The Future of Experience w/ David Warhol, CEO of Realtime TheartiX

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Announcer: Welcome to The Tech Cat Show, with host Lori H. Schwartz. Each week we hear from established leaders in the technology and consumer industry. Finding out the scoop should never be this much fun. Now, here is your host, Lori H. Schwartz.

 

Lori Schwartz: Hi everybody, and welcome back to the Tech Cat Show. It is great to be here, I have a really exciting guest who is on the cutting edge of everything that we consider reality right now. The last few months and year has been a lot of diving into talking to folks who are working in virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and a lot of this is all combining to create really unique experiences that are going to be leveraged not only in business, but in consumer activations as well. I was recently attending the E3 conference, which is the big gaming conference in Los Angeles that happens around the spring/summer every year, and I got to see some of the stuff that this gentleman is up to. We are very excited to introduce David Warhol, who is the CEO of Realtime Theatrix. Let’s have a big Tech Cat hand for David Warhol, yay!

 

David Warhol: Thank you. Thanks Lori, very generous introduction, and appreciate it.

 

Lori Schwartz: Well, I was totally blown away by the demo that you showed me. Before we get to that, give us a sense of your background and how you crafted the company, Realtime Theatrix, I’m going to call it “Theatrix”, but tell us all about your background.

 

David Warhol: Sure. Well thank you, yeah, I’m a video game developer by trade, I started working in video game development in 1982, I was one of the Mattel Electronics programmers when they had the Intellivision consoles. It was an exciting time when the industry was just getting started, and I programmed a few games for them. 1984 and 1985 saw a video game crash, the video game market crashed when computer games started up. Then I started developing music and sound effects for a bunch of different companies, Electronic Arts, Lucasfilm Games, until the video game market got a little more healthy again, then I jumped back into that and founded Realtime Associates, which is my video game label.

 

  We developed for the 8-bit Nintendo, the Super Nintendo, the Genesis, all those platforms, Playstation, Sega Saturn, and we have over 100 commercially released video game titles, mostly like family-friendly stuff, side scrollers, cartoon kind of things. As the game market got a little more hardcore, I shifted my business into working in some peripheral markets, like serious games, games for health, trainers, things like that, and then continued developing games as the mobile platforms came out, web-based content, things like that. I’ve been developing video games for over 30 years, and then when VR started to become a reality, that really caught my attention because now there’s tens of thousands of people developing games, but not so many people in VR and mixed reality, which is what I’m doing.

 

  About three years ago, I started this initiative Realtime Theatrix, which is a 360-degree 3D interactive theater for a group of up to 15 people, it’s like a walk-in video game. We’ve got a prototype of that in our Los Angeles studios here, and then also what caught your attention was the holographic telepresence, where we’re digitizing human beings, transmitting them over the 5G network and reconstructing them in another location in full 3D, you can walk around them and things like that. A lot of game and game technology that’s being rebranded, I would say, into consumer entertainment, location-based entertainment.

 

Lori Schwartz: Got it. Everything you said is really exciting, but I want to break it down for folks that aren’t in the business per se, and set up a little bit of background for some of these trends. Let’s start with your holographic telepresence project. As a gaming guy, and you’re someone that is hired to build these experiences for different companies, is that how it works?

 

David Warhol: Yeah. Traditionally I’ve offered work for hire where people will come to me for whatever specialty we have. I do a lot of music projects, for example, my background is in, I have a degree in music so people will come to us with projects and hire Realtime Associates or Realtime Theatrix to develop something like that. In this case, AT&T was excited to show what’s possible using the 5G network, why would anybody bother upgrading to 5G? I have an industry colleague at AT&T who reached out to me and asked us to create this demo, so right now it’s a technical demonstration of what’s possible using 5G technology. Eventually it could get rolled into become productized, but AT&T is using this at trade shows, trade events to show people what’s the exciting thing about faster [inaudible 00:05:21] traffic, and yeah, being able to, instead of doing [inaudible 00:05:26] Skype where you’re just looking at somebody’s picture in front of you, to be able to reconstruct an entire human being in full 3D in front of you is one of the things that they want to show is the future.

 

  Yeah, that’s what we’ve done, and we’re continuing to enhance that. We have another show in Austin at the beginning of August where we’re going to show the next generation of it, it’s coming along really well.

 

Lori Schwartz: Let’s talk about 5G just for one second, because again, I want to step our audience through all of this exciting madness. 5G is the next protocol basically for connectivity, right, for all these telecom companies. Right now we’re in the land of 4G, what will 5G bring us that we didn’t have before?

 

David Warhol: Well, 5G has, I don’t know, it’s something like 10 times the data communication rate that 4G does, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s the same technology that 5G wireless routers use, that kind of super-fast bandwidth, but in the case of wireless routers, it’s limited to 50 feet, 100 feet. What 5G in a nationwide rollout looks like is that you’ll have that connectivity over the course of miles. The super-fast bandwidth will allow you to do multiple things or things that would normally choke up your phone or things that would be static. Now, you can stream a movie, sure, that works pretty well now, but streaming somebody in a 3D representation of somebody, there’s just too much data to do that using the conventional networks.

 

  The group I’m working with in AT&T is brainstorming, “So what can we do differently?”, and a 3D representation of a human being being transmitted is one of the things they came up with.

 

Lori Schwartz: That’s the concept of this hologram version of yourself, so the idea is by you creating these demos, a consumer will opt to upgrade their system, and then … Is the reason, I’m just trying to get to the background of this so we can nerd out on the actual technology that you’ve built because it’s so cool, but just to set the stage for this, so the reason that AT&T is doing this is because I as a consumer, I’m going to have to agree to upgrade my system, it’s not going to just happen and it’s going to cost me more, or I’m going to have to swap out current equipment that I have? Is that the strategy, they have to sell me into this first, is that why-

 

David Warhol: If you’ve got a 4G phone, yeah, it’ll work on their networks just fine and you’ll continue to use it that way, but when you start seeing what’s possible when you’re considering your next phone purchase, you may opt to get one that’s 5G-enabled.

 

Lori Schwartz: Got it, because they seem to be, like E3 is an interesting conference because it’s partially a business conference, but it’s also partially a consumer conference, like a gamer conference. They’ve gone up and down in attendance based on sort of their strategy, but this year in particular there are a ton of gamers there, and they created a gamer pass, and so there was industry there, business people building out gaming, but also a lot of consumers. Here you are at a consumer trade show showing off what 5G will be to get people excited, and then from a gamer perspective, culturally they’re all looking at ways to create a version of themselves to put inside of these games, because many of these games have some sort of avatar-like version of themselves. This idea of a gamer being able to place themselves in an environment is normal to them, because that’s what they do daily when they’re playing, right?

 

David Warhol: Yeah, that’s a possibility as well.

 

Lori Schwartz: Part of this is also, when you start to tell your story about all of this, it’s also building off of what people understand, and then this holographic telepresence project, which I actually love, would basically, I would be on the phone with you like right now, and you could holographically … I don’t know how you say the verb. You could send a version of yourself talking to me right now in the room, basically.

 

David Warhol: Are you inventing a verb right now? I think you’re inventing a verb.

 

Lori Schwartz: I think I might be. I mean, I’m trying to set the stage both from the business perspective and the consumer perspective, because it really is exciting what you’ve done, and I want everyone to sort of understand why this is important. From a business perspective, AT&T is doing this because they’re going to be rolling out this 5G network, they want everyone to opt into it, it’s going to cost consumers money to swap out equipment, but from people like you who are inventing our future, it’s going to create all these new use cases. One of them is creating a 360 version of yourself that shows up in my office and talks to me, right?

 

David Warhol: Absolutely. A good business-to-business case might be that if you equip a conference room with two or three cameras just positioned around the room, then by scanning and digitizing the participants in that room, then we can transmit that over the 5G network, and anybody who’s equipped with a 3D display can see the people as they are in that room. You’ve seen this demonstrated in any number of movies or science fiction movies, but the technology works now with 5G.

 

Lori Schwartz: That’s so crazy.

 

David Warhol: Yeah, this might be a conference room that’s enabled where you can walk around and look at people as they’re either standing or sitting there. A consumer, what excites me about the consumer use of this is that we can put celebrities, talent, we can put your friends in your living room with you. If you’re playing a game, say, we could have a shout caster on your couch virtually sitting there who is narrating what’s going on on a game that you may be watching live streamed or something like that. Or my favorite example is, say there’s Eric Clapton doing an Unplugged tour, he could be sitting in a studio somewhere with a couple cameras around him, and he could be sitting right there in my living room, and I can walk around and see him from any angle while he’s performing right there, as if he’s just a few feet away from me. All of that is done live as well, can be completely interactive.

 

Lori Schwartz: God, that is so exciting. All right, now we’re going to have to take a quick break. When we come back, I want to now start to get into what you’ve actually done, now that we know the environment we’re talking about. The most exciting thing about this really is that finally Princess Leia will be able to tell Obi Wan Kenobi about what she needs for reals. What Dave is actually doing is building out fan fiction for everyone for real, and it’s so exciting. All right, so we’re going to dig more into Dave Warhol, who’s the CEO of Theatrix, who’s doing all sorts of amazing things with holograms and the future of 5G, and how the world is really going to be very soon. We’ll be back in a moment with Dave taking us through every single Star Trek and Star Wars franchise, in a moment on the Tech Cat Show.

 

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Lori Schwartz: Hi everybody, and welcome back to the Tech Cat Show. We have been talking to the fabulous David Warhol, who’s the CEO of Realtime Theatrix, and Dave has been playing with all sorts of really cool technologies, building out demos to demonstrate the future of connectivity. We were just talking about his current holographic telepresence project, where you could actually holographically present yourself in a meeting, and all the different people could actually be in the room as holographs. That requires everyone to have the same technology, wherever they are, what kind of technology do they need in order to receive the holograph and then also project the holograph? Like is it simple stuff?

 

David Warhol: Great question. What’s required is one or more 3D cameras, and Microsoft has one called the Kinect, is one that we’re using, there’s another one that we support also from Intel called Real Sense, but they’re specialized cameras that capture objects in 3D and tell a computer not just the 2D picture but the 3D, the depth, it adds a depth buffer to a 2D picture. Anybody who wants to use this technology would need to get a 3D camera, that works just fine, and then anybody who wants to see it in 3D needs a device that they could use to see it in 3D. Now, in the simplest case, a lot of people use augmented reality by holding their phone up and, you know Pokemon Go style where you’re moving your phone around.

 

  The display device could be as simple as a cell phone, where I’m panning my phone around a room and then I see the person in 3D as I look through my phone, superimposed in the room. That’s the simplest display device, but that would just be a 2D display. If you wanted to see somebody in 3D, then what you need is an augmented reality headset, like the Microsoft Hololens, is what we’re using, Magic Leap is coming out with one soon enough. If you want to see somebody in 3D, then it requires a special headset while you’re doing it.

 

Lori Schwartz: Everyone in the meetings that wants to experience this would be wearing some sort of device on their head in order to experience the other human beings. Do we imagine an environment where eventually the need to wear something will go away?

 

David Warhol: Yeah, and that’s another thing that AT&T is promoting as well. Now, one of the advantages of 5G is the speed with which it connects the users to the cloud and computing devices. There’s a concept called edge computing, where all the data processing that you might normally do in your 3D display on your head or on your computer is being done at the cloud level, and then transmitting just the answers or the visual representation over the 5G network. Ultimately, people will be able to get super lightweight glasses that have no computing power in them per se, they’re not video game systems or they don’t have GPUs, graphic processing units, anything like that.

 

  Like right now, the Hololens is a relatively heavy device, you could get a super lightweight pair of glasses that all it’s doing is connecting to the 5G network, and then we’re offloading all of that processing onto the cloud, and again, just sending the ultimate images to your glasses. Nothing like that exists yet, but once 5G gets a nationwide rollout, we’ll start seeing super lightweight devices that then you are only wearing a light pair of glasses that you could experience all of this with.

 

Lori Schwartz: God, that is so cool. All right, so I’m totally into that. I do hate putting things on my face, but I know that we are in this world right now where that’s part of it. Because I was just telling a story at an event recently where if you look at use cases, and say a man and a woman are out on a date for the first time, and you want to go to a location-based entertainment center where there’s a lot of VR arcades or AR experiences. You know, women do not like to put things on their faces, especially if they’re wearing a lot of makeup and things like that, so it’s going to be interesting as we move through this sort of early day version of all this technology how we get to the next place with it, because a lot of us don’t want to put things on our face.

 

  Or in the case with me, I wear glasses because I’m really nearsighted, and I often find that those different goggles, both AR and VR, don’t account for that, so I can’t see anything. I know Princess Leia is there, but she’s blurry, you know what I mean. I mean, is that something you guys talk about when you’re building these experiences?

 

David Warhol: Yeah. Most of the hardware manufacturers contemplate that people have glasses, and the Hololens, for example, is designed to go over that, and there’s another technology I’m using where, yeah, if you just slip it on over your glasses and then that’ll work fine. Interestingly enough, the other project I’m working on, you mentioned location-based entertainment and you mentioned going out and doing social things, and when you go into a VR arcade right now, the hardware that they’re using is super heavy. The headset is over a pound, you strap a computer onto your back, and it’s cumbersome, and a lot of the experiences out there are only like five to 15 minutes long because people don’t want to have that stuff on them for that long.

 

  The other project I’m working on in Theatrix addresses that with a super lightweight headset and a belt clip that would make it, I’d say, less user friction, you might say, in order to go out and participate and have fun with some state-of-the-art experiences.

 

Lori Schwartz: It’s just a mind blow to me how many things are in the consideration set now, like in terms of the world that we’re slowly moving into. All right, so we’ve been setting the stage for this other conversation, which is to talk about another project called Theatrix, but one thing I did want to ask you before we move into that is, you mention 3D cameras a lot, and it’s funny again, use cases and language, like when you say “3D cameras”, I immediately think of the television sets that were a big failure and the stereoscopic sort of experiences, not 3D as it relates to holograms and sort of presenting that. It’ll be interesting again from the consumer use case, how our language explains things, because 3D means something differently to me because of that.

 

David Warhol: Yeah. I think part of what AT&T is emphasizing is not just, “Hey, let’s do it as a gimmick,” but, “What could you physically not do or what would be a real reason to use this?”, instead of, “Well, I can do it.” It’s like, “Well, I couldn’t do it any other way, or this technology creates an entirely new experience,” revolutionary, not evolutionary. A 3D TV might be evolutionary, but having a human digitized and standing in your living room that you’re walking around is revolutionary. I’ve shied away from either the gimmicky or the, “Hey, wouldn’t this be cool?”, kind of thing, and into the ones that there’s just no other way you could do it without these advanced technologies.

 

Lori Schwartz: Totally get it, and I love that. All right, so we have holographic telepresence over to the left now, so now let’s jump into your … I know, it’s like so many cool things, and again, I love it that it’s under this umbrella of 5G, but so you have your holographs, people showing up, you’re having conferences and things like that. The next project under 5G is Theatrix, so tell us about Theatrix.

 

David Warhol: Okay. All right, well Theatrix is a 360-degree 3D floor-to-sky interactive theater for up to 15 people, 15, 18 people, something like that. There’s so many different influences that it has, it’s for people who are familiar with the Star Trek universe, it’s essentially the holodeck. What we’re doing is creating a 3D world around people, rather than putting 3D objects in the world. I want to introduce a term, while we all know what virtual reality is, you’ve got a headset on and a 100% synthetic world around you, you can’t see anything else other than the computer-generated imagery, and that’s virtual reality. Then there’s augmented reality, which kind of has two use cases now, one is your Pokemon Gos, or the idea that you take a cell phone and then it’ll digitally add a character into the real world, so you’re seeing the real world but you’re also seeing this digital character in it.

 

  Then there’s like a Hololens or the Magic Leap, where you’re wearing a headset and we’re introducing digital objects into the real world, like the holograms and all of that. For me, mixed reality is a different term altogether, which is where I’m taking the real world and putting it into a digital scenario, or I’m putting everybody around us in a synthetic or a computer graphic world. Another way to think about it is if you’ve got a video game sitting in front of you on a big 70-inch TV or something like that, what would that video game look like if you poked your head inside the TV set and looked around, and then you climbed through the TV set and you were standing in this video game world?

 

  Then you ask 15 of your friends to come on through the TV set, and you’re all walking around in this 3D world. That’s what mixed reality, that’s how I use the term mixed reality, where it’s real world objects in a synthetic world, as opposed to putting synthetic objects in the real world.

 

Lori Schwartz: That’s great. Before we get into Theatrix and the use cases, we’re going to take a break. I did get to, I was in a smaller demo version of Theatrix at E3, that’s kind of where you put me, am I correct?

 

David Warhol: No, you have not seen the Theatrix yet, [crosstalk 00:25:51]-

 

Lori Schwartz: Was I doing the holographic telepresence then?

 

David Warhol: Yeah, that was holographic telepresence. What we have here, it requires a stage that you walk into, but then instead of walls, you’re seeing 3D interactive imagery.

 

Lori Schwartz: Oh my God, that’s so cool. I’m going to remember not to have had any cocktails or anything else before I show up.

 

David Warhol: Okay, just afterwards then, that’s fine.

 

Lori Schwartz: Just afterwards, right. We’re going to be back in a moment with David Warhol, who’s the CEO of Realtime Theatrix, and who’s helping blow my mind a little bit, but also sort of setting the stage for what will be the future of our world. We’ll be back in a moment on the Tech Cat Show.

 

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Speaker 4: Have you friended us on Facebook yet? Why not? Just go to Facebook.com/voiceamerica, or search for the keywords “voice america”. Once you are part of our Facebook network, you’ll receive daily messages about what’s happening with our shows, this week’s feature guests, and new happenings at the Voice America Talk Radio Network, and you can add your voice to the always-active discussions on our timeline. Just go to Facebook.com/voiceamerica, or search for “Voice America”.

 

Announcer: This is the Tech Cat show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show, or to leave a comment or question, send an email to lori@techcat.tv, that’s lori@techcat.tv.

 

Lori Schwartz: Hi everybody, I’m here back on the Tech Cat Show, we’re talking to David Warhol, CEO of Realtime Theatrix, who’s explaining to us all the fantastic new technologies coming down the road, holographs, VR, AR, mixed reality, real true use cases that will be powering the future of our business experiences, as well as our consumer experiences. David was just jumping into another project called Theatrix, which is basically a 360-degree 3D interactive theater, and again, you use the analogy of the holodeck for Star Trek which we all relate to, so tell us more about what would happen in that environment.

 

David Warhol: Okay, yeah. What Theatrix is, it’s an entertainment format first and foremost. I mean, my background is in video games and I love to get people engaged, but one way to look at it, if you’ve done an escape room, imagine what an escape room would be like if it was inside a video game, or an escape room experience being in a 25-foot, 30-foot cylindrical room where we can change whatever is happening on the walls, we can introduce characters, have dinosaurs walking around, all in 3D, all fully interactive. Our concept with Theatrix is an entertainment format where audiences come in and either watch a short subject maybe, or interact with a short subject rather, maybe 15 minutes, or ideally a full-length feature, hour-plus feature that tells a story.

 

  It’s part movie where it’s got a whole story that evolves, it’s part video game because you’re interacting with it at every moment, and it’s a part of an escape room, because the audience interacts with each other as the story unfolds, people are collaborating, solving puzzles, perhaps doing action sequences together, or simply looking for hidden objects in the environment around you in order to progress the story. This is entirely a location-based experience, where you’ve got this specialized theater where you buy a ticket to go in, and like I say, either a short 15 minutes or you’re in the whole story and interacting with life-sized virtual objects standing all around the audience.

 

Lori Schwartz: Wow. Again, is the use case that there would be a pre-written experience that would’ve already been created, and people just act it out kind of? I mean, how does it play out?

 

David Warhol: Well, definitely it’s pre-scripted content, it’s like a video game or a movie, where somebody’s written it and produced all of the assets and all that, but in our case, you’re not just watching it. If you think about film technology, it’s 120 years old, you’re sitting in a chair looking at one wall. I like to say, “As much as you yell at Harry Potter, he’s not going to hear you, he doesn’t even know you’re there.” What would a movie be like if instead of it being just on one wall, if it completely surrounded the audience, including the sky, and that when you interact with the characters in the movie or in the entertainment format, they’re interacting back with you. The audience then becomes part of the story and progresses the story, helping the characters that are in the story. The characters in the story even acknowledge individual audience members, because we know where people are standing in the theater, we can have fictional digital characters walk up and acknowledge individual characters.

 

  Our feeling is that in this format, we’re in the movie influencing the outcome of the movie, and very much like a video game where there’s story-based video games where an individual can make decisions to advance the plot or move it, but this is a highly social experience where the audience members are collaborating with each other and deciding how they want to either solve something or address any challenges that are there.

 

Lori Schwartz: Again, just because I’ve been in all these conversations about location-based entertainment and how they’re creating these environments, this again seems ripe for theatrical talent, for writers and directors of theater, who can really create experiences that really submerge someone in an environment, more so than film people, am I wrong in that, or is that how it feels to you?

 

David Warhol: You are absolutely spot on. Another reason we’re calling it Theatrix is that this is more like being onstage with actors while a play is going on, and that the playwright has acknowledged that there’s extra people in the script that are the audience members that influence the outcome. It’s very much absolutely theatrical in the sets and the way the sets are laid out, and one of the things that theater has that film and television, well film and television will do cuts, quick cuts, “Hey, here’s a closeup, here’s an establishing shot,” something like that. In a Theatrix performance, it’s more like a stage play where you’ve got a whole scene that happens, and then it might fade out, fade in into a different location, but that the audience is onstage with the digital actors as they’re doing it. Yeah, you put your finger right on it.

 

Lori Schwartz: In terms of the storytelling, you think this is going to be like LBE, where people show up to experience Theatrix, you know they know they’re going to walk into this environment?

 

David Warhol: Yeah. We’ll be set up at locations, each location will have a couple of theaters, each theater accommodates about 15 people, and people will show up and in our case, one of the differentiators for us is we have super lightweight headsets that are only like four ounces, and then another lightweight belt clip computing device that it’s like the Nintendo Switch but a little more powerful. Then we just put that on and your glasses on, and then you’re walking around in the theater experiencing the 3D story going on around you. Yeah, like an escape room, there’ll be some people that you go there with and there’ll be some strangers.

 

  I like to say that in the pre-show or as we’re getting people into the theater, say, “Say hi to somebody that you’ve never met yet, because in about 15 minutes, they’re going to save your life,” because whatever is going on in the story, the people in the theater are going to be interdependent on one another to make sure that that has the intended outcome of the story.

 

Lori Schwartz: God, I’m blown away by the potential of this. All right, so is AT&T excited about this as well, or is that separate, like are they involved with this project as well?

 

David Warhol: They’re not involved in this one. This is an entirely different initiative of my company. AT&T, there may be a use case where we end up transmitting these things over 5G as well, but the immediate future of Theatrix is that everything happens at that one location, in that one location. Some other interesting use cases are, we could have two audiences playing a game against one another, one group of 15 people in a 3D environment, kind of in a wizard war with another group of 15 people at another location, so that would be a way that [crosstalk 00:35:58]-

 

Lori Schwartz: By the way, you just showed off your geekness by saying a “wizard war”, because if I was going to give an example, I would not have said “wizard war”. You just showed your … Anyway, your Dungeons and Dragons childhood.

 

David Warhol: It’s a holodeck, we can do whatever we want in there.

 

Lori Schwartz: That’s right. I mean, it’s just literally so cool what’s coming down the pike. How do you get inspired for these different things, are you out and about at different trade shows playing with the latest technology, like how do you, because really in so many ways you’re a technology strategist because you’re coming up with new ideas based on what’s being presented with you, and then creating new opportunities. How do you keep ahead of all this stuff?

 

David Warhol: You know, I never really thought about that, but now that you mention it, I’d have to say the roots of that is that it was in the early 80s, electronics and digital media were at such an early stage, I was a microprocessor programmer writing an assembly language in hardware. I collaborated with hardware designers to create circuits that did things, so like I don’t know if you remember that old Mattel Power Glove, for example.

 

Lori Schwartz: Yeah.

 

David Warhol: Yeah, I was the software/hardware contractor for that, where we developed the operating system for it, and I worked with the guys who were making the bended censors and things like that. Always I’ve seen what can be done with technology and creativity at a really fundamental level, at an atomic or a subatomic level, and so that when I see devices or technologies that are rolling out, my go-to is, “How can this be used either to entertain or what could be done with this that’s really cool at a fundamental level?” I think that when I embrace or seek technologies, that rather than the top level, it goes all the way down to the roots of it to get an understanding of how it can be used to entertain.

 

  Where do I go? Yeah, trade shows, I was at the game developer’s conference, E3, big ones there, there’s a whole slew of virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality conferences coming out now. VRX, I know that the game developer’s conference people are creating a VR developer’s conference, and every month I’m hearing about other opportunities for people to get together. VRLA, I know you’re familiar with that one, which incidentally, we showed Theatrix at VRLA like three years ago in a really early stage. Yeah, the trade shows, really it’s networking, and the group of people that I know, just people know people who know people, and that’s how I got involved with Theatrix, was a friend of mine started this company with a new head-mounted display that’s not released yet, but I knew about it when it was on the drawing board and said, “Geez, how can I use this in a revolutionary way?”

 

Lori Schwartz: You know, I just think you’re the geekiest, most delightful man. We’re going to take a little break now and finish up our last segment. I want to hear about what trends you see coming down the pike and what we could be looking out for, so we’re going to be back in a moment with David Warhol, who’s the CEO of Realtime Theatrix, finding out about what technology is coming down the pike to submerge us into even more immersive experiences. Back on the Tech Cat Show in a moment.

 

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Lori Schwartz: Hi everybody, it is Lori H. Schwartz, we are back on the Tech Cat Show. We have just been getting all this exciting information about the future of experiences with David Warhol, who’s the CEO of Realtime Theatrix. David’s been setting the stage for what all this new technology is going to do both from a business perspective and also from a consumer [expective 00:41:44]. David, I’m just wondering, what do you see coming down the pike in terms of trends, like what’s really exciting you, based on the fact that you’re kind of building out the future yourself?

 

David Warhol: Well, the thing that excites me the most is what’s happening with location-based entertainment, which movie viewership is going down, people can experience films in their living rooms just as comfortably as they can, even more comfortably than in a theater, costs us less, what have you, so there’s this demand for people to get out and socialize, to be with other people, to go to a place. What excites me the most are the ways that we can entertain using these technologies that haven’t been available before, I would say, in the public forum, and especially ways to get people to interact with each other.

 

  Video games are a solo experience, when you’re sitting in a movie theater, it’s a solo experience, yeah there’s a bunch of people around you, but you’re not supposed to talk. What’s exciting to me are these things that you can’t do at home, you’ve got to get out and experience them with other people. Location-based entertainment is the thing that I geek out the most about, and that’s really why I’m so excited about Theatrix.

 

Lori Schwartz: What about anything else in-home, are there things happening in-home that you think will be really insane?

 

David Warhol: Well, let’s see, gamers are connecting, esports is a really big thing now where interestingly enough, people aren’t just playing games, they’re watching other people play games. When you’ve got somebody that’s a real master at playing, this is a fantastic trend, a new way to entertain yourself at home. Yeah, the computers will get better and better, and your images will get better and better, VR hasn’t taken off at home but there’s a chicken and an egg problem there. People don’t want to necessarily spend $3,000 for a VR setup, but then that means the people making the VR experiences don’t have an audience to write to, so that they’re very short and not necessarily deep experiences.

 

  Part of that is because of how uncomfortable the gear is to wear as well. In the home arena, as headsets get lighter and as we see like this edge computing, for example, can enable some of this stuff, or even in-home lighter equipped headsets, yeah, we’ll start seeing some things there too. Again, I love the idea of people, people matter, and that’s one of the taglines of Theatrix, is that we make people matter, we get people to interact with one another, rather than just huddling down at home, getting them out and experiencing friends and strangers alike.

 

Lori Schwartz: Is a lot of this also happening, I mean we talk about this all the time, that it’s all these different things that are coming together, so a lot of it is because AI is involved in allowing us to do all this, it’s the 5G, you know it’s how fast-moving all this immersive technology is. Are we setting up a world where we’ll never leave our homes, ever, because of what you’re talking about?

 

David Warhol: It’s possible. I once went to a conference where a futurist was speaking, and he said that in 20 or 30 years, we won’t know the difference between people we meet in the real world and people we have met online, or our relationships will be just as deep with people on the other side of the planet as they are here. Yeah, that’ll happen, I’ve had great relationships with people I’ve never met all the way back in Everquest, where I’d never met these people.

 

Lori Schwartz: Right, right.

 

David Warhol: Yeah, I think people may want to stay home, but then it’s those experiences that you can only have out in the real world that we’re very excited about.

 

Lori Schwartz: I mean, it certainly paints an exciting future. I was immediately thinking when you were talking about the telepresence solution that one of the best things about being a consultant is you’re working from home, so you can kind of be in a tee shirt and shorts and not really have put your makeup on or brushed your hair, and now all of the sudden we’re back to you have to actually get up and be presentable when you’re having this telepresence, unless you could sub out a different version of yourself, is that going to be something that’s going to happen to?

 

David Warhol: There you go, you answered your own question. Through machine learning, if you’ve got a setup at home that’s recording you and your gestures, your expressions, et cetera, through machine learning you could speak while you’re in your shorts without any makeup on, driving an avatar version of you that’s exactly as expressive as you and exactly as however you want to present yourself. Yeah, that’s coming as well.

 

Lori Schwartz: Like a taller version, if I wanted one?

 

David Warhol: Whatever that avatar looks like, Ready Player One kind of stuff. Microsoft has a new initiative called Azure, I believe it’s called, where it’s taking these next generation Kinect, capturing your imagery, bringing it up to the cloud, and then doing the processing required to be able to replicate yourself in any avatar form that you’d like.

 

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, I mean it certainly talks about, there’s going to be obviously privacy issues and security issues and all of that that we’re already dealing with, but it also sort of sets up a world where, to your point, you can have really solid relationships with people in a way that you never could before. Now we’re going to have to log off, but where can people find out more about what you’re doing?

 

David Warhol: Well, we’re a little bit in, I don’t know what you’d call it, that-

 

Lori Schwartz: Stealth?

 

David Warhol: [Skunkworks 00:48:18] mode here, stealth mode, stealth mode. We do have a website, Theatrix, Inc., that’s “Theatrix” with an X, Inc.com, where we’ll be releasing information as it goes. There’s a trade show in Austin at the beginning of August that we’ll be showing the technology at, the name of the show escapes me at the moment, that’s for the telegraphic holopresence. I would just keep an eye on Theatrix and keep an ear out. Now, there’s a lot of location-based entertainment centers popping up, but they’re all using virtual reality, where you’ve got these very heavy rigs, very uncomfortable rigs, very short form entertainment. Keeping an eye on what’s happening in that arena, eventually we’re going to see some more innovation, our own included, while we’re solving some of those issues that is holding the industry back right now, I feel. Lots of potential, but [crosstalk 00:49:23]-

 

Lori Schwartz: Yeah, it’ll be more of the mixed reality solutions, rather than the VR solutions.

 

David Warhol: Yeah.

 

Lori Schwartz: I love that. Well, we’ve been chatting with David Warhol, who is setting the stage for the future, CEO of Realtime Theatrix, it’s been so exciting to talk to, hearing about Theatrix, and also your telepresence holographic product. Keep your eyes open, check out Theatrix when you get a chance, and thank you so much David, for sharing all of your vision and all the exciting things that are coming down the 5G future for us.

 

David Warhol: Right, well thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it, and delighted to share, and appreciate it.

 

Lori Schwartz: I’m sure I’ll see some version of you soon.

 

David Warhol: Yeah.

 

Lori Schwartz: Bye everybody, hopefully we’ll be talking to someone just as interesting next week. See you, hear you soon, talk to you soon, and maybe see you in a 3D environment soon.

 

Announcer: Thanks so much for listening to the Tech Cat Show. Please join Lori H. Schwartz again for another great program next Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. eastern time, 1:00 p.m. Pacific time, on the Voice America Business Channel, and syndicated to the Voice America Women’s Channel.

 

 

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