Los Angeles is a City of Makers
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From special effects and spaceships to food and fashion, Los Angeles is the capital of creativity and manufacturing in the country.
More people are employed in manufacturing in Los Angeles than in any other city in the USA. In 2017, MAKE IT IN LA and the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office hosted a Maker Festival in partnership with businesses and organizations in the Arts District to celebrate LA’s status as a city of makers. And on May 31, 2019, the second celebration took place with Maker Walk LA which featured nearly two dozen self-guided tour stops throughout the district and an after-party with our neighbors at CommunityMade. We opened our doors to participants at both of these events to provide a peek behind the scenes on the technologies we build and the problems we solve for organizations around the world.
Visitors were invited to experience spatial computing at architectural scale in our warehouse lab with our giant interactive display wall, immersion room, ultrasonic and optical wands, and workplace collaboration tools. We’re most known for our flagship product, Mezzanine, which brings content-rich visual collaboration capabilities to conference rooms around the world. It’s built on our core technology, g-speak. We were swimming in it at the warehouse: Imagine abstract concepts taking shape in real-world space, controlled by simple gestures—all in service to solving complex business challenges. It’s not sci-fi. It’s what we build with our biggest customers who are creating disruptive products, navigating big unstructured data sets, or launching initiatives to better the world.
Spencer Kelly of BBC Click captures it best when he calls it a vision of the future, writ large. And heading in the opposite direction we got to share our latest creation, Rumpus, writ small for your laptop but with big impact for virtual teams.
For the next Maker Walk we hope to see you there!
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.