The Future of entertainment
Ted Schilowitz

Season 1 / Episode 1
Welcome to the LikeXR podcast season one about the extended reality market from people who really understand the industry. This week we are joined by the futurist from Paramount Pictures Ted Schilowitz. As the Futurist at Paramount pictures, Ted works with studio leadership and the technology teams at Paramount / Viacom/CBS, exploring forms of new and emerging technologies, with an emphasis on Virtual and Mixed Reality. Prior to joining Paramount, Ted was the Futurist at 20th Century Fox, where he worked on the evolving art, science, and technology of advanced interactive visual storytelling.

Ted Schilowitz
Paramount pictures
Hi Ted. It's such a pleasure to have you join us at the LikeXR podcast. How are you?
— I'm good. Thanks for having me on calling me all the way from… Maybe not the frozen tundra yet, but you guys certainly have sweatshirts on in Russia. I guess it's a little colder than it is in Los Angeles right now.

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There is so much to talk about your work and the future of the entertainment industry. But first of all, I'm really sure many people want to know what tasks futurists face at Paramount?
— What's interesting in my role these days? Paramount covers all of Viacom CBS which are corporate entities. I'm the futurist for ‘em. Paramount is a part of MTV, Comedy Central, CBS Sports, CBS News, CBS primetime. It's a broader role than I've had previously with just Paramount. It’s kind of studying and exploring the future of our entertainment aspirations across the board. And that was just kind of a natural process from the heads of the studio connecting me to the heads of the larger Corporation saying - ‘I think what you're doing for the studio, you probably need to be looking and doing across everything that we do’. Since there's not a lot of people that do exactly what I do within our organization”.
There's nobody who does exactly what I do. My role is very interesting. It’s a sort of blend of exploration, experimentation, press and evangelizing, and sort of thinking about where things are going and creating the work product & the partnerships that will lead us in that direction with a pretty long timeline… A pretty long line.
Everything that I look at has at least a 10-year horizon. These days I'm studying the span from 2020 to 2030 within 2019 2020 2021. Now moving into the 2022 timeframe we had a very unique model not to make light of in any way, shape, or form because it's been very disastrous for so many people across the planet. We had a world-changing event that altered the technology landscape in a very robust way. It accelerated a lot of the things that people like us have been involved in on a day-to-day basis to which we find a term called the Metaverse through a friend Neil Stevenson who wrote a book years back called “Snow Crash” that coined the phrase. It’s taken on an order of magnitude and an order of awareness over the last year, let's call it two years now, because of the pandemic.
It’s more sort of an edge case and people that we're really focused on gaming and things like Second Life and Decentraland and upland. Things like that were sort of on the fringes have now really been brought to the mainstream where these very large corporate entities Facebook would probably be the most sort of aware right now have talked very overtly about how their company strategy is changing to approach what the Metaverse is - an extension of everything we do today with our computers, visual systems, and all these screens around us.
I've made an argument on a number of press discussions and podcasts with friends and things that this whole Metaverse thing is not a new thing in any way, shape or form. We're probably in maybe our fifth or sixth iteration of the Metaverse and the earliest ones. We've evolved quite significantly from those days, but largely similar constructs and ideas were things like Сompuserve and AOL, and ways that people got connected at a broad sort of consumer dynamic, which then led the way to things like Instagram, Facebook, Tick Tock and new devices & experiences that I spent a lot of time in that relate to XR.
Let’s start to talk about things beyond just a traditional two-dimensional screen that we would park on a wall, put on our desktop, in our lab or hold in our hands. So this is a big topic and it should not be underestimated what it's going to take to get us to the next phase of what the Metaverse is.
The good news is we've actually all been in it for quite some time. In fact, we're all in it right now. This is a version of the members that we're doing right now largely in a two-dimensional world.
But likely right after this conversation I know I'll be in a VR headset. Maybe you guys will be too. Look at this one Metaverse right now. That's kind of where we sit.

I do believe in that right now. The moment when Mark Zuckerberg said about the Metaverse, we are very close to some eruption. Do you believe in that? This technology waving right now is very close to eruption because we have been talking about that for years. But it seems that this technology wave can really be disrupted.
— I think eruption comes in waves. It is really hard to define a massive eruption moment. It has been churning up in all kinds of ways and demonstrating its power in all kinds of ways.
If we look and do a quick study on what Epic Games has done, and they are no flash in the pan at this, they have been working on this for many, many iterations. You guys may be too young to remember the Unreal Tournament. But you know, that was in the sort of past of what Epic Games was as a concept. But Unreal Tournament could be defined as a very important disruptive moment in the Metaverse.
And then eSports as a concept and driving. eSports is tying the Metaverse to physical activity and mental activity in a competitive way. And then what we do largely with our social infrastructure these days that's tied to a videogame and text-based and all these different things. Then you've got things like Discord and Reddit. All these approaches to how people interplay with each other.
And we touched on what was mentioned before Second Life, which was kind of an early stage of the Metaverse is still around. Still millions of people use it. It doesn't get talked about a lot these days because it's just in the ether of everything. But these were early, significant, disruptive moments. This is part of a 10-year span of where we're gonna sit to get to this 2030 timeframe is the next really significant disruptive dynamics are the devices we will use to access the Metaverse and that truly how interoperable it will be.
How interoperable our credentialing will be? To move from world to world as if we were in a sort of like a global theme park environment as if were just going from land to land we could bring our Avatar and credentials very easily with us. And it'll be very interesting to see what happens with all of the different competitive companies that have a business reason to put up some degree of a walled garden.
How high is that wall? How transportable, how easy is it for you to hop over that wall? We use email, an email address, or a phone number to associate our universal credentialing system, which is still pretty antiquated, but it's just everybody who is on the internet in some fashion, typically has an email address, whether you use it to write emails might be a little bit of an old school metaphor, but it's typically what anybody that's building any kind of piece of the Metaverse wants, they want an old school connection. They can feed you information, send you things they can link to you can put you into the world?
That's an interesting thing to talk about. How do you think the credentialing system is going to modernize? If you look at companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, a few others, they've built this sort of simple credentialing thing! This comes at a price you are willing to not actually physically put in an email and build a password for everything. You just use a kind of a global one. But they all want you in their walled garden! Apple wants you on the earth. Google wants you in theirs and Facebook wants you in theirs.
They don't really want to be transportable because then they lose their edge. So that's kind of the most interesting thing about the Metaverse is it stands now is the aspirations are for everybody to be going from place to place easily. But in the days when you were kids, you played a Nintendo Wii and then got to PlayStation and weren't able to just move? Remember in Nintendo World you weren't able to move to the PlayStation avatar system? You had to go on an Xbox avatar system, you need to go build another one! You still use the same email across your Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation. But you didn't have the same avatar!
Because they all have their garden that they need to protect from a business standpoint. It becomes an interesting study of the idea of the operating system. Linux was an amazing advancement in so many ways as open architecture and got actually absorbed by IBM corporation. Compared to Windows and the Apple iOS which had much more migration than Linux unless you were in a very corporate environment, or VFX, or something like that.
There are pros and cons to the commercialization of things. It's not necessarily a bad thing. It's usually not a bad thing to be a successful, profitable commercial operation. It allows you to have the resources to do things, but we also see the dangers in that and some of the issues around social media. So as we move into the Metaverse version of social media where it will feel more real to us, it will be much more powerful than even what it is now. It's awfully powerful. The ethics of this start to become a real serious conversation. And all of these large companies do indeed have ethics and people working on the ethical and the physiological and psychological benefits and harms of this are not exposed as much as maybe they should.
We tend to see when things go wrong. We don't typically see how much behind the scenes. They're actually attempting to make things right. So I tend to be like an optimist. I want to believe that people, even if they make mistakes, have the right aspirations. And that may be naive on my part, some people would maybe call me out on that and say - You're not really thinking about this the right way. Their profit is their strongest motivator, and they are not ethically at the highest standards. But maybe my aspirations are for them to be ethically higher.
So I hope that if we all aspire to better ethics, we can all get to better ethics. And I do think that we are at least attempting.
You have mentioned quite a crucial topic - ethics. Who do you think should regulate all these ethical moments in Metaverse? Should it do the creators? The big companies who have designed this universe like Facebook, Epic Games, wherever. Or should it be someone more independent?
— It's the hardest question to ask, because there is no really one right answer. It's probably a combination of what a nation state looks like. Like when people gather together to create a nation, they create a constitution or a manifesto that says - these are the rules and the laws that we are going to try and adhere to. And if you move outside of those laws you will ask to no longer be a part of this society. If you can't function across the closely guarded and closely understood rule sets that we built, you can certainly go someplace else and start your own rule set.
But you can't be part of our rule set. When it comes to something as broad as the public Internet, the World Wide Web from back in my days and the nomenclature that is now largely turning into this term, what we call the Metaverse. It will be a difficult challenge and a continual challenge to balance the needs of openness, open standards, the needs of commercial companies to push their aspirations forward, to support themselves and their stockholders and their and their users.
But we know that's not always the case. And to sort of find where there are constitutional rules, and use cases are I think it really becomes the users themselves that have to largely answer that question. And their ultimate power is to leave the platform. If they're not happy with the rules, there's better set up. Then there are plenty of other places and I think you can see that with things like Discord and Reddit where they probably were, they have kind of a constitution. They publish their rules of engagement.
When we talk about things in the VR space, like REC room and ALTspace and VR chat, and now Facebook horizons that they've been working on in this Facebook horizons workspace thing that they've launched, there are very overt things that they at least put their best foot forward and say - please be respectful. These are the things you shouldn't do.
There are places to complain. There's a complaint desk, you can report people that are abusive, or doing things that are wrong. And if you don't feel like this is a place you want to spend time in and navigate, your ultimate power is to leave. In the world of traditional media, there are all kinds of media that covers all kinds of ethical and rating standards. There is very adult stuff, kids stuff, things that ultimately we as parents might not want our kids to see. So it's harder because they have a pocket TV with them all the time now.
How do you prevent them from doing that? Apple and Android have put some rule sets in where you can build limitations. The thing is, it takes time it takes energy, and most parents don't know how to do it or don't even want to do it. It becomes a really difficult thing, it's kind of self-responsibility. Is it you better in parenting whether it's of yourself, or the people around you, ultimately becomes your best tool in the arsenal.
If you feel like a platform is not doing well, then you have a right to leave that platform and never come back and ask your friends to leave with you and start something new. That's the beauty of democracy as we stated. If you don't like it, you can try and build something else and see if people come along for the ride, which has, of course happened many, many times in these various six or seven waves of members.

You consider that the current society, the segments of society are a great game errors or wherever it is rarely enough to be self-regulated entity, not only to blaze binary game, leave the platform and find something new. But you mentioned that they are ready enough to establish some rules. So how should they act cooperatively?
— I Made it. That's my hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. I do believe that mostly society can for the most part, self regulate their, their needs and requirements. But that is not to say that we don't need governing bodies. And we don't need people that are trying to point people in the right direction, right. It's a balancing act, you want people that are suggesting these are the rules of the road, to have a light hand to be guiding but not restricting. And saying, Well, if this is the kind of content that you really want to be viewing or participating in, it doesn't really have a place in this platform. There are kids on this platform, there are people that are not interested in this. If this is something that's over here, then maybe you belong over here. And that does effectively sort of self regulate itself, right? I mean, there's a reason there's a dark web, right? And the dark web sort of builds its own rule sets and has its own use cases and dynamics, not always in the best intentions of the world, but certainly the best intentions of its agents. And you know, I'm sure you guys study and think about the challenge of cybersecurity constantly. And as the Metaverse gets more and more powerful and builds more and more layers. You know, we've already been dealing with the issues of the relatively open Internet, and how bad actors have such power to be able to attack at scale and attack so many people, and so many entities at once, which we've seen with these large hacks. The Metaverse is just going to make that even more dangerous, right as simulation behavior starts to creep into the daily society. I mean, three of us are doing this probably on a pretty regular basis, more than other people. But you know, they're really smart people studying this, they probably don't have as much resources as the bad guys, quite honestly. And I think it's up to probably all public government institutions and entities to up their game. And certainly we see that in the US. You probably see that in Russia. You know, and there's an interesting dynamic that plays between our two countries around that right. So here we are having this very open interesting discussion, but I can guarantee you that you know, we do not represent all of the US and Russia. We will be is an open interesting discussion about the future of technology, entertainment and socialization. And it's interesting that our rule set of the three of us and maybe all the listeners on all sides of the equation around the world that will listen to this will largely accept our ruleset. We, we are probably relatively anti political figures, we are more technology oriented figures that believe we likely believe the same things, right, even though we are in different countries with different rule sets and different governments.

So as we already mentioned, Mark Zuckerberg announced the next stage of Facebook development? My question is, how will the entertainment industry react to emergence of an alternative platform for content consumption?

— Let me ask you guys, because I'm curious, your take on this knowing go to the entertainment side, do you believe that Facebook and you know, the MySpace before and the Yahoo and the Google and everything else? Do you believe that Facebook has always been a Metaverse company?
No, it's one of my next questions about Facebook like a mobile-first company.

— Interesting, I guess. And maybe we can take this question on later if you want deeper. But the way that I perceive this word, the Metaverse and what it means, the companies that have largely been evolving technology use cases with screen technology with this, like daily living. It's with us all the time. We're on a screen most of our waking hours these days. We have it on a wrist, we have it on our desk, we have it on our wall. Now we have it on our eyes with VR. I think that Facebook has been a Metaverse company for a lot longer than people have realized. And it's just sort of coming into the vernacular of people understanding it more. But when you study the tenants of what a Metaverse is, right, it's a layer, an artificial sort of simulation, transportable layer that allows you to sort of be connected using technological tools. I would argue that that's always been Facebook's mission and many other technology companies missions Apple, Google, you know, etc, etc. Yahoo. Amazon, right? So I think they're all Metaverse-companies. If you disagree, I'd love to hear the perspective. But I, I pretty much have a very strong opinion about that.
— It's not, very obvious form of Metaverse. Because maybe we realized that they are such kinds of companies a bit later than the creators, the founder of this company decided, we never know, maybe we see only a wave might come to see you what, what is under the ocean?

— So I'm in my late 50s. When I was a kid, if I wanted to connect with you guys in Russia, it might be almost impossible. I would have to have your local phone number, call an operator in the US and see if they could connect me. It would largely be in 1970s, 80s, 90s - dollars, many dollars a minute to talk to you.
And now even 25 years ago that became something where the fabric of the Metaverse started to build with something called Skype. People started to identify that they could use these IP networks that were being laced all around the planet to circumvent the Old School of Communication. Telephones and telegraphs are the earliest phases of the Metaverse. Cinema is the early phase of the Metaverse - the ability to make entertainment. This could lead us into the entertainment discussion and transport it to many people which is different than live theater where we have to have a live concert where you have to go to the actual physical event. We were basically creating a technological layer that allowed us to believe that it was actually happening even though it wasn't really happening. It was a recorded event.
That's truly the beginnings of the Metaverse if we just want to use the terminology in that form. All we're doing now is taking the level of technology we have at our fingertips. Everyone has a TV studio in their pocket, a radio studio in their pocket, a photographic studio in their pocket, and a massively powerful information and connection machine in their pocket where I can effectively connect to anyone either with letters and text with audio or with audio and video at a moment's notice just by pushing a button, and the world has shrunk.
It doesn't matter if you guys are in Finland, if you're in Russia, if you're in Italy, I could get to you. That's the underpinnings of what the Metaverse has built and what is allowing us to now take the next steps with what it means. For the new devices that are coming that will put us in an even more immersive simulation oriented than our phones and our screens do. So that may lead you to the next question.
I think that now the audience, the most people that thinking about the Metaverse just imagine something like Ready Player One. They don't think about Metaverse in a case like you just told us.
In 2008, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook will be a mobile-first company. So nowadays we have these mobile apps like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and the Oculus. VR headsets like Oculus are mobile, too. So what do you think about that in the case of Metaverse? What time does it take to create such a platform for worldwide users?

— That's an obviousness of where the world was, and what the world turned into. The first devices that we logged onto were not mobile devices because we did not have the ability to make them mobile devices. Certainly not at scale.
Initially, we had to park them on our desks, and screens were this big, wide, and weigh 990 pounds. We connected with the modem and got on a board of 28. And then it was five, six, and then 14 for 28-56k that double to 128k. And now we're all on broadband speed which is essentially big speed or close to big speed around most of well-developed worlds, the hubs.
What happened is we were able to transport ourselves from the physicality of the desktop rig to the portable lives, rigs that initially happened with laptops. And then laptops evolved into tablets and mobile devices, and phones ended up becoming pocket computers. That was a natural sort of formulation of the portability of what humans like to do is they want things to be portable and powerful. So ultimately, it wasn't any kind of a leap to say that Facebook in 2008 was going to be a mobile-first company because all they did was recognize that more people are connecting on mobile now than on a home computer or desktop computer. They made the statement and they drove toward that.
Now they're taking a little bit bolder step because virtual reality and certainly mixed reality is still in its infancy when it comes to scale and daily user sort of hours and numbers. There's a small subset of us that are doing this as much as our mobile phones. In some cases, some days, I'm doing a combination of traditional screen stuff and advanced screen stuff. But I know I'm still an edge case, because this is what I do for a living. I'm in that world. I do have, though recognition, recognization. I do recognize that over the last couple years more and more true consumers are buying virtual reality headsets. And using them as a consumer tool not an industry oriented.
I want to work in this industry today. I recognize that pretty significantly. And that's starting to happen at scale. And that's what Facebook is starting to see with the success of Oculus and the Quest to and that idea of a more powerful mobile interface. And of course, they're pretty over announcements around project or Aria and they're mixed reality aspirations. So they've been pretty public about it. They're now telegraphing a little more into the future, when, in 2008, a mobile-first company made a lot of sense because a lot of people already had those devices right into the millions.
Today we are in the low millions of people that are accessing VR on a daily basis. But they're telegraphing and they're saying in the future. We see that there is another change that will happen. It doesn't mean that we won't use traditional screens for many generations to come. Because there are a lot of users where traditional screens are just more appropriate. But we're going to start to see our world change just like we use our mobile devices more than our traditional big screens for most people.
Although the pandemic changed that. The pandemic sort of forced people into a bigger screen and back into a little more sedentary lifestyle when we emerge eventually. And finally out of the pandemic there'll be another wave of mobile. And if the AR and mixed reality devices time that correctly that could be a real boon and a much faster growth curve than people anticipate around the devices. And the Metaverse that's coming.
So the folks that are doing the work at Facebook and all these other large tech companies are poised, they're setting themselves up for success by preparing for this day.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle that does not allow extended reality technology grow faster these days?

— Believe it or not, I don't think there's any specific, biggest obstacle. The obstacle as it stands is human behavior and human nature. And the fact that humans for the most part change slowly, they don't want to change quickly. They want to change in a way that makes sense to them, that can grab it, grasp it and, and crook it. Whereas us as early adopters, we can do this faster. We're more attuned to this. But we're not regular people as if were regular folks are really comfortable with their mobile phones right now with their pocket computer environments.
What will it take to get them to be comfortable with a wearable computer environment? It'll take many, many steps and many, many years, we're starting to see the first pieces of this start to glue together. We're starting to see it at scale. But this is why I was talking about that 2030 timeline. I think you won't really see it at scale.
For other eight or so years, you're going to see significant milestones every couple of years. But when we start talking about our wearable devices, likely mixed reality devices, very nimble, and different types of them that actually are just as important to us as our smartphones are today. That's probably a 2030 timezone.
So let's speak a little bit about entertainment and XR. Has the entertainment industry changed with the advent of XR?

— I think it absolutely has, if we study. Let's talk about the interactive business broadly. If we study the economics of how big this term we call gaming. It has all kinds of tentacles and use cases from light touch, to mobile, to console to PC, to then the most advanced parts in virtual reality, and then mixed reality. It's becoming an extraordinarily large, multi-billion dollar business worldwide. It touches heavy light industry and use cases across healthcare and enterprise and everything. When we study the entertainment component of that we see the blending of narrative story, passive entertainment, active entertainment, interactive entertainment in lots of different ways that are not necessarily like the games of the past four or five generations but have reference points and understandings to what those were and why they were so important at their moments in time.
We can study those broadly and then say - Where do we go from here? Are we just happy sitting where we are today? Where gamers are playing games? And people that like to watch TV and go to the movies are doing that? Or do we see some sort of interesting blending agent happening, where we haven't quite figured out what it's going to be? How it's going to catch on? What are the first hits, how is it going to matter?
But we have the science. And we have some billion dollar revenue oriented science. We talk about the economic side of it and on top of the creative successes of things that are like like Pokemon Go, Fortnight and Minecraft, and Grand Theft Auto, and Red Dead Redemption. I could give you hundreds if not 1000s of examples of where these blending agents of narrative mobile different sort of human use cases. In some cases is a mixed reality or augmented reality layer. Some pretty big wide world what entertainment is today compared to what it was 100 years ago.
So tell us about the most amazing or remarkable XR project?

— I see lots of stuff because I do this for a living. If I had to pick one I've actually talked about this quite a bit on this device that happens to be sitting right behind me which I still use quite a bit even though it's kind of gone through its lifecycle of being a prototype that's the first but magically there's another one coming but they're building. The thing that has had the most impact on me from storytelling and true mixed reality I shall give you is Dr. Robots. I don't know if you guys had a chance to play it in a Magic Leap. But if you have access to a Magic Leap, you should play it. It takes a few hours to play it with Built by a group in New Zealand called Wet - a workshop in collaboration with magically themselves, and it is a really good testimony on what is possible in the world where you start to explore the idea of a video game and a story not living inside the four walls in the boundaries of a screen but living in your real environment.
These robot monster creatures literally climb out of the walls of your house. You map your environment, typically you do it in your living room, your bedroom, whatever it is, and you have to play this narrative-oriented. Very fun, catchy game. It's a shooter-oriented game, but it's clever, and it's robots and laser guns and all kinds of cool stuff. And you have to figure out certain puzzle aspects to it - things that you would do in a traditional video game.
Except imagine if a video game literally came to life in your environment. So that's been super impactful in my world. Actually, I can send you guys a YouTube link if you want to post it with the show notes of me doing the Dr. Robots game in my living room. I used to. But when I did presentations in person before I did the Baldrige authentic computer last couple years, I would often show that as people would ask that question about what is and it's like a four or five minute they met, my wife literally filmed me with the iPhone, going through this. And one of the things that the Magic Leap allows you to do is you can actually record what you see through the screen. I have a split screen. You're seeing me and then you're seeing what I'm seeing through my eyes. So that's a worthwhile thing for your listeners and your viewers to look at.
Then people are listening to this on a podcast versus actually looking at our three Talking Heads here, but you can point them to the YouTube link, and you can see that the other one I would point out was on the first HoloLens, the HoloLens 1. They're not on a HoloLens 2 now that's what Microsoft builds is their head, more mixed reality system. It was a game called Fragments, which was actually a crime game, crime narrative where you play the role of a detective. And it's again, it's a multi houred, very ambitious for French studio called a Sobo that built it along with Microsoft that funded it.
In the early days the technology platforms that are trying to get this technology out into the world tend to be the funding agents. So magically funded went to build this unbelievable game, which very few people saw because the platform didn't become consumer yet. Same thing with the Microsoft, it's a multi $1,000 device, very few people own them. But there was a game called Fragments. You can find clips of it on YouTube if you just search for. There you sort of live the part of being inside a crime story. And you have to figure out the clues. So it's like you're really a detective in the real world and your living room becomes the crime board. You see things play out inside your living room. It's very impactful for me. So those are, I mean, there's plenty of others. But those were the first, the two that if you've covered five to call out two that were really meaningful to me. Those would be two that are kind of like in my little Hall of Fame of mixed reality as it were.
In what do you believe more - in AR or in VR? Why?

— I believe in them both clearly because you see me talking about the things. I believe that the trajectory of mixed reality will be more all-encompassing, it will allow us to choose how much of the outside world we want to make disappear in virtual reality today. Although, they're modifying that with the idea of pass through cameras on the devices. And you can see when you get outside of your borders. You don't like run over your dog or trip on the living room furniture. But there's use cases of that. They have ability to now see your hands in virtual reality without using controllers on number of headsets have that capability because the cameras on the headset allow that. That's what we call pass-through mixed reality.
There are certain benefits to that. But the true mixed reality is when you're wearing a device where it actually is more like lenses - not just a big box that you put on your face. And it has the ability to choose how much or how little of the real world you can hide. So you can imagine an experience where you start off inside your living room. And then with the software it can darken the lenses or in the old school way if you need to still put a clip on the front cover up the outside world we could do that. But the more advanced ways like transition style lenses were at certain parts of the story or certain parts of the game or certain parts of the narrative, you actually have an ability to lighten and darken the outside world. That's a more powerful device. It's ultimately where all these HMD manufacturers are headed.
Do you remember the moment when you first met XR?

— Yeah, it goes much further back than you might imagine. So when I was a much younger version of myself - this is going to go back at least 25 years now, maybe 20 years, somewhere in that range. There was something that Walt Disney World tried is an experiment called Disney quest. Now a lot of people remember it. But you guys are kind of like Disney quest. I think I heard so. You google Disney quest and see what comes out.
It was their attempt at building a smaller scope - indoor theme park experience. And it was like in the footprint like a mall, sort of like a place in a shopping mall kind of thing. And they had a few of them out in the world. There was one in Orlando where I grew up in that center of that type of entertainment. And it was one in Chicago and a couple other places. And they had different types of sort of simulation experiences. And the thing that like was like my real first moment in extended reality or virtual reality that was called at the time was the Aladdin magic carpet ride at Disney quest where and you can find some very rare pictures of this and a couple of little video clips of it. Where they had like these five or six little sort of sawhorse sort of rigs that you would sit on.
And there was a headset that would weigh about 14 pounds was like putting a bowling ball on your head had to be counterbalanced front and back to actually make it comfortable and connected to the ceiling through this humongous umbilical cord that was connected to the time each one of these rigs was connected to a computer called an SGI onyx. And if you want to look up what an SGI onyx cost in the 80s and 90s… Take a look. It's a million dollar computer. And the headset I was told, each one of them cost half a million dollars to build custom they use to color CRT tubes. Which is why the thing was so big. It was super high fidelity for the time. It wasn't like the screen door effect that we even have now with VR headsets because it was actually a super miniature CRT tubes with all these special lenses.
And you basically rode the Aladdin magic carpet on like three minute adventure. And it still sticks with me like the thing about virtual reality. You guys have done enough virtuality to know that spatial memories are different than static two dimensional memories. We'll remember this video chat as a two dimensional thing. If we did this in a VR headset doing it in spatial or Facebook horizons or all space we would have a different kind of memory of this because it would be a spatially associated now wouldn't have the photorealistic part yet. It would be more cartoon avatars, which is the tradeoff that we're dealing with right now. But eventually we're gonna get there's some Facebook research you can find online, where they're doing full on photorealistic avatars in their research labs.
We’re going to get to an experience like this where you guys are in Russia and I'm in California. And we feel like we're together in a room. I've done this with Microsoft with a thing called Microsoft Mash in mixed reality. So cartoon avatars, they're all space style avatars. But inside my living room where someone was joining me from Washington, DC, someone from Seattle, and Los Angeles, and I think someone on the East Coast, New York or New Jersey, and the four of us, basically, were in a meeting together sharing assets in our little cartoon selves. So that's these are all parts of the Metaverse as we keep going back to that term.
But to get back to that moment when I was somewhere in my 20s, I experienced the Aladdin magic carpet ride and the memory of that three minutes of how to do it. I did it probably 10 times over the course of a couple of years. And it was Disney Quest was running there is so ingrained that I completely remember everything about it as if it really happened to me. And that's what virtual reality.
And mixed reality is just like when I was telling you about the Dr. Robot game. The first time I played this game was a prototype version down in Florida with Magic Leap on a headset that was like this crazy prototype thing. And I still very distinctly remember when that first robot came out of their little fake living room that they set up in their laboratory. And still to this day that feeling of this is actually happening to me was extremely powerful. It's like the world became a theme park. Things that can only be experienced by going on a theme park ride and going to a destination. Now they have the ability to come to me wherever I am in the world. And we're just still scratching the surface? Here we are in the late 2021 timeframe and I'm still saying we're just at the beginnings of our journey.
I just realized that it's so similar to entertainment and to moviemaking to cinema. Because I think everybody remembers his first emotion when he saw Robocop or the first movie when train tried to destroy the cinema and everyone saw that or Disneyland is the one of the greatest contributor to our dream expands and mode when we demonstrated how one can think about that about not just two dimensions?

— Those are really deep, important memories in cinema of seeing Apocalypse Now. And those scenes with the helicopters and that napalm scene and this incredible moments… I have similar sort of feelings about movies like The Godfather. The first time I saw the Godfather. The first time I saw Forrest Gump and I still remember the feather coming down.
But there's still two dimensional cinema memories in my brain. Very powerful. But very different than the Aladdin magic carpet! I remember seeing Aladdin The animated movie and actually have a drawing from Glen Keane who drew the person of Aladdin like my favorite things that I was able to collect at a conference.
He was there and we were talking. He's like, what's your favorite Disney movies? I'm like, Adams up there. He's - Oh, I drew Aladdin. Let me do a little drawing for you. And he did this for a minute and gave it to me. I was like - wow, that's incredible. But still parked in that two dimensional world.
Now. Subsequently, you can search for him has done things in VR. And he will tell you similar things you worked in. Tilt Brush and built some the Tilt Brush is an early VR like creation tool that a lot of people have used. And he built concepts and ideas and toothbrush. That sort of blew his mind as an animator, as a creator. At that level of spatial ability to tell stories and not being locked into a two dimensional plane.
It's the world we're heading into. And kids that live on gaming platforms all day long. Kids that play Minecraft and Fortnight for hours on end already understand this three dimensional spatial world. There's still one key they haven't unlocked yet. They're still seeing that three dimensional Z space. But typically on a traditional screen. Whether it's a big screen in their house or a mobile screen the next step is when they put it on their eyes. And that three dimensional world actually comes to life for them.
And I've had that experience we talked about with Dr. Robot and fragments, and many other things.
As we already speak about movies, I have a question that will be maybe in the future somebody like Christopher Nolan create 360 degrees movies with interactive audience involvement. What do you think?

— I think that. Like the tours of Cinema of all forms are diving into this with their belief structure, about what cinema is and what it can be in the future. That will be an important part of the future of cinema. If I put it in quotes, it might be maybe not surprising to you that I think the more important voices in what comes out of this next gen entertainment will likely not be people that are rooted in the art and artistry of the legacy of cinema. But the ones that are viewing cinema through a lens of the pieces and parts that they want to propel into the future.
The next gen creators that aren't afraid to really take risks and put themselves out there in different ways and have connections to the cinema. But don't let cinema as it stands today be their overriding force of their creative energy. That's what we're going to see. And what we're going to see is the first big hits in the world of next generation entertainment are ones that rely on the history and power of cinemas a very storied history as a tool but not an overriding concern.

When you have been talking about first impressions about extended reality, first experience, or other things like movies, you told about that less than a million people in the world use these solutions. I just realized how big the potential is! How huge is being experienced, that how many people can interact first time with mixed reality solution! Get this experience and the eight definitely holding!

— You were talking about the scale and scope, and the massive opportunity that's still ahead of us. If I go back to my current iteration in virtual reality starting with 2013, 2014, and think that they were probably in the low hundreds of 1000s of people that were looking at VR and AI on a daily basis. Then we extrapolate a couple years later to a Facebook purchase of Oculus and the different Oculus Rift is coming out at sort of consumer scale. And then you started to get into the low millions of people that were starting to purchase these things. Maybe half a million below millions across the Vibe and the Rift, and a few other competitive forces. And then you sort of flash into the 2017, 2018 world where we know that there are now multiple millions of people touching these things and using them.
And enterprises… People are using them on a regular basis in various ways. Like John Fabra used VR to the entire new Lion King movie and things like that. And we know about lots of different enterprise use cases across automotive and healthcare and various industries using VR, and then consumer kept happening. And then the Sony PlayStation releases their VR and it gets into 5-6 million sales. Arguably, people probably not using it every day but a small user collection. Then we get into 2019, 2020 year comes the pandemic. And here comes a portable, low cost device. The first question is $400. It's going in that significant millions then the Quest 2 comes out in the heart of the pandemic and starting to sell in a really significant millions and people using it on a daily basis. That's a five, six year span right from 2012-2013 to where we sit today.
Now, we're starting at day one and 2020, again. With the Quest being out in the Pico device and a number of other devices from the different manufacturers. And then we start to roll into these next 10 years and it's going to be something pretty meaningful. That is why a company like ours, Viacom, CBS is paying close attention. And companies like Apple and Google and Amazon, certainly Facebook and others are paying close attention to this.
For your listeners around the world - pay attention because you know this is a good thing to pay attention to what is happening.

One of the important things is that when we will meet in the future it will be mixed reality glasses, wearable glasses, like the usual glasses that you use every day.

— Yeah. And as we wrap up I'll say…
I've had a chance to travel to Russia a number of times. And I would say it is a fantastic place with fantastic people that are super interested in new things and technology. And there is so much more that connects us than separates us from a cultural standpoint when you're there with people that you're doing similar things with.
I spent a good amount of time in Moscow and a good amount of time in St. Petersburg. And I would encourage anybody from the west with whatever you heard about Russia, and you think about Russia, it is largely not true. And you should spend time in Russia. The people are amazing. The culture is amazing. The things you can see they're amazing. It’s a fantastic place. That's all I'll say to wrap up.

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