Regular listeners have heard plenty of stories from Alan’s numerous adventures at Augmented World Expo. In today’s episode, we go to the source of all those tales, with AWE’s co-founder and executive producer, Ori Inbar — just ahead of this year’s summit.
Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. I am super excited to have our next guest today, Ori Inbar. He’s a world leading expert in the field of augmented reality industry, and he has devoted the past decade to fostering the AR ecosystem as an entrepreneur, advisor, and investor. He’s the founder and managing partner for Super Ventures and the CEO of AugmentedReality.org, a nonprofit that produces Augmented World Expo, the top industry conference for AR since 2010. To learn more about what he’s doing, you can visit augmentedreality.org and awexr.com or superventures.com.
Ori, welcome to the show, my friend.
Ori: Thank you, Alan. It’s awesome to be here.
Alan: It’s so exciting to have you. I’ve been waiting for this episode for so long and I just can’t wait to get right in. Maybe can you just give us your first AR experience, and how did you get into this? You know, I watched your 2019 keynote from AWE again, and put on these these welding glasses that you had back in 2009. You’ve been doing this for ten years without any reduction in passion. And how did you get involved? Like, what was that precipitating moment for you?
Ori: So for me, after the startup I was working for was acquired by SFP — and I spent seven years there — decided to leave and go back to my roots in startup. And then I realized that my kids are always stuck in front of a screen, computer screen or playing video games. And on one hand, it felt like we cannot really change the future. But I was trying to look for a way for kids — and adults — to kind of interact with the real world, like we did as kids. But by adding some of the things that attract kids and adults to computers and to video games and to social media and kind of merge it into reality. And at that time, I thought I kind of invented something new. But then upon some research, I realized there’s a term for it, it’s called augmented reality, it’s been around for many decades. But it was hidden in labs in a few places around the world. So the mission immediately became to find a way to bring it to the mainstream, to the masses. And then the iPhone was announced and it felt like finally we have an ideal device to deliver augmented reality to everyone, because they already have it in their pockets. Of course, from there the path was very long and arduous and still is. But I think we’re starting to see some of the fruits in the last couple of years where a bunch of new applications — whether it’s for enterprise or for consumers — are hitting the market and are actually showing value. So it seems like we’re definitely on the path to making it mainstream.
Alan: My first AWE was three years ago and I remember it was amazing to me, because I went to Silicon Valley VR meet-up or SVVR, and it was mainly VR. And then I went to AWE and it was a lot of augmented reality, and glasses, and there was companies there making glasses that looked like aliens had built them. And it felt really clunky. I almost had this feeling like this is really cool, I can see where it’s going, but it’s not quite there. And it’s it’s just not ready for the real world, in my opinion. But you go back this year and everything is actually, Porsche’s using this and Lockheed Martin is using it. Huge companies not only are done with their pilot phase, but they’re rolling it out at scale. So what do you think has happened in the last three years to take it from a cottage industry to something that’s in the billions of dollars?
Ori: Actually, if you take it back 10 years to 2010, when we did our first AWE, you had a lot of passionate people in the room. But we were talking about vision and concepts and ideas, not so much about actual products. And over the years, you started to see more and more products hitting the market and customers starting to use it in in ways that improve their businesses. So that was kind of a very slow process leading us to where we are today. And I think you’re right, in the last few years, we’ve seen significant maturity of both the products, whether it’s smart glasses or tools that are available, not just on glasses, but also on mobile devices. But more importantly, we started to see enterprises adopting it and showing significant ROI associated with implementing AR in their businesses. And that has kind of been driving the kind of acceleration of the adoption among enterprises in a slew of use cases in practically every industry you can think of. So I think that that’s definitely a phenomenon that we’re seeing in the last few years and it’s reflected at the AWE. First from the number and maturity of the companies, deploying– I mean, delivering products and showcasing it on the expo floor. But more interesting is the fact that attendees are much more educated about what AR can do. They come to the show to actually buy software and hardware because they really understand the need and understand what it can do, at least to a certain degree. And that’s kind of a whole new era for where the industry is with AR and VR.
Alan: It’s so interesting you say that because for the last three years, I feel like we had to start every presentation with, “OK, hat is the difference between AR and VR? And how do you know–” It was like Basics 101. And now the conversations, you can bypass all that and go straight to, “Hey, this is how it’s gonna make or save you money.” And you know, it was– those answers weren’t there three years ago from my standpoint, we were presenting this to everybody and it was like, “Yeah, so, I’m not really sure how much it’s going to cost. And yeah, nobody’s really done it before. So we’re not sure if this is going to actually work.” But I think we’ve moved out of the phase of “Can we make it work?” to “OK, it works. What can we do with it?” to “We know what to do with it. We have real ROI numbers. How do we scale it?” So what do you think is next, in the next three years then?
Ori: Well, I think FOMO is actually starting to play a role, where you see some of the more advanced enterprises adopting it and showcasing how it’s improving their businesses, and that kind of registers with everybody else in the industry that, you know, if they are not going to start adopting it at his thinking about how to adopt it, then they may be falling behind. And it was kind of last year at AWE, our motto was “go XR or go extinct” because it felt like if you’re gonna ignore it as something that is only going to happen in the future, you may be left behind, because it takes time really to understand how it’s going to improve their business, how to adopt it, how to deploy it. It’s definitely a whole new kind of computing platform. So people need to prepare for that. And the sooner the better. So, again, I think that the fear of your competitors becoming better than you — and also to a certain degree with consumers, once they see how AR makes certain people better at things they do in their life, whether it’s just how they play games, or how they play sports, or maybe how they they fix something in their home — that will kind of trigger other people to say, “Hey, I need to have that too. Otherwise, I will be falling behind.” And that’s kind of a big driver of the adoption right now.
Alan: You know, what I find interesting about that, Ori, is that companies are sharing their internal ROI measurements. I’ve never seen it where an industry is so collaborative. And that may be because it’s just early and the money’s not flowing, the VCs haven’t really pushed the envelope of what’s possible. But I think there’s just this feeling of collaboration. Everybody I talked to is willing to share their pitfalls, their challenges, what they can do better so that everybody improves exponentially. And I think maybe that’s just a factor of exponential growth in general. The fact that all these technologies are moving so fast, everybody needs to help to just keep up with it all. But it seems like the XR, virtual/augmented/reality space is very collaborative. And, you know, it’s almost like someone it’s like a family. When I went to AWE, I felt like I was coming home to a family of people that understood me. You go through your daily life, you say, “hey, you know, try this VR, try this AR” and people are “like, yeah, that’s cool, whatever.” And but when you go to AWE, everybody understands that they see where it’s going, they see the future. How did you– I guess at AWE, you built that community from the ground up, and how how do you see that moving forward as companies start to put money into this, big money? Do you see this collaboration continuing?
Ori: I do. First of all, I agree that unlike previous waves in other industries, I’m seeing more collaboration in this industry than in others. I still hear a lot of startups that are doing some amazing implementations with certain enterprises, but these enterprises are still keeping it as a confidential achievement and not sharing it. So it still happens, but not as much as maybe in other technologies or other industries. And you could probably attribute it to the fact that it’s relatively early, but maybe there’s something else there. Because you know what? When I started AWE, it was really just to find a venue where we can meet likeminded people that also think about AR and are passionate about it. And because at that time it was very lonely developing AR. There were maybe a couple dozen companies around the world. Nobody understood what they were doing. So it was great to come to a venue and be able to meet people that think like you and really help inspire each other. And over the years, obviously, more and more people got to know about it.
But it’s still– I think up until even now, it sometimes feels lonely to develop in AR, because still very few people that are developing it and really have a deep understanding of the technology. But I think they know there’s something about this technology that is about really making us better at anything we do, in work and life. And maybe that’s something that is driving people to collaborate more, because they feel like we have an opportunity here to bring humanity to the next level and improve how we do everything, and maybe even combat some of the threats that are facing humanity these days in a way that was not possible before. So I think that’s another contributor, especially when we think about e-commerce and the whole idea of “try it before you buy” or just “try before you do”, right? I mean, in many cases, you can simulate things with AR that you’re not able to do with a regular website or any other application. And that ability to try things before you do them — or maybe even get help while you do those things, as opposed to just watching YouTube videos that instruct you how to do certain things — that adds kind of a level of support to two people that we’ve never seen before. And maybe again, that’s one of the other contributors to the collaborative nature of what we’re seeing in the industry.
Alan: It’s interesting. I would say almost every single person that I’ve interviewed has an altruistic side to it. They want to see this technology used for good. I think that’s one thing that is just really pervasive in this industry, is that everybody understands the risks of it as well. I think there’s an inherent risk of collecting eye tracking data, and positional head tracking data, and more data about individuals. There’s a risk there, but I think everybody’s very well aware of the risks and they’re really adamant about protecting humanity from those risks while using the tools to create great things. We have so many environmental, social, monetary aspects to our world that are not the best they could be. There are big challenges and virtual and augmented reality hold the promise of exponential education. And I think if we can harness that, we can educate the next generations to solve the world’s biggest problems. What do you think about that?
Ori: Also, Ray Kurzweil likes to say that every technology brings promise or peril. And it’s really up to us to decide on how we use technology. Anything from cease fire kind of qualifies to in that quote. So it’s really up to us. And when I say “us” it’s everyone in the industry, it’s the technologists, it’s the creators, it’s the developers, it’s people that adopt it. I totally agree that it provides an opportunity for exponential education. If you think about what’s really unique about AR and VR or spatial computing, it’s really about getting away from the unnatural way we interacted with computers in the past 40 or 50 years, which was on a two dimensional screen with a two dimensional input device, the mouse and the keyboard. And now we’re getting back to technology which enables us to interact with the world and with information the way we did in the million years before the 2D computing that we know of today existed. And the fact that it’s more natural to us, I think, also allows us to to learn much better because we learn better in 3D. We learn better when we interact with things. We learn better when people are involved in the education than if you just read it on a two dimensional screen.
So that by itself, I think, could give a significant leap forward in how people learn, and how knowledge is on one hand captured and also disseminated. And that’s one of the areas that I’m most passionate about in the AR space, which is how do we use this technology to capture knowledge that is currently being held in people’s brains, and communicate it in a way that is beyond just a book or beyond just even a YouTube video in a way that we can actually experience it in anything we do. And then also capture that knowledge and then be able to disseminate it to everyone on Earth. WildAid, they tried to do a certain thing. Again, it could be work or it could be just your day to day life kind of thing. So, yeah, exponential education is probably one of the biggest promises of this technology.
Alan: It’s interesting you mentioned capturing that that information. I think I was at PTC’s LiveWorx this year and their Expert Capture system is really low tech. When you when you think of all of the technologies we have with Hololens and Magic Leap and we have all these amazing technologies for spatial computing. And they took something so simple as a pair of glasses with a camera on them to capture the person’s view of doing something with it. Maybe it’s fixing a machine, maybe it’s working on a tractor. Doesn’t matter, but it’s able to capture key snippets of that information from an expert and then show it to the next person with just a heads up display. And you look at RealWear, they just raised $80-million and it’s not really AR. It’s more a lens that shows you a computer screen that’s maybe three feet from your face and allows you to kind of see videos and text and PDFs. But that ability, to be able to capture that knowledge and disseminate it quickly through a platform is really revolutionary. And I think we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible there. What technologies that you’ve seen that are maybe in the early stages or betas or just kind of under the radar, what technologies really do you think will push learning forward?
Ori: So I have to start with maybe a somewhat controversial statement, which is I think the tech we have today is good enough.
Alan: [chuckles] I agree.
Ori: To do a lot. I mean, it’s really about– now it’s about creators really leveraging the tools that we have, the devices that we have — which in most cases, it’s going to be a smartphone or tablet, not even glasses — and build applications that leverage the special capabilities of this medium and have people — again — become better at anything they do. Yes, of course we have a lot of things that we still need to develop and improve, but the basic foundation is there. But if you think about what else can you do? How can it really accelerate things? It’s something that I started talking about a couple years ago. It’s called the AR cloud. And that’s a software layer that basically creates a digital copy of the real world and allows developers, creators to place content in a permanent, in a persistent and sharable way on the real world. So that if I see certain content in a certain place and I come back tomorrow — or maybe someone else is trying to access it with a different device — they will see the same content, the same kind of interaction that I have.
And that’s something that visionaries in AR have been talking about for at least a decade. But now we’re actually starting to see the initial implementations of that technology, whether it’s from small startups like 6D.ai, but also companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple are starting to show their first steps towards the AR cloud, kind of providing persistent information on the real world, things that– Minecraft Earth, which is a really cool game currently in beta, is doing already that, it allows you to place something that you’ve created, that you’ve mined in Minecraft anywhere in the world and allow other people to come and interact with it in a similar ways. So that’s already in the works. It’s not science fiction anymore. Of course, you know, we have to do a lot to scale this technology and make it available to everyone and on all devices and kind of iron some of the kinks. But it’s definitely getting there. And I think that’s going to be a huge– that’s going to make a huge difference in the proliferation of this technology, because once many people can collaborate and interact with AR, it will provide kind of an exponential growth to the number of people using it and the frequency in which to use it.
Alan: With the Kronos Group announcing the OpenXR standards now, I think it’s going to become easier and easier for people to build on this. The hope has always been can we build this on Web? I had a client this morning call and say, “Hey, we want an application, but it has to be running on Web.” And what they want to do is not possible right now on Web, but we’re getting there and being able to push content out once and have it work on any device, regardless of whether it’s — like you said — an iPhone, or an iPad, or Android device, or VR headset, or an AR headset. I think having that ability to push it at once and have it work everywhere and be persistent is amazing. I think Magic Leap calls it the Magicverse. Was it Kevin Kelly who wrote a whole article on the Mirror World?
Alan: Being able to create a digital version of the real world. And I think I said four years ago, I actually think it was– it was either at AWE or SVVR. If I was Google and Apple, I would make some sort of Pokémon Go game that took you inside and made you kind of chase these things up and down the walls, and while they 3D map the whole interior space of everywhere. But you can imagine, as this technology progresses quickly, a few years ago, we had Tango phones that had depth sensing cameras, now that went away and then all of a sudden the depth sensing cameras are back on the new Samsung phone. So I think the phones will have depth sensing cameras on them, being able to capture the real world, and put it into context, and overlay data on it. It’s a huge feat and it’s got to be done by one of the big players, like all of the big players, really. It’s a massive undertaking.
Ori: I mean, you mentioned the big players and we have this interesting dynamic in prepping. You know, in any new wave of technology where you have startups kind of leading the innovation and then later on the big players jump in. I think what we’re seeing now is that with the kind of stagnation of the growth of mobile computing, smartphones, all the big players are starving or kind of really trying hard to find the next wave and to see kind of the next growth opportunities and many of them see it in AR and VR. So if you look at the investments done by Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and a bunch of other, Lenovo, Valve[?]. In this field, it’s it’s billions and billions and billions of dollars. And that’s definitely showing to everyone to the startups on one hand, to investors on the other hand, and of course, to customers that this is not a fad. This is not something that will pass and everyone is really getting into it and investing a lot in it. And standards are a big part of it. Like you said, I’ve been in involving standards around AR for over 10 years now and in the beginning with some great ideas on how to enable that, because everybody knows that standards help accelerate the adoption and kind of remove a lot of the friction. But many people felt it’s kind of early at that stage. You know, 2010, 2011, and it’s going to be up to the big players to jump in, and in some cases provide their own standard that becomes kind of a de facto standard.
Alan: USDZ, anyone?
Ori: That’s exactly right. So I think that we’re now literally in 2018, 2019, the big players are kind of putting their weight behind those standards. And by the way, there’s not just one standard, there’s a whole set of standards that are necessary for this new wave of computing. And many of them are driven by the big players, others by associations like the OpenAR cloud, which is working on standards around AR cloud that we mentioned before, and is kind of harnessing some of the big players to join that as well. You know, around Web technologies for AR and VR, WebXR, that’s another huge thing, which I think is almost entering the mainstream at this point, and that will be a huge game changer because if you don’t need to develop– oh, I’m sorry, to download an app or a special application and you can just share a link that will get you into an AR experience or a VR experience, that’s going to remove a lot of the current friction that we’ve seen in getting more people to try it. And it’s happening right now. So that’s really nice to see.
Alan: It’s amazing. And I think this morning I interviewed the head of XR for Verizon, TJ Vitolo, and he was mentioning how the next wave of this is going to come when 5G unlocks cloud and edge computing, when we can offload some of the rendering power and some of the compute power to the cloud. They’re working on sub 20 millisecond round trip transfer speeds. And if you think about that, that shouldn’t affect your vestibular system at all. You could wear glasses. You could– your glasses can understand the world around you by using infrared cloud mapping, put it up to the cloud and then have information real time come down, contextualized information to the world around you. I think that’s gonna be amazing. And Apple introduced their occlusion system with ARKit where you can put an object, a digital object on a table and wave your hand in front of it, and it knows that your hand is in front of it rather than behind it. And I mean, that’s just mind boggling, because we need to have those. You don’t think about it until you start to do an AR demo on a phone and then somebody walks in front of your demo. And then all of a sudden that piece of furniture that you were looking at looks tiny instead of real size because somebody walked in front of it. But the fact that they’re able to figure out the occlusion from a single camera is quite impressive. And I think — if I’m not mistaken — I think that’s what Vrvana was working on, before they were acquired by Apple back a couple years ago. But you can see where all these startups that were acquired by the big companies are starting to pop up as infrastructure for the future of spatial computing.
Ori: Absolutely. I mean, you mentioned 5G, and when you kind of go back to my comment on the need to find the next growth opportunities. For the big carriers, that’s that’s a huge issue. And that’s why they came up with 5G, which is really promising to speed up our access to information and provide almost unlimited bandwidth of data.
Alan: You know what he suggested today? He said you’ll be able to download the entire seasons in seconds. Crazy.
Ori: Yeah. And that’s that’s cool for those of us who watch or streaming or video. But I think what they’re really looking for something beyond that, because that’s that’s fun, that’s great. But how does it really enable new things that were not possible before? And I think very quickly they realized that AR and VR are their best horses to ride on, to kind of drive the need for 5G. And we’ve seen Verizon AT&T, also Valve[?] and others spending a lot of energy in showing how 5G can make AR and VR much better. And it does. And it’s kind of interesting because up until now, many startups in this industry were competing on how well they can– or how fast they can process computer vision and machine learning on their device.
Alan: [chuckles] How can you compress things to make it faster?
Ori: Exactly. And this will completely turn things around. All the sudden, you’re not going to be able– you’re not going to need to compute everything on your device. You’ll be able to do a lot of it in the cloud and just in an instant share it with with as many devices as needed. And so that’s kind of changing some of the things that startups are competing on, and where are you seeing some companies putting more emphasis on doing things in the cloud, with the anticipation that very soon it’s not going to matter whether you do it on the cloud or on the device.
Alan: So you run, or you’re a managing founder of Super Ventures. Let’s talk about some of the investments that you guys have made at Super Ventures. Because you have an eye on this industry that is really quite unique because you’ve seen it from the very infancy right to where it is today. What are the things you’re investing in?
Ori: So Super Ventures, just quickly, is a fund that is focused on investing in early stage AR companies and some VR companies, because, of course, there’s some shared infrastructure, talents and skills between AR and VR. But there are– our engine, our focus is really on the AR side. And when we started in 2016, it was probably the first fund dedicated to investing in areas of AR. So it was kind of up to us to prove that there is a need for such a fund. And the results were pretty amazing. I mean, we got a couple of thousand of companies reaching out to us and kind of looking for investments because they saw us as the smart money. There’s a lot of interest, a lot of hype around AR and VR, but very little knowledge among investors about what is the best technology, where it’s going, how do you understand what are the most likely to happen business models, and so on. And we’ve been living and breathing that for a decade. So many investors also came to us for advice on that and for insights into how we see that evolving.
So that was kind of a great proof point that there is a need for a specialized fund like ours. The other thing is. You know what? What are you focused on, right? I mean, what’s the thesis? And here we kind of looked at the entire industry because it’s a relatively small sector. We couldn’t narrow it even further. So we look at companies all over the world. Anything kind of pre-series A[?] is in our– is kind of part of what we’re looking at, including first money in, in many cases. And the types of companies are from hardware to software, from tools to applications, from enterprise to consumers, really across the board. Although we– a lot of the companies that pitched actual games, that’s something that we were kind of staying away from, just because it’s so hard to predict the success of a game. And I know that because my first company, AR company Augmento, was really building AR games. And it was– you could say it was pretty early at the time. Back in 2008, 2009. But it’s still hard to predict how a game will be accepted by the audience. So not as much on games, more on tools, on enabling tools.
And there when you look at what are kind of the new things that we need in spatial computing? It’s a completely new set of things, but a lot of them have roots in previous waves. So starting with infrastructure, the AR cloud, the ability to scan the world, to be able to create a point cloud that allows you to place content on it. There is a whole category of software tools and [garbled] that will be needed to really support that new infrastructure. So that’s kind of a big area of focus for us. Another thing is interacting with the computer. First, perceiving the world is a big thing. Because we don’t have a screen, mouse, and a keyboard anymore. You have– so what’s going to replace those? And here there’s, of course, dozens of startups, hundreds of startups that are trying to create those new interaction devices, whether it’s voice based, whether it’s gesture based, gaze tracking, brain interaction, all these kind of things. So we’re kind of looking at all these types of interactions.
And then once you have that infrastructure in place in the interaction, how do you build content for that new world? You’re not going to use the traditional tools that we’ve all used for 2D computing. There’s is need for new kind of tools, whether it’s to create content, to capture content from the real world and make it available in AR. How do you enable prototyping? How do you enable development for non-programmers? So kind of world building is another big area of ours. And then there’s the AR that is probably gonna be the most important for the adoption of AR and VR in the future. And that is about communication and collaboration. So how do we provide what we call “shared presence,” that we can interact with people all over the world but feel like we’re in the same room looking at the same thing in real time. It has some roots in conferencing technologies, but it’s really taking it to a whole new level. And I think if you look at the top twenty domains on the Web, on the Internet today, the majority of them are all about communication and collaboration. So it’s probably a good guess that this is what will drive AR and VR in the future as well. The last category is around giving superpowers to people or upgrading our intelligence. And that’s where you see a lot of applications as well as technologies that are kind of trying to address that. And that’s an opportunity to invest in solutions or applications that target specific industries and can really take employees or consumers to a whole new level. So these are kind of what we call the “moonshots” or the special areas that are really unique to spatial computing that we’re looking at investing.
Alan: One of the things that I see as a disconnect between investors currently and what’s going to be needed: content. You know, somebody has to make this content. And until companies can make it themselves, which these platforms in theory should enable customers to build it themselves. But in practicality, that’s not what we’re seeing. We’re seeing that content studios are becoming the only companies that are making a lot of money right now in this industry. And they’re starting to get bought up. Riot got bought by Verizon. Deloitte just bought a studio. And I think the content development is going to be one of those key parts that in other technologies is often overlooked as you’re not investible. But we’re already seeing small wins with these, and I understand the VC model trying to aim for the unicorn companies. But I think there’s a lot of money to be made on these smaller studios and developers that are making content and there’s tons of them popping up around. But of the thousands of them that are popping up, there’s gonna be ones that make their way to the top, like Fishermen Labs, for example, is doing an amazing job, just making Snapchat filters for people. And that’s– I can see their path to being acquired by Snapchat and to do it internally because they’re profitable, they’re making money. What are your thoughts on content providers?
Ori: We definitely look at the content providers as a kind of a key sector that will kind of define the future of the adoption of AR and VR. You know, I said that the tech is good enough and it’s really the time for creators to get in. And that’s still true. But it’s still, we need to develop a really good app or great content in AR. It’s not as easy as creating a mobile or social app today. It requires really deep understanding of this new medium, how it’s different, how it’s– You can not just copy-paste a mobile app into an AR app and hope for the best, that’s definitely not going to work. So what I’m seeing is that people that have been trying to build apps or creating experiences for years are the ones that really tend to get it, because they’ve tried different things, they’ve seen what works, what users like, what kind of breaks the model. And they seem to build the best content. So I think unlike other cases where a new company can come in and in six months build an MVP for a social app or a mobile app, it’s not the case with AR.
And that’s where we look for people that have tried things, because you need to not just understand this new medium, but in many cases design and develop in a completely new user experience. That’s where the reinvention is happening right now. And it’s not just the user experience, also the business models where things are changing. So, many companies are still trying to do things like SAS models or things that are kind of proven and investors like to invest in once they see the metrics hitting. And I think many of these models will still be relevant. But it’s up to us, the companies developing in this industry to look for how to adapt those business models so that they fit in this new environment, because it’s not about searching an app in the app store anymore. It’s not about clicking on the link and getting to another link. It’s really about experiencing things in the real world or in the virtual world. And so how do you get people there? How do they behave in that world and how do you get their attention? It’s a whole set of new questions that we’re just now starting to scratch the surface on.
Alan: Absolutely. Well, my friend, we could talk about this all day, every day and never really finish what we set out to talk about. What problem in the world do you want to see solved using XR technologies?
Ori: I’ll have two answers for that. The first one is the big problem that is trying to solve is awareness and adoption. Meaning, although we’re seeing almost like a third of all mobile users have seen some AR experiences — which is already amazing — but it’s one of those technologies that until you see it, until you experience it, you don’t really understand the benefits of it. So kind of– so one of the big challenges is kind of how do you get it in front of more people so that they try it, and they get it, and then they want more of it. So kind of solving the problem of awareness and adoption are huge. What can XR, or AR and VR solve, let’s say on a on a global level? [garbled] the top five biggest threats that are facing humanity right now. One is the growing population and the fact that we see migration and people losing their jobs and finding it hard to get upskilled for new jobs. I think in that area XR and especially AR can help a lot with especially in the upskilling of employees and in allowing them to be productive anywhere they are. I think that could be probably a huge area of help for the future of humanity on this earth. And then there’s, of course, healthcare, global warming or climate change, that I think once you visualize things to allow people to better understand the impact of what’s happening can see the future of how the world is going to look like in 20 or 50 years from now and kind of trigger them to take action much, much sooner than before. So–
Alan: It’s kind of a terrifying thought, to be honest.
Ori: Which part?
Alan: Looking out 20 to 50 years in the future. If we don’t course correct.
Ori: I’ll give you a simple example. And these are apps that are already available today in some some locations. You want to see what does it mean, a five inch of oceans rising. Where would– I live in New York, and I actually can look at– look around in the streets and see where the water would go. And that’s really terrifying. And that’s exactly the purpose of that visualization.
Alan: Was that the one done with– on the Hololens in Times Square? There was a Hololens exhibit where they showed what it would be like if sea water rose by five– was it five feet or five inches? It was crazy. And all of Times Square was underwater by like 10 feet.
Ori: That’s right.
Ori: Exactly. And once you see that, I think you cannot really think about it as a theoretical problem, it becomes real and and people are bound to take action once they see it.
Alan: Chris Milk said it “VR can be the ultimate empathy machine” and AR is an extension of the real world connected with the digital world and being able to show us the future and help us course correct. I think we can use these technologies — if harnessed properly — to create the next generation’s thought patterns around instead of “What job do I want to get?” or “What party do I want to go to?” “What challenge in the world do I want to take on?” “How do I give back to humanity?” We have the power of technology to deliver that message and create those habits and create that mindset in the next generations, which should set us on the right course for humanity.
Ori: I like that mission.
Alan: Me too. I hope I can fulfill it. And that’s the hard part. Ori, I want to thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join me today. If anybody wants to learn more about the work that Ori and his team are doing, you can visit augmentedreality.org, awexr.com or superventures.com. Ori, thank you again.
Ori: Thank you, Alan. It’s been a pleasure.
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