Opinions about augmented reality (AR) upstart Magic Leap (ML) today rage far and wide; endlessly. Investors have backed the reclusive startup to the tune of more than a billion dollars to create an AR system including a new type of headset that has the potential to kick the industry into high gear. Other than a few video releases like this or this, most of us have gotten few glimpses of the system and products. They’ve raised a lot of money, been building for a few years, and the “people” are getting antsy they want to see it. In the absence of actual knowledge, the volume is up on the talk after the company announced it will ship products by summer’s end.
I’ve been saying this for a long time and will memorialize it here: We should all be excited no matter what. We will all be winning no matter if ML as a company wins or loses and here’s why:
Success. If ML succeeds the entire world will have access to amazing hardware and software to experience a better version of AR than we have now. No doubt the applications will range from medicine to movies to industrial manufacturing and education, and so many others.
Fails. Failure can mean many things. The tech can succeed and the company fails or all sorts of other combinations. But here’s the thing, ML employs hundreds if not thousands of people by the time it will be said and done, and those people will have tremendous learnings to carry out into the world and spread around. In other words, technology evolutions work a bit like Lego blocks, the next generation is usually built on the successes and failures of what came before. Thus, armed with the knowledge of a failed experiment, the next generation will be built until one works.
Regardless. Regardless of what happens to ML, there’s no doubt its mere existence encouraged the world’s largest tech companies and so many others to hit accelerate on AR or MR or visual tech development. The startup triggered billions of investment into R & D and something is real likely to come out of it as a result.
My take presumes ultimately AR will manifest into daily uses, both at work and at play; I believe it’s coming. Whether ML is a household name twenty years from now or not, it will have played a central role in developing what AR becomes. #Truth.
Human beings are complicated. Human beings in corporations are even more complicated. We create organizations that reflect the best of our characteristics and the worst, or at least some of the most challenging. People struggle with change. We can fear it or simply don’t want to deal with the newness it usually requires.
Yet, it is impossible to wrestle with reality forever. No person will win doing that. No corporation will either. Here are a few of the best reads I’ve come across lately on corporate innovation.
Global Mood. 54% of executives PwC surveyed globally, struggle to align innovation with core products.
It has always been, for a decade and a half, a convening of people who make games, love games and use games for social good in the world. And this year NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio gave it official standing in the Gotham city proclaiming, June 28th, Games for Change day.
The festival marked a meaningful 15th anniversary making it old enough to become an institution and young enough for everyone involved to believe it’s still nimble. The organization runs all year and culminates in this event which draws people from all over the world to discuss, plan, plot and swap notes about where and how efforts are making a difference. They are tackling complex global problems from climate change to literacy, equality, inclusion to mental illness. This year the tracks included Games for Learning, Civics and Social Issues, Neurogaming and Health, Games for Learning, Civics and Social Issues, and XR (virtual, augmented and mixed realities).
Susanna Pollack is the president of Games for Good and a force of nature. She’s developed robust programming that spans three days and provides extraordinary opportunities for connection and thus, new ideas to form and grow. There were programs for students.
And of course, plenty of games to experience including the debut of Lost City of Mer intended to “inspire players about the impact that humans and their carbon footprint are having on the oceans.” A full list of the games that won awards is here.
This is an important organization, of which I am an ambassador because they have and are leading the way on gamifying content. Gamifying content can be a powerful tool for multi-disciplinary purposes. It’s moved into the mainstream and the potential to educate, engage and change behavior for the better is happening.
Future of work startups, fintech and blockchain are taking up a lot of my conversations these days. That’s on top of regular consulting and working on projects in augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. I don’t code. I don’t invent. I don’t project manage the making of software or technology products. But I am tech literate.
Interestingly definitions of what that means vary. There are many like this, IGI Global says it’s “the ability to effectively use technology to access, evaluate, integrate, create and communicate information to enhance the learning process through problem-solving and critical thinking”. I would suggest there are broader, applicable definitions today since nearly all of us are surrounded by technology in everything we do from driving a car to researching a term paper.
After a discussion recently, a friend sent this take by Joyce Shen in an article she wrote, “Let’s talk about tech literacy.” Fantastic. In sharing videos from a Lehigh University challenge held at Carnegie Mellon University, she noted this about the students:
“The students did not just talk about the technology or coding, they talked about problems and impact — -specifically, the value to have real time streaming data capturing energy consumption from buildings and the value of having blockchain to secure and process certain information. The students explained concepts clearly for techies and non-techies alike, in an applied way. That is tech literacy”.
It’s a new day. We all need to understand basics about operating systems, coding languages, how it’s made, who makes it, how it’s used and so on. It’s critical as we become more dependent on technology that larger percentages of the population understand what’s happening to us and for us.
It was an extraordinary three days at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Thousands descended to talk about our increasingly augmented world. Founders, creators, entrepreneurs, investors, creatives, corporates, students, and startups lead and participated in robust conversations focused on AR Cloud, blockchain, and storytelling in AR.
I was impressed by the new Epson mixed reality glasses. The field of view was 23-degrees, but what I loved was the comfort level. And there were some really interesting companies, the vast majority building products and services in the Future of Work categories of healthcare, retail, security and marketing.
Some of the companies I found most impressive: @obsessVR@PerioSim @Xeste.io @CameraIQ #NeuroRehabVR #WallAR.
AWE announced they’ve added a conference in Israel this Fall.