Most kids who grew up spending too much time at the video arcade wound up with fewer quarters and a few earfuls from their parents. That’s not the case for Kevin Williams, who turned his arcade addiction into a career as an out-of-home entertainment guru. He drops in to talk about how XR is taking old ideas and breathing new life into them.
Alan: Hey, you’re listening to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. In this episode coming up is Kevin Williams. He is the out-of-home location-based entertainment expert, and he’s what’s coming up next. We’re going to talk about Disney vision, the 90s, immersive entertainment, dream craft, driving go-karts in augmented reality, Great Wolf Lodge and magical wands. All that and much more coming up on the XR for Business Podcast. Founder of the DNA conference and publisher of the ever-mindblowing Stinger Report and my guest today, Kevin Williams. Thank you so much for joining me on the show.
Kevin: Thank you, Alan, a real pleasure to be here. The check’s in the post.
Alan: It’s my absolute pleasure. You don’t know this, but you’re one of my very first mentors in this entire industry. You were the first person I reached out to and you were so gracious with helping me understand this world of VR and AR before anybody really caught on to this. That was back in 2014, and I’ll never forget it. So thank you for being there for me.
Kevin: Oh, thank you for remembering. Our industry only grows by the new people that you can introduce to it.
Alan: And with that, I want to make a challenge to everybody in the industry who owns some sort of VR or AR device — and I am included in this. It’s easy for us to not remember the journey and excitement of our first few times of trying these technologies. I implore everybody and make a challenge to everybody that owns a device — or many devices, in our case — in the next seven days, to put it on as many heads as possible; to get those reactions, to re-energize yourself to the fact that wow, this technology is revolutionary, it is mind-blowing. And we have it sitting in our backpacks, sitting on our desks, sitting in our labs. Let’s show everybody.
Kevin: Well, that’s part of the reason why I’m so passionate about augmented reality and virtual reality being used in out-of-home entertainment. We can get a lot more heads in it, rather than it just sitting on a shelf in the development studio.
Alan: I couldn’t agree more. I had the opportunity to meet with Dream Craft Attractions on the weekend, and oh my goodness, they’ve even solved the problem of hygiene! How do you put people in those masks without having to sterilize all of the devices? So they came up with this ingenious plastic helmet. Like, so smart. And then the VR headsets lower down.
Kevin: It’s interesting; you talk about how long this industry has been going. I was just having a conversation. You do understand that that two-part liner system is actually based on the original idea that Walt Disney’s Imagineerium had for their Disney-bution system.
Alan: “Disney-bution system!”
Kevin: So, Disneyvision was the system that was its Epcot in the 90s. That’s where a lot of people first heard about virtual reality in the theme park sector. And because Disney at the time was trying to work out which was the best way to get people into virtual reality — and this technology is clunky, was using CRTs — they came up with a two-part system where there was a liner that you put on first, and then the head-mounted display component clipped into that liner when you go to the right, standing in the queue line. As they say, nothing is new; it’s just the wrappers that change. Here we are, 2018-2019, and the same principle is being used by these guys. And it’s obviously at the Lions Gate theme park attraction in Asia.
Alan: So I got to ask this, Kevin; you are literally the well of knowledge for all things location-based entertainment. You’ve been hosting the Stinger report for many years now?
Kevin: 25, now.
Alan: 25 years. Walk us through where the single reporters come from, what your first episode was, what you were covering, and then kind of walk us through — maybe by five-year blocks or decades, even — where we’ve come from there?
Kevin: I’ve always been a fan of immersive entertainment, since I opened both in the arcade industry. That’s really back in the 80s. I got sucked into video amusements. It was a hard drug, and a hard taskmaster. And then when I had to start earning a living, I built upon… I had been a reviewer in my spare time, of the early microcomputer video games. I’ve got into reviewing and evaluating arcade machines. And that’s how I got sucked into that sector. Without boring your listeners to death, the fundamental Stinger Report is, I have always been writing in the trade magazines — I’m an appalling writer — but my English teacher taught me the only way that I can improve my English is by constantly exercising the muscle. I’ve been writing for a lot of times, and I had been writing up until — the Stinger Report was released in the 90s — I’ve been writing a lot of the trade magazines that existed. I’ve been also writing some consumer games mags. And I noticed that my writing was being censored quite heavily, regarding “the dirt,” as I like to call it; the interesting stuff. Like I just imparted there, the reason why it’s interesting to look at what Dream Craft operated, but also to use the lens of history to see how it has evolved, and how we got from A to B.
Alan: Basically what you’re saying, Kevin, is you’re calling people’s bullshit.
Kevin: No. That’s unfair, because one man’s bullshit is another man’s caviar. I am not God. I do not have all the answers. I make mistakes like everybody else, and it’s unfair for me to say I am right and you are wrong. What I try and do is collect enough information. I was taught in college that the only way that you could try and get to the basics of any problem is by collecting enough facts, or enough information that you can treat as facts. And so, I love history. I am a super-nerd, and I also like playing detective. I like tracing the money in many of these projects. For example, we’re just finishing a Stinger Report where we’re talking about the developments of a brand new theory of augmented reality systems being deployed in a facility. It’s not a new idea. It’s just taking an older idea and utilizing new technology. That’s fundamentally what we have in the out-of-home entertainment sector. Nothing’s changed from the carnival, from the theme park. Walt Disney back in 1955 recognized everything that we’re doing in the current modern out-of-home entertainment industry. It’s just we’re applying the same metrics with new technology. So to your point, I don’t call bullshit. I just follow the lines.
Alan: And you’ve been following these lines for 25 years. What’s so dramatically different now? I look at the VR and AR industry as kind of the boy who cried wolf. We’ve been screaming how great VR is for so many years. Nobody gives a shit anymore, and rightfully so. Myself included, we’ve been marketing this as a revolutionary technology for everything from teeth brightening to Ginsu knives.
Kevin: Yes, I’m waiting for it to do my laundry. They keep on promising.
Alan: So what are the real things that are making a difference? What have you seen recently that you’re like, “holy crap. We have rounded a corner. This is a different time?”
Kevin: I work in the immersive entertainment industry. I don’t work in the VR industry. I don’t work in the augmented reality industry, in the CAVE industry, in the 3D projection mapping industry. I work in immersive. And what’s happened is connectivity, digital entertainment and interactivity have become understandable, controllable and repeatable to the point — courtesy of the consumer game, mobile phones, courtesy of digital entertainment and simulation and training — and all of this technology has now switched together., and certain dreams that we’ve had in the theme park industry are now achievable with the magic of the current technology. It’s achievable. I’m not saying what’s being successful; it’s achievable.
Alan: Give us an example.
Kevin: We’ve always wanted to be able to know when a member of the audience wants to go left, rather than right, in a digital attraction and take the audience along with them. So if you ride Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom attraction, there’s this fake steering wheel on the ride that makes people think they’re steering the experience. But really, it’s a toss of a coin whether you go right to the temple or left through a waterfall. Now, with interactivity — with tracking, web entertainment, with gamification — we can now have the audience do what they want to do. And that makes a big difference because they can do what they want to do, they can come back again and again, and it changes each time, and we get repeat visitation and our prices go up.
Alan: It’s kind of like going to a video arcade. So we have a couple of them here. We’ve got Playdium and we’ve got the Rec Room, and you go there and you play some racing games, right? You sit down with some friends and you’re racing, and that’s fun. But then you step outside and then you’ve got a go-kart.
Alan: And it’s a different visceral experience, driving a go-kart with your friends.
Alan: There’s a physicality. There’s a bit of danger there. Which of the attractions that you’ve seen recently have kind of giving you that feeling like, “wow, I am I’m on a dragon,” or “I’m racing a motorbike?” What gives somebody that rush, that isn’t the physical footprint of an actual go-kart track, because that is expensive. A roller coaster is expensive to build. How can we deliver that in a digital means that is convincing enough? Or what have you seen that is?
Kevin: So in the go-karts we see companies like Meleap with their Hado Kart system, where you actually feel that you’re in Mario [Kart]. So I’m sitting in a normal go-kart, and I think environment. But when I put on the HoloLens headset, I see in front of me the bombs, coins, scores of the competitors. So that was an addition. So that, Alan, is the addition of technology to take a mundane experience and take it to a new level.
Alan: Hold on Kevin, did you just say, “I put on a HoloLens and I drive an actual go-kart and I get to go pick up coins and stuff?”
Alan: I want one, where can I try this?
Kevin: Japan at the moment, and hopefully it’ll be at the IL show. But there is another company that has developed it one stage further. There’s an issue here in our industry that we have a concern about putting head-mounted displays and glasses on people’s heads if you’re dealing with thousands of guests. We now have two companies that developed a version of that where rather than using augmented reality, they use 3D projection mapping, and they’re actually projecting onto the surface of the go-cart course. The coins, the power-ups, boosters, the big stuff.
Alan: That’s incredible.
Kevin: This is immersion. This is what’s really thrilling me, Alan, that we’re seeing these kinds of applications. And this is going back to everybody thought they’d be wearing AR glasses while driving their car to get the heads-up display. Now all we do is we just project onto the windshield. That’s the equivalent of making it really simple, stupid.
Alan: We’ve been overthinking this stuff.
Kevin: Yes! We have been overthinking it! And we have been overthinking what the level of immersion some people want. Do you want to have a head-mounted display, or would you rather have the images projected onto the surface you can interact with? I’ve been looking at this augmented reality climbing wall, and it’s seamless, and it’s compelling. And the other nice thing about it is people standing around the climbing wall can see the experience that the individual’s having, where sadly, with some augmented reality and virtual reality experiences, all you’re looking at is some fool with a head mount on.
Alan: That’s not that exciting until you fall down.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly. It’s that aspect of, what are you trying to achieve? Is it to be fun, or are you trying to sell technology? And a lot of my work as a consultant is trying to get companies, investors and developers to look at what we’re really here for, which is to create compelling immersive entertainment environments.
Alan: I’m going to take it back just a little bit, because honestly, you nailed it when you said “fun.” That’s really all people want, to have fun; when they’re watching movies, when listening to music.
Kevin: They want to have fun with their friends and family. Only people like me go to these entertainment facilities on their own. 80 percent of people who walk through the doors of family entertainment centers, urban entertainment centers, bar and club, hospitality sites, theme parks, casinos, visitor attractions, and retail-atainment are going there in groups. And if they’re not going in there in groups, they’re using social media to show their friends they’re having a good time.
Alan: I think we’re reaching this point — and I think this is a great segment — because we’re reaching a point in time where let’s call it the next 10 years. I don’t know if it’s five, 10, whatever, but we’re going to really wear glasses in our daily lives. They’ll game-ify and fun-ify our lives, and we’ll be able to have different representations of ourselves to the world, and this mass consumerism that we’ve built our entire economic systems around — perhaps we can scale it back a bit, and just enjoy the experiences with other people, and do things digitally rather than physically and kind of slow the expansion of our minings and physical objects?
Kevin: So it’s a fun domain. Even though I firmly wear an out-of-home entertainment hat, I also have to wear a futurist’s hat, which is, I have to keep up-to-date with technology. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is technology saturation and overload. So one of the things that companies are now talking about is how do they ease back on the technology and make the experience more personable? And I’ve noticed that it’s getting more and more that we’re trying to go for a frictionless experience. You’ve noticed now that we don’t want to put our hands in our pocket to pull out change or notes. We want to be able to just tap our phone and pay for small items — or even medium-sized items — with frictionless. We’re prepared to give away some of our, shall we say, freedoms — I don’t mean social freedoms, but I just mean control freedoms day to day life — for a simpler, more compelling experience. And so you’ll be seeing in the theme park industry the removal of the paper ticket, and the appearance of the wrist band. By giving away a little bit of my freedom by having that wrist band. That means that I don’t have to carry a key to my lockers. I don’t have to have a key to my door. I don’t have to have my wallet on me when I want to buy a burger. And I don’t have to stand in the queue for three hours to get to the front of the ride.
Alan: So I have children. And one of the places we’ve taken them is a place called Great Wolf Lodge.
Kevin: Oh, yes. Did they lock in their wands?
Alan: They have figured it out, man. Every kid gets — every person — gets a wristband. Then you can go where you want in this giant hotel that’s a million square feet. It’s got a water park the size of any major water park. And you’d never have to leave for the three days you’re there, and your kids are safe running around with a wristband because they can buy anything they want, of course.
Kevin: So the wristband gives you the security that you know your kids, if they even migrate out of the coverage of that wristband, alarms go off. Number two, you can go to any member of staff and ask where they are. Number three, they feel empowered, children, because they’re now grown-ups, because you let them off the leash. You haven’t wrapped them in bubble wrap and won’t let them run away. You are allowing them to be themselves. And depending on which venue you went to, there is a fantastic wand game that was created, and the kids get it and the parents are beginning to get it. It’s an equivalent of, before Pokemon Go was Pokemon Go, these guys at Great Wolf created a really fun experience. And it’s so fun that the adults get into it. It’s usually — for those I haven’t seen it — it’s RFID wands. But when you do a special motion near certain game terminals, if you do your magic movement correctly, then it opens up a narrative and you try to learn all the special moves to create points. And in some cases, people are going back again and again to that experience. And it’s not high-tech by any means. It’s showing its age. But when a game works, and — remember this word — when it’s fun, they’ll keep on coming back.
Alan: Wow. I mean, that’s the snippet. When it works and it’s fun, people will come back for more.
Kevin: That’ll be on my gravestone. The fundamentals are, we’re at that point — I spend all my time tracking the motions of technology and investments and entertainment — and we’re at that point now where we’ve been saturated with virtual reality and even a little bit of augmented reality. We’re now getting to the when the rubber meets the road moments in our industry. In my particular part of the industry.
Alan: So what attractions in virtual and augmented reality have you seen that you think, “wow, this has staying power?” I mean, for me, the first one comes to mind is The Void. They’ve got all different experiences. Each one is completely unique. They’re multiplayer. I get to play with my friends. They’re not inexpensive. They have a monetization strategy and they don’t take a lot of footprint in a venue.
Kevin: So, for the audience that is not familiar with this, we’re talking about arena-scale VR. This is putting a backpack on and traversing through an environments. The Void is different compared to companies like Zero Latency, who just have the backpack, and multiple players involved in game narrative. The Void has gone down the path of trying to create virtual environments — hyper realities, they like to call it — where you put the backpack on, you put the head-mounted display, and then you’re pushed into an environment, and something that you’re going to see in our industry in the next couple of years is a lot of intellectual property — movies, television, fantasy experiences — being turned into arena-scale entertainment experiences, where you and your friends go through this experience that they will recognize from the movie. Our friends at The Void started with Ghostbusters and are creating really compelling Ghostbusters experiences.
Alan: The Ghostbusters experience blew my mind and changed my life.
Kevin: That smell of marshmallow.
Alan: Oh my god, the smell of marshmallows. That was it. I was sold. OK, Void. Take my money. I’m in.
Kevin: And then when they did Star Wars, for those people that have done the Star Wars one, where you’re playing a rebel, infiltrating a base, pretending to be Stormtroopers; it was the smell of the ash and the volcanic pumice that sucks a lot of people in, the feeling of the heat.
Alan: Crazy — the scent. I keep telling people–
Kevin: And then we’ve Wreck-It Ralph. The smell of the cookies and the sweets. So one of the things you don’t understand is the physicality. I used that phrase earlier on. Virtual reality is okay, but it don’t have that level of physicality, be it olfactory smell. Audio is spatial sound. Decent graphics, vibrating thralls and seats. If you don’t have that added juice, then you have nothing. That’s a big difference between what we do in the immersive entertainment industry and what you’re doing in the consumer industry. It’s different to the VR experience you get in our industry.
Alan: So Kevin, this is exactly why location-based entertainment will always have the most powerful experiences, because one, I can’t afford to have a complete motion simulator in my house with scent machines and all of this craziness. Not to say that I don’t want it, but I can’t afford it.
Kevin: Yeah. If you could, you would.
Alan: But it’s not reasonable to think about that. But I can go to a place, pay 25 bucks and I can go and experience the most mind-blowing VR in the world. Now, you mentioned feeling haptics, spatial audio, graphics scent. As many of the listeners know, my passion is education and training, and I feel that education and learning is really competing with Hollywood movies, Triple A games, and of course, social media. So how do you then take the best of those three worlds and this out-of-home entertainment experience, and apply that to learning things? How do we give learners the ability to fully, viscerally learn something in a way that means something to them, and also challenges them to be the best at what they do?
Kevin: Well, many of your listeners might not be familiar, but I come from a military simulation background, so I got sucked into military besome back in the early 90s because that was the only place that had the technology — the graphical processing technology — to create the high-level of engagement we wanted to achieve in the theme park industry. And so we called it the soul beating the swords into plowshares, taking the latest flight simulator computer systems and flight motion-based systems and creating Star Tours. That’s the kind of lineage. And so we are still stealing from the training industry, and putting that type of technology into our entertainment facilities’ next generation. I just did a presentation here in Mountain View for Technology Summit and they were talking about the latest CAVEs — computer augmented virtual environments — that allow you to walk into a projected box where you are literally dropped into the virtual experience. No need for a head-mounted display. No need 3D glasses, because you’re pushing the latest 8K projections onto every surface around me, including the floor that I’m standing on. And that is the kind of visceral emotion that we’re getting at the moment. And to your point, one day you’re running a virtual reality arcade facility. The next day, possibly when you have a downturn, you’re running experientials; you’re running virtual tours. We have a client at the moment that’s done a fantastic job with National Geographic to create an immersive and compelling virtual tour of unique locations around the world. So you have hundreds of people with head-mounted displays, sitting in an auditorium, going on a virtual field trip. That is the future. If we can create compelling immersive entertainment, then we can create a compelling immersive training.
Alan: We have to fix this problem, because we’re about to enter a phase of humanity, of exponential growth in everything we do, and every job will change — and change rapidly. IBM is estimating 120 million people need to be re-skilled, retrained and upskilled, due to AI robotics and automation, only in the next three years.
Kevin: And IBM always goes for a low number. So if they’re low-balling this, just imagine what the reality is going to be.
Alan: I can’t even imagine; we’re going to run into a problem. There’s a deficit of 7-million trade workers a year in the US and that’s just the US. Kids don’t want to [grow up to] be trade workers. This is a well-documented fact.
Kevin: I try not to generalize, but I know that the majority of kids have seen their peers making easy money and easy lifestyles, and want to get their share of that. I understand that. But I also meet a lot of creative individuals that want to get into the industries that I work into, or want to get into the industries that are associated with it. So we need to kill the gatekeepers, open up the libraries, and improve the teaching tools.
Alan: One hundred percent, couldn’t have said it better myself. So speaking of learning and learning fast, one of the ways that I learn faster than anything is going to conferences. And you mentioned two things. You mentioned your modeling and simulation, or military simulations. There’s a conference coming up in Orlando called ITSEC. And it’s the world’s largest modeling simulation and training event. And then the second one is the IAAPA, the Global Association for the Attractions Industry. I believe that’s also in Orlando, actually.
Kevin: Same exhibition facility. It’s a weird feeling; at the end of IAAPA, I then walk outside slightly, adjust my tie, change my lanyard, then walk back into the show and it’s changed into simulation. And in some cases, we have exhibitors at the theme park show who also come from the military simulation and training side. You know, companies like D-Box. They make the motion seats, your cinemas. They also make motion seats for some of the latest virtual reality immersive attractions like Virtual Rabbids. But they also make the motion systems for your Abrahams tank training.
Alan: It’s kind of crazy. Orlando’s this little hub where you have attractions — Disney and Universal and all these companies. Then you’ve got NASA making and launching space shuttles, and then you’ve got all the branches of the military.
Kevin: And then you’ve also got all of the computer graphics companies, Lockheed Martin and I think ES has still got their operations out there. The history of Florida and Orlando especially, and how it is married to entertainment, technology, space and military is an interesting one, but that would take a long time.
Alan: That’s another podcast all in itself. And you know what we’ll do?
Kevin: That’s all on its own.
Alan: We’ll get John Cunningham and we’ll get some of the people from UCF and Lockheed Martin.
Kevin: Oh, yeah.
Alan: We’ll get them out. We’ll have a joint podcast. We’ll see if we can do an Orlando based-podcast, maybe from ITSEC and IAAPA. It’d be interesting.
Kevin: Some of your listeners may not know that I’m an ex-Walt Disney Imagineer. And so I love the history of what Disney sets out to do with this theme park business. And it’s interesting to find out that even military mission and military business has had tentacles into the Disney decision to open up in Orlando.
Alan: That’s incredible. Oh, my goodness. Wow. Kevin, it is always a pleasure to speak with you, to learn from you. This is a question that I think you’re uniquely qualified to answer. What problem in the world do you want to see solved using XR technologies?
Kevin: XR technologies? Stupidity.
Alan: OK… Explain.
Kevin: I would like people to be able to use the latest technology to get more information quicker so they understand situations better.
Alan: All right.
Kevin: So I was always taught by my parents to be situationally aware; don’t just walk into a place. Understand where you, why you’re there. It’s important to be able to just… what happens when the fire alarms go? Do you know where the exits are? Just simple things like that are really useful. It’s situational awareness. It’s not just knowing the layout of the building that you’re sitting in, but also the reason why certain things are the way they are. And so a lot of people like to use the Internet to grab information quickly. But only having a little bit of the information gives you no real pictures. As my dad always said, “too little information is worse than too much.” And I’m a little concerned now because we have limited information available to our fingertips really quickly. We treat that as gospel. And the whole point about XR technologies, hopefully it can give us even more information, but simply presented to us. So rather than just knowing that when I ask Siri what the weather is today, Siri tells me that it’s going to be sunny and raining, a decent XR version of that would be able to show you places where I’m walking today. The possibilities of changeability, and also little understanding of do I need a coat or an umbrella for the rest?
Alan: Yeah, I think in the case of when we wear glasses all the time, less is more.
Kevin: There you go. Incumbant technology. I’ve got this funny feeling, with the price drop in projection technology and the new tracking technology, that we may not be walking around with little pieces of plastic and glass in our pockets in the future. It may be the other way round, where we are walking around and the screens are following us.
Kevin: Projection mapping. Just think if you had automated projection systems in a space.
Alan: We have projection mapping now. We even have a company…
Alan: No. It’s like a camera-based system that allows you to projection map on anything pretty easily.
Kevin: Oh, you mean castAR, those guys?
Alan: No, it’s not AR.
Kevin: Tri-Fi’s the version where you ever–
Alan: Lightform, Lightform!
Kevin: Oh yes. Well, yes, you have that. But sadly, you still have to wear it, don’t you?
Alan: What I’m saying is if you hit a LightForm everywhere, with a projector attached to it on… let’s say you walking down the street and I could turn a wall or just a standard pedestrian wall into anything. The thing is, we have these technologies now to do–
Kevin: Yes we do.
Alan: –insanely amazing things, and yet we don’t do it. I live in Toronto, and maybe other places — Montreal has done a very good job at projection mapping, and some other cities — but it’s almost like, we’re missing out on this very simple way to communicate messages and I think maybe the reason why it’s not exploded as it is because commercial entities tried to make it commercial rather than art.
Alan: And art is something that’s visceral. And then we can all buy into. Ads are like, yeah, OK, great. Show me something cool.
Kevin: So one of the best 3D projection mapped environments that I’ve ever been in was for an art exhibit. The Linked to MONIA. And it was beautiful, compelling and it was visceral. And that’s it; no Coca-Cola or Pepsi or KFC are going to fund that. They just want to be able to say “eat Coke” and stick it on the side of the wall. “Drink KFC” and stick on the wall and to be compelling. We have to look beyond the technology and look at what we can deliver. And then what you invigorate and excite people with the opportunities of what you deliver, that’s when it gets driven. So when I say I expect every service to be turned into a screen, I don’t see us wearing a headband or contact lenses. I actually get the feeling that maybe the light sockets in the future will not just be an illumination device, but it also have a little Pico projector in there and it will track you when you walk into the room. And if you look at the wall, you make the hand gesture. It will project a lovely 8K display of that. And it will do everything that my phone can do and more.
Alan: That’s insane.
Kevin: But that’s that’s what people want. They don’t want to have to put on a cardboard box.
Alan: It may be practical in closed spaces like museums; public spaces, maybe not.
Kevin: Alan! I work in the out-of-home entertainment industry!
Alan: So places where you can control it. So if you’re a Disney… oh I get it now. Oh, shit. Oh, yeah. Cool. Why don’t we do that now? I don’t get it. What the hell?
Kevin: It’s expensive. It’s expensive.
Alan: Yeah, for sure.
Kevin: Oh, the 8K projection systems. So we’re working on a couple of projects that are based on CAVE technology, Computer Augmented Virtual Environments, and they’re using the latest projectors 8K and 4K max projectors. And it’s expensive to fill that whole environment. The price is coming down. But to answer your question about why technologists aren’t jumping on projection mapping is much more. It’s not just the reason about the content. It’s not just the reason about application. It’s also about where you put your resources. One of the largest manufacturers of projectors is also a very large manufacturer of digital displays of OLED and LED displays going to mobile phones and into the laptops. That would be essential. But you could also say the same of Sony. You could also say the say of HTC. You know, there are companies that have to marshal their resources with the Tokyo Olympics coming up next year. You’re going to be seeing a lot of projection systems — the latest projections — and you can see a lot of 8K projections. First Olympics that will be broadcast 8K. Now, there’s not many PLACES around–
Alan: That’s insane.
Kevin: Yeah, this is totally insane, especially what you saw at CES this year. There’s not many places in the consumer sector where you can have an 8K screen outside.
Alan: I think the highlight of my CES — besides the crazy helicopter — there was like a rolling 4K display. It rolled out of a box. It’s nuts. I don’t think I saw anything 8K — or very few anyway.
Kevin: Oh, yeah. There are a couple. There are a couple of the super display systems. And you know, you can always spot them because they’re the ones where people are grilling meat on the boxes, as these things get HOT. And you can see the big cables going into that. But these aren’t really considered for consumer at the moment. These are being looked at as commercial display systems. And so I think most people will get to see the 8K presentation when they go to their local cinema and they get to see the latest projection system pushing out the Olympic experience. Again, horses for courses and it’s content driving this. I wouldn’t be surprised that the interest that the Olympics next year generates in this kind of high quality visuals will encourage people in our sector. But there’s one thing to also understand about pushing out high-quality visuals. Not always a success. We’ve seen the problems that the high def screens have caused with production quality; makeup has become much more dangerous. Warts and zits. Zooming in on people’s faces are all issues that need to be avoided. The higher the quality doesn’t mean always the better image.
Alan: Indeed, indeed. Well, Kevin. This has been an amazing conversation. We could probably talk about this forever. Where can people find you? Where where can people learn more about what you’re doing?
Kevin: I’m always on Facebook, always on Twitter, always will. Linkedin: look up Kevin Williams of KWP and you should hunt me down. If you want to send us an email it’s [email protected], that will get me wherever I am, if you want to get onto the subscription list of the Stinger Reports. Just send me an email with subscription on it. I’ll make sure that you receive it. We write a lot of articles for the trade pubs. I also have a column in VR Focus that I’m going to be starting up again and I hope to have completed by the end of the year with our co-author Michael Mascioni, a sequel to a previous book. In 2013-14, we launched the first book, The Immersive Frontier, and a sequel to that is coming out at the beginning of next year, that goes into the details of the immersive opportunities and out-of-home entertainment, and also is looking a little bit towards the future. We like a little bit of crystal ball.
One of the best use cases for XR technologies is training and enterprise solutions, as long-time listeners know. Today’s guests, Jamie Fleming and Bharat Ahluwalia from Altoura, pop by to explain how they’re optimizing workplace productivity. Alan: Hey, everyone. Alan Smithson here, with the XR for Business podcast. Today, we're speaking with Bharat Ahluwalia and Jamie Fleming from Altoura about augmenting enterprise productivity for frontline workers using spatial technologies. All that and more coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Jamie and Bharat, welcome to the show, my friends. Jamie: Hey, thanks, Alan. Super happy to be here. Alan: I'm really excited. So, Bharat, I know offline you were just-- you were mentioning that you were part of the original Hololens team. So I know how you got started in this. Jamie, you've been building experiences for 15 years in technology. So maybe just give us a bit of your background and we'll go from there. Jamie: Sure, yeah. For starters, this is Jamie. So I actually started out in architecture. I have a masters of architecture, and worked as an architect for a number of years. And that's really where I was given an introduction to 3D modeling and building out immersive experiences in the day-to-day practice of design and got the spark of an idea of, hey, I could create a company where we really just focused on creating experiences, and making them more and more interactive that helped -- in the early years, particularly -- help designers understand what their designs were. And over the years, that has just become more and more sophisticated and we've gotten deeper, deeper into the software side of things. Now ...
Code is a big part of what makes XR work, of course. But for most businesses, knowing the DNA of the technology will be less important than knowing how to best use it. XR Bootcamp co-founder Ferhan Ozkan is enabling businesses interested in XR to enable themselves. Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today, we’re speaking with Ferhan Ozkan, the co-founder of XR Bootcamp, a platform to teach professionals how to create VR and AR applications, and support companies to bridge their skills gap in XR development through an intensive onsite program, cutting edge curriculum, and industry renowned lecturers with a focus on industry portfolio projects. I am personally very, very honored to be on the advisory board of XR Bootcamp and helping them really develop the future of how organizations will train their staff on how to build XR technologies. And so with that, I’d love to welcome Ferhan to the show. Ferhan, welcome to the show, my friend. Ferhan: Hi, Alan. Pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting. Alan: It’s absolutely my pleasure. I just want to give you a little bit of history about you. XR Bootcamp started from VR First, which was an organization bringing VR labs into universities and colleges around the world. Is that correct? Ferhan: Yes. Yes. Back then — almost four years ago — we started as VR First. The main mission was to democratize VR and AR around the world. And you also supported us on these times, because it was hard to find headsets as a developer, as a startup. And we actually tried to tackle this problem with the help of major headset manufacturers – Oculus, HTC, Leap Motion, Intel — and they supported us to create VR/AR labs around the world. And we are quite ...
Developing a pilot or a proof of concept is among the first steps to introducing XR into your industry, but that’s only going to provide so much ROI unless you can fully implement that idea. Dave Beck from Foundry 45 discusses how to make that leap. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Dave Beck, founder and managing partner at Foundry 45, an immersive technology company that develops enterprise level virtual reality training experiences. They've created over 250 experiences for notable clients such as AT&T, Coca-Cola, Delta, and UPS. We're going to be discussing going from PoCs, pilots, and case studies to full scale deployments. All that and more, on the XR for Business podcast. Dave, welcome to the show. Dave: Hey, Alan, thanks so much for having me on here. Alan: It's my absolute pleasure. I'm super excited. You guys have been doing so much work in the VR training space. First of all, let's just talk about, what is Foundry 45? How did you get into this? And we'll kick it off from there. Dave: I guess first off, it's nice to chat with you again. I went back and checked my email, and it looks like the first time you and I talked was way back in 2016. So a lot's happened in that time, hasn't it? So, OK, we put VR to work by creating virtual reality training experiences for enterprise partners. And we specialize in industrial-- think hard skills type training. I've actually been working in immersive technology ...