Thought Leadership

Jim Marggraff Joins Board of Directors

Accomplished serial entrepreneur and Google alum joins the board of directors at Oblong Industries, and adds to our goal of expanding human capability and collective cognition.

We are pleased to announce that accomplished serial entrepreneur Jim Marggraff has joined our board of directors. The addition coincides with the successful extension of our Mezzanine™ product family for content-rich teamwork, and the announcement of deeper software integrations with popular enterprise collaboration platforms such as Cisco Webex Teams, IBM Watson Workspace, and Slack.

Jim Marggraff is an accomplished technologist, entrepreneur, and advocate for human excellence. His interests lie in evoking the best of humanity with AI, which is clear in his current roles advising Rival Theory, the world’s first AI relationship network, and Foresight AI, empowering mobile robots with data and intelligence. Jim’s contribution to Oblong builds upon several decades of corporate leadership as a founder/co-founder of StrataCom (acquired by Cisco in 1996 for $4B), Eyefluence (acquired by Google in 2016), and Livescribe (the world’s first smart pen). Jim is also noted for his work at Leapfrog, where he invented the renowned LeapPad Learning System with $1B+ in sales and impact on more than 100M children and adults globally. Jim is a celebrated member of his community, active Rotarian, E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year (Northern California, 2011), MIT Top 150 Inventor, author of “How to Raise a Founder with Heart” (Sept. 2018), prolific inventor with dozens of patents issued, and an advisor to academic institutions and non-profit foundations. 

Says Oblong founder and CEO John Underkoffler, “We’re honored to have such an accomplished visionary join our board. He shares with us a deep interest in expanding human capability and collective cognition through advanced human-machine interface, as well as an unshakeable dedication to user-focused product excellence. We look forward to working with Jim to expand our impact globally.” 

Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld, an Oblong board member since the company's first financing, adds, "Jim's pursuit of technologies which maximize how human brains can be more effective in working together will be a tremendous asset for us." 

Jim Marggraff posits, "Oblong is at the precipice of explosive growth. The Company comprises a highly innovative team of experienced designers and technologists, with international sales, marketing, and operations expertise, led by a world leader in the future of human collaboration. At a time when collaboration is a buzzword, and continuous innovation is table-stakes for all enterprises, nothing compares to the simplicity and ease of use of the platform Oblong has built with Mezzanine. Given my career focus on technologies that advance communication, cognition, and collaboration, I share a commitment with this team to enhance human potential through improved collective intelligence augmented with collaborative thought-environments. I see great things happening with Oblong and their partners.”

 Customers choosing our products for their meeting rooms, briefing centers, and global teaming spaces range from IBM to Accenture, NASA to Network Rail, Lendlease to Lockheed Martin. Interested in learning more about what we can do for your organization? Get in touch. We’ve deployed collaboration products and custom solutions on every continent except Antarctica.

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.

Interested in Learning More?

Start a conversation with our team to deliver the best collaboration experience for your teaming spaces