The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

Oliver Weidlich 'Creating Immersive Experiences with Spatial Computing'

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March 28, 2023
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Oliver Weidlich 'Creating Immersive Experiences with Spatial Computing'

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Episode shownotes

In this episode I caught up with Oliver Weidlich, of Sydney, formerly known as Mobile Experience.

In this episode I caught up with Oliver Weidlich, of Sydney, formerly known as Mobile Experience.IIIn this episode I caught up with  Oliver Weidlich, of Sydney, formerly known as Mobile Experience.

I’ve met Oliver several times over the years whilst living in Sydney, always in passing, and never in detail, but was always hugely impressed when I saw him speak about Design, and here is no different.

We focus our conversation on spatial computing, and get straight into the nitty gritty of what this is, and how it will radically change how we design services and experiences. We chat about the complexity of data ownership, and build on the conversation threads that myself and Scott Jenson spoke several months ago.

Oliver is awesome and I know you will love this conversation.

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Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
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[00:00:00] Oliver Weidlich: And we believe that time to start researching that, understanding those use cases is now so that we can start to guide potentially whether they're operating system level, at an application level, at a service level. Yeah. What those engagements might be, and also. The individual's perspective on that, their levels of trust and safety.

[00:00:25] Gerry Scullion: Hello and welcome to this is Eight City. My name is Jerry Scullin and I'm a designer educator, and the host of this is Eight City based in the wonderful city of Dublin, Ireland. In this episode, I caught up with Oliver Vile El Contextual in Sydney, formerly known as Mobile Experience. Now, I've met Oliver several times over the years, once I was living in Sydney, and always in passing though, and never really in detail, but was always hugely impressed whenever I saw him speak about design and user experience in particular, and here is no difference.

[00:00:53] Gerry Scullion: We focus our conversation on spatial computing and get straight into the nitty gritty of what this is, [00:01:00] how it will radically change how we design services and experiences. We chat about the complexity of data ownership and build on the conversation threads. That myself and Scott Janssen spoke about several months ago.

[00:01:11] Gerry Scullion: Oliver is awesome and I know you're gonna really, really love this conversation. Now, if you like, what we're doing at this is ad you can help us out by doing a few things. You can hit the follow button or the subscribe button wherever you are. It'll mean be stay in touch, and you can get notified when a new episode drops.

[00:01:26] Gerry Scullion: You can either review for us or go warm better and become a patron on the podcast by going to business eight Can get an ad free stream for as little as one Euro 66 per month and get a shout out as. There's other plans there. We can get exclusive items too, such as a notebook or a t-shirt or a hoodie, and all the money goes towards editing, hosting, and maintaining our website, which is a repository for human-centered design.

[00:01:48] Gerry Scullion: Goodness, with over 250 episodes. Anyway, folks, I've rambled on. Let's jump straight in. Oliver, great to have you on the podcast. Um, delighted to have you here. But for our listeners, [00:02:00] maybe start off with, talk a little bit about yourself. Tell us where you're from, what you do.

[00:02:04] Oliver Weidlich: Um, let's go, let's talk. Great. So my current role, let's start with that and then we, we can work, um, backwards from there.

[00:02:12] Oliver Weidlich: So currently I'm the director of design and innovation, which sounds very fancy. Ooh, that's. A, a UX consultancy based in Sydney called Contextual. And for many years, for the past 13 years, we've been known as mobile experience. Yeah. Uh, and we recently changed our name last year and, uh, we may come back and talk about that a bit more in detail.

[00:02:33] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. But prior to that, uh, I've now spent, I suppose over 23 years UX consulting, uh, in and around Sydney, uh, and, and working with all the, the big blue chip companies and corporates here in Australia, right through to startups and advise advisory roles. And so,

[00:02:51] Gerry Scullion: Let's go back to the beginning, um, and talk not even about mobile experience, but the stuff that you did, uh, in university.

[00:02:59] Gerry Scullion: Um, well, what did you [00:03:00] study? Um, was it in Sydney or was it the Central coast you say?

[00:03:04] Oliver Weidlich: Uh, I, I studied in Newcastle, university of Newcastle. Yeah. Uh, so a bit north of Central Coast, couple hours north of Sydney. And, uh, I initially wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and I wanted to work with people. In some form, and psychology seemed to be the right thing.

[00:03:20] Oliver Weidlich: Whether I was gonna do sports psychology or forensic psychology, or clinical psychology, or I wasn't quite sure. So I started out in that path and I, I did a four year undergrad, uh, there, and at the end of that, Uh, I could have, there were options to do clinical or a master's in organizational psychology.

[00:03:38] Oliver Weidlich: And let's face it, I didn't make the cut for the clinical, so I gave the organizational psychology a crack . And as part of that, uh, we did a couple of subjects, uh, in HCI as well as a bunch of psychology testing as fortuitous. Indeed.

[00:03:53] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. What clinic out on is what

[00:03:55] Oliver Weidlich: we gained. Yes. , well, well let's do, but, uh, [00:04:00] and, and that sort of really, that those subjects in HCI really were of interest to me.

[00:04:06] Oliver Weidlich: I'd grown up using computers from quite an early age. Both my parents were teachers, but my dad taught computing as well. And he would bring home the tap Apple two E's and the Apple two Cs and the SC 30 we end up getting and stuff. So I, I was using computers, uh, and Atras and other things as well. As a tool to achieve an outcome, not because I was necessarily interested in the code, although, you know, in later years I, I learned about code to a degree.

[00:04:35] Oliver Weidlich: Uh, but it was some, it was a tool to help somebody achieve something. And yeah, I really liked that way they could enable people, uh, to achieve something far greater than, than without it. Yeah. So I thought that was really powerful at that

[00:04:50] Gerry Scullion: time, like, And again, I'm not coming at this, uh, with ageism, but it was in the eighties.

[00:04:56] Gerry Scullion: It would've been the Apple two, did you say? Yes,

[00:04:58] Oliver Weidlich: hundred percent. Yep. Yeah, exactly.

[00:04:59] Gerry Scullion: [00:05:00] For, for people listening who, who might be on the younger end of, uh, you know, the practitioner age computers way back then didn't have the interfaces that we would know now. So using computers to enable a task wasn't as sexy as it was now.

[00:05:14] Gerry Scullion: Like it would've been very much. Code base, you probably would've been using the literal what, what, what were the big, large, what are the, the disks? There wasn't even a flock. Yeah. So yeah, it was

[00:05:25] Oliver Weidlich: command line and, and so on. Especially obviously with the two E two C. And then we started to get to these gooeys, you know, obviously with the Mac and the late, I think the Lisa just turned 40.

[00:05:34] Oliver Weidlich: I, I, I've never seen.

[00:05:36] Gerry Scullion: Wow. So it would've been really, um, kind. Evolutionary at that stage to try and leverage what was happening in the computer world and bring it back into the real world. Um, what kind of stuff were you, were you trying way, way back then?

[00:05:49] Oliver Weidlich: It, it was really basic things and you know, it was just things like writing essays were so much easier when I didn't have to rewrite the thing because I got a bunch of stuff wrong and.[00:06:00]

[00:06:00] Oliver Weidlich: You know, it was, it was as dorky as it sounds in primary school, you know, writing my essays on a computer and printing 'em up so that they looked a lot neater than they did otherwise. Yeah. And, and desktop publishing right. Like that. And obviously this was the school, so it wasn't a commercial output, but I could put pictures in there and, and things that, yeah.

[00:06:20] Oliver Weidlich: Again, I wasn't trying to do it to prove a point. It just felt like a better medium for me, a more, uh, natural or a more efficient and effective medium. Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent. So I really enjoyed that about it. And it, again, I'll keep using this word enabling because I think that that's really it, you know?

[00:06:38] Oliver Weidlich: Absolutely.

[00:06:39] Gerry Scullion: So you went on, you were in, in your university in New Castle, um, you a psychology background and you worked in a number of practices, um, where you got to apply. Psychology, I guess, and the design, the, the mix of the two. And I want to talk a little bit more around the, the kind of the career arc that's happened.

[00:06:57] Gerry Scullion: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Because around that time in the early two [00:07:00] thousands, a lot of the HCI stuff was grounded in the principles of psychology. And I know I came from a, an industrial design background and I've. Was knocking on the door trying to get in and they're like, no, you don't have a psychology degree.

[00:07:12] Gerry Scullion: And I remember kinda going, I wanna get in but I can't get in. And then it sort of shifted in the, the mid two thousands where I was like, okay, actually we need some more of the systems thinking we need more of the design lens. Mm-hmm. . And I was like, suddenly I had the key then. But it looks like what you're doing now has come back f full, almost full circle.

[00:07:29] Gerry Scullion: And now we're at that point where we need to understand the psychological understandings of the, the rationale when we're talking about design and the contextual understanding of these situations. Is that something that you feel now, like the stuff that you did in your past, um, is starting to, to reemerge almost, and, uh, have a lot more of a, a strength to your bow?

[00:07:49] Oliver Weidlich: So to. Yeah, absolutely. Look, I've always had, uh, throughout the, the last 23 years, a real interest in both the academic side and the [00:08:00] pure research side Yeah. Of, uh, of HCI and, and u aspects of user experience and have tried to, you know, be involved, whether it's attending Kai, the computing interaction global conference.

[00:08:13] Oliver Weidlich: Or, um, mobile HCI for many years was, uh, a, a global conference that our academic conference that I enjoyed and obviously, uh, osca here in Australia because I think there is so much that that adds value, whether it's a research methodology. Uh, a lot of these conferences are actually. Surprisingly, when I first went along are more engineer types who are sort of looking at different interface, uh, input or output mechanisms, and still trying to work out how that might be useful to a, to an end consumer at some point in the future.

[00:08:47] Oliver Weidlich: things like, uh, haptic feedback and so on, you know, academic papers and, and now we carry something, you know, something like an Apple Watch that's got haptic feedback and our phones have haptic feedback. But these have gone through long processes [00:09:00] of, of, uh, industrial research or academic research to the point where these things are cost effective to put into a VI device.

[00:09:08] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. . And as that, that device becomes more complex, the research and sort of background that needs to create those experience, I think becomes deeper. And you need to have a deeper understanding of perception, memory learning. Once you start combining all these different interface elements, whether it's, you know, speech interaction, uh, looking at different interfaces like maybe through AR glasses we might talk about later.

[00:09:38] Oliver Weidlich: And things like that. They're, they're more complex things individually, and when we put them together, they're in, you know, that just, it has a network effect of making them, uh, significantly more complex. So I think a, a lot of that tradition, and you see this with the, the VR and AA headsets, they've come from a long history of investment from DARPA and, you know, those big sort [00:10:00] of academic industrial research, uh, facilities.

[00:10:03] Oliver Weidlich: That have now led to things like, you know, whether it's the Facebook glasses or whatever, but there's a strong path and there's still so much money being invested in that side of it, right? It's, we saw that evolution where it went to, uh, when we were in the early thousands of it being fairly, you know, desktop based and we had pretty standard screen sizes and you.

[00:10:26] Oliver Weidlich: Knew that people had a keyboard and a mouse and they weren't wandering around with this thing. So the design constraints were much more absolutely specific and fixed. And, uh, so that allowed more experimentation, uh, and from an artistic and creative perspective. Uh, and now I think as we come back to these very hopefully natural ways of interacting with technology, we need to know more about.

[00:10:52] Oliver Weidlich: and how they want to interact. Yeah. The,

[00:10:54] Gerry Scullion: the systems have become much more complex as well, you know? Mm-hmm. , the, the evolution of the, the user [00:11:00] base. We're using an awful lot more technology on our bodies and in our homes and so forth. So naturally the, the scale and the contextual understanding is gonna be, Much richer and much harder to understand as well at scale.

[00:11:12] Gerry Scullion: Absolutely. Created a new wicked problem first to solve. Yeah. In, in some senses, going back to the, the mid two thousands, when you were talking there about the, the desktop constraints. Can you just give us an example of some of those things? Was it, was it Second Life? Is that the kind of stuff that you were talking, remember Second Life?

[00:11:31] Gerry Scullion: I don't know if you remember that one. Yeah, I

[00:11:32] Oliver Weidlich: do. Absolutely. Uh, I think ab uh, our national broadcaster had a, a second life environment. There were a lot of people playing around with it. That was as it was more experimental and that. That spacial what would've been called a s spatial interface back then of, uh, being able to move in a more natural way around a screen and have conversations, you know, avatar based conversations and things like that.

[00:11:56] Oliver Weidlich: But it's still a 2D experience. Yeah. [00:12:00] Fundamentally, right? It's not what we sort of talk about, uh, in terms of s spatial computing of inter integrating with the real physical world.

[00:12:07] Gerry Scullion: So, So some of the stuff that, um, in the research for this, I know you're heavily involved and you're heavily interested, should I say, in spatial computing, okay?

[00:12:18] Gerry Scullion: Mm-hmm. . Now, imagine you're speaking to a, uh, somebody who has no experience in this. How would you describe what

[00:12:26] Oliver Weidlich: it is? Yeah, certainly spatial computing to us is this combination of technologies, both inputs and outputs, uh, for human computer interaction and. They can understand the real world, the physicality of the real world.

[00:12:44] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. So what's around you? Where are you now? Uh, is there a wall over there? Is there a river over there? So using things like computer vision, et cetera, uh, and. Bringing that information and integrating it with digital content. So you might be able to embed a [00:13:00] digital, uh, element into that real physical environment.

[00:13:04] Oliver Weidlich: And if the wind is blowing at a certain speed, it might sway this digital object in a certain way. Or if noise levels are at a certain thing, it might affect that. Most people have. An awareness of something like Pokemon uh, go, where you've got your mobile device and you're, you're pointing it at the real world and there's something that looks it, it's really overlaid, it doesn't really understand the physicality of the world.

[00:13:27] Oliver Weidlich: It doesn't know that there's a road there and things like that. But that's sort of most people's experience and a lot of ar mo mobile AR experiences are sort of very marketing orientated at the moment and, and things, and spatial computing is sort of taking that too. And, and we like to think about it as, A future state, and whether that's sort of a couple of years away or, or 10 years away, where people are wearing glasses and, and Doug Bowman, Virginia Tech sort of, uh, uses the term everyday ar so mm-hmm.

[00:13:56] Oliver Weidlich: would somebody be walking around with, let's say a pair of AI [00:14:00] glasses and what sort of things would they want to interact with, uh, in terms of digital content? Yeah. And um, and, and we've been doing, Thinking about this from a use case perspective, because a, a, again, you know, having spent so long in the mobile industry, 20, 20 years, looking at mobile user experience specifically, yeah.

[00:14:18] Oliver Weidlich: There's a lot that's happening in this spatial computing space that's very similar. The technology at the moment is very big. It's heavy, uh, battery constrained, uh, field of view is terrible. Like what you can actually see looking outta the glasses, the resolution, the brightness, all of those things, just like mobile screens.

[00:14:35] Oliver Weidlich: 20 years ago, right? Yeah. But we feel now's the time to start thinking and there's a lot of investment going into the technology, but how is it gonna be used by the person, right? Mm-hmm. the human. And we believe that time to start researching that, understanding those use cases is now so that we can start to guide potentially, uh, whether they're operating system level, at an [00:15:00] application level, at a service level.

[00:15:01] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. What those engagements might be. and also, uh, the individual's perspective on that, their levels of trust and safety. Yeah. Given the intimate nature of, of, because it is very intimate. This is something like an AI glasses,

[00:15:15] Gerry Scullion: it is a very intimate thing. Like the shareability of what you're seeing in your glasses is, is massively limited.

[00:15:21] Gerry Scullion: So what you're seeing at the moment, uh, through, if you're wearing a pair of glasses, not Google glass, but whatever. , what does that look like in terms of, uh, the experience? Because it's, it's very isolated in that sense. Is there any scope around how it could be, you know, shared amongst groups of people? Is is that, you know, so I'm, I'm thinking of the applications of surgeons when they're operating.

[00:15:48] Gerry Scullion: Has that been explored a little bit more around the, the sort of the spatial computing in a shared environ.

[00:15:54] Oliver Weidlich: Absolutely. So it, it's interesting you bring up surgery cuz Magic Leap Two, which is one of [00:16:00] these sort of Yeah. Um, startups that has had a, a ton of investment and is sort of more, was gonna be sort of consumer orientated as well as enterprise.

[00:16:08] Oliver Weidlich: And they've really doubled down on enterprise. They've just been approved as the first set of AR glasses for use in the surgical, the fda. The Yes. I, I forget which standard it is, but, okay. But, um, yeah, so, so yes. So coming back to that shared experience around augmented reality, one of the, or spatial computing more broadly is, is understanding the observer's position, understanding a combined shared experience.

[00:16:33] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. And then also thinking about what we call the bystander experience as well. Right? Because how does somebody else be involved if those people are having an experience that is inherently invisible to. Yeah. Uh, you know, is that via a screen or are they dialing into a conference call type experience through a, a 2D screen or, or whatever that might be?

[00:16:52] Oliver Weidlich: Absolutely. It's that consideration and the fact that the, the beauty is that you can see around you, right. So you can see that somebody's there as compared to [00:17:00] a VR where you're in an immersive experience. Yeah. That you can't see that.

[00:17:03] Gerry Scullion: It's kind a see through experience, but it's also. The complexity around the data sharing there.

[00:17:09] Gerry Scullion: Um, cuz you, you can't really interface it unless you're doing something of a blink. Um, so who controls in that sense? Because now we're moving into the, the spatial computing. So someone is making the decision on the contextual delivery of the information at the right time and the right place. What's the, um, the ethical considerations in around that, that.

[00:17:33] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. Uh, I'll, I'll take that from two sides. The first one is the, that ethical aspect of, uh, there are cameras on these devices often, and even if they're not a standard camera, they might be a LIDAR camera, so they can't see who that person is, but they understand that there's a physical person there. Uh, they understand you're in an environment, et cetera.

[00:17:52] Oliver Weidlich: Uh, so a lot of that data about the context of use mm uh, is. Could be, you know, [00:18:00] absolutely abused in the wrong hands. So that data ownership over the my environment and what these devices can detect and use is a critical piece of this. So how do we trust either the vendor of the hardware Yeah, or the vendor of the hardware, the vendor of the software, and the vendor of.

[00:18:16] Oliver Weidlich: Whether it's an application or whatever that might be, we wanna be confident and do we control that in that we allow access and or we can delete things from our history or whatever it might be, I think is a critical piece. The vendor of the environment as well.

[00:18:32] Gerry Scullion: Sorry, lemme say the vendor of the environment as well.

[00:18:34] Gerry Scullion: If there's a contention. Yes. Understanding at the environmental level. So I'm thinking in prisons. Yep. Um, like where we start getting into this whole kind of. I dunno. It's, it's a, it's a cluster potentially like in, in the nicest possible way. Like who, how, and uh, how, how are they being managed and how, how do you see it being managed?

[00:18:53] Gerry Scullion: And, and we're not looking for a, a, a concrete answer from, from Oliver. We heard it from Oliver.

[00:18:58] Oliver Weidlich: He said

[00:18:59] Gerry Scullion: it was going to [00:19:00] be government. What did that look like? Because we're, we're starting to move into the conversation like a. A segue from Scott Jenssen's conversation a number of weeks or months ago, we were talking about great conversation.

[00:19:10] Gerry Scullion: How does this, how do we start the conversation around these things? Because that's the bit that really, and I am one of those kind of nerds. That's the stuff that I think about when I'm falling asleep. I'm like, who's gonna manage that? Yeah. And what

[00:19:25] Oliver Weidlich: about. And, and I think some of the stuff that we are starting to play with and and prototype is extrapolating it out from some elements of current technology that might be able to do that.

[00:19:42] Oliver Weidlich: And intelligent agents are critical to that. So especially for that understanding of context and putting a combination of contextual. Information elements together to create an experience. Yeah, so things like focus modes like that, you know, apple have really been, uh, focused on [00:20:00] with iOS 16 and, and, and prior as well.

[00:20:03] Oliver Weidlich: Uh, and looking at to what degree can somebody construct their own. Focus mode to, yeah, be specific to a context. But these things are, are complex and you know, again, looking back to mobile, it was like how many people are gonna go and customize their mobile settings and all that sort of stuff. It takes a lot of effort.

[00:20:23] Oliver Weidlich: So yeah, we are expecting that artificial intelligence will play a key role in that, in interacting and guiding the intelligent agent. Uh, but that there will probably be a more human role, uh, in training. , uh, purposefully or that the intelligent agent is checking in probably at a higher rate of frequency to start with when it's introducing a change in, uh, interaction, uh, and getting confirmation.

[00:20:50] Oliver Weidlich: And there should be sort of, you know, the opportunity potentially to, to learn quickly from the system side. Yeah. But again, I think we don't want to. Paint the picture of this thing [00:21:00] being in your face all the time. We see it starting out as really, maybe something really simple, like one of the, the use cases that we sort of play with is, Imagine, uh, a reminder service that was physically located, right?

[00:21:13] Oliver Weidlich: So if I'm walking past somewhere that, uh, maybe I set a reminder to, Hey, when you go past this library, remember to look at this particular book that's held in this library, and I can see from far away, or as I get closer to that library, maybe from five kilometers that there. There's some sort of visual indicator that there's a reminder there, and I might wanna engage with that and go, Hey, what that is, what is that?

[00:21:35] Oliver Weidlich: Or as I get closer to it, I get this more, uh, level, higher level of detail. Yeah. To go, oh, this is a reminder out the book. Um, the library isn't open yet, but it'll open 15 minutes. How do we make that really succinct and appropriate? Because we don't wanna busy the visual field. It needs to be highly, uh, relevant rated and, and contextual, right?

[00:21:56] Oliver Weidlich: So, so those aspects of the things we're going, what's the [00:22:00] least you can start with that will add value? And I think. A lot of the headset stuff is trying to be these big field of view, very rich, immersive like, like high fidelity things. And I don't think that's necessarily, uh, something that's achievable in the short term, and I don't think it's necessary to provide a good experience.

[00:22:22] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah, unfortunately there was a company called Mojo Vision who were working on a contact lens. One of their key sort of offerings was going to be this opportunity to help people, um, with low vision, identify edges of things. Right. Oh, okay. Yeah. Now that in its in and of itself is, is potentially a very powerful use case.

[00:22:41] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. Uh, and very simply. And unfortunately they've pivoted to, to look at, um, technology, um, display technology aspect. Yeah. There's a project, aria Research in Australia, which is looking at how can somebody wear an augmented reality headset who is blind, and people go, well, if it's a pair of glasses, then [00:23:00] they're blind.

[00:23:00] Oliver Weidlich: How does that help? And the face is actually a useful point for detecting information, right? So these G, this headset uses echolocation and enables blind people or low vision people to get an understanding of their environment, right? Mm-hmm. , it happens to be head mounted because, The orientation position.

[00:23:20] Oliver Weidlich: Right. That's most important. It's crazy.

[00:23:21] Gerry Scullion: Like a, as you're talking here, I'm like, I've, I've encountered some of this stuff before. I just remembered. I did my, my finished uni in 2001. Um, my main project, I called it Lida, l e d a, which is Latin for Finder. I think it was people who really speak Latin are like, um, That's not true , but in my mind, I think it was at the time.

[00:23:42] Gerry Scullion: But, um, it was a little robot that scoured the, the environment around for visually impaired people to feedback audio and visual context through an linear ear device. And I remember people going, that's never gonna happen. And I jumped out of my seat when I saw Google Maps, I was like, oh my God, that's, [00:24:00] that's almost what I'm talking about.

[00:24:01] Gerry Scullion: A car goes around and maps the world and feeds it back in. So what you're talking there is. It's kind of, kind of similar in, um, in execution, but I wanna ask you, um, Over, over covid times. Okay. There was a huge pattern and I was one of them. Right. Switched off all my notifications. Okay. I was mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.

[00:24:20] Gerry Scullion: in hyper arousal mode for, for years and I probably still am. And I've really very carefully and heavily curated the notifications that get shared on my mobile device. So I have the control and what gets displayed on my mobile device. Very important. It's in the wrong hands. Um, Facebook, um,

[00:24:43] Oliver Weidlich: and

[00:24:45] Gerry Scullion: you said, yeah, well, I don't care.

[00:24:48] Gerry Scullion: Come and get music. Um, if, if it's in the wrong hands. . Well, what are the, what's the worst things that can happen? Because there's two sides of the conversation. One, the, the user pays [00:25:00] and they pay heavily for the service and the device, and they manage their data. Or the other side of it is someone like Facebook, they create the devices, they leverage the data, and they sell it on to advertisers.

[00:25:15] Gerry Scullion: What, what are the kind, the kind of the pros and cons for boats there in that sentence? Because you need to get mass adoption for, in order to become normalized. Otherwise, you're gonna end up seeing these people walking around cities. Talking to their glasses and, um, instantly they're like, they're the ones with the money.

[00:25:31] Gerry Scullion: Let's mug

[00:25:31] Oliver Weidlich: them. . Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Well, and, and we saw, you know, variations of this with the glass hole when Google Glass came out, right? Yeah. And, and that social element. So I think there's, there's two sides of that. There's the social aspect, which is how am I perceived? Yeah. You know, there's that element of, well, 20 years ago if somebody was walking around without a mobile next to their head and talking to themselves, you would've called them insane.

[00:25:58] Oliver Weidlich: But now we're all happily walking around with [00:26:00] our AirPods in and yeah, no one's blinking an eyelid. So I think there's this socialization of technology and the right timing of that, and that needs to be slow and deliberate. From and, and carefully done to build that trust. Yeah. Uh, with that consumer base to make sure that they feel they are in control and that there is the benefit there.

[00:26:21] Oliver Weidlich: Now, you know, you can say that about Facebook because there's lots of people who engage with Facebook and they have what, to what degree have they given up that privacy and to what degree? For, for what? And will that be different with an AR experience? I, I still expect that there would be a, a sliding scale.

[00:26:40] Oliver Weidlich: Some people will be more ready to do that. Some people will be a lot less. Yeah. In, in my, you know, I come from very much the perspective of, uh, data ownership by the individual and, and data control by the individual. Now, if that individual. Has the option and decides to, uh, [00:27:00] monetize some of their information to, to subsidize a service or whatever, then that could be up to them.

[00:27:06] Oliver Weidlich: But I think these types of technology are inherently so much more personal that it, it, it will become, while it might be less visible to people today who are engaging with services like we've mentioned and what they do give up because it's, it's. It's not there in their face. This will literally be in their face.

[00:27:26] Oliver Weidlich: Right? Yeah. Nobody wants to see a bunch of ads pop in, uh, to their field of view as they're walking down the street. So, so I think those business models will always have an influence and, and they'll always precise. They'll be sliding scales, but I think the emphasis will be on, uh, individual control over that data.

[00:27:44] Oliver Weidlich: How do you see and. And sorry. And, and, and I think part of our interest, uh, in engaging with this area now, knowing that it's not gonna be a commercial reality in, in, you know, a short period of time is that we need to start thinking about [00:28:00] these things now because the technology, yeah, for better or worse is happening.

[00:28:03] Oliver Weidlich: And there's that investment and people are exploring this stuff. We as designers, who, uh, want to represent or understand the human condition and represent that and hear that voice in. Pro those design processes, whether they're hardware or software, uh, needs to be happening now. And, and one of the groups is the XR Guild, who, you know, are really looking at those ethical principles to to, to guide design around these types of technologies.

[00:28:29] Oliver Weidlich: Have they created

[00:28:30] Gerry Scullion: a set of principles that are ready to show they have. They have. Yeah. Okay.

[00:28:33] Oliver Weidlich: So maybe, so if you go to the xr, uh, that'll lead you to

[00:28:38] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, yeah. Put a link in the channel for that. The principal, one of the things that people, um, like to, to jump on the bandwagon and, and talk about Google Glass as being like, oh, it was the wrong execution and stuff like that.

[00:28:50] Gerry Scullion: Well, a lot of the time, people fail to really understand that timing is one of the biggest, uh, cons, sort of be, it's one of the restrictive factors for [00:29:00] success of innovative products like this. Mm-hmm. . Um, where, how far away do you think we are in terms of if something like the Google as was released today?

[00:29:09] Gerry Scullion: I think it would've a greater chance

[00:29:11] Oliver Weidlich: of success. I agree. And, and if it was, Integrated, uh, I think there's a couple of months. It was really a heads up sort of type device. Absolutely. Heads up display type device. Yeah. Uh, had some understanding, but a lot of it was about notifications and things like that.

[00:29:29] Oliver Weidlich: I think. , there are things that if you are integrated with the physical envi environment around you to a greater detail that will offer more value. Mm-hmm. , but I think you could have a similar product that is more deeply integrated with my mobile device and acting more like a, a display for my mobile device.

[00:29:51] Oliver Weidlich: Like I'll leave my mobile into my pocket, similar to, you know, a, a smartwatch sort of thing where I'm attending less to the full screen of my mobile. [00:30:00] And looking at more stuff through glasses. I, I fully expect it to start with because of battery and the, you know, not everybody obviously wears glasses. I don't wear glasses all the time just when I'm, I'm reading and things.

[00:30:11] Oliver Weidlich: But, uh, people need to adapt to that form factor. And there's some really other interesting form factors in the AR space as well that, um, there's a company called, uh, humane, who's a couple of ex apple, um, alumni who are creating an ar. What's probably gonna be a display tech, a laser display tech. So you sort of wear it on your chest potentially, and it will output a display onto your hand or onto a surface near you that you could potentially then interact with.

[00:30:43] Oliver Weidlich: Right? And it's using a camera for computer vision input, uh, and potentially intelligent agent for input, uh, and conversational ui. But, um, it doesn't necessarily have to be a, a set of glasses. There's a bunch of, of

[00:30:57] Gerry Scullion: really interesting, so it, it's now [00:31:00] in, in the, um, the realms of, uh, you know, kind of 10, 15 years.

[00:31:05] Gerry Scullion: We, you probably think this is gonna be sooner. Oh

[00:31:07] Oliver Weidlich: yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. So I think, uh, within five years we'll see. Uh, things that are useful to us that we are wearing. Uh, it might be in a shorter, uh, session duration. It might be something like using, uh, for virtual screen use. So maybe I'm, uh, a businessman or a businesswoman and I'm at my computer at my desk a lot of the time, but then I want to go on a business trip and I don't want someone looking over my shoulder when I'm in the airplane.

[00:31:37] Oliver Weidlich: but I want a big screen, but I don't wanna carry a big screen. So I could just have my device, whether that's my mobile, whether it's a keyboard that I pop in into my bag. And it is, the computing power is contained in there. Yeah. And that I'm using this, this headset as the display technology, and that's a very sort of standard use case, but, , I think there's some opportunities there that are sort of low hanging [00:32:00] fruit that will again, sort of make this a bit more mainstream, not not general, uh, customer, but mm-hmm.

[00:32:08] Oliver Weidlich: be built around those verticals. Uh, there's a lot of ar use in, in industrial settings at the moment with, um, yeah. With various, uh, information and, and so on. So yeah, I think it will broaden out. There will be something that is consumer priced, uh, though. A strong uptake and over that sort of maybe five to 10 year period, the, that consumer uptake will, will increase.

[00:32:32] Oliver Weidlich: You know, there's a lot of rumors that Apple will bring out something this year, um, that will probably be quite niche and developer orientated to start with. Uh, but the aim is to get the developers on board and, and creating these, these, whether it's um, you know, applications or content or, or, or experiences of some type.

[00:32:49] Oliver Weidlich: And I. That's the interesting thing, like I really think that we'll move away from this app focused experience, uh, or [00:33:00] to a more broader engagement across different devices of which the glasses are, uh, part of an output or. Or whatever that might be. The way, the way I see constellation of devices, the constellation

[00:33:13] Gerry Scullion: of devices, I see it like, um, uh, like a, a recipe, a recipe thing.

[00:33:18] Gerry Scullion: Mm-hmm. , and you're adding an ingredient. The app is the ingredient you're adding into your own system, and, and it adds that extra flavor to it if you want.

[00:33:26] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah, I'm going out for this particular type of experience. Yeah. Do I wear my watch? Do I wear my glasses? Do I take my phone? Like I'll go out for a walk now and I don't take my phone anymore because I've got my watch and my, my headphones, right?

[00:33:38] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah. Um, if I don't need to take photos, then that doesn't really matter that I don't have my phone.

[00:33:44] Gerry Scullion: So all of the stuff that we're speaking about here, um, Tends to use a number of factors like environment and um, so forth. What about the biometric understanding of the contextual understanding of when is the right time based on the mental wellbeing [00:34:00] of.

[00:34:00] Gerry Scullion: The, the person using it. So the amount of times I use my, my, my sort of notifications come through my device and I say two words to it and begins an F and finishes it off . I'm like, not the right time. I'm obviously rushing to get the kids, my heart rate is up. Um, and like I don't, I don't care about this stuff, about, you know, an offer for discounted trainers.

[00:34:22] Gerry Scullion: I'm like, not now. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. , where's the potential for this? Because like, like I'm wearing smartwatch and my biometrics are being read, it's being owned by Google, Fitbit. And, um, and when I look at, you know, I spoke to Amy Butcher a number of weeks ago who, um, CPO at, uh, a Chief Behavioral Officer, should I say, at l an American business, listen to and really, uh, it's really, really interesting because their business model is around the change of the behavior.

[00:34:50] Gerry Scullion: Um, and. That's massively gonna shift the service design capabilities and potential for services. I, I can see so [00:35:00] many, um, empowering pieces that could alter how we design services moving forward. Mm. But that biometric, that human aspect is the bit that I keep on coming back to like, you know, um, when and how we go about doing these things.

[00:35:18] Gerry Scullion: What are your thoughts on that?

[00:35:20] Oliver Weidlich: Yeah, look by by, and let's go with the glasses for a second. You know, things. Understanding where somebody's gaze goes. Mm-hmm. is potentially has huge implications if that data can be accessed by a third party, right? Yeah. Uh, or conveyed even to people within that environment potentially.

[00:35:41] Oliver Weidlich: Uh, so that privacy element is, is really critical from, from our perspective. And again, you, you want. I, I think the onus is on us to design better experiences that people will want to engage with. And again, the notifications, you know, world that we live in [00:36:00] at the moment is just too overwhelming. Yeah. And it, it's not right.

[00:36:03] Oliver Weidlich: And it, you almost need to reset that and go, okay, what do I, what is important enough for me? And that's why I think this sort of focus mode type approach. Is interesting because you can whitelist things or you can blacklist things and you know, in certain contexts you can turn some information on and, and some things off.

[00:36:24] Oliver Weidlich: Right. And you know, part of my passion is design fiction and, and. Being able to explore that future state and think through, okay, what could that be? Because speculative, yeah, it's not gonna be tomorrow, right? We're not gonna have an uh, artificial intelligence through an intelligent agent. I mean, we get frustrated enough with the various intelligent agents that we have in our lives that can't really do too much beyond music.

[00:36:49] Oliver Weidlich: And timers. Right. And not even that very well, half the time. So true. So I appreciate that. It's, it's far from a solved problem in and of themselves. Intelligent agent, speech [00:37:00] interaction, iot, all of those things. Uh, but I do believe that we need to start thinking about how that might happen. And one of the frameworks that we came up with was this, this idea of.

[00:37:11] Oliver Weidlich: You know, instead of just this app-based model, what might an ar sort of layers of experience? We, we refer to it as, uh, how might that help? And that's things like, There is a notification lab because the notifications are still gonna be critical. Yeah. But that, but that filter on that we expect would be so much stronger.

[00:37:30] Oliver Weidlich: Right. Like, uh, don't bother me unless it's a person that I, that is in my close family or a, you know, work colleague or whatever my whitelist says. Yeah. And between these hours and my colleagues can't contact me within. They know I'm in Fiji or Japan or wherever, so don't contact me cuz I'm not working.

[00:37:48] Oliver Weidlich: Or actually you can contact me, whatever those might be. You can do some of those. Those focus modes and, and constraints and settings, they're complex to set up, but hopefully the idea is exactly that. The. [00:38:00] Artificial intelligence through the intel intelligent agent will be able to adapt to that over time and, and generative ai.

[00:38:07] Oliver Weidlich: We've got a, a client who's doing some fascinating work, uh, in that space of being able to help individuals within a home, uh, who are neurodiverse or have different range of physical impairments via an intelligent agent and adapt. Uh, Their capabilities and the nuances of their behavior. Right. Which only might play out over weeks or months.

[00:38:29] Oliver Weidlich: Right. Like Yeah. Or seasons even. Right. Because they have such a strong influence on our behavior. Something that happens. Yeah. Uh, when the sun goes down in summer is, might be significantly different to the same time in winter.

[00:38:41] Gerry Scullion: How are you staying on top of this? Uh, this not gonna say way, I think, but this, this, um, emerging part of design, like these conversations that we need to be having.

[00:38:52] Gerry Scullion: Uh, I know you used to run a, a mobile group in Sydney. Was it Mondays or something? Remember

[00:38:58] Oliver Weidlich: Mobile Monday? Yes, [00:39:00] mobile Monday, Sydney and, and also the mobile industry group under the Australian main

[00:39:04] Gerry Scullion: industry special computing. Uh, uh, no

[00:39:09] Oliver Weidlich: was an . Um, you put me on the spot. The, I am thinking through that. Uh, and I think there's an opportunity to have conversations and over the last con couple of years we've been communicating with a small group both.

[00:39:25] Oliver Weidlich: Locally here in Australia and also globally. Firstly, to listen to understand who is out there. There are amazing people out there like Ali Heston from a UX perspective, uh, who worked with Magic Leap and is with Niantic or until recently with Niantic. There's a lot of thought leaders out there who write amazing stuff and a lot of that is tracking them, understanding.

[00:39:45] Oliver Weidlich: Uh, but we. And, and we've been sort of keeping that a bit in-house so that we have something sensible to say when we engage in those conversations. Yeah. Uh, but, but another element of what we are doing is we're [00:40:00] doing a lot of that prototyping and thinking through frameworks and all sorts of things in-house just to get us in that mode of thinking.

[00:40:08] Oliver Weidlich: Pure research. This is not stuff that we are doing on our UX consultancy day to day. Yeah. We might go and talk to, um, you know, a big telco or a big retailer about what we, what we are doing, cuz it's interesting. But we are not selling this as a service yet because we're still in that process and we are doing things like engaging PhD researchers to look out at the academic research that HA is happening in this field and collate that and draw that back in.

[00:40:32] Oliver Weidlich: Because again, I want us to be founded in hci. And, and really sort of the use cases be extrapolated through the information and, and pure research that's happened. And us obviously extend those to prototypes in maybe different fields or whatever, but then do user research as they go out, uh, through a different domain or through a different Yeah.

[00:40:54] Oliver Weidlich: Interface type or, or whatever. It's kind of amazing

[00:40:56] Gerry Scullion: because the, the world HCI kind of died off a little bit when [00:41:00] UX kind of, you know, took over the world. It's almost like HCI is returning in some

[00:41:05] Oliver Weidlich: sense. Yeah, I think there's a greater appreciation for the importance of rigorous research. Yeah. Uh, and research methodology.

[00:41:15] Oliver Weidlich: And you know, one of the things that I've always, which I love about the, the UX industry is you can be. The, the technology, the rate of technology change is exciting and there are exciting things happening. Yeah. Um, there's certain things that I'm not interested in. I'm not really focused on vr. Somebody might be really excited by that.

[00:41:36] Oliver Weidlich: Um, I'm focused on this particular area of spatial computing and there's so much changing that it's evolving and we watch it evolve. And with mobile we saw that and I think as people who. Especially in Australia, I think we have this mindset that these things are designed by global operators and thrust upon us.

[00:41:59] Oliver Weidlich: [00:42:00] Yeah. And sometimes we can think at that level and whether it's designing services, we might be not be designing the OS per se, but we might be designing services, but we can still, it's not a solved problem. That these people know the answer and are doing the right thing. And sometimes they haven't had time to do that research or to think through that particularly use case or that extrapolation.

[00:42:24] Oliver Weidlich: So yeah, I think it's, it's a fun thing. And that's, you know, obvious, uh, I've, I've the luxury of running my own company and being able to play around with stuff and absolutely explore this stuff.

[00:42:34] Gerry Scullion: One last question for you, and it's, uh, one that I'm sure every listener is probably thinking about here. Do you think it'll be T1 or T2 that is gonna come back in timely ,

[00:42:47] Oliver Weidlich: that side of things?

[00:42:48] Oliver Weidlich: Yes. Uh, I do, I do not have an opinion on that. Mm-hmm. , um, hopefully the, uh, AR glasses will identify them and, uh, remove them with the lasers [00:43:00] beaming out from, uh, yeah. We'll, tee is a little bit funnier I think. Well, Jerry, I'm so old that I'll probably be dead by then anyway. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:43:09] Gerry Scullion: Oliver. People wanna reach out to you and, um, you know, ask questions and stuff like that.

[00:43:14] Gerry Scullion: Um, we could put a link to your business website in there as well for people to, to follow you cuz you're definitely doing some interesting stuff and there's a great video on your website as well, which understands and outlays spatial computing. Um,

[00:43:25] Oliver Weidlich: but what are the best challenges? We've got a bunch of other videos that, um, in not too distant future will be linked from that.

[00:43:33] Oliver Weidlich: Uh, uh, to display some examples of what I've been talking about, prototypes that we are working on where their video prototypes or in headset prototypes, uh, to showcase. And of course, Twitter was a thing I used to be, uh, there and, and both reading and and talking. But I've done made the move over to Master On, but I've.

[00:43:51] Oliver Weidlich: It's not quite, I, I'm enjoying it, but the AR community interestingly doesn't seem to have migrated and I thought they would've been some of the first, or maybe I'm just, I just [00:44:00] can't see them. I'm not sure yet. I'm over there as well. Paula Scott Janssen though. He's, he's

[00:44:04] Gerry Scullion: the, uh, yeah, of course. He's the man who's, who's kind of like directing me on some of the stuff on M but um, we'll put a link to your LinkedIn as well.

[00:44:12] Gerry Scullion: Um, yes, LinkedIn. Yes. That's

[00:44:13] Oliver Weidlich: probably the most

[00:44:13] Gerry Scullion: be. These things. Yeah, absolutely. But Oliver, listen, like I finished the episodes with, um, thanking the guests for their openness, their honesty, and their vulnerability as well, and answering a lot of the questions. And hopefully I didn't put you in the spot too much today, but I really, really enjoyed speaking

[00:44:27] Oliver Weidlich: with you, Oliver Jerry.

[00:44:28] Oliver Weidlich: It was a, a true honor. Um, what are you, what, how many are you up to now? Are you nearly at two 50?

[00:44:33] Gerry Scullion: 251, I think it is, 2 52

[00:44:36] Oliver Weidlich: on this. Wow. Like, and, and thank you because it, it's such a valuable resource and it's so lovely to get all the different perspectives that you gather from around the world. It's, it's really amazing.

[00:44:48] Oliver Weidlich: So, oh, cool. Really appreciate the work that you do. Really, really

[00:44:50] Gerry Scullion: appreciate that coming from yourself. So, um, thanks so much for that. All the best.

[00:44:58] Gerry Scullion: There you go, folks. I hope you enjoyed [00:45:00] that episode and if you enjoyed it and want to listen to more, why not visit? This is hate where you can learn more about what we are up to and also explore our courses. Whilst you're there, thanks again for listening.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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