#50: Karl Krantz on cultivating community through Silicon Valley VR meet up & conference, planning a VR career path, Old VR vs New VR, Second Life lessons on identity & governance, & VR as the Final Platform

Karl Krantz is one of the co-founders of the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meet-up and conference, and he’s been strategically moving towards a full-time career within virtual reality for over 15 years. It started for him with exploring imaginal virtual worlds through Dungeons and Dragons, and he’s been trying to manifest those worlds through the medium of VR ever since.

karl-almost-smile-269x200He talks about the collaborative nature of this new consumer VR movement as a part of the current Internet culture, and sees that as a key component as to why VR is being more successful now than in the previous VR hype peak in the early 90s. The technology wasn’t also there, but the culture of openly sharing knowledge has been a key to the momentum that VR is seeing — starting with the collaborative funding of the Oculus Rift.

He talks about the differences between Old VR and New VR, and how the consumer VR movement has a different quality of energy and vitality that seems to be lacking in the legacy VR populations. SVVR is definitely more focused on cultivating and supporting this new, consumer VR movement while incorporating the wisdom and lessons from “Old VR.”

Karl then discusses some the lessons that the VR community can learn from Second Life, including how we treat identity and governance in virtual worlds. He also is optimistic about High Fidelity’s approach and questions whether or not Second Life will have to restart from scratch. Again, this interview was conducted a few days before Second Life announced that they were indeed starting from scratch and rebuilding they system from the ground up to have a stronger foundation for integrating with a lot of the innovations of this consumer VR revolution.

Finally, he talks about what he sees as an exciting next couple of decades as VR develops. He sees VR as being potentially more important than the written language, and allowing people to do nearly anything and be any one. There are good and bad manifestations of VR, but that in the end it’ll prove to be less abstract than the written language and eventually be no higher level than VR and that it be the “Final Platform” as Michael Abrash called it.

Reddit discussion here.

0:00 – Intro. Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meet-up and conference. SVVR created a year ago b/c consumer VR was a thing, and wanted to cultivate community to share learnings. Want to foster an diverse ecosystem
1:13 – Strong of collaboration this time around to foster a movement. Tech wasn’t there the first time around. People were competitive before and didn’t share their learnings. There’s an Internet sharing culture, and collaborative nature of crowd-sourcing.
2:43 – Passion of VR. Intrinsically motivation
3:18 – Strategic decisions to be involved in VR. First got involved into virtual worlds via Dungeons and Dragons. Entranced with potential of virtual worlds. Got into sci-fi and cyberpunk, and Jaron Lanier was a big influence as well. Got involved in telepresence professionally. User of Second Life. Always planned to get back into VR. Was going to join the local VR meet-up in Silicon Valley, and was shocked that he needed to create it with Cymatic Bruce
6:36 – Stealth start-ups that are in attendance. Ones that they know of like Sixense Entertainment. Jaunt was in attendance for a long time, and couldn’t talk about what they were doing for a long time.
8:12 – How many people at each event. 100 people. Decide to do bigger monthly events? Or stay small.
8:45 – Balance of new people and experienced people at user groups. Hard to get too technical in that environment. Start conversations. Quickly explain what they’re doing and talk more tech details offline. Get to try it out.
10:25 – What SVVRCon meant and what was accomplished. Perfect size and energy was amazing. Great sense of community and enthusiastic vibe. Can they scale that to a full conference? Yes. The more diversity, the better.
11:51 – Split between Old VR and New VR. SVVRCon is the essence of New VR and the consumer space. Future focus on consumer and New VR energy. Lots to learn from legacy VR pioneers. It’s not affordable and accessible. VR is now affordable, and that’s a success milestone. R&D demos can be interesting, but not as relevant if people can’t take it home. Take VR home and hack it. Different worldview between old and new VR. SVVR is skewed towards New VR
15:18 – Consumer VR. Second Life is kind of bridge between old and new VR. Spent a lot of time in Second Life. It’s a magical place. Open metaverse that’s more open than a game. Lots of garbage content, but also a lot of beautiful creations. Thriving economy. Second Life was always designed with VR in mind. They’ve pioneered so many things. What do people do in Second Life? They do what they’ll do in VR. Hang out in night clubs. Build a house. Have a boat. They’re in the best advantage of VR. There a ton of communities. Requires some fundamental changes to make the jump to VR. Can’t do that in an incremental way. Second Life may need to restart
19:21 – High Fidelity and open protocol approach. Provide services around an open protocol. Allows to have speciality companies like Mixamo for avatar creation.
20:25 – Why Second Lifers need to be involved with VR now more than over. Privacy. Identity and Governance. Cut to the core of the framework of a society. Agree with High Fidelity’s direction. Choose to reveal your identity when you want. As an owner of a space you can choose whether you want anonymous or authenticated. Early days of Second Life, they talked about being a citizen of a new world. Need a say in governance, and if you don’t have a say, then you’re not going to have a say. Need representation and governance to feel welcomed. Successful ones will have a say.
23:52 – Next steps for getting involved with VR. VR launchpad to switch between VR demos without getting out of VR. Intrigued with how do you find and sample VR experiences and virtual world locations. Hard to find and navigate these VR locations.
25:25 – Kite & Lightning’s portal into one reality into another reality. Taste test environments to feel what’s it like to be inside of it.
26:45 – Potential for VR. VR will be a serious step in the development of mankind. More important than the written language. Less abstract than written language and a new medium. No higher level than VR. Can do anything and be anyone. Good and Bad. It’ll be interesting next couple decades
28:20 – As significant as the Gutenberg Press to contain and share human experiences. VR encapsulates all experiences. VR as the final platform.
29:10 – Include neural implants as the final platform. Direct put images into your optic nerve with a screen.

Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast.

[00:00:11.915] Karl Krantz: My name is Carl Krantz, and I'm the founder and organizer of Silicon Valley Virtual Reality, also known as SVVR. And we throw a monthly virtual reality meetup in Mountain View, as well as the SVVR conference and expo. We created SVBR just over a year ago, back when it first became apparent that consumer virtual reality was going to finally be a thing. We strongly believe that making virtual reality affordable and accessible to hackers and developers and enthusiasts and people who are just passionate about it, that that's the inflection point for virtual reality. So we created this organization to provide a monthly space in a community and a platform, a forum for people to come together and share notes about development and share what they learn and show each other what they're working on because we want to help foster a diverse ecosystem and eventually an industry around this new medium of virtual reality.

[00:01:12.412] Kent Bye: Yeah, I guess that's one of the things that I've noticed in looking at this space is that there does seem to be a very strong sense of collaboration in the field because of the previous iterations of what happened in the 90s where it sort of came about and it didn't take hold. I sense that people really want to see virtual reality happen, so they're willing to step back from the competitive aspects a little bit at the moment and sort of foster a whole zeitgeist and a movement. Can you maybe comment on how you've seen that played out?

[00:01:41.052] Karl Krantz: Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree. I think that one of the things that went wrong the first time or the first few times with virtual reality, I mean, one, the technology just wasn't ready. It wasn't good enough to have an experience that was good enough to give you that sense of presence for any reasonable price. But one of the other things that went wrong is that people were competitive. They saw it as a big opportunity and they didn't necessarily share their learnings and share their notes with each other. And I think that's what's different now. I think You know, in part, this has just come about from the internet sharing culture that is, you know, just kind of changing the world and the way people learn and build things. And, you know, I think that comes out through, even through the way Oculus was initially funded, through crowdfunding. You know, people are willing to collaborate and come together and share what they know and share their resources. For a greater good and something that they're passionate about and virtual reality is something that you know most people that are in Virtual reality right now or in it because they're passionate about it because there's no money in it yet

[00:02:43.033] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that if there's one thing that I would characterize this community as is very passionate and enthusiastic. And whenever you have those combination of two things that it tends to draw in people who will end up spending a lot of their free time doing it without getting paid for it at all. I'm seeing that play out as well. People who are just trying to get involved and get in early, even though they may be carrying a full-time job.

[00:03:08.127] Karl Krantz: Yeah, it's that people who are intrinsically motivated are going to bring a lot more to the table than people who are doing it for money or, you know, because it's their job.

[00:03:16.573] Kent Bye: And maybe you could talk about your history with virtuality a little bit, because one thing I find interesting is that it seems like you got interested in it very early and have been making a lot of strategic decisions over the years.

[00:03:28.478] Karl Krantz: Yeah, I would say I've always known that my path was somehow connected to virtual reality. I mean, that's been the case. I actually think that the first virtual world that kind of sucked me in was not digital at all. It was Dungeons and Dragons. I mean, that's really how I learned how to read was through Dungeons and Dragons. you know for those who know back in the 70s and 80s you know Dungeons and Dragons was a role-playing game that you played basically in your imagination and you would get together with a group of people and create basically a virtual world and you would have your character your you know which I guess is the parallels an avatar and it just all happened in your imagination and I think that got me totally entranced with the idea of the possibilities of a virtual world. And then, you know, in the early 80s, my first computer came along and the first thing I wanted to do was create these virtual worlds that I had been creating and imagining in Dungeons & Dragons, but on a computer. And early text-based role-playing games were, I guess, the first virtual spaces like that that I became interested in. You know, I got into cyberpunk and science fiction, all the early cyberpunk, William Gibson and Werner Vinge and that stuff had made a big impact on me. And then Jaron Lanier in the 80s was, you know, he was kind of my idol and he was just talking about the possibilities of virtual reality. And I thought it just just captured everything in my imagination. It just seemed like a magical you could do anything, be anyone. And I just saw that as being like the ultimate use of technology, virtual reality. I mean, that's what it's all been leading towards. So yeah, I got involved in telepresence professionally as some of the first early telepresence systems back in the 90s, you know, high definition video conferencing and connecting two physical spaces together because it seemed in line with virtual reality. And it was really the closest I could get to the space. And I worked in the telepresence industry for about 15 years. And then a few years ago, you know, all along I've been following virtual reality and virtual worlds and I've been a big user of Second Life. And all along I've been kind of planning how to get back into virtual reality or how to get into it. And I always knew it was coming and I always believed in it. And a few years ago I decided, okay, it's becoming very close now and it's time. And I moved out to California from New York to be closer to Silicon Valley because that's, you know, where I saw the center of this stuff. where it would emerge from, and that's how I wound up out here. I got out here, I said I'll join the local virtual reality meetup. There was nothing. I was shocked that there was no virtual reality meetup in the center of Silicon Valley. There's SIGGRAPH and some of these other organizations, but they're not really hyper-focused on virtual reality. You know, I found some people online who were excited about the Oculus Rift and about the things that were going on. I met Cymatic Bruce and he had been talking about putting together a small group of people to meet in the library. And I said, well, Bruce, do you mind if I take that idea to the next level and create a large group of people that meets every month and we'll grow it, you know, as big as the demand calls for. And that's really how we created Silicon Valley Virtual Reality.

[00:06:35.402] Kent Bye: Wow. And so, I mean, I guess you're in the nexus of a location where there's a lot of stealth startups or emerging startups in this space. And so maybe talk about that in terms of the types of companies that you have seen that have emerged or maybe still kind of under the radar for a lot of people.

[00:06:53.320] Karl Krantz: Yeah, there's a couple different kind of companies that come out, especially to SVBR events. I mean, there's the companies we know of that are there all the time, like Sixth Sense, you know. They're a company that's been, they were a little bit early for virtual reality, but you know, I think the technology has kind of caught up with what they offer, and they have like a perfect technology at the perfect time. So they're very public about what they're doing, and that's great. There's also a lot of companies, a lot of people that come to our events, and they say, I'm with this company, and they'll tell you the name, and that's all they can say. So you just have to sit there and wonder, okay, what are these guys working on? That was the case with Jaunt for a long time. They were coming to SVVR events month after month, and there would be more of them each month. They're growing and growing. They're a funded company, but they weren't talking about what they were doing. Since then, they've now announced what they're doing. 3D stereoscopic, 360 cameras and the whole pipeline for developing cinematic content for virtual reality. But it's been interesting to see these people come in and they can't talk about it and then finally they can talk about it and then it's a lot of fun. But yeah, there are a lot more companies like that and a lot of people who come to our events and they're not ready to talk about what they're doing yet, but they're there and it's always fun to wonder which one of these guys is sitting on the next billion dollar idea and something that's going to change everything.

[00:08:12.639] Kent Bye: And how many people are usually coming out to these events then?

[00:08:15.663] Karl Krantz: So our space is fire code approved for 100 people. That's where we do our normal events. So we'll say there's 100 people every month. Sometimes it might get a little bit higher. That's one of the struggles we have. Our events fill up very quickly every month. We don't know, should we keep growing this? Do we want a monthly event that's 300 people? Or should we limit it to 100 people and just keep it there and first come, first serve kind of thing?

[00:08:44.729] Kent Bye: Yeah, I guess that's one challenge in terms of the user group, is that you either have the people who are brand new and never touched virtual reality, and they may be cold off the street and want to experience something for the first time, and then you have the expert enthusiasts at the other end. Within a user group, you have that dynamic where it's kind of hard sometimes to always serve those two ends of the spectrum, where it's the brand new people or the people who are the hardcore enthusiasts. What has your approach been in terms of striking that balance and trying to get the right mix in what you're trying to do?

[00:09:14.732] Karl Krantz: Yeah, we've tried to kind of spread it out a little bit. You know, we've had a few speakers and presenters who got pretty technical on, you know, here's how you develop for this specific tool inside of Unity, you know, using this. And we could definitely tell we lost a few people, you know, they just kind of their eyes glazed over and they're like, this is too deep for me. Yeah, I think that, you know, in that kind of environment, it's hard to get too technical anyway. I mean, it's really a good environment to start conversations and to kind of give people an overview of what you're working on and then, you know, let those more in-depth conversations happen organically offline. So we just let people explain from a high level what they're doing and hint at the technical aspect. But at each event, we definitely have a good 20% or so people that it's their first event, and some of them haven't even tried VR at all. So for them, it's just amazing to try it at all. The fact that it exists is a miracle. So getting into technical details about this and that, it can be a bit much. Yeah, you try to balance it.

[00:10:25.860] Kent Bye: And at this point, we're about three to four weeks out from when SVVRCon actually happened. And so I'm curious if you have any reflections in terms of what that event meant and what you were able to accomplish with it.

[00:10:40.563] Karl Krantz: Yeah, I mean, first of all, we're just really proud of how it came off. I think it was perfect. I think it was, you know, the perfect size. The energy was amazing. One of my biggest concerns about doing the conference was that at our monthly events, we have a really good sense of community and a really great energy. There's an electricity in the air. People are very optimistic and enthusiastic. And I was concerned that if we scaled this up to 400 people in a conference environment over two days, can we keep that energy level where it is and that excitement? And I actually think it was magnified at the conference. So I think we were concerned for no reason. It was actually the more people we brought in from more diverse backgrounds from across the world, the better that energy level got. So now I'm actually, you know, for a while we were worried, OK, maybe the bigger we get, the less exciting it will be. But actually, no, the more exciting it's going to be. So next year will definitely be bigger and better. And I think that the more people and the more diverse the people are, the more interesting the whole experience will be.

[00:11:50.579] Kent Bye: Yeah, I guess that's one thing I've noticed in the process of diving into this space is that there does seem to be this split between the old VR and new VR, with the new VR being a lot of the consumer-grade virtual reality. I'd say SVVR and the attendees and the exhibitors there were kind of the essence of this new VR that's emerging. And the old VR of the academia, the educators, the Second Life, the other virtual worlds, OpenSim, all the military stuff that's happening, and there's all sorts of medical research that's been happening in virtual reality that in some ways seems almost below the radar to this new virtual reality movement. Part of the reason why I started my podcast was to start to kind of bridge the gap between The old and new VR and to kind of really map out the space and everything that's happening But from your perspective, I'm curious about for you in the future of SV VR con whether or not you see it really just focusing on this consumer space or if in the future you're gonna try to Bring in all these other elements of people that have been doing stuff in virtual reality for a number of years. I

[00:12:58.010] Karl Krantz: Yeah, that's a great question. And it's actually core to I think what gives SVBR its flavor. So we are definitely skewed towards this new VR energy. But that said, there's a lot to learn from the people who've been down this road before, and especially the people who've stuck with it. I mean, there's, you know, a lot of people were in VR early on, and they kind of gave up. But there are a lot of people who stuck with it all along. And you've had some of them on your podcast here. You know, people that have been doing this for 20 years, 30 years, and they've just been believers all along. And there's something magical about the passion that carries someone through all those downturns, you know, the times when it was looking bleak for VR catching on at all. But there definitely is a slightly different approach in this new VR. And I think it's important to tune into that and to figure out what that is. And I think we're still figuring out, you know, what's different? Why is the energy so much higher, you know, among the new VR? You know, I come back to the fact that it's affordable and accessible. I mean, that's the difference for me. When people ask, you know, is VR going to be a success? I say, well, it already is because it's affordable. And that's all I ever wanted from VR was for it to be affordable enough to get it in your own home to play with it. And there's something really magic about that where, you know, and the academic and the military side, you know, sure, they're doing a lot of interesting stuff. But, you know, I spent a lot of time doing R&D in my career. And you can make amazing demos and you can show some really interesting technology. But if it's not something that people can get their hands on in the real world, it's just not as special. I don't know. There's something magical when you can just take it home and DIY and hack it and play with it. And I think that's the essence of the energy behind the new VR. You know, we definitely skew towards this new VR energy. And I don't know what the right words are, but there definitely is a different worldview between the two. And I think, you know, we try to bring in the wisdom and experience of the people that have been doing this for a long time. But we definitely skew more towards the new energy and finding the right balance, I think, is that's our challenge and one of our our greatest challenges, and I think we've done a pretty good job at that.

[00:15:17.855] Kent Bye: Yeah, for sure. I sort of, in my own mind, think of it as consumer VR, because I think it kind of describes a lot of the core qualities that are coming together, that are defining, starting with the technology, but also the people that are getting involved, or more indie DIY game developers, who are able to take all these technologies that are out there and start building these virtuality experiences. Yep. One bridge that I see between the old and new VR in some ways is Second Life because it's been around since 2003 but yet it's just getting like Oculus Rift support but for the most part it's been you interface with this virtual world through a mouse and keyboard and I see with Philip Rosedale moving on to High Fidelity It's like his second iteration of Second Life, you know, kind of building all the stuff that he wants to do from scratch. And so, since you've been involved with Second Life, I'm curious about your perspective in terms of what people who are into the new VR space, what they should be paying attention to in terms of what's happening in Second Life and what can be learned from that community.

[00:16:22.312] Karl Krantz: Yeah, Second Life is near and dear to my heart. I've spent a lot more hours than I should have in Second Life over the past, you know, 10 plus years. And I think it's a magical place. I mean, there's nothing else like it out there. as far as this kind of open metaverse. I mean, it's not technically open, but it's more open than a game. You know, it's basically an open world where they just created the tools and everyone created the world. The users created the world and, you know, and they did an amazing job. I mean, there's a lot of terrible garbage content in Second Life, but there's also a lot of really magical, beautiful creations that, you know, most people just don't know about because actually getting there and finding them is, you know, there's so many barriers to doing that. But, you know, they built this incredible thriving economy of, you know, X hundred million dollars per year. I mean, it's amazing that that even exists and that most people just don't know about it. But as far as like what lessons VR can take from Second Life, I mean, I think Second Life was always designed with the idea of virtual reality in mind. I mean, it was basically the best that was available at the time was just, you know, creating 3D on a screen and using your mouse and keyboard when they first designed it. But people in Second Life have pioneered so many things that people in the new VR world are just kind of figuring out now. You know, what do people do in Second Life? I mean, that's an interesting question because the answer to that is kind of what people are going to do in virtual reality. They hang out in nightclubs. Everyone wants to be a nightclub owner. Everyone wants to build a house and furnish it and pick out all their furniture. And, you know, everyone wants to have a boat. You know, all these things you learn in Second Life that I think are going to carry over to whatever virtual worlds, you know, are created in the future. As far as whether Second Life can make the jump, I think that They're in the best position out of anyone, really, to take advantage of virtual reality. But there are, you know, Second Life is not really one community. It's a collection of, you know, hundreds of smaller communities that have found a home in Second Life. And there's all these little subcultures. And they all have different agendas, so it's really hard for any fundamental changes to happen in Second Life to the architecture. And I think that it requires some fundamental changes to kind of make the jump to virtual reality and to make the virtual reality version as good as it can be. And I'm not sure that they'll be able to do that. in an incremental way. I think it's going to require some serious just gutting of some things that exist and starting over. So maybe Philip Rosedale is on the right track by just starting over with High Fidelity. And it is very similar in many ways to Second Life, but, you know, very different and takes advantage of a lot of, you know, new ideas that were not possible back then.

[00:19:20.070] Kent Bye: Well, I think one of the things that really appeals to me for what Philip Rosedale is doing with High Fidelity is more of an open source approach of making a protocol and not creating a whole proprietary system, proprietary scripting languages, and a lot of costs to be able to even run.

[00:19:37.129] Karl Krantz: Yeah, I agree. I think that's the way to go for this kind of thing is to create these kind of, so they're taking this approach where they're providing services for this open protocol. And other people could provide those services as well. I mean, why would you think that Linden Lab, for example, is going to make the best tool for customizing your avatar? Anyone could make that tool. Why not have one company that kind of is the avatar customization tool? You know, maybe that's Mixamo or a company that kind of lives in that world. Why can't they connect with another company that provides the asset store? Why would all these things need to be controlled by one company? There's nothing to suggest that one company could be the best at all of these different functions. But if they could all work together, then we could have a really good experience.

[00:20:23.000] Kent Bye: Yeah, I imagine a metaverse evolving like the internet has, honestly. So something like a TCPIP of the metaverse level, having these open protocols, I think is going to be key. And one really interesting article that you wrote called, Why Second Lifers Need to be Part of the Virtual Reality Conversation Now More than Ever, I thought it was really interesting you said that people would now be more concerned about how we're going to deal with issues like identity and privacy, governance, and interoperability in this virtual reality metaverse. So I'm curious, what is your take on some of those issues in terms of identity, privacy, and governance?

[00:21:00.570] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so I think that's the most interesting part. I mean, that's the most fun. My favorite panel at the SVVR conference was the Metaverse panel because it, you know, touched on some of these topics. And I think that's just as far as a thought experiment goes, you know, you really can get into the it gets pretty existential pretty quickly. But, you know, I think you really can cut to the core of what is the ideal framework for a society, because that's basically what you're doing when you're building virtual worlds is you're starting over, and it's kind of in a way you're playing God. And sure, that's interesting, right? I really agree with most of what Philip Rosedale, the direction they're going with high fidelity. It makes perfect sense to me, you know, that you should be able to reveal your identity when you choose to someone, not just automatically, they're going to know who you are. And it makes sense to me that, you know, if I have a sim or a space or a virtual place that, you know, I can require you to reveal your identity to come there or I can make it open to completely anonymous avatars. I mean, I think we need both. in order to be truly, you know, in order for this technology to truly reach its potential, we need room for places where everyone is anonymous and can interact anonymously and in that kind of safety. And we need places where people are, you know, completely verified and identified. So we need a protocol that takes all these possible models into account. So that makes a lot of sense to me. As far as governance goes, I mean, I really liked in the early days of Second Life, how they really treated it as if it was a new country, and you are a resident of this new country. And they used a lot of language around that. And they kind of moved away from that as it got a little older and more mature, and probably as more lawyers got involved. actual real world lawsuits and test cases came up but i really think that if you're in a virtual world you become so emotionally attached to it and you have so much invested in it that you really need a say in the governance. And if you don't have that, you're just never going to feel comfortable. And you're always going to look for a place where you have that say. So I think whatever virtual worlds pop up in the future, the ones where there is some sort of representation and some sort of democratic process in the governance of that world. And by governance, I mean, in a virtual world, code is law. So it's actually defining the protocols. is a big piece of governance. So I think that the ones that are going to be most successful are the ones where people actually have a say because they're going to feel comfortable. They intuitively want a say in the rules of the world around them.

[00:23:42.721] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's interesting. We really are kind of replicating all of our things that are happening in the real world and putting into the virtual world when you start to think about it.

[00:23:50.768] Karl Krantz: Yeah.

[00:23:51.604] Kent Bye: So with you, and personally, I'm curious because I heard you talk about how you had quit your job for a while to do SCVR con full-time. Now that that's over, what's your next steps with getting involved with this virtual reality space?

[00:24:05.641] Karl Krantz: So I have a couple projects on the side that I'm also working on, and some of those I think have a lot of potential. So I have a project called VR Launchpad, which is kind of a 3D desktop application launcher for VR. And it allows you to jump back and forth between all of the various VR demos without leaving VR. It basically keeps you in VR. And it's intended to be very open so that you could drag and drop the latest application that someone just released that day into it, and it'll just work seamlessly. So you don't have to do a lot. And eventually, you know, I'd like to incorporate a distribution mechanism into that and a way to kind of sample the various worlds. I'm really intrigued with this problem of how do you find 3D immersive experiences? How do you sample them? How do you present them in a menu? You know, what does that look like? You know, if you want to give people a choice of a hundred places to go, a hundred experiences to have, how do you lay that out for someone? You know, I think that that was one of the biggest problems with Second Life was there's a lot of magic places in there, but it's really hard to find them. And they never really cracked that. So I've been playing with a lot of ideas and solutions to that problem, because I think that's just probably one of the most interesting problems of this new virtual world future.

[00:25:24.157] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's interesting because I had been going through Kite and Lightning's different demos and they have the KNL station which is you get into like this hovering train and it floats you into this portal and then you go into their other experience and that one of the things they had said was that they wanted to take you from one reality into another world that's more surreal and so more of an easy transition and so I imagine that doing some sort of 3D rendering of actual physical spaces where instead of a 2D icon, maybe there is some sort of 3D icon that people have that would be some type of door or portal or gateway into their experience.

[00:26:04.829] Karl Krantz: Yeah, exactly. So that's what I'm playing with with VR Launchpad is I'm trying different ideas here. And you know, right now the piece I'm working on next is actually a way to taste test that environment so you can quickly flip through them and kind of get a sense for what it feels like to be inside of it, as opposed to just looking at a picture of an icon. But that whole problem is really fascinating to me. So that's my other project besides SVVR right now. I have another software project which is not really announced yet, but is in the early stages that I'm working on with a couple other people. It could be a lot of fun, but more about that at some time soon.

[00:26:40.232] Kent Bye: Cool. And finally, I'm curious what your perspective is on what the ultimate potential for virtual reality is.

[00:26:50.345] Karl Krantz: My favorite question. So with a straight face, I can say that I believe that virtual reality is a seriously significant step in the development of mankind, of humanity. I think that it's more significant than the invention of the written language. I think it's that big because we're taking the ability to not just tell people about an experience or tell people a story, but directly transporting someone into a new world and putting them in a story. I think it's less abstract than the written language. And it's, you know, an entirely new medium. And, you know, the most powerful medium that I can imagine. I mean, I don't think you can get any more, you know, there's no higher level that I can imagine in my head than virtual reality. Because you can do anything, you can be anyone. I mean, it's the most powerful medium that we can imagine. I think it's impossible to overstate how important it is. It'll have tremendous impact on our society and, you know, some for good, some for bad. I'm an optimist and I always think there'll be more good than bad with the new technology. But it's going to be a really, really interesting next few decades, I think, as this stuff permeates our culture and changes the world.

[00:28:13.447] Kent Bye: Yeah, just in my own research into the archetypal cycles of history, I kind of liken it to the Gutenberg press. This is as significant as the Gutenberg press and books being able to contain the written language and knowledge and information. This is a way to contain human experience that taps directly into our perceptions. And that is a new communication medium that I think is going to be revolutionary and kind of bring forth this new enlightenment of potential experiences that we're able to share with each other.

[00:28:44.374] Karl Krantz: Yep, I agree. And I don't think that's to say that it's better. Like there are things you can do in the written word that you will not be able to do with direct experiences. But you can give the experience of the written word inside of a virtual experience. So it's kind of like it encapsulates all other mediums as well. So that makes it kind of the ultimate medium. I think it was, was it Carmack or was it a brash who said it's not just a new medium, it's the final medium.

[00:29:10.104] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that's true. Yeah, it's funny because at the Immersive Education Summit talking to the founder there, Aaron Walsh, and he basically was saying that every technology goes through phases where it has like a grandfather effect, you know, where there's different generations. And VR is this generation, but I would actually hesitate to say that it's the final one because there is some presentations there with some early research that hasn't been released yet. about neural implants that really starts to get into the matrix type of tapping directly into our perceptual systems that I thought was way further out than it actually is. That seems to be right around the corner of the next phase in iteration. So when I hear of VR as the final platform, I kind of have some hesitation now after seeing that.

[00:29:59.231] Karl Krantz: I would actually include that as VR. I mean, whether it's a screen or you're directly tapping into the optical nerve or the brain, I think that's still VR to me. But I guess that's a matter of semantics, really. But your point is interesting. Yeah, I've actually also spoken to a few people recently who are actually working at companies that are working on this kind of directly putting images into your optic nerve without screens. And they are convinced that this stuff is a lot closer than I ever imagined as well. So it'll be a very interesting few years, I think.

[00:30:32.060] Kent Bye: Yeah, exciting times indeed. Well, Carl, thank you so much for joining me today.

[00:30:37.084] Karl Krantz: Hey, thanks for having me and thanks for doing all these great interviews. I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone at the SVVR conference, but I feel like I did because I've been listening to your interviews. So it's a great service to the community.

[00:30:48.833] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, thanks so much.

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