Building Empathy in XR, with Tech Trends journalist Alice Bonasio

Alan is always ready with an interesting XR anecdote or two on this podcast, but even he has a source for interesting XR tidbits. In today’s episode, he brings that source to him – XR journalist and consultant, Alice Bonasio. They end up chatting about the principles behind the idea that XR is an “empathy machine.”

Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s guest is Alice Bonasio, the technology writer for Inside VR and AR. Alice is a technology writer/producer/consultant with a particular interest in the immersive space. Over the past 15 years, she’s combined a career in freelance journalism, contributing to outlets such as Wired, Quartz, Fast Company, Playboy, Upload VR, Ars Technica and many others. She’s advised a broad range of companies, from startups to major corporations on their communications and digital strategy. She’s currently the editor-in-chief of Tech Trends, a news and opinion website she founded in 2016, and the curator of the daily Inside VR and AR newsletter, which I personally read every single day. You can connect with Alice on LinkedIn and you can also reach her at Twitter on Alice Bonasio. And if you want to subscribe to Inside VR, it’s inside.com/vr and inside.com/ar.

Alice, welcome to the show.

Alice: Hello. Very nice to meet you. Thanks for inviting me on.

Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure. I read your content daily, so it’s a real pleasure for me to have you on the show. Every day I get this Inside VR, and I skim through it, I look for the things that are business related. And at the bottom, it says “curated by Alice.” And I was like, I got to have her on the show. So thank you so much.

Alice: You’re very, very welcome.

Alan: You are my source for news.

Alice: [laughs] That’s very nice to know. Yes. And the more subscribers we get, the more I get to do what I love, which is trawling through all of those interesting bits of news. So, yeah, definitely get everyone to subscribe. That’ll be great.

Alan: Well, I know one way to get more subscribers, we should write a piece about this amazing new podcast called the XR for Business Podcast.

Alice: Ah, yes, yes. That’s how you make a great plug. Yeah, yeah. We’re pros here, we’re pros.

Alan: So I want to dive in here because there’s so much to get in. We’ve got an hour, let’s really make the best of it. Let’s start with one or two things that you’ve seen in the last little bit that just blew your mind, because I think you get to see everything from a 10,000 foot view. What is personally blowning your mind in XR for business?

Alice: I think one of the recent examples — and you were talking about it when you were saying about doing your news roundup — in the last week was really that Microsoft demo at Inspire. That really did blow my mind. And it’s one of those things where you see several elements just come together into something that just makes such sense. And it was one of those eureka moments. Together with mapping, I think that translation is just such an obvious use case for augmented or mixed reality, but it is also one of the most difficult ones to get right, because you just need a lot of elements to be at the optimum stage and to come together for the experience to work. And the experience either really works well or doesn’t. So what they did was, at Microsoft Inspire — which is a partner conference for Microsoft — Julia White, who is an executive for Azure, came on stage and they did this demo where she conjured up a little hologram at first, and then the hologram became a full-size replica, doppelganger of herself on stage. And she does not speak Japanese — Julia White — but her doppelganger delivered the second part of the keynote in fluent Japanese.

Alan: That was so amazing. You know, watching her stand onstage, in a Hololens, watching her own avatar give another presentation — or same presentation — onstage in Japanese.

Alice: I know. It’s not often that I will forgive executives for looking very smug, but she did. And I was like, “Well, actually, you kind of deserve that.” You’re pulling off a demo there. You have the right to have that little smile on your face and go, “This is really so cool.”

Alan: I don’t think it was smug, so much as just really giddy. It looked like she was like, “Yay!”

Alice: She did. The thing is, is that it’s everything that you have it as an out there conception of what the technology could be. It’s a kind of Star Trek-y thing, science fiction. And at the same time, we are at the stage where it is all possible. And no, it isn’t a consumer product just yet, but all the elements are there. You’re getting to the point where the machine translation is getting good enough, where voice recognition is good enough, as well as then all of the mixed reality elements that allow you to mimic the facial expressions, and the way that you’re– to avoid that whole uncanny valley thing, you do need — like, if you’re having an avatar, or especially a holographic one — you do need that to match. What does your face look like when you mouth those words? It’s not something that you might necessarily think you know, but you feel it, so that you subconsciously know when it looks wrong. So there’s so many different elements that make it so complex to get this right. And for that all to come together in a demo so that you could just go, “Wow, that’s the future.” It’s just arrived on your doorstep. That was amazing.

Alan: We always talk about the future. And the future is now. That’s the crazy thing. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, we’re gonna have simultaneous translation for avatars in five years, ten years.” It happened last week.

Alice: Absolutely. It’s one of those things that a lot of futurists — who sounded ambitious years ago — are now revising their predictions to saying, well, actually, it’s going to happen much sooner than we thought. So it is like Moore’s Law, it’s very true, still. And everything is getting better a lot quicker than you expect, and a lot cheaper. I mean, if you look at the latest batch of VR headsets, the capabilities of something like the Oculus Quest, and what you get for that price bracket, it’s just unbelievable just how far it’s gone, because I still look back to case studies from places like the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford. And you look at some of those old videos now — what are old? — but you know, you’re talking about less than a decade. And the VR headsets they were using literally costs hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And they did not do what the Quest does.

[chuckles]

It’s just– it’s unbelievable.

Alan: It’s pretty impressive. I actually– in 2015, I said, “OK, it’s a 10 year roadmap. 2025 we’re going to start seeing the real uplift of this.” So I took a really long approach, but I’m actually starting to shrink my timelines as well, because I didn’t think we’d ever see consumer based augmented reality glasses until at least 2025, like not even close. And the Nreal glasses that appeared at CS this year were so good. Oh, my goodness.

Alice: Yeah, I’m the same. And I always thought for a while it just really looked like such a one horse race. And then I think kudos goes to Microsoft for getting in early with the Hololens and just putting all the resources into making even the first Hololens such a solid product so that you got all those enterprise case studies and all that. But for a while that really looked like they and Magic Leap — and we weren’t really sure what Magic Leap looked like until very recently — were the only players in that market. And now you’ve got this expanding, you know, all these new companies coming into the sort of smart glasses space and how do we integrate it with mobile and 5G. And then that’s– again that’s just going to create an ecosystem. And I don’t think anything will happen without an ecosystem. I think with VR you’ve now got that larger ecosystem with the headsets and now that’s going to also happen in AR.

Alan: Well, you mentioned ecosystem and this is not a– I guess it’s gonna be a shameless plug, but we started XR Ignite to become a central community ecosystem where startups, studios, and developers could come together, discuss their challenges, work together to help them help each other, but also then connect them to corporate clients. Because on the corporate side, they want to innovate and they want to be first to have the technologies. They want to know what’s happening. They want access to the new technologies. But they don’t know which ones to pick. They don’t, they have no idea. And so on these startup side, we’ve got these amazing products and platforms and services, and they don’t know how to do business with corporate. So we’re kind of taking the central role where we are going to become the connector of the industry. Only in B2B. I mean, we’re really kind of focused on that B2B market, because we saw a gap few years ago. There was a company called Upload and they had Upload VR. They had a beautiful central hub in San Francisco and LA and they were the hub of virtual reality. And they had gaming companies and they had enterprise coming, everybody under one roof and it kind of imploded. But the idea of having that central hub really resonated with me, because somebody is got to help these people from all over the world standardize their offerings. Because if you look at VR as a whole — or AR — you’ve got such a wide range of quality, and such a wide range of different types of VR. So you’ve got 360 video on one end. You’ve got AR apps on your phone, on the other end. You’ve got Hololens in the middle. You have all of these different things, and all of them serve a purpose to different companies at different times. So we wanted to be able to map that out and be the central hub to help companies make better buying decisions. And that’s why we started this podcast as well.

Alice: Now, I think that makes a lot of sense because even for somebody who’s been immersed in that space for what feels like a very long time now, it still gets baffling. I mean, there’s still something new that comes along every day and often it will disrupt any conceptions that you already have of that market. So to really know what technology decisions you need to make — so that you can reach the audience in the way that you want to, and just execute on your goals — then it’s very complicated. So you do need that knowledge, and you need to have a sort of “who you gonna call” kind of. [laughs].

Alan: [laughs] Amazing.

Alice: But yeah, you can have that one for free. You’re the Ghostbusters of XR.

Alan: Nice. One of the articles you published, or one of the quick snippets that you published was a couple of days ago. It was “By The Numbers: How AR Increases Productivity.” And you were talking about Rori DuBoff, head of content, innovations, and strategy with Accenture Interactive. And Rori’s actually been a guest on this show, so I know about the stuff they’re working on. But something that was amazing was two points you touched on. The adoption of augmented reality boosts productivity by 21 percent on average. And then this figure rises even further to an average of 35 percent in sectors such as healthcare and social services. Companies are already seeing massive benefits of this technology. What are some of the ones that you’ve seen that have the most impactful ROIs?

Alice: As you alluded to, I think healthcare is one of those amazing use cases, because it’s such a complex landscape. And from training professionals to patients themselves, making the right choices to equipment configuration, to drugs, to everything else in that landscape is about massive amounts of information and where accuracy literally means life or death. This is why we tend to pay healthcare professionals higher salaries. It takes so many years to train to a level where you’re confident using that information and it takes so much practice. So where immersive technologies really come into their own are those two things: they provide real-time, accurate, as-you-need-it information, hands-free, right in front of you. That’s so powerful. That’s literally a superpower. And then at the same time, for the things that you have to practice, I mean, you’re performing — for example, as a surgeon or as a nurse — procedures, medical procedures. Those are things that you need to learn on the muscle memory level, and you need to learn by experiencing. And so far, the only ways that you could really do that were by simulating those experiences in the real world. I mean, for doctors, they would interact with actors, they would use cadavers. All of those things up until the point where they might get the chance to observe surgery and then to maybe do a little bit. But in the class of however many students, you clock up the hours of all of those practices together. And it’s still very little. That’s why it takes multiple years for any kind of surgeon to get up to a certain level where we feel comfortable with them cutting us open. So… [laughs]

Alan: You think we can shorten the time–

Alice: We can accelerate that dramatically. And that’s what’s needed, because there’s such a shortage of healthcare professiononals. That’s one of the crises that this technology addresses already. It’s the shortage of professionals, because you have people without access to the facilities and those medical schools, you can use simulation. You’re getting to the point where you have haptics. So you can actually feel and see what that experience is like. I’m not saying that you wouldn’t then go on to have the real world practice. But by the time you get to that stage, you’ve already had so much more of that, that it makes a huge difference, I think not only to the numbers of people that will have access to that knowledge, but also to the quality of the professional that you will get at the end of it.

Alan: Absolutely. We’re seeing it in enterprise a lot as well. And one of the guests that was on the show is Dr. Walter Greenleaf. And he’s been a pioneer in this technology in the medical field. And it’s not just practicing surgery, that’s one thing, but it’s also visualizing MRI data or CT scans or X-rays. But it’s also being able to put it on patients and prepare them for surgery and walk them through what to expect. So that calms their nerves. There are so many ways that this technology can be used for physicians, for nurses, for visualization, for patients, for drug discovery, for pharmaceutical reps. Is there any business or entity or enterprise that you can think of, that probably won’t use this technology?

Alice: I honestly can’t, because what it comes down to what you said is very true. Visualization is the key here. And humans are programmed to really learn through experiencing and seeing things for themselves. So, what you get with a lot of the way that we traditionally learn and consume information is you have this translation into words, into graphs. You’re constantly overloading your brain with the demand of translating that in real time and trying to absorb that knowledge. So it’s what’s called the cognitive load. And what these immersive technologies can do for you immediately is to reduce the cognitive load. You are seeing things in a way that already make sense to your brain. So you’re not spending that extra RAM, as such, in trying to do that process. You have spare brain capacity to actually pay attention, to be in the moment into the experience of what you’re doing. So you will remember that procedure better. You will remember that information better, because you’re not trying to visualize it. The visual is already in front of you. So that’s one very simple thing. And it goes across the board. I mean, any kind of information that you can pretty much think of will be better presented and absorbed in that way. It’s not sector-specific. It is most fundamental to the way that we as humans learn. And I think that that’s the fundamental shift that you’re having. We’ve learned in one way for centuries now. And now we can have this opportunity to learn in a completely different way, that’s exponentially more efficient.

Alan: So one of the articles that you linked to and you wrote about was “training for empathy is challenging but possible, and VR is the optimum medium for facilitating this at scale.” And it was talking about a gentleman named Dr. Todd Maddox, who I interviewed this morning on my podcast — I do all my interviews on Mondays, and Todd was the first interview this morning. He talked about something amazing, where you can create empathy in somebody in a way that’s never been done. You can literally be in someone else’s shoes, literally. You look down, you see somebody else’s shoes. And he made the comment that if I’m a white, middle aged male in the tech industry, I can put on VR and become a 20 year old female black lesbian and feel what it’s like to have those stereotypes in an experience. And it’s not going to replace a lifetime of experiences, but at least you can start to feel what it’s like to have people look at you differently in these things. And why this is even still a problem in 2019 is beyond me. Let’s just be clear. We are all people. We all live on this planet. We’re all people. It doesn’t matter where you come from, doesn’t matter where you going. We’re all in this world. And if we start to think as a global entity, instead of individuals and nation states and this sort of thing, then that’s when we all start to realize that we need to all work together to protect this planet together. And sorry. And I think VR can be that catalyst to make us think that way.

Alice: I totally agree. And it’s something that’s talked about a lot, to the point where it’s almost become a cliché to call VR the empathy machine, because that’s something that very early on brilliant people like Chris Milk have talked about and given examples of. People like Cathy Hackl speak of it a lot, in how she came to VR. As you know, one of her first experiences was when she used to work in a news organization, and she basically became callous towards just– You build up these barriers when you just watch so much horror that she became– to the point where she wouldn’t connect with those people in those stories anymore, until the point where she finally experienced something in VR, which was award winning experience by The Guardian, which puts you into a cell, solitary confinement cell. And she just came away from it, all her barriers suddenly came down and she just realized just how powerful being immersed in an experience firsthand can be for telling those important stories and actually getting through to people. When you talk about immersive technologies as being a bit of a fad or whatever, actually look at the people who have stuck around as content makers. And you you do have people like Nonny de la Peña. If everyone like that has been around the immersive space, creating content and most of them not making any kind of decent money out of it for a very long time. So it’s like they stick around because there is this amazing potential, and the technology does work. So I think that the people who would dismiss it do need to also listen to the people who are persistent ones in that space. And as I said, you do come across a lot of the same names, because they’ve been around now for a very respectable length of time, too.

So that’s great. But I think on the empathy front that a couple of interesting points that you raised were how it makes you experience things from a minority point of view — or in a case like being a woman, it’s not necessarily being a minority, we’re 50 percent of the planet — but I’d say the main problem with some of what we’ve seen today is that, this idea is sold that there isn’t a problem as well, so that’s like, “What are you moaning about? You have equality.” I think that it’s so difficult from a position of privilege to judge that, to actually understand how the little things add up on a day-to-day basis, to the point where equality isn’t a reality, for those people. It is your reality. So to get them to experience that different reality, it’s not that they’re ill-intentioned, it’s not that. It’s that literally they do not understand how for a average middle aged white man to understand what it’s like to be a woman, much less of a person of color and a woman. As a white woman, I don’t pretend to know what difficulties a black man would have, or somebody confined to a wheelchair. I would have to experience that to really be aware, I’m aware, though, that I think that you should just allow for the fact that those things do exist. So I know that it’s more difficult for them, but I don’t know how. So that experience should be mandatory somehow. I really think that as we get to the point where the technology is more accessible, that kind of education and training is something that’s fundamentally going to hopefully change things for the better, because it does immediately connect you with that other perspective. And you do get people walking around and going, “Actually, I get it now. I get a little bit of what you go through, just whether it’s looks, whether it’s just the attitude.” This is something that you have to feel, and you can’t be told about it. It’s just one of those things.

And then the other thing that you alluded to was how we’re all responsible for the planet. And interestingly, some of the most interesting empathy based projects that I’ve come across elicit empathy not towards another person, but towards the environment itself. So, again, you go back to the great work of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, and they’ve done several environmentally based projects where they literally get to change people’s attitude through a very short spell of VR exposure towards using less resources, being more mindful of the impact that your actions have, and then changing those actions. Again, it’s a weapon in an arsenal that I don’t think we can afford not to use. You can feel what it’s like to be a tree. You can feel what it’s like to be a coral reef. There were some bizarre ones with I think they put you in the hoofs of a cow. Anything, anything. You can you can feel things from a different perspective. And that I think for most people — unless you’re really not wired in the way that most humans are — it cannot help but affect you. I mean, the studies that showed that even people guilty of horrendous domestic abuse, it actually got through to those severe cases a lot more than any other method had managed to. And it’s the kind of thing that kind of gives you hope.

Alan: Absolutely. There’s so many different ways that technology can be used for empathy. But when it comes down to businesses investing in this technology, it has to make sense from an economic standpoint. You’re seeing businesses starting to invest in this technology now more than ever. And they’re investing in– the first thing that I’m saying is training. And then the second thing is remote assistance. One of the biggest existential risks we have as humanity is the fact that as we enter into exponential growth, our education systems are ill-prepared to train us for jobs that don’t exist yet.

Alice: This is a great point. But just one note: what you said about businesses needing to justify it, going by very briefly to the point about training for it, for empathy as well. I think that businesses cannot afford not to be conscious of that need to train for what’s called soft skills, how you interact with people. I think that it’s not just about– there’s an element, of course, like businesses needs to be compliant and cover themselves, so on that. But I think on a higher level there the opportunity is huge, because I’ve worked with so many teams and always the best results are achieved by diverse teams that feel comfortable challenging each other, but in a climate of mutual respect. That’s something that you actively have to foster, it’s something that you do — to a certain extent — have to train for. Because if you just hire a bunch of people and hope for the best, it just doesn’t always turn out in the way that you hope. Having those tools and training for empathy and seeing what things sound like, like when you say something to your colleague, what does that actually come across as? Because your idea of what it comes across as can be vastly different from how it’s perceived. So that kind of– I worked with one company which is based in London and they’re called Somewhere Else. And they did this thing called Body Swap. And that’s exactly what it is.

Alan: I was actually gonna bring it up. That’s awesome.

Alice: There you go. Yeah. So you get through and you record your reactions through to this employee who’s having difficulties. And it’s your voice — your audio — that’s going into this avatar. And then when you’re finished, you get to be that employee who’s receiving the message and you get to see what you sound like, what your message comes across as. So that’s– again, it’s just really simple mechanics, but it really does work because you’re immersed in that environment. It really does work to drive home the impact that you’re having and how your delivery of the message — as much as the message itself — works and all of that. So I think that that’s the kind of thing that businesses are now able to plug into so easily. We mentioned how the Oculus Quest is so much cheaper and that that’s– and I’m not actually plugging just the Oculus, because you have got other alternatives that are coming through and are as good. So you’ve got a lot of choice of hardware — and now platforms — where you can make your own personalized content like this. And so companies can afford, within the business plan, to allocate those resources and it’s often going to be cheaper than simulations or trainings that they might be engaging with already, but ineffectively.

Alan: I think as the tools become more prevalent and as the tools are coming online to make it easier. But also, I think just the idea of virtual and augmented reality is becoming more mainstream. And in the VC community and investment community and even within the VR and AR community, people are kind of burnt out a little bit. You mentioned earlier about how there’s people that are dedicating their lives and they’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing and know they’re not making a lot of money. There comes a point where that burns people out. And so we’ve just come out of that hole, whatever, trough of disillusionment, or whatever you want to call it. But what are you seeing as far as– you’re writing different news stories every day, there’s something new every day that companies are doing. Are you seeing this trend upward now?

Alice: Yes, I think for the corporate and industry side of things. I don’t think there’s any fear of it fizzling out, because as you alluded to, I think once the company has an experience of deploying those technologies, the ROIs are there, they are dramatic and a lot of it is actually really low hanging fruit. I mean, these are processes that you can easily port into immersive technologies and you can just enhance them, and straight away they’re that much more effective, people really take to them, and they’re becoming more affordable. So I really don’t think that the growth on the corporate side will slow down anytime soon. So that’s one side of it. I think that what was pushed quite hard at first and was responsible for some of the hype — that then became a little bit of the trough of disillusionment — was the gaming side, which is slowly but steadily getting– advancing, I would say. But it’s just a lot more challenging because for the past decades we have got really seriously good at making awesome video games. And that industry is multibillion dollar, it’s at the top of its game. So when somebody who’s used to console gaming sits down to a VR experience, their expectations are sky high. So when you start still getting the problems of motion sickness and everything else– I know that for myself, I’ve played Resident Evil for many years and I was so excited to try it out in VR. I couldn’t last. It was just too intensive. It just wasn’t there yet. But you can see the potential for a lot of of these things. And I think you do need to give it the space.

So you have the gaming side on that and the corporate side, too. And then you have this space in the middle. Which is like every day applications for consumers. And that’s the market that I think that isn’t quite developed yet, but is potentially very big. And what I think you will get is people who are introduced to VR, either through a gaming experience, this could be location based gaming as well. There’s a few big players on location based arcades, things like the Void and so forth as well. They’re very interesting. So if you’re introduced through either an entertainment experience or at work through your training, that’s going to be a lot more natural, especially as headsets become more user-friendly and cheaper. They’ll be much more natural for you to consider that as a purchase and as something that you use routinely at home because you’re more familiar with it, much like your first smartphone might have been the work Blackberry. You know, you go from that to having your first iPhone. I think that that bridging element can be there as well. So I don’t think there is a disillusionment, apart from people who really naively just thought it would explode from one minute to the next and had sky high expectations.

Alan: “One hundred billion dollars by 2019!”

Alice: Yeah. You know, you get those Dr. Evil type predictions then, it’s like “One… trillion dollars!”

Alan: You know, it’s interesting: I use a figure, I use the fact that virtual/augmented/mixed reality XR technologies will create a trillion dollars in value by 2025.

Alice: I think that that’s realistic because you’re talking about– it’s not about sales. That’s where I think like Microsoft went right. They didn’t go out to sell a bunch of Hololenses. I mean, if that was their measure of success, it would have been the biggest flop ever. It was about the technology and it was about what they were building around the technology. This whole new space for use of that within the enterprise. And they nailed that.

Alan: And I think the first iteration was really about finding what are the use cases? “How are people using this? Does it work for factories? Yeah, it does. OK. What in factories is the highest return on investment? Oh, OK. Being able to upskill people quickly. OK. Next.” So they did a fantastic job at engaging with the right partners in bringing a device that was rock solid. I mean, we’ve had a Hololens 1 for years now, and it’s never had any problems. They made a rock solid device and they looked for real ROI. And I think that was the key with it.

Alice: No, I agree. I think that’s– they can then afford to just be patient because that’s the market that is going to stay and it’s going to grow. And then eventually the device will become more affordable. It will become something consumers want to have in their homes, and we’ll become comfortable too wear for longer periods of time. So then at that point, then it will also become an everyday entertainment device. I have no doubt of it, but it doesn’t need to be anytime soon necessarily. And I think that rushing it, that’s the danger. If you think that you have to rush something that’s consumer ready, when you’re nowhere near, then somebody is going to spend $3,000 on something that they’re not happy with and there’s no content for.

Alan: Since you lead into this. I got to ask you, what are your thoughts on the rumors that Apple is killing their AR device?

Alice: Again, I think that they probably came, if anything — I’d have to read Apple’s mind — would be that they came to a similar conclusion to what Microsoft’s been doing all along, and that it’s not worth rushing it. And then everyone got really excited when they got wind of it, because obviously the old “Here comes the game changer!” And the worst possible thing they could do at this point is to bring something half-baked to market. And that’s what Tim Cook said is like, “We don’t care about being the first. We have to be the best.” When Apple brings something to the market, it needs to kill it. It needs to be *the* AR glasses that make you look cool, they’re light, everything works, and they have some content for it.

Alan: Yeah, that’s the key.

Alice: I don’t see that happening by 2020.

Alan: No, definitely not.

Alice: They would bury it, but they’re just burying it deeply within the company and then sending everyone to a deeper basement to work on it twice as hard, until they do have it. And then it might be a few years into the future. But when they bring it, they have to be confident that it’s something that’s market ready. And all of the allowances that this is why Microsoft was able to bring the Hololens to market, but to the corporate market is because in the factory environment you are used to bulky equipment, limitations, that the Hololens — even at prototype stage — surpassed it by a factor of 10 or more. So that’s fine. That’s allowances. The consumer market is not that forgiving. So Apple is playing a whole different ballgame.

Alan: So we’re coming to the end of this conversation, because we could talk about this stuff forever and I would really encourage anybody to sign up for your newsletter inside.com/vr and inside.com/ar. Get all this news coming at you. It’s like drinking through a fire hose. So, Alice, you are the news source. It’s amazing. What problem in the world do you want to see solved using XR technologies?

Alice: Oh, gosh, yeah. Pick one problem. I think… Well, I suppose going back to my background, in that probably communication. I think you can trace a lot of what’s wrong with the world to bad communication, misunderstandings, and not being able to get what somebody else is saying to you. And I think that as much as social media seems to have made communication easier, it actually just numbed us and blinded us to a lot of what’s important when it comes to communication. So I’m hopeful that through immersive technologies, we can reconnect with the more human side of communications and actually fix some of those issues. And then– the reason I picked that is because then it goes onto everything. So hopefully we can then start to sort out all of the many problems that we have with our society, with our politics, with our environment, with our economy, and everything else. So hopefully that would be a catalyst, to borrow a phrase from Silicon Valley, make the world a better place.

Looking for more insights on XR and the future of business? Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. You can also follow us on Twitter @XRforBusiness and connect with Alan on LinkedIn.

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