Joi Ito Joins Oblong Industries Board of Directors


Oblong Industries is pleased to announce that Joi Ito has joined its board of directors.   This is the first appointment of an outside member to the board of the Los Angeles based company. The addition coincides with a period of rapid growth following the successful 2013 introduction of Oblong’s Mezzanine™ product.

Joi Ito is an accomplished technologist, entrepreneur, and digital advocate. He is currently the Director of the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA and holds board positions with Sony Corporation, The New York Times Company, The MacArthur Foundation, The Knight Foundation, and several non-profits including The Mozilla Foundation. He is also a founder of Digital Garage, an Internet company headquartered in Japan, and has a long list of successful startups to his credit.

Says Oblong Industries co-founder and CEO John Underkoffler, “We’re utterly thrilled to have Joi with us. He’s long been a crucial force terraforming present into future, turning pale technologies into those we’ll all need for the next century: vivid, socially relevant, powerful, expressive. His vision complements Oblong’s in an ideal way.”

Foundry Group managing director Brad Feld, an Oblong board member since the company’s founding, added, “As Oblong makes the science fiction of Minority Report a reality—as a new way for humans to interact with computers, and with each other—having Joi Ito join us on this journey is awesome.”

“Oblong is a great example of a Media Lab spinout. Oblong lives at the convergence of software and hardware, and pushes the edge of human/computer interface in disruptive and creative ways. Entrepreneurship is an increasingly important pathway to impact for the Media Lab, and I am pleased to be joining the Oblong board as the company looks to radically change business practices with technology that grew from Media Lab research,” said Joi Ito.

Since its debut, Oblong’s Mezzanine system has been selected for the conferencing, collaboration, and presentation spaces of global leaders such as GE and IBM as well as upstart innovators like Sonos and Beats Music.

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