The Street Believes Mezzanine is the Future of the Workplace

TheStreet’s Rhonda Schaffler stopped by our NYC office recently to see how science fiction has become reality for global innovators. She reports that our technology is taking over corporate board rooms to provide businesses with a modern canvas that allows executives to simultaneously display images and video from multiple devices in the room, in connected rooms, and from remote collaborators. This 360-degree immersion technology uses architectural space for a working environment that gives everyone equal access to control and contribute to the shared workspace from their own computers, tablets, and smart phones. This unique gesture-enabled enterprise solution uses human-centered design principals to provide an exhilarating and productive work experience for firms such as IBM, Boing and GE. if it looks a bit like “Minority Report” that is no accident; our founder & CEO John Underkoffler consulted on the film and has advised other Hollywood filmmakers on what the future of human-computer interface will look like.  Not only is the 2016 version of the 2054 technology already here, the need for this kind of computing power now is clear: when we can surround ourselves in the essential real-time information vital to running our business (Infopresence) we’ll make better decisions, faster.

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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