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John Buzzell

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Latest 1 May 2021 | Updated Daily

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From 8bit to 8K- The Evolution Of Digital Storytelling - Featuring Robin Cowie from Helo & John Buzzell from Unreal Engine

Jack X

In this week's episode, we speak to two guys who have been at the heart of the interactive storytelling and digital experience since it's beginnings. Robin Cowie, the director of experience and technology at Helo, has had many career highlights. In his early days, he worked as one of the producers on the original Blair Witch Project, the world's first experiential film making experience.  Now Rob is at the heart of developing incredible interactive experiences that keep audiences engaged.  John Buzzell from Epic Games works closely with creative agencies, animation studios, and AR / VR creators to leverage Unreal Engine's real-time visuals for breakthrough experiences and compelling storytelling. The guys join us to discuss the immersive digital ecosystem. How has it evolved over the last 30 years? What can we expect in the future? What will be the impact of 5g enabled game engines? And how these changes could shape the future of storytelling and culture. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Referenced: Robin Cowie, Director of Experience Technology @ Helo John Buzzell, Agencies Lead for Unreal Engine @ Epic Games Helo - https://www.flyhelo.com/ Unreal - https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/ Hellblade: Making a Virtual Human | Real-time performance capture -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmrXK4fNOEo Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall Possibilia, Directing duo Daniels follows the relationship story of 2 people. A live-action filmed experience. Be a decision-maker in the story and see what outcomes you create. Breaking up is hard to do, will that translate in this experience? Play here. Pixar RenderMan is the photorealistic 3D rendering software produced by Pixar Animation Studios. This is the commercially licensed software produced by Pixar that Robin was referring to. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you have any questions or thoughts please get in touch with us, genuinexpodcast@jackmorton.co.uk And don't forget to like and subscribe for more episodes. Hosted by Tom Fenwick-Smith. Produced and edited by Ben Toland @ X | Jack Morton Worldwide


11 Mar 2020

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Living in a Post-Scarcity World of Technology, with You Are Here Labs’ John Buzzell

XR for Business

We live in a three-dimensional world, and according to today’s guest — You Are Here Labs president John Buzzell — our computers are finally starting to catch up with that. John shoots the proverbial breeze with Alan on how spatial computing is going to fundamentally change our relationship with computers, and thus, our relationship with the world. Alan: My name is Alan Smithson,your host for the XR for Business Podcast. Today’s guest is a goodfriend, John Buzzell from You Are Here Labs and You Are Here Agency.John is an award winning 28 year veteran of the digital industry,creating interactive experiences across augmented reality, virtualreality, video games, mobile apps and numerous high volume websites.To learn more about You Are Here Labs and You Are Here Agency, visityahagency.com. John, welcome to the show. John: Thanks, Alan. Good to bewith you. Alan: And of all the peoplewe’ve had on the show, you have a lot of experience in this field. Imean, you built the AR Porsche visualizer where you could drop aPorsche right in your living room and I actually have a photo of aPorsche in my living room from your app. John: [laughs] That’s great. Youknow, that was an interesting project, because we started off on theHololens and it was a really interesting project. But at some point,Porsche said this is a little too future for us at the moment and weneed something that the dealers and the salespeople can use withoutfear. And so when ARKit popped up from Apple and they said surprise,now everybody with an iPhone 6 and above and use augmented reality,it really changed the game. And we very quickly converted thatexperience from the Hololens to the humble iPad and it took off fromthere. So we were really excited to have one of the first ARKit appsthat was really connected to a major company or brand. And I’m gladyou liked it, too. That’s cool. Alan: It was really special. Canpeople download it now still? John: Well, no, they can’t. Thatwas about two years ago that we did it. And for all of us intechnology, who knows how fast it moves. Porsche is a global companyand they were very impressed with the innovation. And I think theywere excited to kind of pull it back to HQ and see what they could doglobally with it. And also our clients left for jobs at othercompanies simultaneously. [laughs] So– Alan: That’s the challenge intechnology, you’re working on a project with somebody, you’re all init, and then they leave. [laughs] John: I mean, I think that’s oneof the neat things about emerging tech is, is it really can helpvault peoples careers into the next dimension, in the sense thatthese technologies are so profound and they will affect the work thatwe do and the way we live our lives for so long in the future, thatpeople that have this experience, it’s really great for themindividually. Alan: You’ve been doing this awhile longer than myself, but I’ve been in early VR since 2014. AndI’ve noticed that a lot of the people that were just building demosand stuff like that, now are running huge companies. HP andMicrosoft, they’re running huge departments in this, just becausethey were early and learned how to do it. And they learned in a timewhen there was no YouTube video on how to make AR, you had to justkind of guess. John: Yeah. I mean, my careerresembles that, in the sense that I got started doing interactivemarketing on diskettes before CD-ROM. Our friend Cathy Hackl says,“Don’t talk about that, it makes you sound old!” but Ithink the experience is worthy, because you see things change toCD-ROM. You watch them change again to narrowband Internet. You seethem change a third time with broadband. You watch it change againcompletely with mobile, and then of course with social. And now on tothis. The people that do have the experience, I think have more of along view, a different perspective, where they don’t see AR, VR, orXR. They don’t see it as an adversary or a competitor to things like5G or IOT or artificial intelligence, machine learning, what haveyou. They really see AR and VR as the screen, because if you look atthese other technologies, they’re all ingredients. None of them is aninterface, with the slight exception of perhaps AI and voice. Ifyou’re able to understand AR and VR, how it’s used, it can reallypropel your company and your own career. Alan: So is it safe to say thatXR is the window to emerging technology? John: I think so, although Ithink it’s fun that we’ve been looking at glowing rectangles sincethe first movie back in the 1800s, and now computing is kind ofbroken through that window, right? No offence to Microsoft, but we’renot living in Windows anymore. This technology is aerosolized now andit can show up anywhere, in any way. And that’s one of the reallyexciting things about augmented reality. Alan: So a lot of people arecalling it “spatial computing.” You want to maybe give ityour– explain to people listening, what does that mean when we breakfree from this? You talked about Porsche taking the Hololens andsaying “This is really awesome, but it’s a little bit too outthere, too advanced for us.” And taking it back to an iPad,which is great, because everybody has it and has massive scale. Bythe end of this year, there will be over 2 billion AR enabledsmartphones and devices in the world. So now you’ve got scale. Whatdoes it mean for spatial computing and 3D everything? John: For so long, we have dealtwith scarcity when it comes to technology. In the 40s, 50s, upthrough the 70s, you had to go to a university campus or somethinglike that to have access to computing. Malcolm Gladwell says thatpart of the reason that Bill Gates was so successful — he and PaulAllen — is because they had summertime access to computers at alocal university. Alan: And their parentsfundraised and put a computer in their school. John: Yeah, absolutely. I mean,part of the reason I got into it is we had a computer club in myelementary school. And so that was a concentration of computers andpeople that liked computers. It’s more rare today, because we don’treally have a scarcity problem anymore. We tell people don’t text anddrive and we put giant iPads in the Teslas. We, say, got computers onour refrigerators and we can have Alexa powered microwaves, andcomputers aren’t scarce anymore. And so the idea of having to sitdown at a desk in a home office and log onto the Internet, I mean,there was a a joke about that in the latest Avengers movie. Or no, itwas Captain Marvel, I guess. In any case, when we live withtechnology and we’re in a post-scarcity world, what does that mean?That means I don’t have to go looking for a screen. I don’t go haveto go looking for a device. And much in the way that the phone hasbeen in our pocket, having migrated from the desk to our backpack orbriefcase and into our pocket and now on our wrist, this slow motionmerger of computers and our brains. The next step is for our eyes.And for a while we’re going to hold a phone or an iPad out in frontof our face. And then when our shoulders get tired, eventually Appleand others will sell us this integrated with a pair of glasses thatdon’t look too nerdy. As Matt Miesnieks — I don’t know how to sayhis last name — but he made the good point that for now, people willget paid at work to look dorky in these devices. Eventually everybodywill wear them, because they’ll become fashionable. So I think from abusiness perspective, so much of what we do is repeated process. Fora trainee or for someone who’s working a long shift, or if they’reworking in a critical application like medicine, having thatattachment and that immersion in process can be really helpful, toknow that “Okay, well, if I’m doing an organ transplant, how faraway is that organ?” or if I’m waiting on the curb to catch anUber for my next meeting, “How far away is that? Am I going tobe late?” Or if I’m in the guts of a warehouse or manufacturingfacility, and I need to know what machine to go to next, “What’sthe machine, and which direction do I need to head?” So this issomething that we’re all doing right now, and it feels prettyseamless to pull the phone out of our pocket or look down at atablet. But we’ll probably look back in just a few years and andlaugh at how quaint that seems, because now we’ll be getting it rightin our field of view. Alan: It’s crazy. My friendshowed up at my house with a BlackBerry and I was like, “What isthat?” [laughs] We’re gonna be looking back. And my guess is tenyears, maybe 20. And we’ll say, “Do you remember the time whenwe used to hold these little square boxes, and carry them around inour pockets all the time?” John: Well, yeah. And I thinkpeople naturally react with a healthy amount of skepticism for this,because a lot of people have just now gotten adjusted to smartphones.But it’s funny you bring up BlackBerry. I had a BlackBerry 10 yearsago. It was a smartphone, had a screen and a bunch of keys on it. Butyeah, it feels so antiquated now. All the technologies that we wouldneed for these glasses exist today. It’s not able to be made cheaplyenough. Or perhaps the battery life wouldn’t be able to be as long.But if you wanted to have a next-gen experience for a few minutes,that experience can be had. So it’s really a question now is do youwant to subsidize as an OEM these devices to make it more affordableand to spur adoption? Or do you want to kind of squeeze a little bitmore cash out of the current category, the way that smartphonemanufacturers are? I think we’re on the cusp of a change there. Alan: I think you’re seeing itwith product like Hololens 2, where they could have brought the pricedown, for sure. I mean, it doesn’t cost them $3,000 to make thisthing. And maybe they said, “No, we’re gonna keep this at anenterprise price of $3,500.” And I think it’s the right thing todo, because people think “Oh, it’s too expensive.” Well,this isn’t for everyday use. This isn’t for somebody playing videogames. This is for industrial applications where you can either haveremote assistance, see-what-I-see training on the job, instructionmanuals, that type of thing, which are driving real business values.Jonathan Moss from Sprint was talking about how they used just tabletbased AR for training. And they’ve been keeping some different KPImetrics, and they’ve made millions of dollars in sales and they’vesaved millions and dollars in travel, simply by using this AReducation. They’ve been tracking it. And I said, “Well, how muchdid it cost?” And he said, “Oh, between a 100 and 200thousand.” It’s astronomical numbers in savings and profit here.So I want to dig into a little bit more of the industries andcompanies that You Are Here Labs is serving and what you guys aredoing. You want to maybe talk about the different industries andcompanies that you’ve been serving lately, and what you guys areworking on? John: Sure. And if I can try totie into your last comment, we really have that same practical worldview. You and I were joking before we started recording this podcast,that we had better not get into all of the technical gobbledygookthat so many people are very precious about with these devices. Thedevices are coming out constantly. Some of them are even beingsubsidized to spur increased adoption, and they’ll continue to comeout for some time. I mean, people are getting new TV’s all the timenow, whereas previously they held onto TV’s for a decade. So we takethe long view. We focus on the practical side. We see if thistechnology is going to be around for more than twenty five years,what do you do? Because buying a consumption device isn’t going toget it done. Buying a guitar doesn’t make you a good guitar player,you’ve got to practice and prepare. So we work across industriesreally quite a few, including automotive, commercial real estate,construction, consumer packaged goods, energy and oil, food andbeverage, heating and cooling, manufacturing tools, transit, a wholebunch of different industries. But we’re really try to pull onethread through — and I think your audience will like this — whichis that we focus on delivering results quickly and over time. Andwhat I mean by that is that we help companies understand what thesetechnologies are. We help them explore how they fit into theirbusiness, including the critical applications that their workers gothrough. And then we help them figure out how to integrate and scalethose solutions over time in responsible ways. Because all of us,you, me, and everybody else that’s been on this podcast and more,we’re all stewards of this fledgling medium. And we want to see itsucceed, not just for us as individuals, but as a whole. And sohopefully that answers your question. Alan: Absolutely. And you kindof touched on something that really resonates with me, especiallywith this podcast. I do this podcast just out of a labor of love totry to promote it and give people that are listening the idea of, Ican invest in this and it will give me a return, because I thinkthere’s been so much hype around VR and AR for gaming and for this.And oh, we’re in the trough of disillusionment. We’re not in thetrough of disillusionment. If you, three years ago, put a milliondollars into a company expecting they were gonna be a billion dollarcompany by now, yeah, you’re disillusioned. However, if you thoughtwe’re going to invest a million dollars and start to solve realproblems within industry, you’re doing all right right now. John: Yeah. Alan: And you have clearlyfigured that out. And we did the same thing. We took this view of,what are the results we can deliver now versus in the future. CasparThykier from Zappar got a really great point. He’s like, “Yes,we can talk about WebAR, we can talk about when glasses come, we cantalk about all these future things. But why don’t we just make thingsthat are existing and capable right now?” The technology thatexists right now in AR and VR is so spectacularly amazing, that weshould be focusing on it now, not a year down the road or five yearsdown the road. John: Yeah, absolutely. I mean,if you’re in an industry where you have physical objects, widgets,car tires, surgical equipment, tractors, anything really at all —anything that’s not kind of abstract or ephemeral — then you need tobe investing right now on the tools and the skills to translate thatinto digital. The web was kind of quaint until digital cameras andflatbed scanners got inexpensive, and then suddenly you could have aneBay, because you could show grandma’s old jewelry that you wanted tosell. Although that’s kind of sad that you’d sell grandma’s jewelry,but you could. [laughs] And we’re in a similar space right now withXR, in that the tools for creating a digital version of physicalobjects have never been cheaper. They’ve never been easier to use.And a lot of businesses spend tens, hundreds of millions of dollarsschlepping around big, heavy, dangerous stuff to trade shows, tocustomer events, to do demos. And it doesn’t have to be that wayanymore. There is a web conference style transformation going on,where you can configure and sell a car without the car. Alan: Yep. John: You can imagine how dentalequipment would go into a dental hygienist office, without bringingany of the equipment. You can decide how much concrete you need for agiant office complex, without any surveyors. So there are so many usecases now in business where people can start saving or making moneywith AR and VR. I would love to see more people embrace that. Alan: The great thing is there’slots of– when we started a few years ago, there was nobody thatcould do this stuff. Literally nobody. John: Right. Alan: Colleges are starting toroll out programs, and there’s a lot more information online. Sopeople are learning it. And even companies. What we’re doing now,we’re finding companies want to bring a lot of the stuff in-house.And so what we’re doing is consulting on how can they build the teamwithout building a huge team, or whether you need a 3D model or maybeyou need a Unity expert. What are some of the people on your teamthat built out your round team, that you guys use on a project likethe Porsche one? John: Yeah, I mean, I think thework — like you said — has gotten– for those of us who have beenin the industry for a little while, it’s certainly gotten morestrategic. We’ve moved from an era of “Can we do that?” tomore of an opportunity to ask, “Should we do that?” And sowe definitely have a lot of people that speak XR strategy here in ourteam, that can consult with various companies in their embrace ofspatial computing or XR or whatever you want to call it, to help themfind the best opportunities to do first. And the ones to save forlater. And so that’s an important part of what we offer. Similarly,we have some very bright software developers, people that come fromthe game development industry that understand the different engines— Unity and Unreal being the two most popular — and try to workthat across different devices. We do projects on the Go. We do themon the Hololens. We do them on the Vive and Rift. We do projects oniOS and Android. We do projects on the Magic Leap. We really– wedon’t specify devices to people. So you need a versatile team ofdevelopers for that. We have technical art directors that — forthose maybe who don’t understand game engines as much — there’s areal skill into doing special effects — whether that be lighting ortexturing or particles — to make augmented reality graphics fit intothe real world better. You’d be surprised how hard it is. And thenfinally, we really rely on a group of engineers to do 3D scanning,volumetric and photogrammetry capture, project management and QA. Soit’s a lot of the same roles from other types of softwaredevelopment, but with some specialties as well. Alan: I get this question allthe time. Who do I need on my team for this? And my first reaction is“just hire us and we’ll deal with it for you.” John: [laughs] Alan: The second thing is youneed a big team. You need somebody who understands Unreal or Unity.You need a 3D modeller, you need somebody that understands thetextures. You mentioned making things look real in the real world.And you’ve entered into the spatial computing era where we’re notcreating something on your phone. We’re creating something on yourphone that has to look real in the real world, despite the differentleading changes and that sort of thing. So if you have your carsitting in a parking lot next to another car in the shadows, pointingone direction for real and the other direction, because that’s howyou built it. That’s really weird. John: You’re talking about alevel of polish that’s possible that really makes apps shine. Ifyou’re using this for business and you’re trying to sell a bulldozeror you’re trying to teach someone how to repair a bulldozer, if youcan make it look real, your trainee or your customer, your prospectcan forget that they’re looking at a simulation and focus on whatyou’re really trying to tell them. We put great care into making surethat things look as real as possible, so that you keep thatsuspension of disbelief, like they talk about in the movies.Eventually, this stuff will be so easy, it’ll just happen magically.You don’t have to worry about lighting or animation. But for now,there’s a bit of skill and that’s where it can help to partner, asopposed to having somebody on your team. Alan: I really love what youjust said. People, because it’s so real, they can forget that it’s asimulation and focus on the key messaging. And that’s so vital for anumber of things, sales and marketing, but also training andupskilling. You’ve done a number of things here. What are some of thereal life data metrics, analytics, specific KPIs? What have you guysseen as those things? How are people measuring their success? John: Yeah, I would put that–I’ll actually answer that in two parts. There’s what our customerscare about. And then there’s what we’re looking at. I think, for thecustomers, they measure success in a variety of ways. For people thatare still struggling a little bit with their digital transformation,maybe they finally got their mobile app out recently, or they’reproud of their website, which is great. Everybody needs to get there.Success for them can be as humble as just executing a proof ofconcept, or pulling together innovation budget from other parts ofthe company. It may be getting some employee or market validation. Iwould say for the intermediate clients, that they’re maybe comparingXR solutions to other methods, comparing traffic or lead generationand retention. That’s what they’re worried about. And then ouradvanced clients are really beginning to unearth deeper insights,based on usage data from these experiences. And that kind of moreclosely mirrors what we look at, which is we’re looking at numbers ofusers, length and depth of engagement, repeat use. Are they sharingthis experience if they can? Does that converge to lead capture orcommerce for enterprise training? The names are different, but it’spretty similar that they’re looking for higher enrolment, time ontask, quality, how well they’re scoring, and what do they retain. Sowe use, behind the scenes, everything from head position, eyetracking, looking at the difference between where they’re holding aVR controller to where they may end up, as a measure of kind ofintuition. It’s not as tight and concise as it is in other media yet,but it’s moving there fast. And I think as different companiesembrace these technologies, they’re getting more sophisticated waysto measure success. Does that answer your question? Alan: Yes. I have literallynothing else to add. John: [laughs] We’ve hung outtoo much, right? Alan: We really have. I want totalk about specifics. Give us an example of a case study that youwant to share. John: Apologies in advance, I’mgoing to have to kind of thread the needle here to not mentionspecifics, but I think there’s some lessons to be learned. We’re inphase two of a project or a major infrastructure organization, andthey deal with almost 10 million citizens per day in the execution oftheir service. And a lot of the equipment that they use to servethese people is antiquated. I mean, some of it is older than 50 yearsold. They’re in a real situation where they need to improve the waythey do things, but they also need to continually replenish the staffthat services this infrastructure, because some people are retiringand it gets expensive to keep them around. It’s nice work if you canget it, though. So in any case, we were brought in to create trainingmaterials using augmented reality and virtual reality, but there wasno digital objects to start from. And just like we said earlier, thatweb got pretty great when you had digital cameras and cheap flatbedscanners. There’s finally technology to use to digitize real objects.And so we got in, scanned a lot of these objects, digitized them,made them ready for mobile devices, delivered over 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi,what have you, and started assembling lessons, working with theirsubject matter experts. They have a training program right now thattakes a half a year. And we think we can get a really seriousreduction in that. And we’re starting to see really promising resultsin early trials. So for them, it was pulling them out of the 1900sand really preparing them for the next hundred years. Smart trainingcan be delivered on any device, in any location, and really across arange of different skills. So we employed a lot of versatility. Wehad to be very nimble on this project to react to different changes.And we learned a lot. I think they did, too. Alan: What are some of the earlymetrics? Because we’re seeing decreases in training times, dramaticdecreases. You mentioned six months training. My guess is you couldprobably get that training down to about 45 days using thistechnology. John: It’s really dramatic.There’s– I’m going to mangle this old adage, but it’s somethinglike, “I remember a little of what I see, less of what I hear,but I remember almost everything that I do.” And in that way,these people can gather around– currently gather around a big, heavypiece of equipment. It takes two hours to take it apart. Noteverybody can see what’s going on. And maybe they’ll get a chance toask a question and it better be a good one. But with this technology,everyone can be there all at the same time, moving at their own pace,asking questions, looking at things from any angle on their own. Andno one has to scratch up their knuckles or injure themselves. Nobodydrops a 400 pound piece of cast iron on their toe. We’re seeing a lotbetter retention. We’re seeing faster moves through the curriculum,with people being able to go through it more often. So I agree withyou. We should be getting hard numbers on that soon. And if I canshare them, I will. But at the moment, we’re already starting to seegiant gains from an industry that’s been doing things the same wayfor almost 100 years. Alan: I get excited about this,because I see that this type of technology as being the thing thatdemocratizes education across the world. We’ve got smartphones whichare doing a fantastic job providing the information quickly, butimmersive technologies have been able to do something, and also justsee it in three dimensions. You mentioned being able to see a machineor whatever and pulling it apart. When you’re in virtual reality andyou make a mistake, there’s no consequence that anybody else can see.You make a mistake and you can make as many mistakes as you want. Andhumans learn through error, we learn by making mistakes. Being ableto make mistakes in a completely private and consequence-freeenvironment, that reinforces learning at a different level. John: Yeah, and not only that —which I love your point — but in addition to that, the software canbe watching you and making suggestions. “We’ve noticed you’rehaving a little trouble with this. Would you like to go back andrepeat this part of the training?” There was a particular thingthat we did on this last project, where you were supposed to takeapart a complicated system of parts that all went together indifferent ways. Some were threaded, some were slipped into place,some were bolted down and watching people being — to your point —being able to try to figure this out. They were learning in a waythat a classroom lecture or a video would never get done. Education,whether that’s educating somebody about your product, or educatingemployees about working with central equipment, or educatingpractitioners about compliance and safety, it’s all communication.And one of the reasons that I’m so amazed and in awe of thistechnology is it’s really bringing together all of the progress thatI’ve seen over the course of 30 years working in the industry. It’sreally going to be profound for people. Alan: I know this is a questionthat I get from listeners all the time, and it’s a simple one, howmuch this stuff cost? What is our initial outlay? And maybe insteadof just saying this particular one costs, let’s talk about how tobudget, like how can a company from the first minute they meet withyou to rolling out some project like this, what are kind of the stepsand what does the process look like from your standpoint, that you’veseen work really well? John: There’s an XR or AR/VRsolution for every budget. And I’m not saying that as a dodge, or tobe slippery in any way. I think that… look, if your budget is$5,000, pay somebody that’s an expert in the industry to come talk toyou for a little while. Have them explain their perspectives on theindustry, have them maybe do a little bit of light brainstorming withyou for use cases that make sense for your industry or your company,your category. If you have $50,000, maybe think about doing a proofof concept, where you ingrain yourself with real requirements. You doeither a lightweight series of experiments on a particular idea, ormaybe you create a horse race, where you take three differentexperiments and you try to see which one is most successful and thenlearn from why. If you have $250,000, you’re probably further intoit, having already spent money at the lower levels. But that’s reallywhen you want to start thinking about doing an integration test ormaybe scaling up a team. And of course it goes on from there. Peoplecan– a buddy tells me, “We can make this as complicated as youwant, John.” [chuckles] But yeah, I think there’s ways forpeople to get involved. The most important thing is to understandthat we’re visual creatures and we live in a physical,three-dimensional world. Computers can finally live alongside withus, and that can bring just-in-time education, or marketing, for somany different things. And we don’t have to look at a computer andtry to figure out, “Well, where’s the button for this or that?”You know, there’s this is great scene in The Matrix from 20 years ago— which is kind of amazing because it still feels futuristic —where the main character, Neo, kind of laughably plugs something intohis head and he says “I know kung-fu,” but the idea ofjust-in-time education is already here. I mean, if you look at howmany lives an AED — an Automated Emergency Defibrillator — how manyheart attack victims have been saved with those devices, becausesomebody got just-in-time education? We can all walk around beingjust-in-time experts for any number of things. Administering firstaid, or teaching somebody how to work for a particular problem. Andwe’re going to be able to deliver that in a way that’s more seamlessand more compelling than ever before. And I think that’s– you needto think about your business in a way of like, what is a realbusiness problem or delivering just-in-time training or educationalong with 3D objects would be helpful? And there’s probably a wholelot of them. Alan: What is the most importantthing that businesses can do right now to leverage this power of XR? John: Companies need to do more— and I’ll get specific in a second — but if you’re not alreadyspending time or money or both on XR, you’re helping yourcompetitors. The largest companies in the world have decided thatthis is what comes after the smartphone. They’ve seen the smartphonesales start to plateau. People probably aren’t going to pay more thana thousand bucks for a smartphone. So what are they going to do next,to keep us all buying new devices? And if you look at IoT, AI, cloudcomputing, and big data crypto, if you look at a 5G — all thetechnologies out there — they’re mostly ingredients. We’re visualcreatures. We need a screen and the AR, and VR, XR, spatial computing— whatever you want to call it — this is how we’re going tointerface with the future of computers. So companies need to do more.Businesses need to recognize that this is really serious for theirmarketing and training, but also kind of their workplace tools,workforce development. It’s not a competitor to any of these othertechnologies. It is what brings them all together. So if it’s theevolution of computing and the successor to the smartphone, if youhaven’t started experimenting with this tech yet, you’re fallingbehind. So I think if you’re a beginner, you need to do more, attendto conference, hire one person, do a proof of concept with a localagency. If you’re intermediate, maybe strengthen your teams and yourpartnerships. Try to figure out, “well, OK, so we have a lot of3D. Let’s scan some something and see what we can do with it.”If you’re an advanced user, people need to do more integrations, needto polish their skills, build their teams because the future is goingto be 3D. It’s going to be contextual and it’s going to be spatiallyaware. So I think just simple answer would be to more than whatyou’re doing now, because this is rapidly approaching. And I seeacross industries, companies that are probably competitors of yourlisteners already investing lots to learn how to make the most ofthis tech. Alan: This technology; once youtry it, you unlock Pandora’s Box. You’re like, “oh, wait asecond, we just saved $100,000 not flying people around [the world].We could have a meeting and it was more productive because peoplecan’t be looking at their smartphones while they’re in VR. John: I think that’s the bestbusiness case for XR, honestly; shortening and improving logisticalchallenges for companies. When the web came out, people in themagazine and trade show industries were pretty fearful — and withgood reason. And you know, there’s still trade shows and there’sstill magazines, but people do a lot of business online. Similarly,the opportunity — and there’s some companies with products alreadyin the market for this — the opportunity to work across devices andacross distance and time to allow people to collaborate and not justhave a web conference where you’re looking at slides, but really, tomanipulate. “What if we put this thing over here? What if thiswas smaller? Can we make this out of carbon fiber?” We havethose experiences in our lab. Companies like Spatial or Glue. You cango take a look at the future for that right now. And I think it’sgoing to be profound. You won’t have to go to the office to work. Youwon’t have to travel to Hong Kong to have the meeting. You won’t haveto go to Palo Alto to have a design session. You’ll be able to justput on a headset or hold up a device and do it right there. It’shappening today and it just hasn’t been deployed at scale. Alan: We’ve only just unlockedit and being being able to present and bring knowledge around theworld without having to get on a plane to travel, because let’s behonest, travel’s fun business travel not so much. John: Yeah. I mean, I thinkyou’re already living in that future. There’s this great quote fromWilliam Gibson, a fantastic science fiction writer, and he says Thefuture is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet. Alan: It’s true. John: You’re already living inthat future. Right. Alan: And to be honest, let’s befair. There are still challenges. It’s still not the perfect solutionyet, but it’s very close. John: If you can think of howmany web conference tools there are out there, from Blue Jeans toHangouts to WebEx. Slack has theirs; Skype has theirs. There aregoing to be so many of the companies that can do this. Like I said,we have it running in our lab. It is going to be transformative forpeople when it comes time to renew your expensive office lease. Andyou’ve already got maybe 30-40 percent of your workers workingremotely. You begin to think of, “gosh, is it worth all thatmoney per square foot?”. Alan: Yeah. John: I’ve had conversationswith people in the banking industry that said, “you know, whatabout virtual branches? We spend a lot of money on branches. Could westart off in VR chat where you’re interacting with an A.I. and thenyou get escalated to a real person on the other end of the line?”Absolutely. The technology exists. It’s just spreading out. Alan: Absolutely John: So that’s exciting. Alan: So my final question, whatproblem in the world do you want to see solved using XR technologies? John: Well, I said earlier —and may have spent one of my good answers on The Matrix example —but having just-in-time education where average human beings like uscould be activated or mobilized to do super-heroic type things ondemand. I would love to see that, because humanity needs a lot ofhelp right now. But, you know, I have a couple daughters, and maybecloser to home for me is with all the money that’s spent moving ourcarbon bodies around from home to work to an airport to another placeto another office. I would really love to see spatial computing andXR helping with climate change. I think that logistically we’resmarter than… we’re still operating with 19th century technology toget around in a lot of ways, and we can do better. And I think thatXR offers a chance for all of us to be more efficient and morepowerful on what we do.


13 Jan 2020

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