Mezzanine in Action: Brad Feld Edition
We were singled out recently by Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group (an investor in Oblong Industries) as an example of getting your demos right. He alluded to a Mezzanine™ scenario that we named after him: The Feld Use Case. So, we thought we’d take this opportunity to explain what he was talking about.
It’s this: A few months ago we installed a Mezzanine system in the Foundry Group office. Since then it’s become our main method for regular meetings between Oblong in Los Angeles and Foundry in Boulder.
And it’s pretty simple: Together we share three different video feeds, one on each screen of the Mezzanine triptych. On one screen we place the VTC video teleconference feed, which comes from a videoconferencing camera solution. Then we here at Oblong connect a laptop to Mezzanine and place its video feed—displaying our important stuff to talk about—on another screen. Foundry does the same on their side. So, one screen shows the VTC, another shows Oblong’s laptop screen and the third shows Foundry’s laptop screen.
Because our Mezzanines are connected in a common session, both parties see the exact same pixels from each other’s screens. On the VTC connection, we both see a traditional videoconference feed of the people in the other office. With the remote controller wand, either side (Foundry or Oblong) can rearrange the feeds on the triptych of screens. This shared digital workspace—available in multiple locations simultaneously—is what Infopresence™ is all about.
The Feld Use Case is a simple but powerful example of meeting participants experiencing the power of Infopresence in the simplest way possible. Either party can share any document, video, presentation or application from their laptop (or any connected device, like a tablet) and discuss it across distances. If it sounds general, that’s because it is. It’s a powerful, open-ended configuration that’s useful for almost any industry. Anything you might show colleagues in a regular meeting can seamlessly become part of the Infopresence experience.
Working with Watson
The goal of each Watson Experience Center—located in New York, San Francisco, and Cambridge—is to demystify AI and challenge visitor’s expectations through more tangible demonstrations of Watson technology. Visitors are guided through a series of narratives and data interfaces, each grounded in IBM’s current capabilities in machine learning and AI. These sit alongside a host of Mezzanine rooms where participants further collaborate to build solutions together.
The process for creating each experience begins with dynamic, collaborative research. Subject matter experts take members of the design and engineering teams through real-world scenarios—disaster response, financial crimes investigation, oil and gas management, product research, world news analysis—where we identify and test applicable data sets. From there, we move our ideas quickly to scale.
Accessibility to the immersive pixel canvas for everyone involved is key to the process. Designers must be able to see their ideas outside of the confines of 15″ laptops and prescriptive software. Utilizing tools tuned for rapid iteration at scale, our capable team of designers, data artists, and engineers work side-by-side to envision and define each experience. The result is more than a polished marketing narrative; it's an active interface that allows the exploration of data with accurate demonstrations of Watson’s capabilities—one that customers can see themselves in.
Under the Hood
Underlying the digital canvas is a robust spatial operating environment, g‑speak, which allows our team to position real data in a true spatial context. Every data point within the system, and even the UI itself, is defined in real world coordinates (measured in millimeters, not pixels). Gestures, directional pointing, and proximity to screens help us create interfaces that more closely understand user intent and more effectively humanize the UI.
This award-nominated collaboration with IBM is prototyped and developed at scale at Oblong’s headquarters in Los Angeles as well as IBM’s Immersive AI Lab in Austin. While these spaces are typically invite-only, IBM is increasingly open to sharing the content and the unique design ideas that drive its success with the public. This November, during Austin Design Week, IBM will host a tour of their Watson Immersive AI Lab, including live demonstrations of the work and a Q&A session with leaders from the creative team.
Can't make it to Austin? Contact our Solutions team for a glimpse of our vision of the future at our headquarters in the Arts District in Los Angeles.