Meet the leaders who are changing the face of virtual and augmented reality
A 2020 XR Year-In-Review, with MetaVRse' Alan & Julie Smithson, and Alex Colgan
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.
Bundling the Best of AR with Ease of Use, with BundlAR’s John Martin
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
Enabling the XR Economy, with Holo-Light’s Florian Haspinger
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!
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
Bringing the Links to your Living Room with AR Golf, featuring Deloitte’s Allan Cook & Kaitlyn Kuczer
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
From Racing Games to Impaired Driver Simulators in VR, with Talon Simulations’ Brandon Naids
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.
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
Use The Force (Feedback), Luke! With SenseGlove’s Gijs den Butter
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.