Adding a New Dimension to Music in XR, with Goldenvoice’s Sam Schoonover

December 27, 2019 00:36:48
Adding a New Dimension to Music in XR, with Goldenvoice’s Sam Schoonover
XR for Business
Adding a New Dimension to Music in XR, with Goldenvoice’s Sam Schoonover

Dec 27 2019 | 00:36:48


Show Notes

Alan puts it best in this episode of XR for Business: Sam Schoonover’s job with Goldenvoice is to create “wow” moments at music festivals like Coachella. Sam talks about the groundwork they’ve laid at Coachella for immersive reality so far, and where he plans to take it going forward.

Alan: Coming up next on the XR for Business Podcast, we have Sam Schoon over from Goldenvoice and Coachella, my favorite music festival in the world. We’re going to be talking about augmented reality spaceships, augmented reality portals, bringing video to life in a AR and El Pollo Loco. All that and more coming up next on the XR for Business Podcast.

Sam, welcome to the show.

Sam: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure, man. As you know — and as people on the show who know because I’ve mentioned it before — Coachella is one of my absolute favorite music festivals. And having been a deejay for 20 years myself, I’ve been to a few. Coachella is just this magical place. So I’m really excited to unlock two of my favorite things — music festivals and XR — with you on the show. So, thank you so much.

Sam: Yeah, absolutely. Me as well. I think a lot of people out there would agree with you.

Alan: Yeah, man. So tell me, how did you end up working with Coachella and what have you done before and how did you get there? Let’s just get into it.

Sam: Previous to this job, I was doing a whole assortment of different things in the music industry, and I guess the technology industry as well. I was a freelance website developer, and had also been curating music and had developed a playlist curation application. And then alongside that, I was promoting with various promoters in San Diego and Los Angeles and touring shows. And that eventually — that and a music blog and I was doing at the time — introduced me to the guy who started Splash House, which is a smaller music festival in Palm Springs. And through him, I met the Goldenvoice team and I got involved at Goldenvoice Digital, and in a roundabout way, ended up focusing entirely on innovation just for Coachella.

Alan: What a dream job for somebody like… “here, your job is to focus on innovation, make really cool things that nobody’s done in the world, for the most impressive festivals in the world.”

Sam: Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun to be able to focus on new things every day. And we have like just such an incredible team at Goldenvoice, the people who have been doing Coachella for the past 20 years are still involved and still loving it. And they’re really the reason why this job even exists, because they appreciate innovation and they understand its place and our future. And and they understand that innovating and experimenting and sometimes failing, but always trying is a part of what makes things great and stand the test of time. Coachella is in a unique situation, where it’s a successful music festival and it’s a successful business, so we have the ability to spend money on experiences like that, while not every festival out there is so lucky.

Alan: Yeah. And you guys — well, “you guys,” I think it was before you even got there — but Coachella is no stranger to virtual and augmented reality. I remember in, oh man, it must be 2015/16, Coachella livestreamed 360 content to VR headsets and I believe it was pushing to the — it was! — it was the Samsung GearyVR at the time. I remember watching one of one of the shows from there and thinking, “oh man, I’m literally like getting crazy FOMO.”

Sam: Yeah, you’re right. It was kind of our first foray actually into, like, I guess what we would call the VR industry. I think as a lot of us have learned, those 360 music streaming experiences aren’t super compelling. And I just think the live music experience is so incredible that they haven’t come close to replicating that quite yet. But nonetheless, there was a lot of great learnings. I think it was really fun and also important to us from a branding perspective to be amongst the first live events even doing something like that. And it was also a fun addition to the YouTube livestream, which is a really important experience for us and the fans.

Alan: I think there is a value to this. Still, the first experience I ever saw in VR was the Beck concert by Chris Milk. And I think people did the 360 video and then they kind of got away from it, but I think it still has value in the fact that being able to be in places where you can’t go — you can’t stand next to the artist onstage at Coachella, you can’t be on stage, you can’t fly over the crowd — there’s certain things like that where I think there’s still gonna be a value in capturing that content. And I think the next thing would be how do we capture it volumetrically? But it’s crazy. But another thing that in 2016, 2017, you guys did an AR [experience], The Box. For anyone who doesn’t know, when you get the tickets for a Coachella, it comes in this beautiful box with your wristbands, your tickets. It’s like a treasure chest of awesome. And one of the years, the box came with a full AR app that brought it all the life. How did that come along?

Sam: I think usually when the Welcome Box lands, it’s like a really exciting time for the fans. And so we always like to think of experiences that can allude to programs and initiatives that we’re working on for that year that we can, like, announce and promote to people during that time. And I think just the idea of… that year, we recreated like a lot of historic Coachella art pieces and a new fun, interesting way. And then when you scanned the Coachella box, it was like this little miniature version of Coachella with some historical art pieces and some art pieces from that year. Everything was all lit up and glowing and sparkling and zoom your phone really far, I think it was the first time that those 2D triggers really were being seen by the public. It was just a good opportunity for us to do something that excited people, and hopefully generated some user content.

Alan: [There was] all sorts of stuff around, it was pretty awesome. So last year in 20… I guess this year, 2019, you guys stepped it up in a big way with augmented reality. You want to talk about the… I just got to talk about the Spaceship, man. It was crazy.

Sam: Yeah. It was really fun. I think a little bit of context and background; We at some point in the future — I don’t think anybody really knows when — but we’re gonna work very closely with artists to help them develop XR content for their performances. A very important part of an artist’s performance that I think a lot of people don’t think about is the stage from which they’re performing on. And that stage introduces a lot of confines and restrictions as to what the artists can do, and how the fan is going to view the show. We’re not ready. I don’t think artists are ready to incorporate that content into their performances. I think it’s a little bit cost-prohibitive. But what we could do is start to scope out what it looks like to build XR experiences around a music festival stage. That was kind of the point of the activation that we did this year — I would say this last year too, but it’s still 2019 — last year we worked with a vendor called Portals XR, and we equipped the music festival stage with AR for the first time. We chose the Sahara tent, which is a stage that holds some of the most visually-impactful production at the entire festival. It’s where we look to book a lot of EDM and hip hop acts, and I think there is kind of a younger demo there. And we figured that perhaps–

Alan: That stage is amazing, I got to see David Guetta on that stage. He was awesome.

Sam: A lot of dance music and hip hop have played that festival stage since that music really got re-popularized in the early teens. So what we did was, they ingested a bunch of stage renderings from our stage design vendor and created a virtual replica of that stage. And we used the screens as markers to activate the content. And then we designed a bunch of different space-themed 3D elements and position them inside the tent. So some of those elements were positioned universally for all users — which means that everyone saw them in the same location based on where you were scanning the screen from — and then some AR positioned locally. And there were elements that were kind of duplicated above the heads of each user. The content we designed was three different phases. The first was space objects; there was like a sun that was kind of centrally located in the middle of the tent, with various planets orbiting around it. And then the next phase was more focused around manmade objects. And there is a space station and asteroids and of course, like this gigantic, almost life-size space shuttle that came out of the middle of the tent, it would just fly back and forth throughout it.

We also did a 3D rendering and animation of this astronaut art installation that we had on site this year that was called Overview Effect. And the last phase was another animation of an art installation called HIPO — that stands for Hazardous Inter-Planetary Object — it was this artist group that’s been at Coachella three times, and it’s essentially a bunch of people dressed up as hippos, and they attempt to build the various structures on-site. And this year was like a really discombobulated and disjointed spacecraft. We animated it flying around the tent with hippos hanging off it and crashing into things. We wanted to have three phases because we wanted there to be something different for people each time they came back. And these experiences only happened in between artists’ sets. So it wasn’t happening while artists were playing, because we don’t want to interfere with artists’ shows and we also really don’t want to try and enable or inspire people to be using their phones during artists’ performances. I don’t think they want it. Truthfully, I’m not really not convinced that people want to experience things through their phones.

Alan: They might want to capture a segment and throw it on Instagram. And that’s about it.

Sam: Exactly. Exactly. So we’re trying to stay away from that, for at least these first few years until we gather some more learnings.

Alan: Do you think it will change when it goes to head-worn? Because if I’m wearing a pair of glasses and can still dance and see my friends and party, but the stage is in three dimensions all around me, that’s different than holding up a six-inch phone or whatever it is, and trying to look through a screen.

Sam: 100 percent agree.

Alan: And the great thing about what you guys did there is there’s lots of time in between acts. You’ve got maybe half an hour or 40 minutes in between Jacked on each stage. So that gives you this beautiful window of time to experiment.

Sam: Totally. That was exactly the idea.

Alan: How did you get people to do it? Did you put things up on the screen?

Sam: We have a lot of different marketing channels. We were talking about it on socials, on-site. We were sending mobile messages. We have very, very high penetration of people who are using the Coachella application on-site, and we can send messages to them based on where they are. So we sent a lot of messages to people as they walking into the Sahara tent with instructions on how to use the experience. And I think that’s where we’ve got a lot of people.

Alan: It’s super, super cool. I really regret not getting to Coachella this year.

Sam: We should have had you come and DJ, Alan.

Alan: I actually DJ’ed for Heiniken House a few years ago. We brought the Emulator there and we built — because, along the lines of technology, Heineken being one of the sponsors that year (I think every year pretty much) — they brought the emulator in, and instead of letting the DJs play on it, which is cool, they let the audience play on it and try and make their own mixes. We turned it into a thing called the Remix-perience. It allowed anybody to walk up, and it was all these buttons with 32 buttons on it, and didn’t matter what button or combination you pressed. One row was vocals. One was synths. One was bass. One was drums. And you could just make your own thing. So basically, it was a big MIDI controller for Ableton in the backend.

Sam: That’s very cool.

Alan: Super cool. We had a lot of fun too. To mix of Coachella was awesome.

Sam: Yeah, very much so.

Alan: We were staying in the Heineken… not the Heineken House on-site, but they actually rent a giant house, and we’re staying there and we went to a party next door and it was Skrillex, his place that he rented.

Sam: Yes, I think I was actually at that party, funny enough.

Alan: There was all kind of industry people.

Sam: Yeah. Yeah.

Alan: So much fun. So what is something that you kind of have seen in the last six months since Coachella that you’re like, “wow, we’ve got to try that.” What’s something that’s wowed you? Because I mean, you’re creating “wow.” What wows you?

Yeah, sure. I mean, this industry and this field is so exciting, because there’s so much happening at all times. I think, off the top of my head, a few things that are exciting are when I think of a lot of the progress that has been made around the cloud, and the ability to create point clouds and renderings of 3D objects to build AR experiences on top of, that are, like, three-dimensional. That technology is now a lot easier. We’ve seen Snapchat introduce the capability with land markers and I think there’s a lot of players in the space that are doing some really exciting things, enabling people to capture the point clouds with just their phone cameras and making those 3-D maps small enough for a file size that we can deploy it on-site at an event. We’re always worried about connectivity. If you’ve been to Coachella you know it’s not always easy to get a signal. So those point clouds that are small enough to be able to deliver to people on-site is important stuff. I think a lot of the engines that are enabling people to overlay AR content onto videos and like live videos, I think all that is really, really interesting.

Alan: You’ve got to meet my friend Luke from Geni.

Sam: Yeah, I know Luke.

Alan: You know Luke? Awesome.

Sam: Yeah, yeah.

Alan: Luke’s a good friend. So, yeah. That’s exactly what they do, is overly AR on top of videos. Moving videos.

Sam: Yeah, I know.

Alan: It’s not an easy problem to solve, actually.

Sam: No, not at all. I think that creates some interesting opportunities for artists to capture content — live content –, with AR elements on top of that, whether that relates to a show or something in one of their studios or whatever it may be.

Alan: Because everybody watches music videos on YouTube these days. So even having a little symbol at the bottom, saying “point your phone at this symbol,” and maybe it’s just a bar code or something. But being able to use your phone — because let’s be honest, everybody sits there with their phone watching TV, like it’s just a thing — if you’ve already got your phone in your hand, why not point it at the TV and see three-dimensional things coming out of the TV screen at home? At a concert that’s different, you want to be fully there and present with your friends. But sitting at home watching a YouTube video, it would be pretty awesome to have Eminem step out and be in your living room.

Sam: For sure. I totally agree. I think the last thing I’ll add to that list is just the decreased cost of producing experiences like this, I think, will enable us to deploy more, and offer them to some of our brand partners as well.

Alan: And I don’t know if it’s been done or it’s been in the works, but I want to see a volumetric capture stage, or just a volumetric capture rig setup for a brand, where people can basically get a 30-second selfie of them volumetrically, and then push that out and send an AR selfie from Coachella with all their friends.

Sam: I think that would be really awesome. As soon as you find a way to make that somewhat affordable, you let me know.

Alan: We’ll talk offline. I have a few solutions to that.

Sam: OK, great.

Alan: I mean, let’s be honest: it’s pretty badass to be able to do a volumetric selfie.

Sam: Yeah, for sure it is. I think it’s also the ability to deploy or distribute that selfie in a way that keeps it volumetric and as an AR asset is also important.

Alan: Yeah, we just invested in a platform that will allow you to do that on Web. Completely on Web. That’ll be launched next year. But yeah, we’ll talk. Super fun. What else have you seen that you’re just like “man, we got to have that?” I know we can’t talk about what’s coming up next this year or next year, but let’s dig in to see what excites you. What have you seen? Have you tried Magic Leap?

Sam: I have tried the Magic Leap, yeah. And Nreal.

Alan: The Nreal ones are great.

Sam: A few of the others. Yeah, they are. I would love to do some sort of activation on-site, almost like a silent disco with–

Alan: Silent disco? What?

Sam: Yeah. It would be fun. The only issue is that there is a lot of operational difficulties in terms of distributing those glasses, the cost of those glasses. Getting someone to pay for it and such. But I think something like that will be very possible. And sometime in the next few years. That’ll be fun. I think also it’s interesting. That is really exciting me is the innovation happening around UX and UI for AR experiences, and what the UX/UI overlay on top of a camera for people who are experiencing an AR world of sorts will look like.

Alan: Have you seen the new Snapchat glasses?

Sam: I have not.

Alan: So version 3… and Snapchat, listen; I think Snapchat is gonna be the sleeper. You’ve got Magic Leap, you’ve got Nreal, you’ve got HoloLens, you’ve got all these companies. But Snapchat, their new glasses, just do what they did before, they take a video, but in post-production. So you stream the video to your phone and then you can add digital content on it after the fact and then post it as if it was in the real world while you were making the video. That’s gonna be super cool.

Sam: That is gonna be super cool. I agree with you that there’s the sleeper. I feel like they’ve kind of just pivoted a little bit and are working actively towards becoming this AR platform of the future, and kind of really focusing on that. Right?

Alan: Well, if you think about it, my guess is — and I could be wrong on this, but I don’t think so — Snapchat is the biggest user of augmented reality in the world. Hands down. They do about a trillion stops a year and a huge number of those, proportionately, I think it’s something like 90 percent of Snapchat users have used the AR function in the last week. It’s nuts. And they don’t use the word “AR” at all. They just use the lens, so people that are using ARE are not even thinking about it as AR, which is fine. That’s great.

Sam: Yeah, I think that’s really important, when it comes to how as business owners, how we position these types of experiences. I think there’s a lot of people who tend to use the industry jargon, which is kind of unapproachable to the end consumer. We did some surveys last year and we found out that the majority of people — we were just surveying people inside the Sahara tent — asking them a few quick questions about AR, and the majority people have no idea what that is. So I think sometimes we tend to use industry jargon in our public-facing promotions, because we want people to think that we’re forward-thinking and cutting-edge, when in reality, we could probably do a lot better for engagement and for just involving people in the program if we built more of a story around it, and didn’t use those types of words. Like Snapchat does; they’re like, “space filters,” and they’re creating experiences that are AR, but people don’t think of it like that. And so theirs is a little bit more approachable to them. And I think that’s really important.

Alan: And I think one of the things that even location-based VR, for example, one of the things that I realized was amazing in Dubai was this place called VR Park. And they took regular HTC Vive Games, which only need a 10×10 space. And if you look at it, it’s not very sexy. It’s two sensors and the headset. But what it did was they put a whole physical set around it. So when you walked into the thing, you were in a bank. It was the John Wick game. So you walked into this bank and it was all built like a facade. And then you went into a bank vault and like all the drawers were scattered everywhere. Then you put on the VR headset and you’re kind of in that realm. And I thought that was a really good way to prepare people emotionally and psychologically for the experience. The Void is the opposite of that, where they’ve built everything into the experience, where they’ve got scent machines and haptics and things you can touch. But it’s all digital mixed with the kind of physical that you can’t see. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to The Void, but if you take your heads off, it’s pretty uninspiring. It’s just like, wood walls, there’s nothing there. It totally breaks your presence.

Sam: Totally. I did the IMAX experience that was around — I don’t know if it’s still around in L.A. — who would you recommend, on that note? Void or Sandbox, which is the more compelling experience? Have you tried them both?

Alan: Which one?

Sam: The Void or the Sandbox VR?

Alan: I haven’t tried Sandbox’s. I’ve done the Void. How’s Sandbox?

Sam: I haven’t done it yet. That’s why I was asking you, is it worthwhile?

Alan: The Void is amazing. If I were you guys, I would even just make a deal with the Void to have a Void system setup at Coachella, for 20 bucks a person the whole weekend, because it is an amazing experience, and you can share with multiple people.

Sam: Interesting.

Alan: It would take nothing to build on site. I don’t think.

Sam: Because it’s really just a box, isn’t it?

Alan: What they did — and I think why Sandbox is gonna be successful — is because they didn’t go for these giant free-room spaces. They took a 2,500 square foot space and made it through redirected walking. So you feel like you’re in this infinite space moving around and interacting with things, but you’re really in a small room with a door.

Sam: Yeah, that’s interesting. It is wise to keep the square footage down because ultimately those businesses are also real estate businesses too.

Alan: 100 percent. It comes down to number of people you can get through per hour. So it’s throughput times the square footage, and that’s how you get your revenue model. So having a big footprint is not in your best interest as a location-based entertainment experience.

Sam: Yeah. That same throughput is how we predict experiences like that at Coachella. We had a big projection-mapped dome experience that HP was the brand partner on. And you know, we’re thinking about that experience. We’re constantly measuring throughput. How many people are gonna see it? How many hours is the festival open? What’s the line going to be like? All those things are really important metrics when we consider those physical activation experiences.

Alan: It’s absolutely true. And I think one of the things that Coachella does really well is spread it out so that there’s adventure in every corner. Even if you just look at the map of Coachella; it’s vast, like walking from one end of the festival to the other is like 40 minutes. It’s a really amazing experience to be in such a big place. But at night, you’ve got the silent disco times. You’ve got, what is it, seven stages? Six stages?

Sam: Yeah, seven stages.

Alan: Food vendors everywhere. And one of the stages is like a nightclub. You walk in, it’s the middle of the day in…

Sam: Yuma Tent!

Alan: Oh, my God. It’s so amazing walking in. It’s totally blacked out. Laser lights, smoke. You feel like it’s like 5:00 in the morning. You’re jammin out. You walk outside, it’s sunny. It’s like noon. Crazy.

Sam: Yuma tent was cool. Yuma tent came around before, like, the house and techno revolution even hit America and it’s been just chugging along ever since. It’s a fan favorite for sure.

Alan: Yeah. My buddy does the lighting there. Steve Lieberman, he does a lot of the lighting for that specific tent.

Sam: Very cool.

Alan: He does like all stage designs for monster festivals and stuff. So it’s pretty exciting stuff.

Sam: The lighting in that tent alone is incredible.

Alan: It really is.

Sam: How far can you take club lighting and put it in the context of music festival?

Alan: Apparently pretty far.

Sam: Yeah, very far!

Alan: I’m looking at some of the new stages coming out of EDC and like just the big festivals and man, every year there’s a new type of light. This year there’s one that’s like a really, really tight, thin beam on a moving head. When you have a hundred of them coming out of the stage, it’s just, “wow, that’s incredible.”.

Sam: Yeah. They really start blending the lines between lights and lasers and the functionality of both. It’s pretty, pretty awesome.

Alan: It really is. And that’s really a form of of virtual and augmented reality. You’re augmenting the whole space. A good lighting designer not only kind of has this front facing, “here’s all of the things,” but a lot of it… like, for example, what’s the tent called? The big one with the DJs?

Sam: Sahara.

Alan: Sahara tent. There’s lights all over the tent. Above you, behind you, around you. It just makes you feel like you’re in something bigger than just a stage with an artist in front. It’s all enveloping your senses.

Sam: Immersive, I think, is the word we like to use.

Alan: That is the word!It is. And now I have a question. Have you guys ever thought about using scent machines as part of the stage show?

Sam: You know, it might have been proposed at some point. I don’t work around stage production or artist production. That’s much more well-equipped colleagues of mine. I’m sure they’ve proposed it at some point.

Alan: So the thing with AR, you’ve got glasses — Nreal, Magic Leap — we go to these glasses. But really it comes down to anything at scale right now. It’s the device in everybody’s pocket. It’s the little magic window of your phone. But it’s predicted, and I think we’re on track, that over 2-billion smartphones will be AR enabled by the end of this year.

Sam: I sure hope so. That is the focus of our mobile AR strategy at Coachella: Smartphones.

Alan: So let me ask you a question. And this goes beyond the actual festiva;. How do you then engage people that aren’t at the festival to participate somehow? Because, like, I can’t always be there, but I would love to participate. So how do you see that happening?

Sam: I think that part of that has to come with volumetric experiences. And I think part of it has to come with enabling artists to deploy AR content that they might own through the mobile application. Because we have more people download the application than even attend the festival. So there’s a lot of people like yourself who download the application, and they want to know about Coachella, what’s happening, and what’s new. What we’re tinkering with — and there’s a lot of artists now who have created AR content for their brand or their music releases, whether it’s a phase filter or a portal of some sort — when you go onto artists’ pages on the app, you can see various links out to their social platforms; to music with our partner, YouTube Music. And, you know, one day there will be a place where you can see AR content that they’ve created and want to deploy at Coachella or either people to take pictures with on-site or for people who are at home watching the YouTube livestream, to deploy into their coffee table.

Alan: Cannot wait! I’m so excited. How many employees does Coachella have for that one festival?

Thousands and thousands. I don’t know an exact number, but the staff for Coachella, it goes up and down over the course of the year, depending upon the season. But come January, there’s a lot of people that start working full time on the festival all the way through the end of April. And so it balloons from January through April, and then the month of April when you have a lot of the temporary but very important staff on site like security guards and stage managers and the people who are building the stages. You know, it gets to thousands and thousands of people.

Alan: Have you guys ever thought about using VR as a training mechanism for those thousands of people? Something as simple as putting them in an experience where they just get to kind of wander around from point to point, so that people that are maybe new to the festival who don’t know where everything is, they can familiarize themselves with not only the safety and security, but also where things are now so that they’re more helpful on on-site.

Yeah, sure. I think it’s an interesting concept. There’s also just at this time, a cost/benefit analysis that we have to run. You know, if we’re gonna give them a virtual tour of Coachella, what does it cost to create that virtual space of Coachella? How else are we leveraging that asset or utilizing it in other programs? These are just kind of the questions that we have to ask ourselves. But I think as the tech to produce and just deploy those things gets cheaper, it’s definitely something that we would look at, especially when it comes to jobs that might be a little risky or unsafe to practice or training and giving people the ability to do that in a virtual space would be important and safer.

Alan: I think also we’ve been talking about this on the show repeatedly, but one VR headset can train multiple people. You could provide training to 100, 200 people with one headset. It doesn’t have to be one headset per person. So I think there’s definitely, for the unsafe and risky, but also just general understanding of where things are before people come on site. Because thousands of employees, you want to make sure they all have a baseline of knowledge of things. And with VR, you can actually start to test that as well, and then test their proficiency. And not so much test them as just make sure they’re prepared.

Sam: Absolutely. Especially when it comes down to a lot of times, the security guards are the front line from the fans perspective. They likely will not talk to one Goldenvoice staff member their entire time at Coachella, but they talk to security guards all the time, asking them where things are, where to find things, where the entrance or exit is. And those security guard are great for that reason. And it would probably be more beneficial if they knew where specific things were that sometimes they might not know the answer to. So it would be useful from a training perspective, and it would also be useful for a fan perspective, if they could get an idea before they enter the festival site, kind of get a virtual tour of the festival site — without giving away anything, of course.

Alan: Let’s talk about it further off line, because I think this is something that intrigues me. How do we train thousands of people quickly and bring them up to a certain level of proficiency and then reuse those assets for a different way? And one of the things that we keep telling our customers is, look, if you’re going to build like a virtual whatever, maybe it’s a machine and you bring in your CAD data and you train somebody on the machine. Well, that same 3D data that we just spent, maybe $50,000 taking it from CAD to putting it into 3D and then putting it into VR. Well, that same thing, that same asset, can be used in a AR. It can be used on your Web site. It can be used for training, can be used for marketing. I think a lot of companies see it as just a cost center, like, “oh, this is going to cost a lot of money.” But if you, like you said, re-use and recycle this material throughout the organization, you actually end up spreading out the cost quite a bit and getting more value and benefit from it.

Sam: Yeah, I absolutely agree. Should definitely have that conversation.

Alan: We shall. Awesome. What else do you want to talk about? Is there anything else that you want to talk about? To share before we wrap this up?

Sam: You know, I think maybe just kind of hype — and I know that kind of purpose of this podcast is to kind of help inform and inspire people to use XR — and I think there’s a lot of incredible advice out there around the technology and its use cases in a business context. But I think what a lot of people don’t talk about enough is just that we should always be thinking about ways in which we can tell a story and create a program that I think is more relatable and fits in to… it has to obviously fit into the brand, but, you know, you can also think about how that fits into the story of consumers who use your products or services. There was a really great example. One of my favorite business use cases was El Pollo Loco did this mural activation. Did you see anything about it?

Alan: I didn’t actually dig into it, but I did see that it was there. It basically hold your phone up to I think was a painting on a wall or something, wasn’t it?

Sam: Yeah. It was in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and El Pollo Loco celebrated Mexican heritage and a lot of their customers by bringing five different murals to life in L.A. And there was also like a real-world aspect to their initiative where they donated some of their storefronts as a place for real-life murals to take place.

Alan: Super cool.

Sam: I thought that was just such a great story. That’s super relatable. And if you’re a person who has no idea anything about AR or even what that means, it’s still something that is going to inspire you to pick up the phone and give it a try. And I think that’s an example of a great success in this space.

Alan: I love things that bring a wider education or social aspect to it like that, bringing a focus to Hispanic heritage. It’s really wonderful. And for anybody who’s flying into L.A., El Pollo Loco is within a block of the airport. It’s always my first up. Those dollar chicken things are great. And then In and Out Burger. Man, that’s like my L.A. staple.

Sam: Where is In And Out’s AR experience, man?

Alan: It doesn’t seem like a brand fit. To be honest.

Sam: They’re definitely not a brand fit. They have five things on the menu for the entire lifetime of the company.

Alan: No, probably not. What is one problem in the world that you want to see solved using XR technologies?

Sam: I think that XR’s power to inspire empathy in certain situations is really strong. So I don’t necessarily have one specific problem, but I think that people who can use VR to view the planet from above, or experience a day in the life of someone who lives in a favela, or use AR to better understand issues or problems that are plaguing society around the world. The use of that technology will inspire more people to get involved with these issues, and that’s kind of a sum result that I’m excited to experience.

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