There's a new video series hosted by our founder and CEO John Underkoffler, and you're invited to step into the future with us.
For the last decade we’ve been building the future: The future of user interface. The future of spatial and distributed computing. The future of workplace collaboration.
Because there will always be work, important work, that humans need to do together... but that work increasingly happens in a digital context… and ‘together’ isn’t historically something that computers have been good at. Meanwhile, the quantity of data that surrounds digital workflows is increasing geometrically, and team members are distributed everywhere.
For all this, UI is what mediates. UI matters. UI is fundamental to humanity’s shared path forward. It is essential to our ability to work effectively, hopefully, meaningfully, on whatever comes our way.
We think about this a lot, and John speaks to this a lot.
Now, because our customers — global brands, government organizations, educational institutions — are thinking more about this too, John will be releasing a new Ob-cast video regularly. He’ll share perspectives on the intersections of UI and spatial computing with topics ranging from artificial intelligence to architectural computing to modern meeting democracy.
John has been working in this arena since his days at MIT. He brought these ideas to Hollywood as a science advisor to films such as Minority Report and Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr has called him an inspiration on par with Elon Musk. He has spoken at TED, he’s won a National Design Award for his work in Interaction Design, and examples of his work are now in the Smithsonian archive.
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.