Spatial Computing at SXSW 2020; Is This the Year of XR?

I attended SXSW 25 times. Crazy, huh? Those days are probably over for me, it’s time for someone else to have some fun eating BBQ and walking down Sixth in Austin while hanging out with the creative people in the industry. That said, I’ve been keeping track of all the panel pitches I’ve seen that have anything to do with Spatial Computing and here’s the list. If you have others to add, please add them on my LinkedIn post where I collected all these.

Why am I only caring about spatial computing, which is computing that humans, robots, or virtual beings can move through. Everything from autonomous vehicle systems to augmented reality?

Because I see this as a real paradigm shift in how computing works. After doing this list it’s clear a huge shift is underway. It’s very rare you see so many proposals on one topic.

As a researcher in the field I find that the proposals show you what motivates people and what the opportunities are in a new industry. Plus, this is a great way to build a database of “who is who” in the spatial computing field (each URL lists the panelists).

Please vote for your favorites. These are in alphabetical order.

5G AND ITS ROLE WITH TECHNOLOGY IN THE ENTERPRISE. Organizer Hannah Young.

AUGMENTED REALITY AND FOOD: THE FUTURE OF DINING. Organizer Matt Maher.

AUGMENTED REALITY AND FOOD. Organizer Sayuri Okayama.

AUGMENTED REALITY GOES PRIMETIME. Organizer Liz David.

AUGMENTED REALITY MONUMENTS IN PUBLIC SPACES. Organizer: Glenn Cantave.

BBC EARTH – FACTUAL STORYTELLING WITH MAGIC LEAP. Organizer: Oscar Swedrup.

BRAND STORYTELLING IN A WORLD OF SPATIAL COMPUTING. Organizer Natascha French.

CAN XR SAVE JOURNALISM? Organizer Laura Hertzfeld.

CHANGING THE IMMERSIVE STORYTELLING WILD WEST. Organizer Sarah Ellis.

CONTENT CREATORS IN THE AGE OF EXPERIENCE. Organizer Kevin Ang.

CORPORATES LIVING IN THE NEW REALITIES. Organizer Adaora Udoji.

CREATING BRILLIANT STORIES AND EXPERIENCES IN AR. Organizer: Larry Lac.

DEALING WITH REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS IN XR. Organizer Ilena Parker.

DESIGN CHALLENGES FOR VR PRACTITIONERS. Organizer Moya Baldry.

DEVELOPING THE NEXT REALITY OF OUR LIVES: SPATIAL. Organizer Tricia Katz.

DIRECTING IMMERSIVE PERFORMANCE FOR THE MR STAGE. Organizer Maya Georgieva.

EMPATHY MACHINE: HOW VR CONNECTS PEOPLE & CAUSES. Organizer Temma Martin.

EYES OFF THE ROAD! UNIVERSAL’S DRIVE FOR IN-CAR VR. Organizer Jude Forbes.

FUTURE OF HUMAN CONNECTION. Organizer Cezara Windrem.

GET READY FOR THE VOLUMETRIC REVOLUTION. Organizer Todd Bryant.

HARNESSING THE HOLODECK: VR, WORK & SOCIETY. Organizer: Anne Hobson.

HOW CAN WE MOVE AR BEYOND JUST BEING A TECH DEMO? Organizer Nick Bicanic.

IMMERSIVE DESIGN AT FALLINGWATER. Organizer Ashley Andrykovitch.

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD IN XR. Organizer Russ Unger.

LOVE, MEMES AND THE FUTURE OF XR HUMAN CONNECTION. Organizer Lucas Rizzotto.

MULTIPLAYER AR LESSONS IN THE STREETS & CLASSROOM. Organizer Glenn Cantave.

ON BRAND PODCAST: HOW TO BUILD A VR BRAND. Organizer Nick Westergaard.

PIONEERING THE SPATIAL WEB & BRINGING MR TO LIFE. Organizer John Costelo.

PLACEMAKING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY. Organizer Julia Beabout.

POWERING STEAM THROUGH INTERACTIVE XR EDUTAINMENT. Organizer Jason Cangialosi.

READY LEARNER ONE: EXPLORING THE AR & VR FRONTIER. Organizer: Christine Lion-Bailey.

SEEING IS BELIEVING. Organizer: Prashanthan Ganeswaran.

SEE ME, SMELL ME, TOUCH ME! Organizer Charlotte Mikkelborg.

SO, YOUR CLIENT WANTS YOU TO MAKE A BLACK MIRROR? Organizer Eric Navarrette.

SUPERPOWERED OR ENSLAVED–THE FUTURE OF XR. Organizer: Avi Bar-Zeev.

THE AUGMENTED WORKFORCE: AI, AR, 5G CHANGE EVERYTHING. Organizer: Cathy Hackl.

THE CASE FOR THE CONT. CONVERGENCE OF AR & MEDIA. Organizer Ray Soto.

THE FUTURE IS ACCESSIBLE – ACCESSIBILITY IN XR. Organizer Andrew Eiche.

THE FUTURE IS AUGMENTED: WHAT AR MEANS FOR HUMANS. Organizer Aleissia Laidacker.

THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT IN A 5G WORLD. Organizer Tim Turpin.

THE FUTURE OF LIVE MUSIC: BLENDED REALITIES. Organizer Ryan Groves.

THE RENEWED RELEVANCE OF PHYSICALITY IN XR. Organizer: Ryan Groves.

THE SOCIAL PLATFORM FOR VIRTUAL REALITY CONCERTS. Organizer: Fabio Buccheri.

VIRTUAL BEINGS: THE FUTURE OF INFLUENCE HAS BEGUN. Organizer: Raymond Mosco.

VOLUMETRIC DOCUMENTARY; MAKING “THE CHOICE VR”. Organizer: Tom Hall.

VR/XR IN FORMAL AND INFORMAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. Organizer: Rebecca Hite.

VR TIMELINE: FROM IDEA TO YOUR OWN REALITY. Organizer: Alex Dovzhikov.

WHAT AUGMENTED DRIVING WILL FEEL LIKE. Organizer: Theo Calvin.

WOMEN IN XR & AI MEETUP. Organizer: Martina Welkhoff

XR & BRANDS: ADVERTISING IN FOUR DIMENSIONS. Organizer Samantha Wolfe.

XR: BIKE SAFETY, MUSIC AND BUBIKO FOODTOUR. Organizer: Stephen Black.

XR BREAKTHROUGHS & THE FUTURE OF WORK IN EDUCATION. Organizer Alexis Seeley.

XR MEANS BUSINESS! Organizer Andy Chavez.

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Hollywood shows jobs of the future: Spatial Computing camera systems

We all know lots of jobs will go away in the next decade or two. When I visited Tesla’s factory this year I noticed about 20% more robots than when I visited last year. Take that trend out a decade or two and we can predict many jobs will go away.

For my sons that might be dismal news. After all, they will be entering the job market in the 2030s. Will there be any jobs?

I’ve never been more optimistic that, yes, there will be. My visit this week to Radiant Images showed the new jobs that are being designed right now. This lab builds camera systems for Hollywood movies. I started up my 360-degree camera and interviewed cofounder Michael Mansouri inside one of his camera arrays that do both volumetric and light field captures. My cofounder, Irena, and I spent a day there with our company, Infinite Retina, working for a client (can’t name the client but lots of you drink their product).

His cameras operate at 500 frames a second, are 5K each, and synch up with specialized new strobe lights. All of which didn’t exist a few years ago.

I’m hearing that Apple will announce a new visor next year that will do augmented and virtual reality. If we get nerdy, we call that “mixed reality,” but when talking to Michael we talked about how people will expect entertainment to soon change and Hollywood is already starting to change to prepare. I rather call these things Spatial Computing Imaging Systems because the cameras themselves aren’t mixed reality, they just enable that. Spatial Computing is computing you, a robot, or a virtual being can move around in, and if you look at it that way you can see many new projects coming that need arrays of cameras and the associated artificial intelligence to deal with the datasets they generate.

If you walk around and meet his workers they are materials engineers, computer scientists, data scientists. All to make a movie, or whatever we call mixed reality entertainment projects.

So, we need to find a way to take truck drivers, factory workers, and others who will be laid off in the 2020s due to the forces of automation, and get them technical skills to work in Hollywood and other industries to build new robots, new automation systems, new ways to see the world.

That seems like a daunting problem, but I recently visited a new school, 42 Silicon Valley, which took a former chef with no technical skills, and now he’s started a VR company. This school charges no fees. Has no teachers. But requires students to give a year or two of their lives to fully immerse themselves in learning a new skill.

I wish policy makers would change from discussing guaranteed minimum income, which will never be enough and will doom humans to dismal mission-less lives, and focus on giving people the capital to go through schools like that virtually.

Real revolutions are coming to education, training, entertainment, and other things (at the end of the video we hinted how Tesla is gathering data to make fully autonomous cars possible).

Michael shows there’s plenty of “new jobs” but we need to both see that there are plenty of new jobs and then we need to have policies (and technologies) in place to help us retrain millions of workers for them.

In any case, new forms of entertainment are coming and Michael’s cameras are ready for the storytellers of the future to bring them to us. That, too, will require new devices. Apple, Magic Leap, Facebook, Microsoft, and many others are coming with those devices in the first half of the 2020s. What a decade ahead there is.

Tesla Autopilot safety? Forget that, it’s life changing and is spatial computing to boot

I told you Autopilot is safer than the other humans on the road. Tesla today released a safety report with more road data that shows Autopilot is out performing its human drivers.

I can tell when Tesla owners aren’t using it, too. They aren’t as smooth, they don’t signal as well. Autopilot, when used to switch lanes (I changed the default in my Model 3 to automatically switch lanes whenever it wants), turns on the signals way in advance. Many human drivers never signal when switching lanes. It also doesn’t switch lanes if there’s a car in the lane that it wants to move into.

Funny story, too:

Over the weekend I was driving in lane #1 on Freeway 280. Doing the standard 80 miles per hour.

A faster car came up behind me.

My car automatically pulled out of the #1 lane, let the faster car past, then promptly pulled back into the #1 lane because I was going faster than everyone else. Automatic lane changes have already changed my behavior. Now I rarely need to look if there’s a car in the other lane. Today it automatically changed lanes, got halfway over, and another driver came into my lane, didn’t notice I was switching lanes. My Tesla just pulled back into my original lane, waited for the jerk to drive past, then attempted the lane change again.

This totally changes the stress level too. Tonight I was driving Milan home from his speech therapy. We were stuck in traffic for more than an hour. Stop and go. Stop and go. Stop stop stop stop and go.

I didn’t care at all. I held Milan’s hand and we had a nice conversation about eating crab. Never touched the brakes or accelerator in more than an hour of driving. Then Ryan told me all about the weird stuff he’s been doing in VR lately. Then Irena called me. While it drove I barely paid attention. This tech is magic and I can’t wait for everyone to have it.

I met a lawyer from Los Angeles when camping in Yosemite who has a Tesla. He admitted to me he works in Los Angeles traffic while his car drives. I still don’t recommend that, but admit it is changing my attention levels on freeways too, particularly in traffic. Mostly I pay attention to my rearview camera and mirrors looking for motorcycles splitting lanes. Even there it’s safer for them since my car always stays exactly in the center of the lane and is very predictable. When I watch other humans they aren’t predictable at all, and many human drivers are on phones or doing other things. Distraction is a cause of many accidents that I see go down.

By the time my kids are driving age (about five years away) I wonder if they will need a driver’s license. Probably, for some roads and probably because we will give them our Toyota. I will never buy another Toyota, so even that is a short term problem for them (and they may choose never to take it, because self driving car systems will replace Uber and Lyft and be cheaper than buying a car anyway, not to mention safer). But another five after that will probably solve most of these problems. By the time they are 30 they definitely won’t need to drive and the system will be way safer and will let them play immersive games.

Today Irena Cronin and I interviewed Marcus Kühne, cofounder/CIO of Holoride. His company makes VR games for use in cars. He knows he’s just a little early but knows that by the end of 2021 we’ll have augmented reality visors we can wear in the car that will be pretty mind blowing. He’s been working with a bunch of car companies and they see his system will be a differentiator to help them compete with Tesla. Already my kids are playing both iPads and VR in our Tesla. VR while charging, but that may change with AR. I don’t want them to get car sick and controllers don’t work very well while vehicles are moving. That will all change in 2021, though.

What a future is ahead.

And, yes, I know these stats are a little skewed because most people only use Autopilot on freeways (I use it on every street I can, including in city streets, but know that’s not common) and freeway usage are the safest miles. That said, even in city streets it’s safer. Lets me pay more attention to other vehicles and pedestrians and look for things that I wouldn’t be able to look for if i always had to pay attention to just the car in front of me.

That said, every day on the freeway I pass a fender bender accident because someone was on their phone in all that stop and go traffic. My Tesla will never hit someone because I’m distracted in that kind of situation. Humans mess up all the time and we see the wreckage everytime we go for a drive.

You really need to watch my ride last week where I show you how it handles a long drive, starting in traffic. You can see that I trust my family’s lives to the technology.

What does this have to do with #spatialcomputing? Everything. Spatial Computing is computing that you, a robot, or a virtual being moves through and autonomous cars are using a ton of spatial computing technology. Tonight we are writing about factories. The car is made with spatial computing technology too. Computer vision FTW!