Category: Virtual Reality #VR

#SpatialTech #ImmersiveTech: The Challenges

To Be Clear: 4 Truths About New Technologies

When it comes to emerging technology, four things are simultaneously true:

  1. Innovations in everything from artificial intelligence to augmented reality to robots are discovered and refined nearly every second of the day, every day.    
  2. Innovation is not a buzzword but a condition, a state of mind, a way of organizing life and work so that you’re forever poised to make new products, services, or better ways of doing things.  
  3. Integrating new ideas so that you can develop new outcomes is hard, especially when the destination is unclear. 
  4. Tremendous opportunities for good coexist alongside tremendous potential challenges and even terrible outcomes.

We don’t live in a binary world where things are either good or bad. It was recently pointed out to me that my blog is wholly bullish on immersive tech like virtual and augmented reality. After a quick review, I realized that may be true, but a closer look shows I’m well aware of the challenges.  

See #1 above.  I’d say awareness of the work being done is important, and second, we have to participate from wherever we sit at the table, be it as creator, developer, implementer, buyer, or seller. It’s important that decision-makers build a strategy that’s right for their organization because playing catch-up in a field that’s evolving daily is hard to do. 

And there are major concerns on every level. Users and consumers are rightly worried about data collection and privacy issues, to name just two. The type of data that new VR headsets can collect with the latest eye-tracking technology is unprecedented. These devices are increasingly able to collect all sorts of data about us, incl. how we breathe, how often we blink, how much we move around, and where we look. A lot of this information can and eventually will be used to get a good picture of the user’s health, even to diagnose and treat disease.  

Whose hands will that data be in? A private company?

Which bring me right to #4. Impact. If we are researching the use of VR to treat pain, shouldn’t we be asking if it can also cause it? Who needs to be at the table making decisions about how these applications are made, who can use them, and when? These emerging technologies are powerful. As builders and adopters, we need to be mindful of these questions and do what we can to make sure that the ecosystems surrounding tech development lead to answers we all want to live with.

Keep Those NEW Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Headsets Coming!

Another new day is dawning for augmented reality (AR) glasses. Yeah, you might have heard about virtual reality (VR) or AR, and maybe you even tried them out and thought, nope, just like 3D movies, these will be a flash in the pan. There have been many new days since Facebook bought Oculus, a VR headset “startup” for $3 billion, yes, billion, or at least that’s the widely reported number, five years ago. We have seen the launch of high-profile device startups from VR eye-tracking headsets from FOVE to AR glasses like ODG.

But the new products I saw at the latest AWE blows this all away. More on that below. Let me first be clear: Nothing since 2014, including the latest round of immersive technology products to hit the market, is new. The underlying research for what we see now has been in the works from Boston to San Francisco to London to Rio to Tel Aviv to Johannesburg for many decades. This technology is not new, it just works a lot better than it did.

I came late or early to this party, depending on how you look at it. In April 2015 I walked into a “science fair” the likes of which most of us have never experienced, into a world where I was dancing on stage with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, where I could work through my phobia of heights (or other fears if I had them), to where I was witnessing the sounds from witnesses to the killing of Trayvon Martin from the exact vantage point in the building complex where it happened, to watching still photographs transformed into 3D videos- precious memories immortalized not in the form of a flat video, or “flatty,” as I’ve heard videos as we know them today called, but something much more vivid, more emotionally arresting.

I became hooked on that day in Silicon Valley, and have only developed an obsession since then. I’ve worked on the venture capital side, written and directed a VR experience for Google, advised Fortune 500 companies and dozens of startups or projects on AR and VR, and now work to accelerate the entire lot of stakeholders at RLab.

That’s what we do at RLab. We aim to support and speed up the evolution of these technologies. So this is all to say when I was at AWE Santa Clara last month, I was struck by a couple of things: the AR glasses and VR headsets are smaller, designed better, and they have more features. Just to name a few.

That’s me on the left. Nreal, a Chinese company, is getting ready to release AR glasses where the resolution and brightness are nearly indistinguishable from real life, and perhaps better because the lightning will be controlled for all environments.

Rokid also had glasses that like many today also have built-in directional sound, which means you don’t need to stick something inside or on top of your ears to hear perfectly. This audio tech that’s becoming widely available is pretty amazing. Other seamless features include the ability to move from a VR environment, fully immersed in a digitally created world, to AR, where you are interacting in the real world with a digital creation; as Jake Steinerman illustrated on Twitter:

Lastly, the headsets and glasses are just more comfortable. They have frames and glass areas that reflect their ability to project images versus having huge areas for glass and tiny, tiny digital visuals.

It definitely feels like immersive tech’s heyday is on the horizon. It will be, I believe, the realization of the internet of things, or IoT, when our devices, from watches to AirPods to computers, refrigerators, cars and all other devices in our lives are connected and have the ability to interact, to be immersed in the world around us in ways we haven’t even thought about today.

As with all technological advances the opportunities from healthcare to entertainment are staggering, as are the monstrous concerns about data, privacy and impact (hows does VR impact the brain?)- big issues for another article. This one is about the fact that it will be possible. Imagine walking into a room that immediately adjusts to your temperature preference, or the ability to project frameless digital images- right into the air around you or have your best friend beam into your New York City apartment, sit on your couch and have a lovely visit when she is physically in London. The possibilities are extraordinary.

At RLab, an initiative launched by the NYC Economic Development and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, we are operated by NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering among a consortium of universities including Columbia University, CUNY and The New School. We focus on supporting startup formation and growth, education and training and corporate innovation, which is where my team comes in. How is your company thinking about these technologies? Empowering your employees? Iterating your products and services? I bet at RLab we can help you and your business understand the value today and into the future. Reach out! We will be happy to hear from you.



Image result for brooklyn tech triangleI could not be more excited about this KPMG report which lays out a global sentiment by executives that NYC is leading global tech innovation. The Wall Street Journal makes a compelling case as to why, explaining much of the growth seeding and encouraging a burgeoning eco-system of technologists, investors, corporates and subject matter experts across sectors has been driven by the City and others to the tune of billions in investment.

One element is what’s called the Brooklyn Tech Triangle;  it stretches from Dumbo to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Downtown Brooklyn.  RLab, focused on the next generation of user interfaces, spatial technology including virtual reality, augmented reality and related technologies, calls the Navy Yard home.   That’s where I am these days heading up the team working with corporates on learning about the applications of these technologies, convening relevant audiences, supporting venture programs and prototyping the many applications to come given the array of advances we are witnessing today. It’s an extraordinary time in an extraordinary place. Go #NYC!

June 28th Games For Change Day in NYC

Image result for games for change

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.



Augmented World Expo 2018: Future of Work!

AWE 2018, Santa Clara, CA


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 @CameraIQ #NeuroRehabVR #WallAR.

AWE announced they’ve added a conference in Israel this Fall.