All the world’s a stage, but in AR, that’s a stage we’re still building. Visualix is hard at work building that stage with their street mapping technology, which will one day help make everything from digital maps to Pokémon Go a whole lot better. Co-CEOs Michael Bucko and Darius Pajouh drop in to discuss their technology with Alan.
Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s episode is with two amazing people from a company called Visualix. Michael Bucko and Darius Pajouh are really, really passionate about analytics and teleinformatics. Michael is a CTO and co-CEO of Visualix and has a computer science/teleinformatics background, he worked as a data and software engineer and founded many companies before. At Visualix he does packaging, partnerships, and technology, as well as make sure that Visualix has the best tech team in the world. Darius, on the other hand, is the co-founder and also co-CEO. He studied physics with a specialty in non-linear optics. He did not stay in research for long, because he founded a startup and then raised $200,000 and it fails — we’ll get into that — but he worked at a company called Innogy, the largest energy utility company in Europe. And the venture developer program that allowed employees to start companies, funding from the mother company. And so that’s how in 2017, Visualix was born. To learn more about Visualix, you can visit visualix.com.
Welcome to the show, Michael and Darius.
Darius: Thanks. Thanks for having us.
Michael: Thank you very much. Welcome.
Alan: We’ve been talking for so long and now we finally get to have a conversation on the record.
Michael: Amazing. It’s been awhile.
Alan: It’s been a minute. It’s funny, because one of my interviews today was with Dr. Walter Greenleaf. He’s been working in VR for 33 years.
Darius & Michael: Wow.
Alan: So when you think you’ve been pushing hard for a long time, think about Dr. Greenleaf. So, Michael, tell us what is Visualix and how does it work? Why somebody would want to use it?
Michael: Ok, so Visualix is a mapping and positioning platform. We allow the largest scale, most reliable augmented reality in the world. It’s very simple. You take a mobile phone and you map a space, for instance, your apartment or a warehouse. And then in this map, in this digital twin that you’ve created, you can place augmented reality content. And then people — viewers — can see this content in real time extremely accurately. And it works at scale. So it’s very, very reliable, works at scale. And we have an SDK for that.
Darius: And if I may add something, so the USP that we created is that we do all the computation on the backend. So we use the mobile only as a sensor to really get the data in terms of data we get on the phone. But the real computation, the heavy lifting for mapping, as well as localization, is in the backend side. So this allows us to basically escape the limitations of mobile devices such as phones or let’s say, AR glasses that only allow shared experiences on an area of about 20 square meters or 50 square meters. So basically a small room. Where we extend this from 20 square meter to 20,000 square meters. So about a thousand fold. And this is something that you only can do if you have a powerful backend. And this basically makes us the only company that can create one spatial map that is together. You can basically create one spatial map onto, let’s say, a whole factory floor where you can localize with centimeter position.
Alan: That’s amazing. So some of the use cases that I can think of just off the top of my head would be directions for heads-up displays for people driving a forklift and they need to get around to pick up precise things around the warehouse. That would be one thing. What are some of the use cases for this technology?
Michael: Okay, so the use case that you mentioned is one of the very good use cases you can imagine. There could be a person on the forklift, but you can also think that that can be — the forklift itself — equipped with ARCore or ARKit ready device. You can also think of telecoms and OEMs, they want to have a large scale augmented reality infotainment, for instance, in malls. And you can think about how automotive companies, so the automotive sector, they might want to have in-car gaming experiences, or outside of the car gaming experiences. They might be willing to optimize their warehouses. They might be willing to map the world and then augment the world the way they want.
Darius: Yes. We focus in the kind of three areas of production manufacturing where basically, for example, manufacturing companies and also automotive companies want to create use cases around autonomous maintenance, basically having all the digital twins that are currently running in silos, for example — the digital twin of a specific machine, the digital twin of the whole factory layout. They combine it basically in our spatial map. So they overlay these digital twins with our point cloud. We create and they’re basically– we create a standard of visualization of all the digital twins that can be accessed at any point. So this allows a worker to just hold up the phone and see basically the right AR content on every machine, on every pathway, seeing the warning signs that are particularly tailored to the specific status of this worker, for example. So this kind of factory production setting is very strong with us. The second one is this logistics type of thing, where we scan warehouses only for the sake of mapping and localization. And with this, we hope to either substitute a large part of the beacon deployments, or of course enrich beacon deployments by creating continuous digital twins that can be used for documentation as well as other things.
Michael: So you can think of so many use cases. I mean, we launched the SDK, and we have people trying to do visual prototyping. We have people trying to do construction. We have people who try to do maintenance. We have a very good friend of ours who wants to be the large scale game. We have OEMs who want to integrate our software into their hardware. We have, as I mentioned, telecoms that might want to have our software in the edge. Plenty and plenty of opportunities. And sometimes it’s very, very difficult to imagine those use cases like, for instance, in the construction space, somebody who’s going to assemble buildings and you need to find innovative ways of assembling buildings, or somebody who wants to do maintenance in, say, parking lots. Like very, very unexpected use cases sometimes.
Alan: That’s incredible. I think people are only starting to scratch the surface with the use cases, which is why I asked that question first. And things like Microsoft introducing– or announcing the world of Minecraft and augmented reality, meaning anywhere in the world, you can start building Minecraft blocks and it will stay there, positionally tracked, so the next person that comes along and– basically what you’re doing is that level, but made for industry and enterprise.
Michael: Yes. Yes, exactly. You mentioned Minecraft, that is very, very thoughtful of you. So Microsoft, as you know, we support ARKit- and ARCore-enabled devices. But you can think Visualix could support, we have a number of requests from AR glasses company, we could also support AR glasses. Microsoft launched their Azure Spatial Anchors, we could support Azure Spatial Anchors as well, and take their augmented reality to the next level.
Darius: Yeah. So the cool thing about our technology is that we are platform-independent, essentially. So what we do is we take this local tracking capability of, let’s say, ARKit, ARCore, Microsoft Spatial Anchors, or any type of equivalent that exists in there. And basically with that, create our own point cloud in the background, that enables the localization and mapping. So this allows us that all types of devices can visually localize themselves, and therefore, also display the same content in the same map.
Michael: And now imagine, think about Minecraft. What we can do with Minecraft is that we can create the most realistic AR game ever created. So we can take it, we can place this Minecraft content in the building or in a warehouse, and you could actually live in the Minecraft world.
Alan: That’s just ridiculous. I’m really excited about that. I want that in my life.
Michael: I want that as well.
Alan: I think if you took this technology that you guys have built for creating this mapping and you combine it with something like 6D.ai, which is doing real time point cloud mapping, I think you could combine the two and really make robust augmented reality, that is world sensing. If you wanted to have, for example, a scavenger hunt and the scavenger hunt would then take you in different places and you’d have to go find things, but they could be aware of your surroundings and they could hide behind pillars or people or– one of the things that’s coming out this summer is the new Harry Potter game in AR. And I think they’ve got a lot of things that they’re working on, to make it know that the world around them is there. And so being able to use real augmented reality in the world. I think we’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible on this. Let’s talk about some other use cases, because I think at the end of the day, you make a technology platform in which people can create literally anything they want and by having this very detailed mapping. What are some of the use cases? One that comes to mind would be retail. If you wanted to have very robust augmented reality experiences within your store without having to bring it under beacons in your store, you could have centimeter accuracy within a store and give customers the ability to go round and find Easter eggs throughout the store. Is that something that people are working on?
Darius: Yeah. We partnered with Deutsche Telekom to basically enable to start. So the developers are building applications that are tailored for this market. And we are– we can’t share the news right now, but it goes exactly in this direction. An exciting thing about us is that our technology is very robust to changing environments. And that’s why retail specifically is a very important thing for us, because in retail, such as a normal shop, you can imagine that if you move products around, if you have changing light conditions, solutions that do mapping and localization that, say, only with ARKit or ARCore are bound to the limitations of ARKit and ARCore. And this is very heavily correlated with robustness and changing environments. If you change, let’s say, a small thing, these technologies usually don’t work in localizing, but our technology can. Yeah, it’s extremely robust to changing environments. You can change up to 40 percent, around 50 percent of the scene and still localize with high accuracy, still centimeter precision. And then also we fill the point cloud and always keep it updated. And we actually made this happen now.
Michael: By the way, we’re actually discussing with one of the largest retailers in the world, we’re actually discussing the rollout. So this actually happened.
Alan: One of my predictions from a few years ago was that Apple and Google will probably create some sort of game or experience that you’ll find yourself alone in your house, chasing Pokémon or something around your house and you’ll be scanning up and down and left and right. And really, what they’re doing is creating a persistent cloud map of the inside of your space, because if you think about it, Google has a map of the entire outside world of this planet, barring a few other local places. But they’ve got a beautiful map of the whole world that you can go in VR and travel around in it, and Google Earth VR. But they have no real data about the inside world. And that’s going to be very important as we move to a world where we have a digital twin of every space.
Michael: Well, that’s one point. They definitely have a very amazing map and they have done a lot in this space. We actually know some of the guys that you mentioned working exactly. He used to work on Google Earth. So he’s a good friend of ours. And then my point was they definitely have a lot of amazing technology and they have maps. But now the question is, will they be able to– using their maps, would they be able to enable this kind of accuracy, this kind of robustness? That’s an open question. Also, another question is, we focused mostly on the indoors, exactly what you said. And indoors, we can optimize our algorithms for indoors as well.
Darius: And especially, what I think it’s important to mention is that from a business strategy, we went this direction of going indoors, especially in an industrial warehouse, production facilities, retail. And this is where, let’s say, a Google or an Apple can drive around with their cars, which they have the power to do so very quickly. So we thought that the space that I just mentioned before is a very good space to enter, lucrative, we can really dominate the space without, let’s say, big competitors quickly going in there.
Michael: Nonetheless, we’ve been asked by a couple of top American companies, Fortune 500s, whether that B-to-C direction would also be interesting to us. I mean, we’ve focused on the industry. Nonetheless, we have a number of requests from companies in the home appliances space, from OEMs who want to have our software integrated, from companies that want to build games. So our technology could potentially be used to– like for instance, imagine that you take something that Google has, or one of the other companies that use satellite imagery to create outdoor augmented reality experiences. Now, if you have a three meter accuracy, it’s not always going to be– or five meter accuracy is not always going to be good enough for all of your games. So what you could do is you could use it together with Visualix to create better, higher quality augmented reality experiences in at least some places, some parts of your game.
Alan: Interesting. All the processing is running on the cloud. So this is probably lends itself nicely to your Deutsche Telekom client. What are the implications of 5G with this technology?
Michael: So 5G is gonna bring a completely new world, a whole new world. So there is gonna be– the latency problems are not gonna be this dramatic anymore. We will be able to introduce multiplayer. Say, imagine we for instance can– Berlin, we’re based out of Berlin, we scan Berlin and we create a game, and there will be Brandenburg Gate and a couple of other places, say, one hundred places in Berlin, they will be spatially mapped. So we’ve got to spend some additional time — like 2, 5 minutes each — and were going to to map all of them. Then what’s gonna happen is you’re gonna have a very, very high quality augmented reality, especially in those places. Now, if you want to have a multiplayer and you want to be able to re-localize very often, then this is where you see 5G, because this is gonna get heavier and 5G is going to be very, very important for that.
Darius: Also very important point is that, so as Michael mentioned, the throughput is one important fact. The data throughput, as well as latency. The throughput is going to be very important for the resolution of images that we stream to the server in order to much more accurately and robustly localize. This relates to, for example, the distance of localization. This is something that current OEMs have a big problem with, because you can only localize if you are, let’s say, two, three meters, four meters from a wall. But with our technology, for example, where we already stream high resolution images, we can localize at distances up to 20 to 30 meters. This is a bigger SP that on a street level is very important to localize with centimetre precision rather than, let’s say, four metre precision.
Michael: Also, we optimize for robustness. So imagine you have 50 players, very close to each other. We can still deal with all of them. So it really works. And this is very, very helpful. And 5G in this case would be necessary.
Alan: Yeah, absolutely. So if a company is using this, how is it built in? You’ve got an SDK they can–? Are they building it into their apps, or can they use web based AR? How does it technically work?
Michael: Currently, there are two major directions. So the first direction is that we work with multiplayers who work directly with end customers, with large companies and they do products together with those large customers. The second use case is we approach large customers directly. They have their own developers and they are building their products, products that they want to build. In all cases, it can be either something integrated into their existing apps, but in the very beginning it’s most often a new app. If you want to start with the Visualix SDK, it’s essentially five minutes, you download it, compile the demo app, and it works immediately. You can map your space and you can create a game. So if you are our customer, you will just take the SDK. You will have an application in one hour or something. Very, very simple. And then if we want to integrate it, you’re going to integrate it. Some people want to integrate it into their existing apps, like, for instance, royalty apps or user– like, apps for the malls. Some companies just want to create some new experiences in the very beginning.
Alan: It’s interesting, malls was something that I was thinking about as well, for navigation around malls, but also creating some rich experiences for customers. And I think a lot of these companies, it’s hard to wrap our head around the fact that we’re using smartphones now, but in five to 10 years — and I don’t know when — but we’ll wear glasses, and those glasses will be our world of computing. And so what you guys have done with the visual mapping and positioning is going to be vital to the success of that, because right now the best thing we have is Bluetooth beacons, and stuff like that.
Michael: Well, this is the direction that we very much love. So we very much believe in this direction. We very much believe in this world where everybody is going to be wearing AR glasses. And what this means to us. Well, what this means to the world is that the Visualix can enable pretty much every AR glasses. We’ve had over 20 requests from different AR glasses companies. So a number of them. And some of them just wanted special modules, that they could use for AR eyeglasses. Some of them want some sort of integration. Some of them just want to do some sort of partnership. Some of them just want to learn. But that’s definitely well, our patented technology is crucial to developing glasses, because we work on top of ARKit, ARCore, potentially Azure Spatial Anchors. We could support Hololens. We could support– well, today I actually learned a couple of amazing things, and seems like we actually pretty much off-the-shelf would be supporting a number of them. But let us tell you later, because this is not yet public information, but there’s gonna be a lot of amazing developments in exactly this space.
Alan: Pretty exciting.
Darius: Also, another interesting fact is that our solution can be already used, especially in the industrial sector. Many, for example, camera-based systems don’t have ARCore/ARKit included. So many companies are asking us if we can make it a go-and-work with six-degree-of-freedom sensors that they already have off the back, or include with the camera system. And these things are about to come, that we will engage in further tests with this, where these companies are interested to basically do visual mapping and positioning, let’s say, with forklifts. So forklifts are a big topic with our company and they are fine with testing ARCore and ARKit enabled devices initially. But later they want to go into the sector where they only have those six-degree-of-freedom sensor plus camera systems. And this will, of course, drive the cost even further down, down to, let’s say, $20 or $30 a pop. And then if you compare this with a potential beacon rollout that you need to have, with a thousand beacons this costs up to 200, 300,000 dollars, plus wiring, plus maintenance. And if you could substitute that amount of investment with only, let’s say, 20 dollars times — I don’t know — 20 forklifts, that’s like 500 bucks. And then it works off the shelf. So that’s a very exciting future we see, especially when it comes to warehousing.
Alan: Wow. It’s really incredible. There’s so much to unpack here. I don’t think people really understand, being able to visually map a space and apply graphics and computer graphics to it. It’s actually not even augmented reality anymore at that point. It’s really mixed reality, because it’s world sensing and I think you guys are really onto something with this. While you were just talking, I downloaded Harry Potter’s Wizards Unite. It’s finally out.
Michael: Yeah. That said, definitely very exciting. I mean, we know a couple of people at Niantic. And they’ve been definitely working very hard on this. So I’m very much looking forward to checking it out.
Alan: Yeah, it’s very exciting. I can’t wait to go home, I’m going to go run around the neighborhood and play Wizards Unite. [laughs] It’s like Pokémon Go meets Harry Potter.
Darius: We have to try it out, Michael. We have to try it out tomorrow.
Alan: Yeah, you do. Are there any of the use cases that are using your software, are any of them out in the wild right now, that people could try?
Michael: Well, definitely. So we have– well, not exactly people. So the way it currently works, we’re mostly industry. So what happens is- for instance, we have an application, we do maintenance in the factory. And then people can test this maintenance application in the factory. We also have some forklifts and some devices running from other warehouses. And then view in real time, so some other people, some warehouse workers can access this information about the trajectories of the forklifts. And then we have some deployments in the edge where, for instance, in the US or in Asia there are developers working on building experiences. Those deployments are in production and they are ready to use and they are being tested.
Darius: One very important point that we have to mention is that most of our clients for now, in the beginning — this will perhaps change later — but especially in Germany, most of the industrial clients are very privacy focused. So we have a solution ready to go on premise, that just works immediately. We can either install our service directly on their server, we can also basically send them our package with a physical server, that they just integrate quickly into their network, and they can immediately develop apps within their network. So this really alleviates a lot of effort. The installation is super simple. It takes a half an hour to hook it up into your wi-fi and developers can right away build applications that live in the AR space of their factories. And I think this might be a very exciting direction for the future, because if you have this physical server on premise that does all the mapping and localization, then you can use, of course, the images that you gather from the mapping process and the localization process to get more analytics out of it. Semantic segmentation on top of that. So we believe we really can be this hub onto which other applications and other companies can just hook into to create even more value beyond the mapping and localization alone.
Alan: Wow, you guys realize you’re just gonna get bought by Google or something.
Michael: [laughs] It’s always very difficult to say. So, you are saying we’re going to buy Google? Yes?
Michael: Not the question, are we going to buy Google or…?
The question is definitely not whether you’re going to buy Google, whether they buy you.
Darius: They have many smart people, we know that. Probably have enough already. They don’t need more.
Michael: Yeah. You always need better and better and better. You can always get better.
Alan: Well, you guys seem to have an amazing team. How many people are you guys now?
Michael: We’re currently 12 full time people, around 15 overall. And you’re right, we have a very amazing team. We would love to thank them from here now, because they have helped us so far achieve everything we’ve achieved so far. We have won a number of awards together. We won the Deep Tech Award in Germany. We have demoed our application to a number of directors, senior directors, everybody’s laughing always because we demo those to a number of important people in this world. They really see that we’ve made tremendous progress. And this is thanks to our team. And we’ve been working very hard together. We’ve had very many moments most of the time, currently beautiful moments. But also there are challenges. We still are launching our Unity SDK, which is, again, a challenge. And there will be challenges in the future, and maybe cloud deployment, and a rollout. So a number of huge challenges in front of us. But we can make it happen together. I mean, we work with the ex-head of robotics at Google. We work with the ex-senior director of AR enterprise at Adobe. And we have a number of amazing friends who gave us advice. We work with around a number of people from Metaio — ex-Metaio people. You know, Metaio got acquired by Apple some time ago. So we really do focus on the team and we very much believe that the value we create is thanks to the team and thanks to our focus on the product, on the customer. And the biggest focus on the team.
Alan: You’re on the right path for sure. So is there anything else you want to leave people with? Maybe some– a couple more ways they can use this, because I think the best thing that we can do for the listeners is really give them real life world use cases of this technology so that they can start thinking, how else can I use 3D mapping and scanning in my space? I would think mining would be another one, being able to have really accurate maps of mines using people’s devices that they have.
Darius: So, for example, in construction side, I believe Michael mentioned already, amusement parks are a huge thing. They have a– I don’t know how many square kilometres of space. And here it is very important that you have this large scale mapping and localization enabled, that anybody who basically picks up their phone, any one of these amusement parks, they can just immediately localize with high precision. So everywhere where we have a space from, let’s say, I don’t know, a thousand square meter to infinity and you manage either things or people, then our technology is kind of a must.
Michael: If your company is going into the IoT space and if you are using, for instance, if your insurance company. You might be interested to be in IoT space in the future because you want to be more informed. And there are many, many companies like these that you sometimes don’t think that it could be relevant to them, but it is. If you want to be in the IoT space, if you want to improve your IoT capabilities, then Visualix is perfect for that.
Darius: Another very important point is the ability to just do planning, factory planning, for example. Many of our customers just use the technology to scan their entire space — or the entire space of their customers — in order to then better understand “How can I move this big machine into the right place? Is there maybe an air duct that has to be removed? Are the electricity outlets positioned at the right place?” So there are many use cases like this where, for example, a large German automotive company, they want to — with the Hololens — be able to fuse together the future 3D model of the entire factory, and drop it into the empty factory. And they are the challenge that it’s very hard to localize and map an empty factory. But we actually managed to do it because our technology is very sensitive. So they were very astonished that we could actually fuse together this digital twin of the factory with the empty factory floor. And anybody could then localize and see exactly where the machines will be placed, and could then better understand and say, “Wow, we really have to change these electricity outlets. We have to maybe broaden the space so two people can fit in at the same time.” These stuff are very costly, if you don’t think about this early enough. And like this, it can really prevent these mistakes from happening.
Michael: And there a bunch of other use cases like for instance: currently if you want to map spaces and create digital twins, you very often use large robots. In our case, you don’t need a robot. In our case, you can just use a mobile phone, so you can reuse your existing resources and very cheaply create a digital twin of this space. We’re not a visualization company, so it’s not going to be beautiful, maybe. But what’s gonna happen is you’re going to have a very affordable digital twin and it’s gonna be actionable, meaning that it’s gonna be an actual IOP setup where you’re going to know the positions and orientations of all the devices. For instance, you can use it for documenting things. You can use for remote work. You can also use those digital twins for virtual prototyping, like you want a new forklift and you don’t know if this forklift is gonna fit in, and you don’t want to destroy something. Also, it might be a very heavy device, you don’t want to carry it. And you could try it in the digital twin mode. So all of those use cases are possible. And the SDK, that’s the crucial part, it’s very easy to use. It’s frictionless. So you just take it in your hand, you give it to your software engineers. They can immediately start working on these in a 5, 10 minutes. They can actually have the demo app ready in two hours. They can have a simple app ready. This is how it works.
Alan: Wow. It’s really incredible. You guys are providing a service that I don’t think there’s anybody else doing this.
Michael: We don’t know about anybody doing something like this. We don’t know about anybody. We’ve been doing some research, and to the best of our knowledge, we are pretty unique. And, you know, the technology’s patent pending. So everything that we’re talking about, or a number of things we’re talking about are patented.
Darius: There are some companies we know of — I think like one or two — who do outdoor mapping with, of course, help of LiDAR and other methods. And then do localization in a perhaps similar way. But there’s no company that gives the owner the power of mapping and localization at the same time with any device. So there we are, very unique.
Michael: The very amazing thing about our technology is that we reuse what’s the best in ARCore and ARKit, potentially Azure Spatial Anchors. This means we could support pretty much every device of the future. So imagine there’s gonna be AR glasses. The AR glasses are probably going to use Visualix technology. That’s how it’s going to look like.
Alan: Wow, that’s pretty impressive. So if I had to put some money on this. My guess is Apple or Google should acquire you. And this is my prediction. So I think Apple or Google should acquire you now, because if they don’t, then all of their competitors have the advantage that they will come from your service.
Michael: You know, we are starting to make money. So what’s happening to Visualix? We have achieved a reasonable amount of respect in our space and work with amazing companies, amazing customers in Germany, in the US and in Asia. And we are starting to make money, meaning that SDK sales is significantly easier than sales of technology because it’s an actual packaged product that you can use pretty much off the shelf. So we hope to start making more money, and take over more and more of the industrial spaces in the world and create even more value for our customers.
Darius: In terms of your comment that you mentioned before, regarding acquisition: of course OEMs are one thing, but if I was a, say, a large either industrial client, for example, who wants a monopoly on this technology has a huge competitive advantage in contrast to other industrial players. That’s, of course, interesting as well. There are, of course, a number of OEMs and software platforms, that are also active in the AR industrial space. And that’s, of course, also potentially interesting that they can defend themselves or have the unique value proposition of our technology, to basically not let this go into other platforms. So there we believe there are many avenues where we can go to, partnerships, acquisition. But I think our goal is to really grow the company and really create a lot of value. I think that’s something we very much agree on, to continue this journey.
Alan: Finally, a startup that wants to actually make money.
Alan: Yay! Yay!
Michael: We definitely make money. We definitely want to create a lot of value. We work very hard on this. We work pretty much all the time. And we are very motivated. And we speak to a number of tier o1 investors in the US and some of them really express– some of them approach us, and they say, “OK, guys, you’ve made a tremendous amount of progress. So this is really happening.” And, you know, you’ve seen Charlie [Fink] writing about us. And, you know, he’s one of the most respected figures in this space. And we are huge fans of Charlie. And when he wrote about us and then again, we gave him a quick demo and at AWE, Santa Clara. Those are very, very beautiful moments. And then we see that we actually bring this value, we push the world further. And now, since Apple and Google are pushing ARKit and ARCore and Microsoft is pushing Azure Spatial Anchors, this is an amazing use for Visualix. This is the best thing that could be happening for Visualix, ever.
Alan: I love it. Well, guys, it’s been a real pleasure to have you on the show. We’ve got to wrap it up. But thank you again, Michael Bucko and Darius Pajouh from Visualix. It’s been a really amazing, enlightening podcast. And just kind of close off, Charlie Fink is actually one of our mentors on the XR Ignite program. So really excited and honored to have him as part of that as well.
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 — VRVoice.co, 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 ...
Why trek up to the Arctic circle to capture 360 footage of the aurora borealis yourself, when you can license stunning footage someone else already shot? That was Alan’s thinking when he availed Blend Media of their services, whose founder — Damian Collier — is our guest. Alan: Hey, everyone, Alan Smithson here. Today, we're speaking with Damian Collier, co-founder and CEO of Blend Media, a centralized hub for all things VR and AR content. From stock 360 images and videos, right up to fully customized interactive experiences. All that and more, coming up next on the XR for Business podcast. Damian, welcome to the show. Damian: Hey, Alan. How are you? Alan: I'm so amazing. It's been a long time since we spoke. I think the first time we met was probably four or five years ago, when you started this wonderful journey. How did you get here? Damian: Yeah. Well, I'm just thinking back to a panel that we did at VR LA, which must be at least three, if not four years ago. It must be about that time. Alan: Got to be four years ago, yeah. Damian: It's crazy how time flies. And obviously, having been in VR and AR, we've seen peaks and troughs, and ups and downs, and all in between. Alan: That panel, because it was with-- the one with Saul Rodgers, right? Damian: That's right. Alan: I haven't had Saul on the show, I haven't reached ...
AR dragons, psychedelic displays at Coachella, and other digital gizmos made possible with XR technologies are fun and all, but Mark Sage, founder of AREA, is on the more pragmatic side of the table; he loves it when XR technologies can solve real-world problems for businesses. Mark and Alan sit down to discuss how to do that, and how that creates a better ecosystem for enterprise XR to thrive. Alan: Today’s guest is Mark Sage. Mark is a product owner, creator, marketer, innovator, business development professional, evangelist, spokesperson, strategist, program and project manager, and mentor across a range of AR, mobile, B2B and B2C technologies and products in an international context. Mark is currently the executive director of AREA: Augmented Reality in Enterprise Alliance; the only global, membership-funded, non-profit alliance dedicated to helping accelerate the adoption of enterprise augmented reality, by supporting the growth of a comprehensive ecosystem. AREA members include Exxon Mobile, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NVIDIA, PTC, and so many more. You can learn about The AREA at theAREA.org. It is with great honor that I welcome AREA executive director Mr. Mark Sage; welcome to the show, Mark. Mark: Thanks so much, Alan. It’s great to be here to speak to you, and to those who listen out there, as well. I’m really excited. Thank you. Alan: Thank you so much for joining me. We’re really excited; let’s get right into this. I’m going to start — just, dive right in here — what is one of the best XR experiences that you’ve ever had? Mark: Oh, wow. Gosh. Alan: I know, I’m going right in there. Mark: You are, aren’t you? And in the kind of role I’ve got, I have ...