to the Ritossa Family Office Summit in Dubai Hey there, it’s Alan Smithson with the XR for Business Podcast. And today’s episode is a very special recap of a conference that I just spent two days at, called the Ritossa Family Office Summit. This is a gathering of elite family offices, a total of 600 prominent business owners, sheiks, royal families, private investment companies, and international business people, getting together to discuss the future of investing. Now, to put it in perspective, the people that attend this represent about $4.5-trillion in investable wealth. And this conference is the world’s largest and most exclusive gathering of elite family office decision makers. This year’s topic was “East Meets West”, and the theme of Dubai summit will act as a bridge between Middle East families and their European, Asian, US, and Latin American counterparts. This was an amazing experience for us. We were there as a vendor. We were the only company there bringing virtual and augmented reality to these people. And the interest level around virtual and augmented reality was insane. People were asking all sorts of questions, “How long is this going to take? What is the roadmap now? Who’s using it? What companies are doing it? How can we involve our company portfolios in this?” And really, we came at this from a training standpoint. Virtual and augmented reality training is the most effective, efficient training solutions we’ve ever created as humans. Everything from being able to track where the user’s looking, to their biometrics, their heart rate, all of these things combined create what we are hoping will be the future of all education and training. And at MetaVRse, what we’re really focusing on now is building out a platform marketplace to help businesses navigate the technology, figure out what technology works best for the needs of their employees. Because as we enter into this kind of age of exponential growth, what we’re seeing now is a massive change in how we work. Over the next three years alone, IBM estimates that over 120 million people will need to be reskilled and retrained due to AI and automation. And from a strictly monetizable standpoint, PWC — the global conglomerate — they’ve just earmarked $3-billion to reskill, upskill, and retrain their staff. AI and robotics and automation are coming faster than we can possibly think about. And virtual and augmented reality give us this kind of unique perspective as to how we can train people in a way that is easier, faster, more efficient. And I think we’re going to need that as we enter into exponential growth. Back to the Dubai summit. First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to Anthony Ritossa — the host of the summit — who brought together these incredible people. It was under the patronage of His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, the ruler and prime minister of Dubai, and the ruling family. And it was really amazing to meet their chief investment officer, Mohammed Al Ali — who actually today is being knighted in London — and he is the CEO and advisor of their International Investments Enterprise. We met with Adam, the judge from the private office of His Highness, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. We met with Faris, and his team from the office of Sheikh Sultan Bin Abdullah Al Qasimi.Qasimi. And all of these sheikhs represent family offices from different parts of the UAE. You have Dubai, you have Sharjah, you have Abu Dhabi, and all of these different emirates. There’s investments where they’re looking not just to invest in oil and gas and these things, they’re really looking towards investing in world cha

Dec 2019

13 min 14 sec

When you’ve been a journalist on the XR technology beat for 20 years, like VentureBeat’s lead writer Dean Takahashi has, you develop a hunch or two about the direction the industry might go. Alan picks Dean’s brain for a few such scoops. Alan: Thank you for joining the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson, today’s guest is the one and only Dean Takahashi, the lead writer for VentureBeat. He’s been a tech journalist for more than 28 years, and he’s covered games for a twenty one of those years. He’s authored two books: Opening the XBox, and The XBox 360 Uncloaked. He organizes the annual GamesBeat and GamesBeat Summit conferences. To learn more, you can visit games beat dot com or venture beat dot com. Dean, welcome to the show, my friend. Dean: Thank you. And thank you for having me. Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure. We had the distinct opportunity to meet at AWE this year for a very short amount of time. I think we rode the escalator down? But I’ve been a big fan of yours for a long time. I read the articles that you write, and they’re very insightful. They’re very factual. I’m just very honored to have you on the show. So, thank you very much. Dean: Thank you. Nice, and happy to hear. Alan: How did you start… first of all, I guess you’ve been in the games world for a long time. How did you kind of pivot over to VentureBeat, and what is VentureBeat? Let’s let’s unpack what VentureBeat is, for people that may or may not know? Dean: Yeah, I was sort of a traditional newspaper and magazine journalist for a long time, and then, when the web came along and people started podcasting and blogging, I looked around and felt like it was less of a risk to go try something new than it was to stay at a newspaper. I was at the San Jose newspaper at the time. So about 11 years ago, I joined VentureBeat, and it had been started two years earlier by Matt Marshall, who was a venture capital writer for the Mercury News and an early blogger as well. And so, we were a tech news blog and competed at the time with likes of GIGO, and TechCrunch. They have been either… gone away, or they they’ve been acquired by larger companies. So we’re still one of the last, larger independent tech blogs. And then within that, when I joined about eleven years ago, we started GamesBeat as well, as sort of a subsection that focused on games. At the very beginning, we were sort of a startup and venture capital site. But now we pretty much cover the gamut of tech news and game news. And then, our particular vertical focuses are artificial intelligence on the tech side, and then the whole game sector. And then, I guess as far as getting into VR and AR, I’ve really followed the news. I remember seeing the Oculus guys — Palmer Luckey and Nate Mitchell and Brendan (Iribe) over at one of their CES tables in the early years, well before they were acquired. I think I even tried to get an interview with John Carmack, like, the day after he did a demo at E3. The next day, he was gone. So I was on the hunt kind of early. Never quite the absolute first person to dive into VR. Alan: But very close. You’ve seen it from pre-DK1 days — where [it was] probably a cobbled-together a collection of flat screens, wires, and duct tape — and what it is today, where you have real consumer-grade virtual reality that’s not even connected to computers. You’ve seen a lot over the years. You’ve written countless articles on virtual and augmented reality. Is there anything that you may have written about before that you couldn’t have predicted, that has happened already? Dea

Dec 2019

40 min 31 sec