Oblong to Bring Immersive Collaboration to NASA Aeronautics

We are pleased to announce that Oblong has been awarded a contract to equip NASA Aeronautics with Mezzanine™, our immersive collaboration solution. Mezzanine transforms meetings into visually immersive work sessions that can only be characterized by Infopresence—the immersive, content-rich experience that delivers a heightened level of real-time collaboration. Mezzanine will be used specifically as part of the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP) Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) project to assist the CAS teams in merging traditional aeronautic discipline with non-aeronautic advancement to find new capabilities in commercial aviation. 

Oblong's founder and CEO, John Underkoffler, had the following to say about this announcement:

"NASA embodies true innovation, and its TACP believes that basic aeronautics technologies can be revolutionized by allowing teams to work in dynamic environments. Our convictions are exactly analogous: Mezzanine was developed specifically to help innovators work together and solve problems difficult or impossible to address any other way. So we are honored to play a role in NASA's breakthroughs. When meaningful collaboration generates inspired outcomes, the world is the beneficiary. NASA is the perfect place for Mezzanine to accomplish this mission."

Mezzanine will be installed in four of NASA Aeronautics research centers—the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio; the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; and the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley's Moffett Field, California. 

 Download and read the full press release here.

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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