Event Recap

Event Recap: The Future of Immersive Experiences

Jul 9
Aug 19
Alley Team
Event Recap

Event Recap: The Future of Immersive Experiences

Jul 9
Aug 19
Alley Team
Event Recap

Event Recap: The Future of Immersive Experiences

Jul 9
Aug 19
Alley Team
Community Over Everything

Event Recap: The Future of Immersive Experiences

Event Recap: The Future of Immersive ExperiencesEvent Recap: The Future of Immersive Experiences
Photo by Ray Spears

With technology quickly evolving, so comes the shift in the future of live experiences. We’ve seen this in numerous industries, and the interest in immersive tech continues to grow. With AR, VR, XR, and MR being used more wide-scale, what does the future of immersive experiences look like? For the ultimate experience, we are only just scratching the surface.

In this discussion, we dive into how various technologies are being leveraged to facilitate engagement with communities in new and more meaningful ways, immersing individuals and incorporating our fantastic five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Verizon 5G Labs:

Verizon's 5G Labs works with startups, academia and enterprise teams to build a 5G-powered world. We work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, prototyping challenges and more.

Mentioned Resources:

  1. Next Reality - XR News & Updates
  2. Verizon's 5G 101 (FAQ site)
  3. Facebook Groups to join: VR/AR/MR Marketing and Branding, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality Research

Additional Q+As:

COVID has certainly created opportunities for healthcare - where do you see immersive experience evolving there?  Thinking specifically of the very different lives those who are immune compromised must now lead--despite having some of the deepest needs for skilled care.

Uyoung: One opportunity for immersive in healthcare is improving patient education, both in and out-of-hospital, when we think about how the future of telemedicine and virtual visits could evolve with 3D/AR to accommodate much deeper service.  Here is a summary article from Verizon specifically on how 5G can help transform healthcare, touching on some of these areas for evolution.

Computer Scientist Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League has identified gender and racial bias in AI, how do we solve for that bias in creating more equitable immersive experiences on the platforms that are being coded and developed by majority white male coders? For instance I assume most headsets are being manufactured with average white male heads like NASA spacesuits in size and dimension

Uyoung: This is an insightful issue to raise awareness on and one that continues to underscore the importance of diversity and inclusion across industries.  In addition to root problem-solvers like diverse hiring and equitable on-the-job representation, I think an area where immersive can play a role is more effective, empathetic training of employees around diversity & inclusion and incorporating diverse consumer feedback.

As a designer I was curious how you work with visual designers and artists to take advantage of these new technologies? Are there any projects or artists that you would recommend looking into?

Uyoung: My team works with both traditional ‘2D’ designers and 3D designers / CG artists, and if you have the eagerness to learn - there is so much out there to tap into.  Our 2D designers, for example, are learning about everything from 3D scanning (which for beginners, you can easily find apps for on your phone) all the way to more complex workstreams around 3D artistry.  There’s always great work and resources to check out on networks like Behance and CGSociety too.

How do you see companies and customers adopting this tech? Besides gaming and movies, what other industries may benefit from this tech?

Uyoung: I see immersive affecting just about every industry.  Automotive is already affected (using immersive vehicle design and development) - and will be affected in the future from a product visualization and transaction POV.  Retail in general through product visualization, virtual try-&-buys (everything from makeup, clothing to travel destinations).  Tech when it comes to cross-device compatibility when immersive products can be used for increasingly more use cases that might then need to communicate with our other devices, gadgets, appliances.
Noelle Tassey
Uyoung Park Suggs
Verizon Media
Jean-Pascal Beaudoin
Headspace Studio
Dimitri Mikhalchuk


Noelle Tassey 0:00  
— experiences and thank you so much for joining us this Wednesday. We're just gonna wait for all of our panelists to come online and then kick off today's panel. In the meantime, I'm going to be your host today. I'm Noelle Tassey, CEO of Alley. For those of you who don't know us, Alley is a community agency. We unite rich and diverse communities around the country with our corporate partners to provide the resources and the catalyst to drive positive change in technology and the broader world. And a special thank you today to our partners at 5G Labs. 5G labs, for those of you who don't know them, works with startups, academia, and enterprise teams to build a 5G-powered world. We're going to be talking about some of that today. We work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, prototyping challenges, and more. And as a reminder, you can always view upcoming Alley events on our website, Alley.com. So, I think we're waiting for Uyoung. Great, thank you for joining us. And we're going to kick off with a quick introduction from each of our panelists, all of whom are bringing some really exciting and unique perspectives to today's topic. So Uyoung, do you want to kick us off?

Uyoung Park Suggs  1:23  
Sure. Yeah. Hi, everyone. I'm Uyoung Park Suggs, and I lead the Innovation Strategy and Ops Team under Verizon Media's Ad Creative tech Org. So what we really focus on is how creative and technology can evolve in a symbiotic way to really enhance our experiences as consumers. And so being at Verizon is really interesting because we do have foundational technologies like 5G to help accelerate other technologies, like, for example, immersive XR, which is at the center of our conversation today. So I'm excited about that. To dig in deeper and, you know, all of this technological advancement that we stand to gain here and continue to gain as we go into the future is really going to impact every single industry, including media and marketing, which is my background. But a good portion of actually my career was really spent learning, you know, planning, executing ways to captivate audiences through traditional media. And so I've worked at media agencies, I spent some time at General Motors. But it wasn't really 'till I went over to Microsoft and spent seven years there where I was really catapulted into the digital world. I was there when HoloLens first launched, which was really exciting. So you know, ever since then, I've really been devoted to shifting and learning, planning, and executing how to captivate people in increasingly what is an interactive, multi-dimensional and immersive way.

Noelle Tassey  2:52  
Awesome. And thanks again for joining us. We're super excited and you know, for those of you tuning in, obviously immersive multifaceted engagement is going to be a huge part of what we talk about today. Jean-Pascal, over to you.

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  3:08  
All right, yeah, Jean-Pascal, J-P from now on's totally fine for everyone. So I'm leading a sound studio dedicated to immersive sound for XR. And for the past five years, we've been very lucky to participate in some of the— several of the medium-defining pieces of the past five years. We kind of pioneer a new generation of audio services companies that bridge the gap between traditional linear post-production and interactive audio. And I'm particularly fascinated by everything immersive. I— my background is being a trained architect which couldn't be further from doing sound for XR, but really, my mind operates in a way that space is really important. So I think we can do so much more with audio. But of course, this is what I specialize in, but I'm interested also generally into what XR can bring into our lives for— you know, in the next 5, 10, 20 years. Yeah, so that's pretty much it.

Noelle Tassey  4:19  
Awesome. And just because I know we have a lot of people tuning in, who are totally geeking out over immersive and XR in general, can you give us just out of the sort of pioneering experiences you've worked on in this space recently, just one or two headlines?

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  4:35  
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the very interesting projects we're working on at the moment with our sister company, Felix and Paul Studios, is with the International Space Station. So we have a 360 stereoscopic camera with spatial audio on the ISS and this is the biggest endeavor of filming on the space station. So that's something that's going on. We've been filming for almost a year and still have a lot to do. We'll be filming the first EVA (extravehicular activity)— so spacewalk in 360, as well. So that's pretty exciting.

Noelle Tassey  5:17  

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  5:17  
Yeah, that's really, really cool. And we're looking at Artemis, which is 2024, NASA going back on the moon. So this is really exciting long-term, but also some entertainment pieces. One piece we have, I think, in collaboration with Verizon Media with their company RYOT, is called "Gloomy Eyes", which is nominated for an Emmy Award this year in interactive program. So really, in terms of— it goes from entertainment to more documentary work, but everything immersive and some pieces that are audio-only as well, which is something we'll definitely talk about later on today.

Noelle Tassey  6:05  
Terrific. Thanks. And that's great. So, you know, so far we've kind of got all things consumer experience. We've got, you know, potentially shooting into space through XR. And then Dimitri, over to you.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk 6:19  
Hi everyone, I'm Dimitri Mikhalchuk, I'm a co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer at TESLASUIT project. We at TESLASUIT have undertaken an endeavor to blend the bound— erase completely the boundary between the physical world and the virtual world. So we're bringing the physical world sensations into the virtual environment where the user would be able to communicate among the users and with the actual digital world itself and also give a capability to create a digital twin at the same time. So very excited. We work on— mainly with enterprise customers and various first responders and aerospace industry, for example. So, yeah, looking forward to this panel.

Noelle Tassey  7:13  
Terrific. I'm so excited. We've got a really exciting, kind of diverse set of perspectives. And I think right before we get into some of the meatier questions, I'd just love to know— and you know, I think we touched on this a little bit in the intros, but what is an immersive experience really mean from your perspective on a day-to-day basis? What does that entail and what area that are you most focused on?

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  7:39  
So we know that from the content perspective, VR and augmented reality is becoming better and better every day. Some of the experiences that I've seen so far, they're so immersive that the body believes in it and has no distinction whatsoever. But the only downside is the next thing people do in digital space when they believe that the space is real, is they're trying to reach out and grab it. Obviously, we fall through. Now, at TESLASUIT, we've created both the suit that allows us to feel the condition, the real connection with the world, or the hugs. And we've created the glove that actually allows to physically feel the virtual object. So that puts us back in the perspective where we can actually interact, take objects, move objects, play with it, and at the same time, collect the biometric data on data-rich analysis, conduct data -ich analysis on how the user feels inside that environment as well.

Noelle Tassey 8:46  
Very cool. And I think, you know, probably a lot of people tuning in at home have had the experience— you know, if you're passionate about VR and XR and seeking out these experiences of, you know, some of the simulations like the one where you walk the plank and you fall off, and our marketing director, who's definitely on the line, has a video of me doing that and then screaming. So, you know, it can really get you. And J-P, could you, I guess just talk us through from your perspective what makes an experience truly immersive? And what—

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  9:22  
Yeah, sure. Well, I'm gonna echo a bit what Dimitri said, I think that it's important to understand that the XR that we have right now is still very far from where we want to go, you know, as much as this— it's really the second wave of human-oriented computing that we're looking at. And AR and VR, you know, has the potential to interface with the full range of human capabilities, so that real and virtual can intermix freely. So it's fundamental in a way that the first wave of computing, which we're still in, you know, interfacing with 2D, with this virtual world in 2D, essentially. So it's fundamentally different in a way that it has the potential to ultimately encompass the entire space of possible human experience. So I think that's what really defines what we're all looking at for the next 5, 10, 20 years.

Noelle Tassey  10:28  
Very cool. And last, but not least, Uyoung.

Uyoung Park Suggs 10:31  
Yeah, yeah. I would just echo Dimitri and J-P, I think there's the future vision of where we could be, which I know we're going to touch on, too with regards to convergence and some of the topics we've talked about, but yeah, right now, in current state at Verizon Media, you know, what we're focused on is really, to J-P's point, there's still so much to be done. And XR is sort of kind of in its infancy stage in a lot of ways when you compare it to relatively speaking where this is going to be in the future. However, I would say I would argue too, that, there's still so much out there that is still through traditional means of conveying and communicating. So, you know, especially in our media landscape, overwhelmingly, most of the content is still articles, videos, things that really are trapped in 2D. And so we're looking at least in the short term of just proliferating what we can do today, which is still quite a bit of interactivity and immersion. So I think about it in phases as well. And I think what really is exciting to treat the future as the North Star, of being able to build on the things that we're doing today, more and more increasingly as we go.

Noelle Tassey  11:37  
Yep, definitely. And I know that when we talked earlier this week, you were mentioning, you know— obviously, we're gonna kind of be looking at immediate-term right now, the current crisis and how that's accelerating these efforts. I think— and this is for all of you, but for Uyoung especially, you want to just walk us through how you see that impacting adoption of immersive experiences, investment in it, you know, upcoming shifts. I know you're very, very focused on this right now.

Uyoung Park Suggs  12:06  
Yeah, yeah, I think when you're seeing in terms of COVID, right? So what we are all going through, you know, COVID has been, it's been so interesting, you know, global pandemic issues aside, which is super challenging. But you know, I think in a lot of ways it has been a forcing function, and has a profound impact on businesses in a myriad of ways, outside of, you know, XR, or immersive language. But as it relates to our company, you know, some of the ways that COVID-19 has kind of fundamentally changed how we look at things, as you know, I think like many businesses, there are sort of both sides of the spectrum. There are things that have been forcing functions where we see gaps and opportunities and that are uncovering challenges. And then there's others where it's big opportunity and you know, for us, our business has changed in the sense that you know, there's— a myriad of ways. For one, sports canceling. So live sports canceling. A lot of the things we had originally had focused on whether it was in-stadium first-ever 5G experiences or even just our Yahoo Sports experiences on app and mobile web, and desktop, all of those experiences have had impact because real world is changing. But then it's actually brought us to be able to focus our energy on development. So we just recently launched Verizon Media Immersive, because we were able to take the time during COVID to really push our efforts internally in democratizing 3D and AR. As a result, what's really cool is that other teams have actually benefited. So Yahoo News for example, for the first time ever, was actually able to rapid publish in 3D and AR on what I think is actually really good topic for 3D and AR. So COVID-19 you know, they turned around a myriad of different content pieces. A story told through 3D and AR on COVID-19. So for example, you know, at that time, there was a lot of terminology being thrown out to the public like ventilators, respirators, go through testing, and this is what testing's like, and there's two different tests and, you know, COVID screenings and what our editorial team did was actually unpack some of those topics, and took 3D and AR and was able to story tell and educate the public around these topics in an immersive three-dimensional way. That's something we hadn't done before. And that was a forcing function. And COVID was a really good example of that. So I do tend to think like service journalism is really ripe for these kinds of creative ways to unpack topics.

Noelle Tassey  14:39  
Very cool. And you know, J-P, and Dimitri, feel free to jump in here, like how you guys are kind of seeing accelerations in adoption, either inside you know, your own companies or with clients due to the current crisis. I think, yeah, I mean, this—Uyoung's point about this being a forcing mechanism. It's true for a lot of industries, but it's hard to think of one, you know, that was sort of more— in some ways more ripe for this kind of disruption and push than immersive and then in other ways, you know, I think in terms of like, obvious barriers. Let's put it that way. It's certainly an industry that needs the push, right?

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  15:19  
Certainly— Well, go Dimitri, please.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  15:21  
Yeah, on our side, we've seen, I think, a sevenfold increase in interest from the enterprise world. Previously, we had to reach out and actually start explaining what it is. Nowadays, we get more and more people actually dialing us and saying yes, we know what it does, just how can we get it quicker and what more can we do in the mixed reality environment, and how can we speed things up on this front and this front? So that actually shows that whoever is a decision-maker has already done the analysis on what could be done in VR. So previously, it was a completely— like a blank canvas, we had to paint on first and try to appeal to imagination before people would— and then we needed to bring some collateral material, videos, until then— was a long time— a long process to get the enterprise to kind of buy into the story of using XR to improve the productivity. But nowadays, it's all changed. I mean, there's so much awareness now, there's so much research going on into that and how people can employ that. And we've seen an increase in sales as well. So yeah, absolutely. This problem has created a new way of solving it. So new approach as well.

Noelle Tassey  16:47  
So I'm curious, to your point about suddenly business leaders becoming very educated on this topic and their needs, what are the use cases that you're getting the most interest in?

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  16:59  
Our part is mostly to do with either rescaling— well, upscaling training. Obviously, those who work in a first responder fields or military field, they need to be recertified every, I think 12 to 24 months. So it means continuous education, continuous training. Now with people staying more and more at home, this is where we can come in. And essentially we provide the facility packed in a box that can be sent around and passed on from home to home. And this is where first responders, for example, they can continue the training because we provide a good proportion of the physical training itself, packaged inside the XR experience. So it still becomes quite very possible. The other side that we're looking at is the engineering itself. So this is where we know that a lot of car manufacturers have now switched to full 3D simulation mode where they actually design the entire car and then change the interior, the parts fully in VR. That— I think the pioneer of that was— I think it was lo— It wasn't Lotus, it was McLaren. So I know that— I met with McLaren in 2016. This is when they first employed the full 3D engine based on Unreal. And this is where their prototyping cycle has reduced the, I think, from 30 days to like 24 hours to build (inaudible). And that also removes the need to build a clay model first and then start—.  So it's a huge investment that suddenly has gone away into the initial prototyping and then that same model could be taken into the showroom, and then the customer could experience the car before it's even built— being built, and then play with the options. I know we've spoken to Toyota and other manufacturers who have introduced their virtual environment showrooms, and they've seen up to 80% increase on setting the options themselves because suddenly the person could experiment with it right there, right then, and see the car from every angle, hear the engine noise and the difference between various options as well you know, in terms of performance parts. So you can see that there's so many different applications. We also looked at health and safety— enterprise health and safety training as well. And here we also expand what can be achieved. Everybody can continue developing their skills, their health and safety knowledge, whilst being away from work. So that gives good opportunity to maintain the readiness level

Noelle Tassey 20:01  
Yep, very cool. I think if there's anything we've all learned in the last year, it's preparedness is key, especially during a crisis ironically. So that's really, really interesting. And J-P, last but not least,

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin 20:19  
Well for me as you can imagine working in sound, we're used to work in a sound studio with tons of speakers and so on. So having to work with headphones has been quite a drastic change. But it really for me what I think that COVID-19 is really, I think making obvious is that if we add a really high-quality virtual workspace if that existed right now, it would be pretty much the most useful thing in the world short of a vaccine for COVID-19, of course, because it would enable a huge chunk of the economy to work more effectively in an age of lockdowns and social distancing. We do have a long way to go, but it's really something I saw the potential of that and how useful it would be. We can define that— what that could be like, but later on if you want.

Noelle Tassey 21:21  
Yeah, definitely. You know, I think that— actually it was kind of the next topic I wanted to explore, is really what makes immersive so valuable? And I think that's actually kind of a great segue into it, right? Is like, you know, the workplace example's actually super interesting in this way, because, you know, so much of being in an office with people is like, they're kind of around, you hear what they're talking about, you're maybe not in the conversation. I think the audio aspect of that is kind of interesting. I would love to like hear more about how you're thinking about that. And then we'll circle to the rest of the panel just around what the unique value of immersive is.

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  22:02  
Yeah, totally— well, and I will touch on the idea with don't worry, I think it's just interesting to see it in the more holistic perspective. But if for instance, if we talk about that virtual workspace, what that could be like, you know, imagine monitor quality. virtual screens, holograms, whiteboards, whatever, saving and switching between configurations with a click, ability to interact with my real surroundings, and use keyboard and mouse, share virtual space with other people. That could become a really amazingly productive, collaborative environment as well. And having the ability to manipulate both real and virtual objects with my hands, complete with haptic feedback, which I'm sure it's something Dimitri is working on. Yeah, this would be a fantastic, collaborative virtual workspace and not just because of the context of COVID-19. But you could be— you could live wherever you want on the planet, be in the country, we— you know, you wouldn't have to travel so much, you know. It's easy to imagine the environmental benefits, as well, if that makes sense.

Noelle Tassey  23:22  
Definitely. Dimitri, Uyoung, anything you want to talk on in terms of just the unique kind of value prop of immersive as opposed to, you know, the experiences that we're used, to and the ones that we've adapted to in the crisis?

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  23:38  
Well, yeah, I fully agree. So the workplace itself could evolve and move into the virtual space. But also want to mention that it is important to— the immersive part of the experience is so important because it has a psychological effect as well as physical as well. So we know that if this space is all doom and gloom, we wouldn't feel as productive. So it does have— even subconsciously, we react to the surrounding. If it— if the surrounding is not— is too distracting basically to the brain, to the side peripheral view, for example, we won't be able to concentrate on things important. But also when we looked at, for example, the effects of collaborative environment where we had motion capture, working on our colleagues, for example, and when we were standing in the same room, without even— before the avatars have loaded, we could tell the name of who's who. We could see just from the motion, from the bone structure of the avatars, we could actually tell who is who because of the various habits that subconsciously we were actually noticing in the office who's like, moving in some specific way. So that shows that that immersion will come from many, many different points. But that also makes communication much easier. So when we see people actually using their body language, and especially in a collaborative environment, when we need to work on something complex, like engineering, for instance, goes without saying we need detail, we need quality there, we need ability to pass the objects around, we can— we need to be able to record all that, for example. We look at also collecting data points when we need to analyze how economically acceptable something is, or how well does the space fit our needs. So we could we can do all that nowadays, and it's getting only better and better.

Uyoung Park Suggs  25:56  
Yeah, and I would just add to that, too, and, Dimitri, I think that's fascinating with the body language and how you could tell things just by seeing— not even actually seeing the person. So, that's fascinating. And I think, you know, one thing to add too, on immersive experiences, for me, you know, I look at it as— we've always traditionally looked at learning too, as somewhat compartmentalized, you know? We think about people who are visual learners who just need to see things or people who, you know, need to hear or listen to instructions, or people who just need to do go through the process of doing something. And what's so cool about immersive is it really does offer a very multi-dimensional combination of all of the above in ways that people can connect with a certain topic or thing or person, even. And I think that's immensely valuable obviously, in this current climate where we can't always have the physical— why don't we just do it, you know, do it in a physical space with people, you know? Or where distance is a factor, I think that's even more powerful, but in general, I think that that is what immersive experiences unlock in terms of value for us.

Noelle Tassey  27:09  
Very cool. Yeah, I love the body language point. It's just so interesting. We talk so much about— you, I think that at the beginning— so we actually have a panel beginning of the crisis, and everyone was like, wow, Zoom is just so incredible because like, you know, if this had happened 10 years ago, we'd all be like, you know, on our Cisco phones, like, "Can you hear me?" Which, true, but I think that what we— what we're now seeing, like four months later, is Zoom is totally exhausting, and just not a substitute for in-person interaction. And, you know, when you kind of touch on something as profound but simple as the body language, it's like, of course, and it's so much less draining, you know, to interact with people in that way, which is so interesting. So, you know, looking to the next, let's say the next two to three-year span— or really the next one to three-year span of time. Yeah, we're seeing this prioritization from business leaders, you know, across a really wide range of companies in terms of like prioritizing immersive, investing in it. What are some of the biggest challenges you guys see in terms of getting to increased adoption and improved experiences? And then what are some things that we can look forward to?

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  28:31  
Technologically, I have already seen the three-year kind of roadmap of many headset manufacturers, for example. Don't see it as a challenge, I think they're actually getting there. We're all expecting thin glasses that we could wear for a longer period of time. The next thing that is being solved is the perception of depth. This is the next factor. Where our eye actually senses that there is a screen, it doesn't have the depth, we have to focus on the actual screen then. But then our eye— our brain is trying to focus on distance, on something that is far away. But the pupil will jump between kind of the parallax and return to the screen again. So that creates some level of fatigue when we're using the VR, and some motion sickness as well. But that's actually— that has been sold, I think, in a way. So there's different type of lenses are coming out. And the devices are becoming thinner and price-wise they're going down, so that part is resolved. Now the next thing that we working on internally, for example, is real-time mapping. So we want to connect to 5G we want to come out of the office, we want to come out of the building and actually provided the ability to have a similar type of experience outside, outdoors. And so the user can have a full freedom of actually doing work or consume entertainment part, wherever, whenever, in a similar kind of immersive— fully immersive way. So that's what we're doing.

Noelle Tassey  30:18  
Very cool. And I think that marriage of physical space and virtual space is going to be one of the topics I'm hoping we'll have time to cover. It's just so interesting. Uyoung.

Uyoung Park Suggs  30:29  
Yeah, I think building on Dimitri's perspective, I agree, you know, coming from Verizon's perspective, the scaling of 5G will also help enable some of these pain points like Dimitri was describing, particularly as it relates to headsets. So you know, in the long view, eventually we will have more form factors that we can enable AR and VR and immersive experiences through and those will get better and better, sleeker, lighter, less bulky, untethered. You know, the nausea, with regards to latency, you know, there's a lot of solves on both things that 5G can help with, as well as just on the hardware and software side. And so the long view is, you know, we are excited for that future where we do have more ease of being able to have these immersive experiences, you know? In your— answering the shorter term, I think, in the shorter term, what we can expect is that our phones, you know, our phones continue to become powerful, and much more capable. You know, just in the upcoming versions, we're going to have things that, you know, I come from the auto industry, and like LIDAR, for example, is the technology that cars use, but we're going to have them in phones too, because we're going to be able to have AR actually be spatially aware, and I guess a little bit more similar to mixed reality in that sense. So I think there's going to be a lot of games that we can have just in our portable devices that we already have at our disposal that are already accessible. And so that's really exciting because we're going to start getting a glimpse into what it might be like on glasses, when we start having these types of functionalities actually trickle in through the phone first, and then eventually graduate to headsets and things like that. And so, you know, I think I'm really excited on the pathway to that for immersive.

Noelle Tassey 32:12  
Definitely. J-P?

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  32:16  
Yeah, sorry, I'm muting every time. Yeah, I'll just jump onto what you were saying in terms of— I think 5G will be— really enable faster rendering, really offloading processing from our mobile devices. That will be— that would really be super helpful. And unless Dimitri knows things, roadmaps, about some manufacturers that I really don't know about that— I think there are still scientific— really research topics still need to be resolved to really get to the point where we have either you know, AR glasses or a VR headset that's super lightweight and that can do all the things we— or a lot of computer vision problems are still remain to be solved. But I think it's going to be incremental steps that we're going to see in terms of audio for sure. What— it's not so much a problem of technology because I think of all the problems that we have with XR that remain to be solved to get where we want to go, audio is probably the one that's closest to 20/20 vision state, if you want, because you can get really super-realistic 3D audio like you have in real life. What's been— really been missing is not a good algorithm to render that, we have several at our disposal, but it's really a problem of distribution. So as much as 5G will help, also a news such as when Apple, I think it was just last week or 10 days ago when they released— they told what was going to be on the iOS 14 update. Suddenly, you've got a community of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people owning Air Pods Pro suddenly have spatial audio with head tracking, which is a big thing, enabled. So head tracking is really, for those wouldn't know, it's just like in real life, if you have a sound source that's here and I'm turning my head, I don't want the sound source to follow me like this right? That's head locked, you really want that source to stay there. So suddenly, if you have Air Pods Pro and an iOS device, it really tracks the position of your head in relation to the device, the device in relation to the space you're in. So that's really promising. You could be, for instance, for example, walking on the street getting directions to exactly where you need to go. If you were a vision-impaired person that's, of course, such an incredible improvement in your quality of life. There's that, there's also personalized HRTFs, I think is something that's coming really, really soon. So HRTF's are basically the way I hear things and the way every one of us hear is slightly different because of the shape of our head, the torso, so it's it's really something physical, but that allows us to be to identify the localization of a sound source. The fact that you're now going to be able, for instance to just scan your head quite quickly and get a personalized equivalent of your fingerprint, if you want, but for your hearing, and you can have really, really high-quality 3D audio. so these are small increments, and I think those are very, very promising.

Noelle Tassey  36:04  
Very cool. I think something that we all talked about a lot on our conversation earlier this week, was just this idea of convergence across all the different areas you guys are focused on and what that means for improved immersive experiences. And Uyoung, I was actually hoping you could kind of kick us off on that since you're the one who brought it up.

Uyoung Park Suggs 36:24  
Yeah, sure. You know, I think that, again, talking more about like short-term versus long-term, you know, some of the things that I get very excited about looking at the longer-term are the possibilities when silos are broken down. And the silos exist, because for good reason, we haven't— you know, we've had sort of technical boxings and parameters that we've had to develop in. And so, for example, you know, in the future, I think— I look forward to when it's a convergence factor where the lines between gaming experiences, and AR/VR/MR-type experiences, and IoT, and you know, proliferation of surfaces and what those surfaces can do. You know, all of those things start merging together, increasingly, so when you actually have a fundamental infrastructure and tech backing of connectivity that can help, you know, empower all— empower all of the things that are connected into it. And so that's exciting. And, you know, just to give like a, you know, a more specific example, it would be the difference of, you know, convergence looks like to me today, what are possible experiences, but very siloed experiences. So, for example, today, you know, yeah, we can watch a football game, we can watch a really great high-definition live game that's actually happening somewhere else right now. But you know, what convergence looks like is in the future, well, why can't I experience that game like you know, with Dimitri's work with the haptic suit, could I actually see and experience and play a game from the perspective of an athlete? You know, could I do that as well as have even more interactive and immersive experiences related to the game? And also, just on the consumer experiences side, actually convert into commerce. So you know, another big trend in AR/VR, at least in our world is the ability to give consumers products and services immediately and transact after engagement. So that opens up other opportunities where you know, in a football game scenario, it might be you know, jerseys and merchandise and things like fan merchandise and things like that. But, you know, I think of fashion and retail and all these other areas where you could truly have an end-to-end experience that's so much more immersive and more holistic. Whereas it's not to say that those things aren't actually possible today, they're just very possible in a more siloed fashion where they're not really unified yet, they're not really converged yet. And I think that's very exciting in our future as we advance on hardware and software and all of these things sort of help support these use cases in a more unified way.

Noelle Tassey  39:03  
Definitely. Dimitri, J-P, I want to make sure you guys can both jump in on that, as well.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  39:10  
Yeah, I was going to say that I completely agree. And this is exactly where we were exploring some of the angles, and one of the trends of this year, 2020, was— or end of 2019, actually the factor of telepresence by the use— for the use of bionics and robotic equipment for actually being able to participate in an event remotely. And through the robot pass on the sensations on to the person who would be, say, seeing the environment, the instantaneous 3D mapping of through the robot's eyes, in mixed-reality event. And then we kind of theorized— thought that we could do telepresence experience, for example, from the football match, for example, from a contact sport for instance, through the use of artificial intelligence image recognition where we could see the impact people interacting with each other and just pass it over to the spectator as if the spectator was actually right in the middle of the field and taking part in that as well. So, what we need to do is just compute the velocity, the physics aspect of what is going on on the field, and then pass it over on to the player. That's still kind of future vision of how we could participate in sports events and immerse ourselves in the environment. But it is becoming possible with all the technology advancements with phone hardware and software. So yeah, looking forward to it.

Noelle Tassey 40:52  
Definitely. J-P?

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  40:57  
Convergence is definitely not my topic, so—

Noelle Tassey  41:02  
Okay, awesome. Well, the next one I think will be, so we're going to take some time at the end to answer audience questions. We've had some really incredible ones come in. But before we get there, I just want to talk a little bit about physical space because we were talking about, you know, the potential with 5G and improve technology to blend, you know, immersive XR with your actual physical space and kind of what that looks like in the future as well as the continued importance of physical space in an immersive world. Would love to hear your thoughts on that.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  41:44  
Yeah, well, I can start with this one. I think we probably won't be able to suddenly break away from the need of physical space. We still need to house the processing power somewhere, we still need to have the bulky equipment somewhere. There's especially stuff with equipment as well, we don't want to have it in our homes. Definitely, physical space is there to stay. It will, however, evolve because with knowledge comes a different approach to how we would consume the physical space. I mean, now we're seeing that open space potentially brings up an issue where viruses can spread faster. If we were sort of split away from colleagues, for example, that would actually give us some time to react— a bit more time to react. But I think the physical space will not— will just not go away suddenly. We still need it.

Noelle Tassey 42:49  
Yeah, definitely.

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  42:51  
I love that, quote, Dimitri, I'll steal it from you. The physical space is here to stay. Most definitely. I think it's— obviously, it's fundamental, but also the virtual mapping of the digital world is really sits on top of the physical one, right? So in— just in that sense, it's fundamental, we're still— our experience of the real world is not going to change, it's just going to be augmented really. But it's also fundamental. If I go back, for instance, to the virtual collaborative workspace I was referring to earlier, I think the possibility to interact both with virtual and real objects in real-time and for other virtual— people that are virtually with me, for them as well to be able to experience that is going to be fundamental.

Uyoung Park Suggs  43:50  
Yeah, and what I would just add, too, is that I see physical space as— you know, really the importance and value of it is really dependent on the use case. You know, I think different uses require— they are intertwined with the physical space. So for example, even just in our consumer experiences, one of the— still one of the most popular ways to use AR is home furnishing, right? And so we have a lot of retailers that are expecting that consumers get the value of being able to actually place their products within someone's space because that is the whole point, inextricably they're tied together. So that's where things are critical, and another use cases for example, when you look at you know, mixed reality and remote surgery, for example, that is highly contingent on the person, that specific person, the needs of that person from a surgery standpoint and what actually needs to be done is also intertwined. You know that is very much something that is codependent. But then in other cases where it is really immersing someone into let's say, for example, a VR experience that's purely for entertainment, and even then I would argue it's increasingly becoming— going to become more blurred where VR is not just, you know, sort of an uncontrollable environment that you are immersed in, but rather you have interaction, and you have the ability to control things in there. And I think that's where, you know, they get intertwined. So I think it really is driven by the purpose for the experience, but I do— I agree, in general, that physical space does not go away. This is not you know, meant to be where we're living in a world where we're just not leaving our room and having an experience and everything through where we're at. But that's not really the point. And that's of our choosing on the kind of future we want, and how these kinds of experiences will enhance our world and not take away from it. So—

Noelle Tassey  45:48  
Yeah, definitely. Not headed for Ready Player One.

Uyoung Park Suggs  45:51  
Yeah, right. Exactly.

Noelle Tassey  45:55  
But yeah. No, and I think it's— I think it's like such a common misconception, right? But there's a lot to like about the real world. So for the last 10 minutes, we've gotten some amazing audience questions in and we had some really good ones submitted before the panel. So I want to make sure we can touch on some of those. And if you're listening and you've got more questions, definitely send them in, now or never. We'll get through as many as we can in the next nine minutes. So we have— we've had a few questions in just around the new technology, the spatial audio technology in the new Air Pods— or really in the new OS update. So J-P, this is mostly for you, but I think also for everyone, in terms of how that technology is leveraged in ways aside from use case. You've already highlighted more like, entertainment-driven use cases. What are some early you know, I guess, early implementations of that, that we can expect to see and how will that be distributed? Will that be like— will I be able to get these things on Spotify?

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  47:05  
And these are really good questions. So, I'm not an Apple Genius, but what I know so far— it's really a first step where it's not actually spatial audio, it's enabling content that has 5.1 or 7.1 mix that's surround, that's not spatial audio, that's old stuff. And then Dolby Atmos which a lot of people might have heard of. Usually, people identify Dolby with, you know, in terms of audio technology, there's— if you've went— if you've been in a, you know, a great theater, and you've experienced that kind of immersive sound, which is still quite different from what we call true spatial audio where, again, if we're in a virtual room together and the character here talking, I'm expecting that sound to come precisely from that. So this is really I think, next step for them— for Apple, but it's— I think it's distributed with iOS 14. That's what I know, if you have Air Pods Pro— firmware upgrade, and it's working out of the box. As to the question about how can I get that content? That's a good question. It hasn't— they haven't released any information about that yet. I would assume Apple TV+ for sure would make sense. But if we look outside of the Apple ecosystem, what's been interesting with music, music is really getting immersive. It's the big thing at the moment within the music industry, is that you have, you know, a good portion of back catalog of artists that are being remixed in spatial audio. And you already have some distributors such as Title I know they're— I think Amazon through Echo, yeah. So there are a few distributors out there where you can get spatial audio if you have the, you know, the device that enables that, or even through headphones. So that's something that's really interesting. And that's why I was referring earlier to the fact that the problem is not so much in terms of audio, of new technology. I mean, of course, more is— better is great and more precise, but it's really a distribution issue. So 5G is going to be key there and, you know, agreements between certain proprietary formats and distribution channels, I think that's where it's— that's where it's happening. If that makes sense.

Noelle Tassey 49:56  
Definitely. Dimitri and Uyoung, do either of you want to jump in on this, or we can move to the next question? I think we have time for one more.

Uyoung Park Suggs  50:04  
Okay, yeah—

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  50:05  
(inaudible) — to pick up is, I think, augmented reality. This is where it really matters where the sound comes from. So we could actually understand the positioning. So using space in order to experience the sound. That's one of the areas that I would love to see that being applied to.

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  50:27  
That's a good point, Dimitri, because in AR but also mixed reality, where if we're together in a room, and let's say, I'm in a really small room right now, and the person I'm virtually with is in a much bigger space, the way your voice and all the sound, the objects you touch, you move, the way it propagates in space is very different. The surface— is it marble, is it wood, is it—? So I think one thing we're looking at in terms of— and that we're all specialists at this, by the way, some people think, oh, you need to be a sound engineer to notice that. No, we're all really, really good at that. We have all our lifespan or lifetime, we became pros at this. We just don't consciously notice it. But one thing I'm looking forward to is really a concept of what we call the world as an audio system. So if you're, for instance, in entertainment, everything is designed right, we have the time to work on a mix, design everything, make sure it's perfect. But once we when we get to real-time, you— it'd be quite nice if I take my glass here and I just put it on my table. If you have, for instance, a marble table, and I'm virtually with you, well it'd be great if that resonated as if it were on a marble table. So this is something that it's— it cannot be designed in real-time, right? It requires to be able to identify sounds, objects, surfaces, and so on, and render them in real-time. So that's going to be quite interesting as well. It's all about synthesis.

Noelle Tassey  52:11  
Very cool. So for those of you who submitted questions that we haven't gotten to, we're going to select a few of these and answer them in our follow-up email. So definitely keep an eye out for that. And if you're not signed up for our distribution list, you can do it on our website. Since we only have three minutes left, and I want to be respectful of everyone's time. We're gonna have one question for each of the panelists to answer in a lightning round, which is what is the most exciting thing that you're looking forward to experiencing in immersive in the next six months?

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  52:48  
That's an interesting one.

Uyoung Park Suggs  52:49  
Yeah, in the next six months...

Noelle Tassey 52:51  
Should we make it 12? I was just really going for like, instant gratification there. We can make it 12.

Uyoung Park Suggs  53:00  
Well, I mean, I guess I could respond with just some of the cool things. So to build on what J-P was saying about musical performances, I do love seeing the more and more well-done holographic artists like Whitney Houston, for example, going on tour in the UK. You know, those kinds of things really are exciting, and they're already happening, but it's not to scale. But I think about all of the opportunity and ways that immersive experiences can change the game on the way that we interact with, you know, people that we love, like performances, like, you know, watching— Verizon, we did this Pay It Forward series during COVID to support small businesses, and Alicia Keys is one of my favorite artists. But, you know, it was amazing watching her live stream, but can I imagine dropping her on my piano bench and watching her perform in my living room? That's pretty cool. So, you know, I think those are the kinds of things that really light me up and it's already happening, but not to scale.

Noelle Tassey 53:57  
That's so cool. I would love to see Alicia Keys perform. If you can, I mean if you can set up—

Unknown Speaker  54:08  

Noelle Tassey 54:09  
That's incredible. J-P, Dimitri. All right, you guys.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  54:15  
You can go ahead and—

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  54:18  
I've talked more than enough already, but just going— LBE— be able to go back to experience location-based entertainment. That would be great.

Noelle Tassey  54:29  
Yeah, definitely. Dimitri?

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  54:32  
Yeah, on top of the LBE, I'm really looking for— if it was 12 months, I know it wouldn't happen within six, but definitely, 12 months is a good timing, real-time mapping, geotagging to mixed reality with full physical kind of telepresence, where this space is being replaced in real-time with something else. So imagine you go for a jog and suddenly your 360 view changes to Mars, and then it changes to moon, and then it changes back to Earth, and then it's forest, and the field— and you're still running on the same road. And yet you can see the objects around yourself, they're being replaced with some obstacles, so you don't bump into them. All done in real-time rendered in a light form factor. That would be super cool.

Uyoung Park Suggs  55:18  
That is cool.

Noelle Tassey  55:19  
That's awesome.

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin  55:20  
Definitely not six months.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  55:23  
No, not six months.

Uyoung Park Suggs  55:24  
That would help me jog more.

Noelle Tassey  55:26  
Right? Yeah, me too. I think that's like the one thing that could get me to run— just for that. Awesome. I know we're at time, I just wanna say thank you again to our incredible panelists for sharing an hour of your day with us, as well as our participants. This has been really, really fun, really interesting. For those of you who want to experience it again or share with your communities. This conversation has been recorded, and it'll be available tomorrow on our website if you would like to share the content. For more information, please visit us at Alley.com. We're doing a lot of these events and we hope to see you again. Thank you again to everyone. It's been a pleasure, and we hope to see you soon. Take care.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  56:08  
Thank you.

Uyoung Park Suggs  56:08  
Thank you. Bye.

Dimitri Mikhalchuk  56:10  
Bye, everyone.

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