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The VRguy's podcast

Enjoying over a decade of experience in building virtual reality products, VRguy brings his unique perspective and interesting guests to talk about what's next for virtual reality. Yuval (“VRguy”) is the CEO of Sensics (www.sensics.com), a leader in professional-grade VR solutions as well as open-source VR. He joined Sensics in 2006 to help take VR from the lab to the market. Nearly a decade later, he works with consumer electronics, industrial and academic leaders to help them shape the art of the possible in VR. He is a key architect of OSVR, the open-source virtual reality initiative, and a frequent presenter at conferences. Before Sensics, Yuval was CEO of Oblicore, an enterprise software company (now part of Computer Associates), CEO of Unwired Express, a provider of context-sensitive wireless data platform, General Manager and Vice President at RADCOM [NASDAQ: RDCM], and co-founder of Talia Technology, a medical diagnostic company. Prior to his commercial work, he had a distinguished 8-year military career. Yuval received a Master’s of Physics degree at Tel-Aviv University and an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

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VRguy podcast Episode 29: Dr. Daniel Laby discusses Sports and Performance Vision

My guest today is Dr. Daniel Laby, of Sports Vision. Dr Laby began his work in sports vision more than two decades ago with the MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers. He has also been responsible for the visual performance of the New York Mets and St Louis Cardinals, and currently works with the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs. Dr. Laby spent three seasons working with the NBA’s Boston Celtics as well as the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He also worked with the US Olympic team prior to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and attended the games with the team. Dr Laby has been fortunate to have contributed to an MLB American League Championship team as well as 4 World Series Championship teams. The interview transcript appears below the media player. This episode was recorded on Nov, 9th, 2017. David and I discuss the “sports vision pyramid”, the pathway from photons to sports decision making and how to improve it. We also discuss how these techniques may be applicable to driving and even to music.         Yuval Boger (VRGuy):    Hello Daniel, and thanks for joining me today. Daniel Laby:       Thanks, Yuval. My pleasure. VRGuy: So, who are you? And what do you do? Daniel: I’m an ophthalmologist who, for the past 25 years has worked a fair amount in professional sports and athletics, elite level athletics, both the pro level and Olympic level. Trying to understand what the vision, what the visual performance, cognitive visual abilities, the hand eye coordination and reaction time. All sorts of metrics, all based on, at the root, on how visual function impacts performance. VRGuy: Any particular teams that I might know? Daniel: Probably. If you’ve watched the World Series over the last several years, three of the past five World Series winners are teams that we’ve worked with. Including the most recent, Houston Astros, a couple weeks ago. VRGuy: Congratulations. Daniel: Thanks. VRGuy: Is that for pitchers? For hitters? For managers? Who do you work with most? Daniel: Some might ask for the umpires, but they’ve been a hard nut to crack. No, it’s mostly with the batters because, as some people have talked about, hitting a baseball is one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports. And certainly in order to hit the baseball, you have to see it properly. Quite a bit of work has been done by our group and several other groups across the country, and even around the globe, in trying to understand what the vision requirements are for a batter to hit a thrown baseball. And you’d be surprised, it’s certainly not very easy. VRGuy: As I think about hitting a baseball, you got to see it well, right? You have to have the correct refraction. But there must also be some brain function, right? Or brain training. Where do you focus your effort? Daniel: When I lecture to my students, I show some slides. I’m interested in the entire pathway of the point of the photon of light leaves the baseball, in the pitchers hand, just before he releases it, 60 feet away from the batter, until it goes all through the ocular system, the brains part of the visual system, into the parts of the brain that have to then integrate visual information into the vision making, and ultimately into a go/no go muscular action. Until that point, where we can’t distinguish an action related to that photon.


20 Nov 2017

Rank #1

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VRguy podcast Episode 28: Thomas Wagner on VR Roller-Coasters

My guest today Thomas Wagner, CEO of VR Coaster. VR Coaster’s technology helps park operators convert traditional roller coasters into VR Coasters. The interview transcript appears below the media player. This episode was recorded on Nov, 10th, 2017. Thomas and I discuss lessons learned from dozens of VR rides installed around the world.       Yuval Boger (VRGuy):    Hello Thomas and welcome to the podcast. Thomas Wagner:             Hello. VRGuy: So, who are you and what do you do? Thomas:               Well, I am the CEO and one of the co-founders of VR Coaster, which is a company focusing on equipping roller coasters and other kinds of rides like drop towers and carousels with virtual reality experiences. And that is basically what I do and my background is actually game design. I come from a mobile game development background. But that is, of course, very helpful when dealing with virtual reality, with VR. And also, personally, I’m a little bit of a roller coast enthusiast so it’s also a very fun work that I do. VRGuy: And you were a professor, right? Or maybe you are still a professor? Thomas:               Yes, yes I am. Actually I’m teaching game design and interaction at the University of Applied Sciences here in Kaiserslautern in Germany. And that is actually where the entire project was born. Actually, it was an experiment to test what you can do in regards to VR motion sickness. So when the Oculus Rift came out and the entire VR hype was starting, I was wondering, “Okay, what can I do, what exciting project, what interesting project could I do with my students?” And everybody liked the roller coaster simulations. Everybody was sitting at home, riding a coaster in virtual reality and everybody was amazed how immersive that was.                 But at the same time everybody was getting dizzy and nausea and got sea sick. And that was obviously because when you see the convincing 3D movement in VR, but your inner sense of balance does not feel the motion because you’re sitting still on a chair, then you get sea sick and that is a problem that the entire VR industry is dealing with. And I was approaching the roller coaster manufacturer Mack Rides and asked them, “Hey, would it be possible to do a test on a coaster, a real roller coaster?” To see if we synchronized the VR ride precisely to that real ride that is happening, to see if that is the solution to this problem, if that is comfortable. And it turned out that it’s not only comfortable, that it’s a totally amazing experience and that is how the entire company VR Coaster was founded back then. We are now developing together with, you guys, an entirely new headset to make this experience even better VRGuy: How is it synchronized? I mean, isn’t it enough to just say, “Oh it’s a two-minute roller coaster ride so after 57 seconds I know exactly where the coaster will be?” Thomas:               Actually, no it’s kind of very difficult and very important at the same time to have a very, very precise synchronization. And that is, for instance, starting with the orientation of the headset. So you start out in one direction with the roller coaster train. But if you don’t go through virtual reality curve at the same time as the real coaster cars going through that curve then you end up going sideways, looking sideways, through the VR world or you end up if the synchronization is too much off then...


11 Nov 2017

Rank #2

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VRguy podcast Episode 27: David Oh from Meta discusses augmented reality

My guest today is David Oh, head of developer relations at Meta. Interview transcript appears below the media player. This episode was recorded on Sep 1st, 2017. David and I discuss the use cases for augmented reality in the office, input with augmented reality and much more.           Yuval Boger (VRguy):    Hello David and welcome to the Podcast. David Oh:         Hey Yuval, how’s it going? VRguy: It’s going great. Thanks for joining me. So who are you and what do you do? David:  Yeah, so my name is David Gene Oh. I currently lead developer relations at Meta. I have a background in creating video games for companies you may of heard of like Ubisoft. I also worked at a company called Leap Motion, focusing on hand tracking. That’s actually how we met, Yuval. Of course, you know Leap Motion supporting also OSVR, virtual reality HMD. That’s actually how we got to know each other, which is really cool. And I love paddle boarding, how’s that? VRguy: That’s great. So I think we’ll leave the paddle boarding to another podcast. Tell me a little bit about Meta. I’ve seen the headset, I’ve tried the headset. Where do you see it catching on? What use cases or types of applications that are most suitable to Meta, to Hololens or and Epson or a Vuzix or some of the other different augmented reality headsets. David:  Yeah, so basically what Meta, what we’re focusing on is purely around the office place. And in particular, office place and how you’re interacting with 3D models. Whether you’re building 3D models, communicating with 3D models, presenting 3D models, building 3D models. You can imagine all the different businesses 3D models today actually touch upon. Everything from architecture, engineering, construction, automobile, aerospace design, as well as simulation, data visualization. All those things require some type of 3D modeling that people can share or view or create. But right now, we are currently looking at them on 2D monitors. Of course, being able to see 3D objects in 3D, there’s a lot more information with that. There’s layers of more information. That’s what we’re really concentrating today. Is ensuring that the office that interacts with 3D models will have a tool that can best present them. VRguy: So how is that different than some of the Hololens videos that are floating around, where people do exactly the same thing? They walk around the building or car and collaborate on that. David:  Yeah, so great question. Basically, the difference between us and the Hololens, an AR product by Microsoft, is that we really wanted to focus on our use case around 3D models concentrating on field of view and resolution. That came from Meron, our founder and CEO. He actually did a lot of due diligence when he first started a company, to really ask the right questions to a lot of our first initial customers. You can imagine when the Meta 1 came out, it was a Kickstarter project very early on. But even early on, all the other industries, really the Fortune 50 companies, all focused on some type of R&D around augmented reality.  Those were the early customers, early on even for the Meta one Kickstarter project.             By listening to those customers, what they had really wanted was understanding around 3D models and how to visualize them. What’s the difference between ours or whatever product currently on the market or currently future...


20 Sep 2017

Rank #3

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VRguy podcast Episode 26: Kevin Williams discussing updates in out-of-home VR

My guest today is Kevin Williams of KWP Consulting. Interview transcript appears below the media player. This episode was recorded on Sep 5th, 2017. Kevin and I have spoken 18 months ago on the out-of-home VR industry and this is an opportunity to cover a lot of the new trends that have developed since.         Yuval Boger (VRguy):     Hello Kevin and welcome to my podcast. Kevin Williams:  Oh, thank you very much for having me. VRguy:  So who are you and what do you do? Kevin:   Oh my name is Kevin Williams. I’m the founding director of KWP and Consultancy in the out of home entertainment sector. I also run and publish the Stinger Reports newsletter. And I’m also the founding chair of the DNA Association, which covers out of home entertainment leisure and that is also the main funder of FOIL, The Future of Immersive Leisure Conference, which takes place in September. VRguy:  Excellent and you and I have spoken on the podcast about a year and a half ago and so first, congratulations on being the first repeat guest. Kevin:   (laughter) Thank you. VRguy:  Sounds like one or two things have changed over these 18 months in the out of home entertainment. Would you agree? Kevin:   I would have to agree but you know, everybody that knows from my writing and from my presentations, I’m a fanatic about out of home entertainment, so all I can see is fantastic opportunities. VRguy:  Excellent, so what has changed over the past year and a half? Kevin:   Well I think the fundamentals are that the industry, let’s look at it as a three way industry. We have the virtual reality sector, the creation of virtual worlds using head mounted displays. We have the augmented reality sector. You’re using objection systems and overlay systems to superimpose synthetics into the real world. And then we have the mixed reality sector, which are the people who use projections for 3D projection mapping or the guys that are using enclosed environments for immersive entertainment. Those sectors have been bubbling along.                The aspirations that consume a sector was going to be the big thing, you know, remember the comments, 2016 was going to be the year of VR? Sadly, the reality set in and it looks like the price points, the availability of software, the complexity of the hardware has meant maybe VR for the consumer side is not as imminent as some thought. Where for us for the out of home entertainment sector, we’ve been opening bottles of champagne because that’s really fallen into our sector and people still are interested to try VR, but what they’re doing now, it looks like they’re going to out of home entertainment facilities to get their VR enjoyment, rather than purchasing it for home. VRguy:  How many sites are out there these days? Kevin:   Oh, you’d have to hire a really good consultant to tell you that. (laughter) In reality, in China, we think that there’s about eight to nine thousand different VR parks or VR arcades. The rest of Asia again, in the high thousands. We’re seeing a lot of them popping up in their arcades, in their cyber entertainment cafes. That’s where they’re stand alone. In the West, in Europe, about a thousand to two thousand. This includes theme parks that have included virtual reality roller coasters, as well as specialist facilities and pop ups and the same for America, you know. I think it’s fair to say from the calculatio...


6 Sep 2017

Rank #4

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VRguy podcast Episode 25: Jason Jerald, Principal Consultant at NextGen Interactions

My guest today is Jason Jerald, Co-Founder and Principal Consultant at NextGen Interactions and author of The VR Book. This episode was recorded on Aug 18th, 2017. Jason and I talk about fine motor movements and pens in VR, motion sickness techniques and other aspects of human-computer interaction in VR.         Yuval Boger (VRGuy):        Hello, Jason, and welcome to the program. Jason Jerald: Thanks for having me. VRguy:           So who are you and what do you do? Jason: My name is Jason Jerald, and I do, like many people I suspect listening to this podcast, is virtual reality. A little bit of augmented reality, but primarily virtual reality is our focus. I’m co-founder and principal consultant at NextGen Interactions. It’s kind of funny, 10 years ago I’d tell people I do virtual reality and they’d say, “Wow, what is that?” And in some cases they’d laugh at me. And of course, everything’s changed in the last few years. It seems that I’m certainly not the only person working exclusively on virtual reality. Everyone sort of gets it, and is excited about it, and the challenge is really making those VR experiences effective instead of something we just talk about. VRguy:           And you’ve summarized a lot of your work in a book that was published recently, right? Jason: Yeah, so I have a book, it’s called ‘The VR Book: Human-Centered Design for Virtual Reality’, so it takes a little different angle or perspective on virtual reality than a lot of other great books out there. This one is not so technically focused. It’s more upon the higher level design concepts, designed thinking of how you integrate different things together and it’s very interdisciplinary. There’s sort of the common answer, which a lot of people don’t like, but really is the truth, is the answer is usually “it depends”. We have different constraints, we have different end users, we have different goals, we’re using different hardware, and so there’s very few universal truths when it comes to virtual reality design. VRguy:           If you go back three or four years, I guess in VR terms, it’s when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, people were worried about motion sickness, and, “Oh, is it going to get me sick?” And so on and so on. Do you think that issue is primarily solved today? I mean, if you write an application and sort of follow the guidelines that major manufacturers offer, do you think that’s addressed or is that still an open question? Jason: It’s definitely still an open question. In some cases, depending what you’re doing and what your goals are, we can certainly solve that. If you’re in a seated position and you don’t need to move virtually through the world, then you’re largely not going to have motion sickness, although there’s other challenges such as eye strain and such. Or if you’re using a wider area of tracking, you can physically walk around. However, once you want to actually move through a larger world, that can become more challenging, and there’s some great options like teleportation, which can pretty much prevent motion sickness. But again, there’s trade-offs to that. So when you teleport, for example, your users can get a little bit confused of where they moved to, or what their new orientation is, so there’s a lot of trade-offs there. There are no perfect answers,


28 Aug 2017

Rank #5

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VRguy podcast Episode 24: Nick Whiting, Technical Director of VR/AR at Epic Games

My guest today is Nick Whiting, Technical Director of VR and AR at Epic Games. This episode was recorded on Aug 16th, 2017. Nick and I talk about Robo Recall, the unique challenges of VR and AR for game engines, what Epic learned from enterprise customers and much more.       Yuval Boger (VRguy):     Hello Nick, and welcome to the program. Nick Whiting:    Thanks for having me. VRguy:  Who are you and what do you do? Nick:      My name is Nick Whiting, and I’m the technical director of AR, VR, and XR at Epic Games. I’m in charge of all the acronyms in the group. Yeah. VRguy:  You’ve been doing this for how long? Nick:      I’ve been active in VR for about four and a half years now. I basically got involved in it when Oculus was getting their Kickstarter ramped up. They said they had a cool little piece of hardware, and they needed some pretty visuals to show on us. After hours, I started hooking up our engine, Unreal Engine 4, to support Oculus and the rest is history as they say. VRguy:  Now that you’re four and a half years into it, what’s unique about running VR in a game engine? Nick:      I think now that we’re four and a half years into it, we’ve come to the point of maturity where we can stop trying to aggressively catch up to the hardware as our primary task day to day. Now that the SDKs from the major manufacturers have matured and they’ve released commercial products, and other more specialty manufacturers like Sensics have got a much more firm understanding of what the area means. We’re in the exciting portion where we get to experiment with what’s possible and what’s potential of the VR as a medium. I’m pretty excited that now that we’ve done all the heavy lifting to get the car built, we can actually take it for a test drive and start experimenting. VRguy:  What are the open issues for you in terms of VR and the game engine? Nick:      Right now, I think that the biggest thing is everybody can always use more performance. Since performance unlike traditional games, with VR, you have the potential to make people sick if your product isn’t performing and it’s very, very hard. As a game industry, we’re just getting used to doing standard 1080p high def game engines at 30 and the 60 frames per second. Now all of a sudden, you have to render at even high resolutions, at even higher frame rates. It’s a hard problem. Even internally with Epic’s own games like Robo Recall, we have a team of experts that are constantly looking at performance. That’s their number one problem at the moment. We keep trying to innovate and come up with new ways to make it easier to actually hit the performance requirements of VR. VRguy:  How much does that comes from the game engine companies versus the hardware vendors? Valve or Oculus or others, in terms of performance optimizations? Nick:      It’s actually nice in VR, I’ve noticed, compared to other traditional bits of the gaming industry. Everybody’s very interested in the medium itself succeeding. Everybody’s been very open. Both Valve and Oculus and so many have all been very forthcoming with what they think are the best ways to get optimizations. They’ll do prototyping in our engine and give us the code and share it freely with anybody, so that something developed at one company can be shared to all the different companies,


21 Aug 2017

Rank #6

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VRguy podcast Episode 23: Neil Trevett, President of the Khronos Group

My guest today is Neil Trevett, Vice President at NVidia and President of the Khronos Group. This episode was recorded on June 22nd, 2017. Neil and I talk about VR/AR standards, overlapping standards organizations and what’s the best way for companies to get involved.   Yuval Boger (VRguy):     Hello Neil, and welcome to the program. Neil Trevett:      Hey Yuval, good to speak to you. VRguy:  Thanks for joining. So, who are you and, what do you do? Neil:      So, my day job is NVidia. At NVidia, I work to help developers get access to high performance hardware and GPUs. But by night, I’m also elected President of the Khronos Group. And we do open standards for cool stuff like, graphics and parallel computation, and vision purchasing and now, virtual reality. VRguy:  Good. So, there seems to be a lot of interest in virtual reality standards. Why do you think that came up? Why do people want standards and, what kind of standards are they looking for? Neil:      Yeah, I think you’re right. I think there’s a lot of buzz, perhaps even hype in the industry around both virtual reality and augmented reality. I think we’re in the early stages. I think virtual reality is becoming commercially interesting because, there’s … The systems you can buy, they’re not perfect yet, they’re still evolving very quickly. But you can certainly do some really interesting and useful stuff today. And so, people are very interested … The developer community particularly is very interested to figure out how to bring new immersive experiences onto the current generation of VR hardware. And to … it’s kind of the early days of the Gold Rush, right? You want to stake your claim early and ride the wave as The VR market expands and kind of learns how to deliver more and more compelling experiences. And, if you look at the VR industry today, note there’s a lot of fragmentation. A developer who wants to ship across the maximum number of VR systems, has to spend quite a little time, just kind of doing busy work. Porting to all of the different runtimes. Like, the Oculus runtime or, the Daydream runtime, OSVR, SteamVR. All those runtimes currently, because the things are evolving in the early days. They’ve all chosen very, no, perfectly workable but different ways of accessing the devices in the VR functionality in those runtimes. And, those differences are not really creating any value, they’re all pretty much doing the same thing. They’re just creating friction in the industry because, developers have to spend time porting from one to the other, to the other, to the other. Very often, that doesn’t happen. Developers end up having the time and the resources to support just one or, one or two of the runtimes, which hurts everybody. It hurts the developer, because they top ship everywhere, and it hurts the different runtimes because, they lose out on getting good content running on their platform. VRguy:  And I would say that it also hurts to other constituents. One is the hardware vendors that are trying to get support. They’re trying to get high quality content for their hardware, whether it’s an HMD, or a tracking system, or a haptics glove or, what have you. And then, the lack of standards in my opinion, impacts the end users, the consumers because, they are unsure whether hardware, and softer investments that they make today will work on next year’s stuff.


28 Jun 2017

Rank #7

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VRguy podcast Episode 22: Wanda Meloni, CEO and Principal Analyst at M2 Advisory

The post VRguy podcast Episode 22: Wanda Meloni, CEO and Principal Analyst at M2 Advisory appeared first on Sensics.


7 Feb 2017

Rank #8

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VRguy podcast Episode 21: Tero Sarkkinen, CEO of Basmark

The post VRguy podcast Episode 21: Tero Sarkkinen, CEO of Basmark appeared first on Sensics.


28 Nov 2016

Rank #9

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VRguy podcast Episode 20: Nonny de la Pena, Co-Founder of the Emblematic Group

The post VRguy podcast Episode 20: Nonny de la Pena, Co-Founder of the Emblematic Group appeared first on Sensics.


17 Aug 2016

Rank #10