John Underkoffler to speak at White House launch event for US Ignite

We are excited and honored to have John Underkoffler, our Chief Scientist, speak at the June 14th White House launch event for “US Ignite”. This initiative is focused on ensuring all Americans have access to information and tools necessary to thrive in a 21-st century economy through ramping up broadband networks and innovation. More information on US Ignite can be found on their website (

An important component of US Ignite is the US Ignite Partnership, which brings software developers and engineers from government and industry together with representatives from communities, schools, hospitals, and other institutions that could benefit from faster and more agile broadband options. By facilitating these connections, US Ignite aims to speed up and increase the development of applications for advanced manufacturing, medical monitoring, emergency preparedness, and a host of other services. The idea is to accelerate moving ideas and innovation from labs and schools into the market. And the hope is the resulting new applications will improve services to Americans and drive job creation, promote innovation, and create new markets for American businesses.

Oblong was asked to present an industry perspective for a few reasons. First, our work started in a university lab, making Oblong a real-life example of moving innovation from the lab to the marketplace. Through that transition, we’ve created high-skilled jobs, and we continue to hire. And although what we build is known as the interface of the future (Minority Report was set in 2054 after all), it’s available today, not just as a demo in the lab but as a real-life product.

With technology that addresses the challenges of big data visualization and of fostering collaboration across distributed workforces, we also see value in the ultra-fast networks the initiative is dedicated to implementing. We look forward to working with the US Ignite Partnership, and appreciate the opportunity to share our story as an industry case study and our point of view as a partner.

To watch the presentation via live streaming, visit the White House website at 9am Eastern.

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.

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