Retraining for a Post-Retirement World with VRVoice’s Bob Fine

August 07, 2019 00:37:10
Retraining for a Post-Retirement World with VRVoice’s Bob Fine
XR for Business
Retraining for a Post-Retirement World with VRVoice’s Bob Fine

Aug 07 2019 | 00:37:10


Show Notes

A good friend of Alan’s, publisher of the online XR news publication, VR Voice, drops by the show for a general chat about the future of the space, including the potential for XR to help train workers in a future where retirement is less common, saving money by designing hospitals in VR before brick meets mortar, the video game crash of 1983, and a little Fruit Ninja.

Alan: Today’s guest is a good friend of mine, Bob Fine. In 2011, Bob launched the only printed magazine covering social media, The Social Media Monthly. In January 2014, he launched his second print titled The Startup Monthly in May 2016, he launched — what I love —, a content vertical on all things virtual reality. In addition to his publishing endeavors, Bob continues to provide I.T. strategic planning consulting services to both private sector and non-profit communities. Bob has over 10 years of additional work experience as a systems and sales engineer with various companies, including CMGi, Hughes Network, IOWave and Raytheon, as well as two of his own consulting companies, Geoplan and the Cool Blue Company. I want to have a warm welcome; thank you, Bob, for joining us on the show today.

Bob: Alan, thanks very much for having me. I’m honored to be one of your guests.

Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure and honor to have you on the show. I’ve met with you many times. You’ve actually shared some CES stories, and we’ve been in a little glass booth in CES together. That was wonderful. You have your own podcast and news outlet, talking about all things virtual reality, VRVoice. That is been amazing, and you’ve been a great influencer in the space, so thank you.

Bob: Well, I appreciate that.

Alan: So the first question I love to ask everybody is, what is the best VR/AR/XR experiences — or what are some of the best experiences — that you’ve had so far?

Bob: You know, I guess from my perspective; I’m a longtime video gamer. I just went to PAX East on Friday, up in Boston. I was my first PAX event. And if you’re not familiar, that’s the Penny Arcade conference. Huge, huge gaming conference. It makes E3 look minuscule. And I’m old enough where I started with an Atari 2600. One my the reasons I started looking at VR again in 2016 was because of that video gaming interest. When you ask me my best experiences right now, I’m going to kind of… I’m thinking about some of the early games that that I played, that gave me that “woah” moment. As I’m thinking back to it now, this was actually on HTC VIVE — first gen, which was only maybe 3, 4 years ago now — and I was so impressed with the first generation of hardware that I was like, “well, this is ready for prime time.” The prices might still be a little bit high, but the quality of the gaming was there already. Just two off top my head is the VR version of Fruit Ninja, which I’ve personally put about 400-500 people through, because it’s one of the best and fastest experiences I think you can give somebody that’s never tried VR, but you can give to anybody whether they’re five years old or ninety five years old.

Alan: Slicing fruit in VR is magical, and the fact that they have the haptic feedback to the controller is just… [implied Chef Kiss]. You’re right, it is a magical experience.

Bob: The other game that I was really getting addicted to was Space Pirates, which I think is still just a brilliant early video game that demonstrates the quick and easy access to VR. It’s kind of like the space invaders of AR, I think, in terms of what those early games that caught fire and was easy to pick up and everybody loved.

Alan: “Space Pirate Trainer.” Is that what it is?

Bob: I think, yeah, that’s right. That’s right. I’ve been traveling and it’s been kind of non-stop for the last couple months. I’m actually looking forward to today, because my life gets to slow down a little bit. And I’ve been catching up a little bit on the news. We had a big conference earlier in March. And then right after, I went to Laval Virtual in France.

Alan: Oh wow.

Bob: That was great. It was a great experience. The largest VR event in France; maybe in Europe, even. And what was also amazing, which was unclear to me, was that conference has been around for over 20 years. It was the 21st or 22nd year this year, that they’ve been focusing on VR. So they’ve been having conferences about VR for 20 years before the DK1.

Alan: That’s incredible.

Bob: These guys have been around for a while. It was just a very great event. Great place to meet people, a little bit off the beaten path. It’s about three and half hours west of Paris. It was a great, great experience.

Alan: So, because this is a podcast focused on the business applications and enterprise applications of this technology, what did you see at Laval that stood out as a must-have for businesses?

Bob: Well, actually, what was interesting for me being at Laval is, I put on a — for the first time — a VR architecture event… actually, over a year ago, now; this was January 2018. We had good participation. But it was hard for me to get a feel for where architecture uptake was, from a VR perspective, in the US. At Laval — at least from what I could see, especially from the number of exhibitors and the focus — architecture and design and enterprise planning, it’s a huge business area within Europe right now. A lot of companies focusing on it. A lot of companies picking up on it. One of the things that was demoed there, there was a presentation from Microsoft about the new Hololens 2. And Trimble announced — and has — an all-in-one headset based on the Hololens for the maintenance industry, managing cable lines or oil pipelines. A lot of outdoor, hard maintenance work.

Alan: That’s called the XR 10, right? Is that the one?

Bob: I don’t know if that’s the name or not.

Alan: Hardhats with Hololens 2 built in?

Bob: I think they launched in the Hololens 1, and then I think it’s geared to come out in the Hololens 2 right away.

Alan: Yeah, it’s pretty impressive. One of the announcements that Hololens made at WMC this year was, they announced that they’re making a system where you can mod it — you can actually make modifications — and they will support the modifications for businesses. Which is pretty amazing, because who knows how these technologies are going to be used? Maybe they need a hardhat; maybe they need a scuba mask. Who knows? Being able to be open to those changes and foster them, because if one user needs them, I’m sure tons of them will.

Bob: I think Trimble is one of those first partnerships for them, because it was integrated with hardhat. So it’s hard hat with a Hololens 1 piece. I could picture people out on the street with these less than twelve months.

Alan: One of the startups that we’re helping, they’re looking at taking CAD diagrams, blueprints, and then importing them into the real world so you can stand in a construction site, and see the blueprints overlaid on top in the exact position of where they should be. The reason that’s important is because there’s about $30-billion lost every year in construction rework. And that’s just in North America. It’s $30-billion in doing things twice, where, if you can wear this headset, you can look up in the rafters and say, “OK, well, the HVAC system’s off by a foot.” You can annotate on it, and send it back to the blueprints real-time. And everybody has a real-time path of what’s happening.

Bob: That’s the great segue to one of the presentations I’m remembering now from Laval, which was a… I can’t think of the startup’s name off top my head, but they were a European company that focused on hospital architecture design, and they had an ROI presentation showing that, by designing the operating room in VR first, and having the client be able to review it multiple times, walk through it, figure out what’s going to work and what’s not going to work, from an operations perspective within the OR; Where did the nurses stand? Where do objects get handed from nurse to doctor? And so forth. And then, being able to figure out beforehand those bottlenecks, because they definitely demonstrated that there was a huge amount of money spent on… they said — on average — each time they did a physical build of a hospital or an OR, they had to do a refurb four or five times, and each of those refurbs costing, like, half a million dollars or something like that.

Alan: If you look at it from that lens, even if you do one refurb, that’s half a million dollars. You can buy a lot of VR and AR headsets with that kind of money.

Bob: Yeah. And with the use of doing it through VR — not necessarily perfecting the process, or catching everything only from that — but they definitely reduce their costs by… I think they got down to maybe one or two revisions that were necessary, instead of the average of four or five. I mean, you think about building something, and then having to go back four or five times to reconfigure it, because you didn’t get it right the first time?

Alan: Let’s pack that in a strictly numbers standpoint. Let’s assume each revision’s half a million dollars; they do four revisions, that’s $2-million.

Bob: Yeah.

Alan: A VR headset and a full computer… let’s say you buy 10 of them. Right? So, five grand a pop. Maybe you need five grand, maybe you don’t. But let’s call it $5,000 a pop. So, for $50,000, you just saved a million dollars. What is that, about a 20 x return?

Bob: Yeah.

Alan: These are not trivial numbers. These are massive savings. By just thinking about how you can use this technology to prevent, rework, or eliminate one of the revisions; you just saved millions of dollars from something that is a marginal cost.

Bob: I know that’s one of the main reasons why the automotive industry is one of the very early, big adopters and investors in the hardware and software. The amount of money that they can save on having to physically do a build of a design — a first iteration of a car, what have you — I mean, that’s millions of dollars of time in labor that they can save if they can learn as much as they can through a VR simulation of the car.

Alan: My previous guest today was Elizabeth Baron from Ford. In her 20 years or 30 years working in immersion within Ford, they came up with what they called the Tenets of Immersion. I’ll read them out, because I think it’s worth repeating. How quickly and easily you can become immersed. So, when you walk in and someone puts a headset on you, how quickly do you go from standing outside the room, to being fully immersed? Simulating any potential area, whether it be on a racetrack, or in a design studio; being able to change the environment. Making sure the hardware is simple, unobtrusive, and acts naturally and feels natural. So, even reaching over your hands, stuff like that, it has to be realistic. It has to be real-time. The next one is collaboration, and then their last one is full scale; being able to see the vehicle at full scale. Those were the Tenets of Immersion. And when you hit on automotive, I was like, “wow. Exactly.”

Bob: Continuing on your thought there, my specialization and focus is in the VR and health care sector. There’s been quite a lot of studies done in the last couple of years, and data developed, where the time for immersion — at this stage with the technology — is under 60 seconds. It takes, depending on the application or whatever, but for the most part, people become acclimated in less than a minute in VR, feeling fully immersed in a different environment in a very, very short amount time.

Alan: You go from standing in a room to standing on the moon in 60 seconds or less.

Bob: Right. Where you’ve been transported both emotionally and physically. You’re having an out-of-body-experience. It takes place that quickly.

Alan: So, because your specialty is in VR and health care, let’s start talking about that. I’ve seen hundreds of articles — maybe thousands of articles, now — on how VR is being used — VR and AR, really — for everything from anatomy training, right through to CT visualization, and then surgical assist. What are some of the things that you’ve seen that health care professionals and students are using to leverage this technology to better their performance?

Bob: Well, from my perspective, and one of the reasons I’ve decided to make this the area of our focus is for a number of reasons. One, working in the healthcare sector, at the end of the day, there’s a betterment for people’s health and wellness, and there’s a social good aspect to working in that sector. Not that I’m saying in other sectors, you can’t find that. But it comes quickly with the health care sector. And what’s really interesting is the amount of applications and development that’s happening not only at the practitioner level in terms of surgeons, nurses, clinicians; but also at the patient level, in terms of mental rehabilitation or physical rehabilitation, or early stuff happening with helping to diagnose. But also… whether “treat” is the right word at this point, but dealing with people that have Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, that some rehabilitation mechanisms to help lessen the effects, and just help people have a better quality of life.

But the other thing about health care — and I’m sure you’re aware of this, and in Canada, it’s… well, maybe a little bit more simplified — but in the United States, it’s a really, really complicated market. And there’s so many different aspects to it that have to be worked through to have a successful product. It’s a different beast than other for-profit sectors, but that’s one of the reasons why — and I can’t remember if I shared this back at CES or not — but we’ve recently launched the International Virtual Reality and Healthcare Association —; the website will be up later this week, actually — but we have over 30 organizations for the launch, and the focus is to help support the growth of the sector, support the companies involved, but also help figure out what mechanisms are needed to facilitate getting products and applications in the marketplace faster. But again, it varies depending on the type of application, because some things require regulatory approval. Some things don’t. And how do things get paid for by insurers, and so forth. It’s an interesting, complicated space to be in right now.

Alan: Yeah. There’s so much that can be done, and also so many challenges to be overcome. But I think — as they say — where there’s a will, there’s a way. The upside potential of this technology is so vast and so important, I believe it’s just gonna become one of the other tools that physicians, surgeons, and nurses have in their disposal. And some of the amazing use cases that I’ve seen are not even in the surgical room. One of the things I saw that was really wonderful, was out of Sick Kids Toronto Hospital, where they took a 360 camera and they put it on a gurney, and they basically talked to the camera as if it was a patient and walked them down the hall through to the surgery, and allowed kids to watch in VR what it would be like — or what it will be like — before their surgeries. They’ve already been down the hall; they know what to expect. They’re not nervous going into a room with all silver stainless steel furniture. They understand what’s going to happen, and by decreasing their stress before they go in for surgery, it’s actually increasing their outcomes. And that’s just one of a million use cases that I’ve seen–

Bob: And not just for children, but for adults as well. You’re going to go under a bypass, or have some kind of serious surgery? It is an opportunity for the physician to walk you through what they’re going to do, and it does lessen your apprehensiveness and your stress. And stress is a significant physical and mental negative effect on your health and well-being. Where you can decrease that, in any situation, is a benefit.

Alan: Decreasing stress is definitely a benefit, but one of the other things that I keep seeing is the ability for virtual reality to decrease the amount of opioid usage. Sometimes upwards as high as 25 percent in very painful procedures, we’re able to give distraction therapy using VR. I have a daughter, she’s 10, and she is literally terrified of needles. Like, she is the kid that you do not want in the hospital at all; they have to chase her down the hall. This group created a VR experience where you’re wearing the VR headset, and it’s this magical fairy, and there’s a whole story, and then they give you the needle before you even know what happened. And I think this is really some amazing technology. So you’ve got preparation for surgery; you’ve got distraction therapies to decrease opioid usage; you’ve got physicians using it for pre-visualization and pre-seeing a surgery; you’ve got pharmaceutical companies teaching people with it. Like, it’s unlimited, what this is going to bring to medicine.

Bob: The issue within health care, and part of the… I won’t say “problem,” but impediment, is anecdotal evidence is not always enough. Where a lot of these applications are showing early successes for the larger parts of the industry to adopt it, they want to see clinical data, and clinical data takes time. Which is all good and necessary. It’s trying to figure out how to expedite those clinical trials, and bring the data to the forefront faster. That’s one of the goals with the association. If I can take us in a slightly different direction, during our prep beforehand, you were talking about, “where are the opportunities?” And something that I’ve been sharing in my presentations the last couple of months is — and actually I just I read another statistic just from an article today that made me think about it again — I had the chance to attend a conference in Washington in December called the Longevity Conference, and it’s all about the aging community. Not just the elderly, but older working people. And the AARP, — which is the largest.. I think, the largest nonprofit in the United States, with 50-million members, The American Association of Retired Persons — shared a statistic which was very sobering, which is, in about 10 or 15 years, the majority of the population of the United States will be of the age 50 and over. That will be the largest part of the population.

Alan: Wow.

Bob: One of the other sobering statistics that I just read from an article today — and I’m trying to remember… oh, it was a survey from MetLife — noted that’s something like a 15 percent increase of people having to postpone to retirement because of finances.

Alan: Wow. That’s an incredible number. Holy moly!

Bob: So what all this means, though, is that all of us — the vast majority of us — as we get older, will not be retiring at 65. I don’t personally believe in the notion of retirement anyway, but–.

Alan: Freedom 55 was a lie!

Bob: — but many of us are going to have to work, just to pay bills and cover health insurance and all these things, until our 70s and maybe even 80s. But this is what I believe is the billion-dollar opportunity that the VR industry is missing right now. Training in VR is one of the big applications and opportunities, and that’s where a lot of investment is happening. But it’s happening more from a traditional, “let’s train our existing staff; let’s improve how we onboard people; let’s improve skill sets,” where the opportunity is with VR — and there’s money for this — is, “how do we retrain an aging population? People that are going into their second, maybe even third careers? How do we retrain our workforce to be efficient?” At least here in the United States. Retraining has not really been all that successful. There’s lots of money invested in it. The government spent millions and billions of dollars on it at different levels. But it hasn’t really achieved the outcomes that people have been wanting. And there’s a huge opportunity for VR companies to try to work with both local and state/province governments. Right now, what I think we need is a successful pilot, where there is a retraining opportunity for a particular field or company, where there are job opportunities and needs, and to demonstrate that VR can be a successful tool in attaining that retraining. Because again, and from the studies that are out there, retention in VR is much, much higher than in other forms or traditional learning.

Alan: Absolutely. One of the stats that came out of my conversation with the president of HTC, Alvin Wang Graylin; they did a quick study with some students, and they saw a six times increase in the concentration levels of those students. And another study they did with soccer stars; they were young students that are at the top tier soccer players. When they enlisted VR training as part of their training, they did two teams with two teams without. The teams without had a 5 percent increase; the teams with VR training had a 36 percent increase in their performance. So training is the magical use case for virtual/augmented reality, and I think right across any enterprise, that is going to be more and more applicable.

Bob: I got to tell you, 2019 is turning out to be an extremely exciting year, from a hardware perspective. The number of announcements that have been coming out in the last four to six weeks from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and the Game Developers Conference the other week in San Fran; there’s a lot of products coming out, which is good for the marketplace, too. It’ll bring prices down over time, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening. I finally — finally, after a year and a half — I got to try out the Magic Leap in Laval, and it was a good experience. It’s an interesting first gen product.

Alan: What do you try it?

Bob: What did I try, in terms of the application?

Alan: Yeah.

Bob: It was kind of a model simulator. You could take a look at a car engine, and spin it around in 360, zoom in and out, and look at it from different perspectives. But, [with] the ability to do that with other people in it at the same time. They had an add-on where a second person or third person could look at it through a tablet, and have the same perspective from a different angle, while one person’s in a headset.

Alan: You’re going to see a lot more of that. Microsoft with their Hololens 2, they’ve actually moved their Hololens from the devices division of the company to Azure, which is their cloud computing. And what they’ve realized is that these devices don’t really work without edge computing. We need to be able to push information back and forth from these devices to the cloud, and doing it real-time collaboratively is really going to be a magical scenario.

Bob: Well, I’m starting to see something interesting happen. And to be very honest with you, I’m thinking this through as I’m talking about it. Personally, I have some concerns about the cost of the Hololens and the Magic Leap devices at this time. Not that I don’t think they’re worth the amount of money that they’re being asked. I’m just worried about it from a market penetration perspective. But, as I’ve been thinking about this — and something that I think just dawned on me just now — is I’m seeing a very strong parallel with what happened with the early PC market, and the early gaming market in the early/mid-80s. If you think about console gaming — and we’re going back to now the Atari 2600 that I started with, and Intellivision and ColecoVision, (I’m sure you remember all these), the first Nintendo–

Alan: Burger Time!

Bob: Burger Time, awesome game. One of my favorites. These were aimed at families and gamers and households, and they were reasonably affordable units; $200-$300. That was something people could afford for Christmas. And it influenced an entire generation, including me, in terms of what I became interested in and what I want to work in. And I see that right now, Oculus is filling that void. Well, not just Oculus; PlayStation with the PSVR, and very soon, Valve is coming out with their own headset next month. So, there is this part of the VR sector that I’m now seeing focused on the end user consumer gamer. And then there’s this whole other part of the industry, which includes HTC and Microsoft and Magic Leap, which is focused on the enterprise. Now I’m alluding to the $2,000 PC from the mid 80s, which was high-high-end, what you needed in your workplace. And maybe a consumer could afford that, maybe they couldn’t. Then there was a convergence had happened over the next 10 years, where both the gaming hardware and the PCs kind of came into a middle pricing range, between that $500-$1,500 price range. I guess I’m starting to see a similar parallel track, in terms of the VR industry today, to what happened with PCs and gaming consoles 30 years ago.

Alan: At $3,500, it seems like “wow, nobody will ever buy that.” But for businesses and enterprise, that’s a drop in the bucket; literally nothing, if you’re saving millions of dollars.

Bob: Right. Going back to our earlier examples, if you’re investing $50,000 in hardware, and able to save half a billion your first time out, it’s a no-brainer.

Alan: Yeah. One of the big things that came out of Hololens 2’s announcements this year was they’re making things available right out of the box. Whether in design, you can upload your sketch ups, you can upload your .bim files or CAD models; whatever it is you’re working on, they have programs right out of the box that bring value. Whereas the Hololens 1, it was like, “here’s a Hololens and here’s a development kit that is kind of half-baked. But you know, you can guess and try some things?” I think version 2 is going to be a moment where enterprises buy this device, and are able to generate value from it immediately. I think that is the game-changer.

Bob: I think, where maybe there’s a little struggle, is the enterprise figuring out what they do with it from Day One. I don’t think it’s clear for companies to figure out, “okay, we know that we can get value out of this, but we’re not quite sure how to do that.” We don’t have the Lotus 1-2-3 program that is the killer app just yet, at least for enterprise; that is a must-have, out-of-the-box for everybody. I think, unfortunately, they’re having to adjust it to their particular use case and need, and maybe some of that’s out-of-the-box. It takes a little bit of figuring out, though.

Alan: Yeah, I mean, there’s legacy issues and stuff. But what I’m seeing in the market is that this stuff’s just moving really, really fast. The fact that it’s moving this fast is really encouraging. It’s also scary, because you invest in some technology, and then all of a sudden that’s obsolete. But I think you can futureproof your content strategies as you develop these things, especially in VR training. For example, if you start to use 8k cameras instead of 4k, then you’re creating content that’s above and beyond what the current headsets are capable of. But they’ll catch up, and your content will be future-proof.

Bob: Yeah, definitely.

Alan: So let me ask you, Bob; what is one of the most impressive business use cases of XR technologies that you’ve seen?

Bob: Now you’re putting me on the spot.

Alan: That’s the point!

Bob: One of the best use cases… Well, I think the killer app is training right now. If we think about education in the United States, at the high school/middle school level, we’re struggling. It’s no surprise, and there’s no hidden facts that the United States is not number one in reading or math. I don’t even think we’re in the top 10, necessarily. We are struggling keeping their focus. VR is a winning scenario for this, right now. You even mentioned a couple examples, where the retention and increased performance is a 5-6x improvement. That’s the biggest opportunity right now. It’s getting it in the hands of people and teachers and practitioners. Talking on that point, Merge VR — which is an AR hardware/software platform — has completely taken off in the education market. They completely changed their business model. In the beginning, they were focused a little bit more on consumer and such, but because they have actually a very cost-effective, entry-level product that students and teachers and schools can afford right now, they are getting insane uptake, and teachers are able to teach content and engage students in a much more captivating way. And they’re seeing great results with it.

Alan: The Merge guys. I traveled to China with them, and the MERGE Cube is… it’s so elegant. It’s a 3″x 3″ foam cube with some markers on the side, and if you pull your phone out, it comes to life and it can be everything, from a fish chasing some sushi, to a human heart or a skull in your hand. If you put it into Google Cardboard mode, where you put the phone into a viewer, this cube comes to life in your hands, and they’ve done it really elegantly. So, they’ve let people program for it. We’ve made some retail things for it, but it’s a beautiful, elegant solution. Really simple.

Bob: You just mentioned Google Cardboard, and actually, something that I was looking at earlier today, that Nintendo [Labo] — is it “LAY-boh?” LAH-bo? — VR kit is coming out in two weeks. And even though this is not necessarily Oculus Rift or HTC quality, it’s a brilliant move by Nintendo, and it’s going to be a mass adoption; an introduction of VR/AR to an entire generation, in the next 18 to 24 months. The Switch has taken off as a huge, huge success as a console. It’s going to be a very fast introduction, and people will get familiar with VR much, much more over the next 12 to 18 months.

Alan: I agree. I think it’s going to be a race to the top. A stat that I like to share with people is that, over the next 12 months, we’re going to see 2-billion smartphone devices that have AR enabled in them. And over the next five years or six years — between now and 2025 — there’s going to be a trillion dollars in value created through virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The market cap is going to be massive. It’s a matter of harnessing that value for your company.

Bob: When did you go to China?

Alan: In June last year.

Bob: Okay. And what did you take away from China?

Alan: Couple of things. The Chinese market is much bigger than the American market. They just have so many more people. They have 300-million people — the entire population of the US — in the middle- to upper-middle-class. In America, you’ve got 300 million people; you’ve got a few people at the very top, a middle class, and then people at the bottom. China’s really becoming a new world superpower… I guess I can’t really say “new,” but they’re really dominating, and they have their own agenda, and they’re working really hard. And 99 percent of the VR headsets in the world are made in China.

Bob: Do you see opportunity now, for American and Canadian companies, in VR/AR in China?

Alan: I really do. I think there’s going to be some great opportunities in retail. I know Alibaba just acquired an Israeli company last week.

Bob: I recall that.

Alan: I think there’s going to be opportunities in retail, and education. VIVE is doing some really amazing things in education, and bringing multiple headsets to classrooms. When you’ve got, like, 300 people all wearing a headset in a classroom, that’s pretty impressive. And one of the things that HTC just announced at their VIVE Conference in China; they have a new headset coming out, the VIVE Focus Plus, which has 6DoF, meaning you can look up, down, left, right, and then move in those directions. It’s got multi-modal VR. So, you’re able to plug it into a console, and see the screen from the consoles. You could play your PlayStation games in VR, on a huge IMAX-sized screen. The other thing that they’ve got coming is eye tracking for their VIVE. The other thing that I thought was really cool — I’ve never seen it, but I can’t wait to try it — is they’ve created a multi-user system using the VIVE Focus, where they can have up to 40 devices non-tethered. So no backpacks, nothing. You just put on the headset and go with four trackers that covers 900,000 square feet, which is four football fields.

Bob: Wow.

Alan: Free-roam VR, for up to 40 people in a 900,000 square foot-sized space.

Bob: That’s interesting.

Alan: Right? I was like, “oh, OK. This is big.” So I think there’s gonna be some big, big things coming from these standalone headsets.

Bob: Fantastic.

Alan: So, Bob, one last question for you; what do you see for the future of virtual/augmented/mixed reality — or XR — as it pertains to business?

Bob: Well, I think — just based on most of our discussion — it’s the next computing platform. Again, I think why you and I have been interested in it from a very early perspective; we went from VAX/VMS systems in the 70s-80s, to the PC generation, to mobile. And now, we are seeing AR and VR, which is going to be integrated in so many ways that people can’t even imagine right now. AR is going to take a form where it’s going to impact every piece of our business and daily lives. You’re going to see a AR-integrated into windows — the screen of your windshield, of your car, your glasses — and whatever version that takes. And we’re going to have this new access to information that we never had before. It’s going to be a platform that replaces — complements — our existing life of PCs and iPads and phones. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. And we’re starting to see it. And 2019 is becoming a turning point in a hardware perspective. It’s just more important for people to get up to speed now, instead of playing catch-up three or four years from now. And if you want to be ahead of the curve and helping your company, at least start thinking ahead for next year or the year after. Now is the time to start understanding the platforms, the marketplace, the opportunities, and maybe starting small. Find a small win, from an application perspective, and then propose something larger.

Alan: I think that is very sage advice. And on that note, I want to say a huge thank you for joining me on the XR for Business Podcast.

Bob: Alan, thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure. I’m glad to see you doing this. I think it’s extremely important for the enterprise. You’re definitely filling a void, and you’re a leading voice in the space.

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