Wearing your #AR or #VR: A Path to Commercialization?

source: inverse.com

Can you imagine this? Your hand open, palm up and suddenly with your finger tips you have access to anything you have right now, today in your smartphone?  This is a prototype from Leap Motion, VR/AR developers out of San Francisco.  Click here to read the full article. But before you go, check out this video.   I could watch it all day!

It’s exciting to see converging technologies- in this case #AR and #Wearables- converge  into a potential utility application.    Thank you Keiichi Matsuda, the creative director and VP of design who is developing this.  This application, tool, feels like a lovely path to commercialization.

 

 

 

 

Google’s Plan to Take on Fake News

Unintended consequences is a term of art that comes to mind a lot when it comes the explosion of digital technology and the news.  Professional journalism is a bucket of specific skills that translate into contextually correct information upon which people make decisions in their daily lives at work or not. If the information or data is wrong or bad, well, we can imagine that leads to bad results.  The job of a professional journalist is not different than say that of an accountant or doctor, it takes skills, knowledge and experience to create that credible news product.  Opinions are not professional news by a long shot. Anyone can have an opinion.  Anyone can’t produce a professional news product anymore than just anyone can operate or balance a corporate balance sheet.  Technology companies are finding out that providing the platform for which information, data, and opinions both professional and personal is a landmine full of potential opportunities for bad actors to act badly. And yes, they have a responsibility to be part of the solving for these unintended consequences.  And it is critical they work with professional journalists en mass to do so.

Google has announced a series of initiatives, actions that sound robust, that seem robust. As presented in Yahoo News it includes the following:

“Misinformation

  • The Disinfo Lab, which combats misinformation during elections and breaking news
  • MediaWise, a partnership with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association to improve digital information literacy for young consumers

Subscriptions

  • Subscribe with Google, which will allow users to subscribe to various news outlets

New Storytelling

  • AMP Stories, a Snapchat Discover-like product that presents full-screen, multimedia-rich reading experiences on the mobile web

Security 

  • Outline, an open-source tool from Google’s Jigsaw that lets companies set up own VPN on a private server “

I says seems, because it’s unclear who is involved and exactly how these programs might work. Yet, it is a hopeful step.  Credible information is critical always.  And we need it badly today.

Rubber Hits Road

The past two months I’ve been cruising along, working with my usual mix of entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, and academics right at that corner of new technology and real life. There is of course the intersection of cool tech and the movies which we visit on occasion, but mostly we are in the business of applying rapidly changing technology.

In the real world, AI, AR, VR, Blockchain, etc, are changing fast; faster than much of it can be productized and commercialized. There are a head spinning number of potential applications and developing usable products is of course the first step and then it must be injected into the way we do business.  Integration is a minefield of challenges.  And before that can all happen, more changes appear.

The past week I came across some interesting connections involving Generation Z and the news business.

Recently, I’ve met a few startup teams, focused on products for Generation Z, those born between the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. What radically struck me is this, they say  Gen Z is weary of technology and yearning for human contact. Of course they use their devices, computers, ipads, even smartphones (the average age  of attainment in the United States is 10 years old, at least according to this), but they also want in equal measure human connection.   This idea of injecting more humanity into tech is impacting  the nature of the tech being created to serve them.  One of the most interesting companies is Blue Fevr. So, hold that thought.

The news business, like many industries, is trying like crazy to define a sustainable business model.  It’s no secret, a free press is critical to a functioning democracy and our free press is struggling.  It costs “real” money to cover and report local, state, national and international news; and do it well.  The news business like many industries was slow to realize the import of radically changing technology in the 80’s and 90’s, to get in on that change early.  That resistance exists today for many reasons even in the face of real consequences (there are somewhere around 1000 less newspapers in the United States today than there were in 1980 and broadcast news audiences of simultaneously been shrinking).

News is about what people do, when they do it, how they do it and why they do it individually, collectively or grouped together in cities, states, organizations, corporations, firms, or businesses–it’s not going away.  But professional journalism is in trouble, perhaps it’s not too strong to say in jeopardy over the long term .  There is a tremendous amount of experimenting going on by and among corporate, public, and independent news entities which is encouraging.

Two startups I’ve also come across are NewsPicks and Purple.  Both of them are injecting a different kind of connectivity and human interaction.  Purple’s added value is the relationship between a journalist and her followers, a person not a bot.   NewsPicks for which I am a ProPicker in full disclosure, provides a commentary feature and allows for upvotes. Those features together encourage thoughtful engagement in an highly curated environment of premium content and a diverse group of professionals. Purple has apparently proven there is a market by racking up subscribers we will see where that goes.

Five years ago we talked a lot about algorithms, and they have found a place in headlines, article placements and other ways.  They will stay too.  But looking forward I find the interesting inflection point is how do we inject more humanity in our news products? How do we develop and discover the features audiences will decide they must have and will pay for?

 

From One Reality to The Next!

Where are we goin?

It’s 2018.  The new year has come, but we have no idea where this road is going to take us; which is exciting.  Steadily, every year the past three, I’ve witnessed increased interest, engagement, activity and work in emerging tech experiments and products. May there be many more in the year to come.

In the meanwhile, it was a pleasure participating in a variety of events and projects with the following companies, universities, corporates and organizations. Thank You: NYU-Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYC Media Lab, Google Daydream, Harmony Labs, Screenwriters Colony, Knight Foundation, Microsoft, New Inc, Guggenheim Museum Global Innovation Council, Bindercon LA, Producers Guild of America-East, NYC DOC, Games for Change, Liftoff.io, ARinAction, MIT Solve, VR2020 Summit and so many others.

Onward to productizing and scaling #VR, #AR, #AI and all the parts and pieces of converging technology that are and will change how we live.

Beware Bullying, VR is Coming for You

Google VR

It’s nice to be a poster child for Google. That’s me facing the camera in the yellow t-shirt. It’s August 2017 in Nantucket at the magical Screenwriter’s Colony, home of the Nantucket Film Festival.

Three makers, myself, Aleem Houssain and Mary John Franks had the honor of being VR as artists-in-resident at the VR Action Lab; a consortium including Harmony Labs, Screenwriter’s Colony and Google.  Part of the program included a two week deep dive at the Colony to develop our anti-bullying projects produced by the most amazing Sensorium Works .    Bullying is as Aleem often said,  a seemingly “intractable” problem.  The question for us was can we create a virtual reality experience or story that might penetrate the teen age minds and adults who face the issue daily?

We won’t know if we succeeded for a while, as our pieces are part of anti-bullying curriculums, developed by Harmony and powered by Google Daydream, running in schools all over the world.

The possibilities are exciting, that perhaps VR might provide a more meaningful medium in providing lasting experiences that help students cope.  Of all the many hundreds of pages we read or the experts who explained the research and the dynamics, one thread of information stands out. While it is obvious the target of bullying suffers, often tremendously, it’s not so obvious the bully is also in great pain but most surprising, at least to me, was that studies show somewhere around 65% of students K-12 won’t be the actual target nor the bully, yet they often suffer sometimes as deeply.  Why?  The anxiety of witnessing others being abused, coupled with the fear of becoming the next target, has a measurable negative impact.  In other words, bullying causes pain and it’s widespread. I am proud to have worked on a project aimed at solutions.