#647: Merging IRL events with VR via SVVR’s Reality Portals & Metaverse Intiative

karl-almost-smile-269x200May 16th is the five-year anniversary for Silicon Valley Virtual Reality meetup, and founder Karl Krantz is announcing a couple of new initiatives as SVVR reorganizes itself as a public-benefit corporation. They’re going to be formally announcing their Metaverse Initiative that is going to be bringing Reality Portals to VR events, which will allow people virtually attend VR events put on by SVVR and others through social VR experiences like High Fidelity. They’ve created a screen that can be placed at VR events that provides a low-latency window into a VR world, and allows for serendipitous interactions between co-located events and the virtual attendees.

As part of their larger metaverse initiative, SVVR wants to be able to merge VR worlds together so that virtual avatars could be mirrored and projected into multiple VR worlds at once. So a person could use the High Fidelity interface, but have their avatar and voice interactions cloned and mirrored within a WebVR world. Krantz showed me a working prototype of this feature, and it’s super impressive that this is even possible. So they’re not only working towards making it possible to be in multiple virtual worlds at the same time, but in a way that these fused virtual worlds will have an interface to IRL, co-located VR events including SVVR meetups, the Maker Faire, and Augmented World Expo.

I had a chance to catch up with Krantz to talk about SVVR’s five-year anniversary, their Reality Portal & Metaverse Initiatives, as well as their new SVVR Studios and how they’re planning on to sustaining themselves as a mission-driven, public-benefit corporation.


The other initiative that Krantz is announcing is the ability for start-ups to become Passport members of SVVR Studios, which is the new co-working office space that provides access to demo rooms and meeting spaces for start-ups to have a home base to have meetings and gatherings within the heart of Silicon Valley. Passport members will gain certain benefits at SVVR Studios, but they’ll also provide the foundation to help to support all of the other various SVVR community initiatives, educational programs, networking opportunities, and teleconferencing technologies that SVVR is developing. SVVR is also considering starting a Patreon to have other ways that community members can support all of their various initiatives.

SVVR has been at the heart of the consumer VR renaissance, and they’re in a transitional period of trying to find new models to sustain all of their community efforts. They are doubling-down on supporting the VR community, and helping to drive open standards for decentralized social VR interoperability that are important for users, but that are not at the top of the priority list for walled garden VR applications.

SVVR has always had people wanting to attending their events using the technologies that they’re promoting, and they’re starting to take the steps required in order to start to merge the virtual and physical realities starting with their Reality Portal. There is a lot of amazing potential for what’s possible and where this could go in terms blending social AR and VR technologies with co-located events. SVVR hopes to be on the bleeding edge of experimenting with how to blend and balance virtual embodiment and participation with co-located events. Their five-year anniversary meetup celebration is on May 16th, and you can attend virtually through High Fidelity at https://hifi.place/svvr starting at 6:30p PT.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

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Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. So today, May 16th, 2018, is the five-year anniversary for SVVR. So the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Meetup started on May 16th, 2013, by Carl Krantz and Bruce Wooden. And they met pretty much every month for a year. And then on their one-year anniversary, they held the very first SAVR conference and expo, which was at that point, the first consumer virtual reality gathering that was happening within the VR industry. So they've done at this point, four different conferences. And now on their five-year anniversary, they're kind of taking a step back and doubling down and recommitting to the community initiatives and efforts. So they've created a new location, the SVR Studio, which is located very close to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. It's this place that's very centrally located within Silicon Valley, so that if startups want to go and have a place where they can have meetings and demos, they can become a member. So they're relying upon having startups and other community members become members of their passport program to have the various benefits of that. But they're also launching this multiverse initiative, which is very ambitious and very amazing. And They've essentially created these reality portals, which are these screens where you can go and have these low latency interactions while you're at an event, co-located in an event in real life, and you're able to talk to a screen and have interactions with people within the virtual worlds. One of the big challenges of running events about VR is people are always saying, well, how can I attend and participate while I'm in VR? And so they're trying to really start to figure that out. And the first step is to have this reality portal. And I think they have a lot of ambitions for what that looks like of blending the virtual and real world together over time with both augmented reality and virtual reality and what that could look like. So they're really kind of driving that initiative forward and how to really make all these different social VR programs play nice with each other. So I had a chance to sit down with Carl Krantz to talk about where SAVR has been, where they're at and where they're going, and some of these new initiatives that they're working on. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of Oasis of VR podcast. So this interview with Carl happened on Thursday, May 10th, 2018 at the SAVR studios in Mountain View, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:36.937] Karl Krantz: Hi, my name is Carl Krantz, and I'm the founder of SVVR, also known as Silicon Valley Virtual Reality. Next week, we are celebrating our five-year anniversary. We are the world's largest, longest-running VR meetup community. We were actually the first VR meetup in the U.S., or at least since the 90s when we started back in May of 2013.

[00:03:01.326] Kent Bye: Great, yeah. So May of 2013, I went to the very first Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference on May 19th and 20th, 2014. And then that's when I started the Voices of VR podcast. And at that point, it was the one-year anniversary of SVVR. And I got my Oculus Rift on January 1st, 2014, and then did a game jam, and then was waiting for the first consumer conference. At that point, we didn't know if Oculus was going to hold it, or there was rumors that they had bought a domain name. But you decided to take this meetup that had been meeting consistently every month and then hold that first conference. And then now you've had, I guess, like four conferences after that, or four total. And then we're coming up on the anniversary, my four-year anniversary for the Voices of VR of May 19th, and your five-year anniversary for SVVR on May 16th. And so what are you announcing here?

[00:03:56.851] Karl Krantz: So as part of our five-year, one is we're just celebrating five years because that's a real achievement and it's been, you know, an interesting five years, a lot of ups and downs. But we are also announcing at our five-year anniversary a new initiative from us and kind of a restructuring of SVBR and a refocusing of our group. And the new initiative we call Multiverse and this is a core set of technologies and a service layer that allows people to attend events in VR on their own terms. So we've always been enamored with this idea of doing the VR conference in VR. It just makes sense. I mean, we've been thinking about this since the first meetup. At that first conference you were at, we had, I don't know if you remember, we had tons of Second Life Sims connected. So there were viewers in Second Life that were watching it. In that sense, though, they were basically watching a stream They were not really there in like this true sense, right? And we understand that it is unrealistic to have a VR conference in VR if, in order to do that, everyone basically has to pick a platform. And it's also unrealistic to expect that the real world side is going to go away. The real world, you're never going to be able to try, you know, I used to say, you can't try the DK2 from inside the DK1. The real world side is always going to be important. But the virtual side is also becoming increasingly important. Over the years, we've seen all of these VR communities start to form in VR, which is really great and we love that, but they're all forming as basically isolated walled gardens. A lot of these social platforms are really closed world gardens. You really can't get in there. You don't know what's happening in there. A lot of them have great things happening in there, but you don't get to experience what's happening if you're not in there as well. If you don't have an account, you're not bought in there. So the initiative we're announcing, Multiverse, is basically a way to tie the community together across the world. So tying VR worlds to each other, tying the real world to those VR worlds, and tying it all together. And because we're community-focused, we're community-driven, events are the perfect starting place for doing this. So tying it all together around a physical event and with a specific time and space. And I think this is the way where we really can push this forward.

[00:06:14.022] Kent Bye: Yeah, so I remember that, actually, that people who wanted to go to SVVR but couldn't actually physically go there, people were like, well, why can't you just have this in VR? And I think you've probably had that same question each and every year of doing a VR event.

[00:06:28.007] Karl Krantz: Yeah, yeah. I would have to say that's the most common question. And it actually got a lot of flack for it in the very beginning. Like, why are you doing this in the real world? What's wrong with you? But the answer is, well, if VR was good enough to do this in VR, then we wouldn't need to be having a conference about it in the first place.

[00:06:43.815] Kent Bye: Yeah, yeah, so I think it's there's always gonna be the haptic devices I think is the thing that comes to mind is like the next frontier where you actually have to have the physical technology I think at some point the headsets are gonna sort of settle down and then like people at this point, you know The technology is getting out there. There'll be VR arcades to see the top of the line but to a certain extent actually coming to physical reality to have a direct empirical experience of some of the technologies and It's going to be crucial. And for me, a huge part of going to conferences, I mean, it's sort of the magic of what I do as a podcast is to go to a conference without any plan and to roam around and to have these collisions with people. And I can imagine how, like, there's a screen right here in the back of the SVR studios, which we're in right now here in Mountain View. And I can imagine how you might take a Matterport scan or some sort of photogrammetry scan of this place and then have like an accurate representation for people as they're coming in and watching it so they can feel like they could also get a sense of the physical space in virtual reality. But also, I don't know, have a number of these different screens around the conference so that if they wanted to have that dimension of being able to freely roam around, they might have these different windows into virtual reality. Or I don't know if you were just imagining having one, or if people wanted to go, let's say, to this session, then they would go and be able to go actually walk through the virtual space. And maybe they'll be able to, just like they run into people in the hallways, maybe they'll run into people in the virtual hallways in this kind of approach.

[00:08:13.612] Karl Krantz: Yeah, that's exactly it. The serendipity of these kind of chance encounters with people, the value of those serendipitous encounters is, you know, like you said, it's one of the greatest things about going to these conferences is, you know, just randomly meeting people. That's an important user need and an important value that people get out of going to a conference. So you're going to need to get that from attending an event in VR as well. Yeah, so we don't see this as, you know, this idea of a screen, which is something that we've been showing. We call this the reality portal. It's a window between worlds. We're one side in our initial implementation. One side is the real world, the other side is High Fidelity. High Fidelity has joined this initiative as a partner and is really helping us make this possible and the openness of their platform really allows us to really experiment a lot on there without having to do, you know, we can change things because the code is there. It's awesome. But it goes way beyond that. It goes way beyond just screen. So yeah, we absolutely see this idea where in the future, an event, you know, all of the surfaces in an event could be places where you can have chance encounters with avatars. And, you know, and eventually this will go into holographic displays and AR and there's all these other avenues where we can do this. There is value. It totally depends on the event. There's value sometimes in replicating the physical space and making it feel like you're in that physical space, but sometimes that doesn't make sense. And, you know, often if you just, you know, you're in the VR side kind of replicating things that have no value on the virtual side, often can just kind of be distracting and, you know, a waste of triangles, basically. You know, it all comes down to triangles on the VR side, right?

[00:09:46.906] Kent Bye: Well, what I would say is that when I travel around and go to conferences, like right now, we're sitting in the offices of SVVR Studios. And I've never been here before. And we're kind of looking at all these chairs. We're sitting down in these very nice chairs. It's very comfortable. There's some plants right here. When I recall this conversation, I'm going to remember this space because of my embodied cognition of coming from Google I-O on the same journey where I came from F8 to VRLA to Microsoft Build to now in Mountain View at Google I-O, coming from there to here. So there's a continuity of my journey that has been going from this place to place, that as I go to all these journeys, that actually makes my memory as this memory palace of all the conversations that I had. So, I would actually, like, be arguing for very distinct architectures within the virtual spaces, but also architectures that mimic the architectures of where the actual space happened, because if people that were actually at the event are having those same memories, then if somebody's in the virtual world, then they could say, oh, yeah, I remember that, too. And they kind of have this shared architecture of memory in space. So, it's more of an embodied cognition argument that I would make. But I could see from an optimization why you might want to have something that's sort of more stylized or virtual.

[00:11:01.368] Karl Krantz: Yeah. Yeah. I don't disagree with any of the things that you're saying. And I think it just totally depends on the type of event and the type of experience you're trying to get and the technical capabilities that are available at the time. We do see this. Our initial implementation of this is around these kind of putting people into a high-traffic area and just basically tying a VR space into a high-traffic area at a physical event. But the other use cases for this are you want to speak at a conference, a physical conference. You want to appear as a speaker as an avatar. So I can't make it to your conference to speak at your conference, but I will come as an avatar. But what we can do with the multiverse is we can enable that speaker to actually see the audience in real time, communicate so they can do, you know, they actually have a sense. They can read the crowd, how their message is being absorbed, how well. They can take questions from the audience. It becomes very interactive and very natural. and they can talk to people in the physical audience as if they were actually there on stage at the podium when they're actually appearing as an avatar on a screen. Oh, I'm sorry. And there is a third use case on this, which is, so we have the serendipitous high traffic areas. The third use case is also when there is a talk, a physical talk, a speaker in a physical room giving a presentation or a class, and then bringing avatar attendees into that talk in a way where, again, they actually have a physical representation in the room. You remember them being there, whether you were there physically or as an avatar. You know, you have a spatial relationship to the rest of what's happening there. And you can, again, interact, ask questions, you can clap, you can boo, you can do all the things you could do in person.

[00:12:41.637] Kent Bye: Now, I can imagine at this point, if I were to be invited to give a talk at SAVR at one of the meetups, for example, I would have a hard time imagining that I would go into high fidelity, be occluded, people wouldn't be able to see my face, and then be able to give a talk and then be able to communicate with the same level of emotional fidelity as I could if I were actually here. I think that without facial tracking and without eye tracking, I can move my hands. And so I would imagine that I would actually want to maybe not even be occluded into a headset, maybe have things on a screen that I'm looking at, but have a camera on me so that you would get higher fidelity. So I'm just, I guess, wondering if people are going to Accept like a virtual avatar speaking to them to an entire crowd. I've never attended a talk with the virtual avatar I've been in VR where everybody was in VR But I've never had this sort of asymmetrical kind of micro expression Fidelity where people in the audience could be able to express emotions at a much higher fidelity than someone who's actually speaking so I'm just curious if you've tried that or what the sort of barriers are to this kind of facial tracking dimension there and

[00:13:47.608] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so it is an issue, but we see it as a fun challenge to work through. So, you know, we have to get there, baby steps. It is totally imbalanced right now. You certainly do not get the facial expressions on any technology right now where you're an avatar, even with facial tracking. You know, we've been experimenting with things like binary VR, and although you can get, you know, the smiling and the winking and all these things, It's not as good as being there face-to-face, but the way to get it there is by iterating, by doing it, using it, putting it out there, iterating, and finding out what we can improve until it gets better, until it's good enough.

[00:14:21.135] Kent Bye: Now, another big challenge in some of these applications is the latency. And I know that Philip Rosedale has quoted a specific threshold by which, if you have telecommunications, that if it is higher than that threshold, if you have a lot of latency and lag, then it ceases to allow you to suspend your disbelief that you're having a real-time conversation. But with these virtual technologies, as you are communicating from across the world, latency becomes a huge issue. So what are some of the things that you've done to be able to mitigate the latency and to be able to really optimize that?

[00:14:53.420] Karl Krantz: Yeah, latency is the most, you know, as in all things VR related, latency is the most important piece of the puzzle, I think, for getting the naturalness of, you know, that sense of presence and natural. I'm sitting here with you and we're having an interactive conversation. If the latency goes up, you know, 100 milliseconds, it starts to feel something is not quite right. We're not quite on the same wavelength. We're, you know, we're synced off a little wrong. Getting that latency down is has been the priority and it's actually that is the big breakthrough that we have made I think on the multiverse that we are Demonstrating now is that we've gotten the latency down to you know levels that are you know equal or lower than Skype for example Which is kind of notorious for having really great low latency so we all have the latency both for voice and the actual physical movements of where your body is your positional data is also a using that same channel to get that latency down just as low. Latency is the number one priority on our side, and it's first and foremost, and everything we're doing is getting the latency first. Everything else follows.

[00:15:54.808] Kent Bye: When I was giving a talk to High Fidelity, I had not updated my internet. And so I was only getting like five megabits down and up and sometimes up to 10. But I was losing a lot of fidelity in terms of my bandwidth and my audio would sort of break up at certain times. And so I upgraded to, since a fiber optic connection, now I get like one gig. But when it comes to the minimum specs for people, what kind of minimum bandwidth do you need in order to meet that latency? Or is it sort of independent of that?

[00:16:28.807] Karl Krantz: We can scale up and down to the available amount of bandwidth. Video encoding and decoding technology has really come a long way. And you don't need these giant pipes that you used to need. We can do very good communications with a kind of reality portal video window that is a couple megs. We've been impressed and surprised with how low we can actually go and still have natural communication there. You're not going to do it on a dial-up, but nobody's using a dial-up anymore. Pretty much anyone has a couple megs, except me last year when I was living in a rural area with a T1 still.

[00:17:06.892] Kent Bye: Well, I know that there's been some soft launch events that you've had, at least within the last couple of weeks or so. There was Peter Rubin with his book about intimacy in VR. Maybe you could talk a bit about some of the events that you've been able to hold so far using this technology.

[00:17:22.707] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so we've been previewing this and doing little sneak peeks and testing aspects of this at our meetups and other events. I think the first one was the VR Mixer. We actually had it. A lot of people didn't see it because we didn't have a very large screen on it, but we had this in dead center at the VR Mixer and there were people attending the VR Mixer and we had some great selfies of people. hanging out together, half avatar, half physical selfies, which were really great. But we've been testing this at all of our monthly or regular scheduled monthly meetups, as well as the Fireside Chat with Peter Rubin, and really honing in and figuring out, you know, where's the best place to stick the avatar audience when you have physical speakers, avatar audience, where, you know, how do we handle audio? How do we handle audio as the background noise increases? Events are really loud and really challenging. As you know from doing these podcasts, you know, audio at loud events is a big challenge in itself. So getting that without creating giant echo loops and all that has been a challenge, but it's one that we feel we have a really good solution with. So we're now using it at our regular meetups. We have regular VR attendees to our meetups, which is really interesting. We have people in Europe who are attending who just come to our meetups all the time, and it's always 3 in the morning for them. So they're in a slightly different mindset than the people who just got here from work at 6 PM. We had a really interesting, the first time ever at an SVBR meetup. In five years of SVBR meetups, for the first time ever, we had to ask someone to put pants on. which was really funny and you know, and they were great. One of the really interesting things that has come out of the prototyping and testing this at our meetups is, you know, when you have communities in VR, people feel somewhat protected and they feel kind of free to do things they wouldn't normally do, behaviors they wouldn't normally, you know, find acceptable in the real world because they're hiding behind their avatar. Right, so you'll have in VR communities often a lot of trolling and this kind of you know people just whatever gooping off and trying to piss people off and doing things and Because we are kind of building this out of this is all coming out of an extension of this community this SV VR community that is really strong and meets every month and there's really like this sense of kind of accepted norms and how people behave and civility and we have like a really good energy and vibe and that actually spreads into VR. So we've noticed that, you know, if the people will host an event and before the physical side people get there, the VR side people will behave very differently than once physical people start coming in the room, they kind of set the tone and the model for how they should behave. And that carries over into the VR side of the community. And that's been really fascinating to me, because this is like a way where you can kind of get people to behave in VR a little better.

[00:20:02.374] Kent Bye: Yeah, this has been a pretty huge issue, I think, across all technology in terms of how to deal with bad actors and trolls. And I think that there's mechanisms to report bad behavior and then for moderators to go back, human moderators, and evaluate. And I think it's been a little bit of a... Notoriously difficult issue to get a handle on and and what my take on this recently is that there's a lot of companies like Facebook for example who want to come up with a technological solution to be able to I guess engineer the culture to be able to create the technological infrastructures that that take care of all of that and I think that To me, just in talking to a number of different people, like Jessica Outlaw, she cites a sociologist talking about all the different dimensions of how it's also like, if you want the freedom, you also have to have the responsibility to be able to create this culture through ceremonies and rituals and norms and jokes. different ways that the culture that you're cultivating can help police itself, and I think that it's some mysterious combination of technological tools for moderation and creating safe spaces and to be able to block people with personal bubbles and all those things that we kind of want in a social VR experience, but Also, like what is the responsibility of each of the people in that community to help sort of cultivate a culture? And how do you best deal with these situations as they come up? And I think that's that to me is a little bit of an open question for how to best like navigate all of that.

[00:21:28.656] Karl Krantz: Yeah, and I think from what we're doing here and what we've seen, we are really seeing a lot of evidence that social solutions are a lot more effective for some of these problems than technical solutions. As an engineer with an engineer background, it's really almost irresistible. You want to solve every problem with just more technology, more engineering solutions. You know, it can be as simple as, you know, just kind of setting the model more on the social level than on the technical level, and we've seen the effectiveness of that, and to such an extent that it's been really surprising and kind of a really pleasant surprise and kind of side effect. I mean, you also see this from, in physical community, from one community to another. You know, one of the things, you know, SVBR, we've always felt we had this kind of magic community, a very really strong sense of collective kind of energy and a strong, just a strong backbone to the community. And part of that just comes because we meet every month and we have done so for so long and so many of the same people are coming together and we really kind of build something over time. And you get a very different experience if you go to a conference or something where they meet once a year, right? There's not that kind of backbone there. People behave differently. There's like a little less, I don't know how you would describe, a little less love in the air or whatever, however you would use to describe it. So we want to take, you know, this kind of strong backbone and just spread that into the VR communities and try to elevate the level of the social interaction in VR.

[00:22:53.537] Kent Bye: Yeah, the thing that I've found is that there's the cooperative aspects of cultivating a community in a new industry and then the competitive aspects. And there's this going back and forth between the competition and the cooperation. And I see entities like Silicon Valley Virtual Reality with the education and the community building and that. It's very cooperative in that way but at the same time sometimes it can be very difficult to convince the biggest players in the industry who have a very competitive mindset why it's important for them to support community initiatives like SAVR. I find I have my own experience of that in terms of just running sort of more of a community media podcast with the voices of VR so I've had my own sort of interactions a direct experience of that but I can also Attached to a number of these different meetups as well as these conferences who may be going to these big companies to ask for very support But if you can't sort of translate it to a certain number that they want to see Then it's harder for them to see that value. So I see that Silicon Valley virtual reality has a in a lot of ways, been the heart of the VR community in this region and allowed it to really sort of grow out into this. But having these one-year meetups and the four conferences, and now on this anniversary, you're kind of like launching this new phase, which is you've got a physical location. You're going to be focusing on that and creating new models rather than doing what you were to do before, which was trying to create I guess in some sense a universal, like all domains of the VR industry coming together, which with the sort of siloed nature of gaming people go to GDC, the film people go to Sundance, Tribeca, and VRLA, and maybe like the enterprise may go to like Microsoft and AWE. There's sort of like these different branches that I saw where very specialized and that like what is the thing that's going to be sort of the universal. But I'm just curious to hear like the evolution that you see it from your perspective and kind of like where SVVR is going from this point forward with kind of like this new strategy.

[00:24:52.736] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so we started as a meetup. We started around community. And then over the years, you know, as we grew up and the industry grew up, we did, you know, I do, I do feel that we did start to kind of fall into that, that a little bit of that trap of trying to please the bigger players in the industry and trying to, you know, make them happy while at the same time, as you know, this is a real challenge to, you know, proving value to a big enterprise, to a big company is, a lot different than proving value to, you know, a startup, and it's a lot different than proving value to just, you know, a community member developer, someone who's really passionate about VR. And I think in this time, what we've basically learned is, you know, it was community first. It should always be community first. We're basically pulling back to that kind of community first model and say, okay, the community needs a voice in all of this. The community needs a voice in how these worlds are going to interact with each other. and how standards are organized. You know, standards are often very much driven by the big companies who can afford to kind of drive that objective forward and they all have their own kind of hidden agendas. So we are doubling down on community. We're actually restructuring SPVR. We've always been an LLC just for simplicity's sake, although we've always struggled, do we go non-profit? There's a lot of paperwork and and extra overhead on that. And we've come to the realization that the Public Benefit Corporation is kind of a newer structure that is perfect for us. It allows us to be mission-driven, so we can just really focus on that mission of building these kind of healthy communities across all platforms and across all worlds and connecting them together.

[00:26:28.157] Kent Bye: So we're here at the SAVR Studios, and so how does this physical location kind of fit into that mission of being a public benefit company to the VR community?

[00:26:37.358] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so this space is very special to us. We see this as an outpost. This space is really probably the first space that will exist in multiple worlds at once as a persistent place. So you can come here in VR, you can come here in person, you can communicate with people between avatars or whatever. It's an outpost and it's really, you know, the primary, I think, most visible use of this space is around events. So we do, you know, several events per month and we want to keep increasing that schedule and frequency as we increase the types of events we do and we increase the engagement in those events in the actual virtual side as well. This space also serves as a home base for our, we have a membership program for passport membership, which is really geared towards startups who are in the VR space. Again, it's around kind of this kind of strength in numbers and let's get the community together. And we provide, you know, a very high end demo space and facilities, office, working space, equipment. You know, we have all the, all the latest headsets and all the equipment here that they could ever need. plenty of space for them to demo in a location where most startups probably could not afford if we did not kind of band together under the SVBR banner. And so we're membership driven for this space around, you know, helping those startups, demos, meetings. The events, you know, are for the broader community and the global community. We actually hope to replicate what we're doing here in large cities across the world because we think this is, you know, it'd be valuable to have outposts for what we're doing and think of what we're doing here as something that is you know, much more global that exists, you know, not just in Silicon Valley, but in, you know, we have a chapter in Tokyo, we have a chapter in Korea that's very active, and we like to, you know, replicate what we're doing in those places and anywhere else where there is, you know, community and there is interest.

[00:28:22.147] Kent Bye: What are the chapters in these other cities? What do they call them? Do they call them, like, an SVVR affiliate, or what do they name themselves? Or how is it indicated to other people that they're affiliated to SVVR?

[00:28:32.682] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so it's interesting because we have kind of baked the location into the name, but we found that actually doesn't matter to most people outside of this location. So SPBR Korea is the name of the Korea division, right? We've thrown a number of events, both large conferences in Korea and smaller events, and there's a chapter there and a whole structure on the Korean side. And SVBR Japan also hosts a lot of meetups and hackathons. Each community in each country has a particular, you know, a different culture and a different kind of approach to this, where you see things from a very different angle. So, you know, the Silicon Valley community is very different from the Japan community, which is very different from the Korea community. I imagine that's the case, you know, across the world. But we find our brand actually, you know, we're very well known, particularly in Asia. And our brand works really well there. So we're moving away from, you know, Silicon Valley virtual reality as a name and just more SVBR. You know, we've really built kind of a brand there. Most people just know us as SVBR and that's just how they refer to everything. SVBR just kind of has a nice alliteration, it flows. So cool.

[00:29:36.386] Kent Bye: Well, I'll start calling it just SVR because I know I've been saying the full name whenever I can So I guess for people coming through the passport Are they able to just come for free or do you imagine a time where there'll be kind of maybe? higher like you pay for access to like the The areas they're gonna have the most serendipitous interactions or whatnot Or how that is going to you imagine that moving forward because I know in high-fidelity There's high-fidelity coin where you can sort of exchange and send people high-fidelity coin So there's sort of a cryptocurrency that's built into their entire virtual world But I'm just curious what your plans are in terms of the access and whether or not it's going to be sort of free access or what the plans to potentially monetize that might be

[00:30:18.487] Karl Krantz: Right. So just to clarify, Passport is the membership program for companies. The actual Multiverse is the, I think you're asking about people coming in through VR.

[00:30:27.990] Kent Bye: OK. What's the demo that I saw? What's that called?

[00:30:30.831] Karl Krantz: So yeah, this is part of the Multiverse initiative, and it's the Reality Portal. OK.

[00:30:34.333] Kent Bye: So the Reality Portal. OK. So strike the Passport. That's for people to get. OK. So what about the Reality Portal then? Yeah.

[00:30:41.335] Karl Krantz: So we are community-backed. As part of our launch event, we are restructuring SVBR to Public Benefit Corporation, and we are leaning more on the community. We want to say to the community, you know, do you believe that this initiative around connecting the virtual world, is this important to you? If it is, please support us. So we're actually joining you on Patreon. So I know this is how, you know, you're paying the bills, and this is an area we're using to let the community help with this initiative. We would like, ideally, we would like everything we do to be free. That would be awesome. That said, you know, there is a real cost to running, you know, complicated servers and backends and development and everything else. So it's kind of a, we'll see how it goes for now. What we're doing is free. You can join the events for free. It's possible that we may move some of the events under a membership model or that it may be that You can attend an event in a limited capacity for free. And then if you want kind of the deeper engagement, or it completely depends on the traction and how the industry kind of grows over the coming years. We would like everything to be free. We're community driven. We'd love to make all of our meetups free if we could, if we had the kind of budget for that, everything.

[00:31:56.880] Kent Bye: Yeah, I've struggled with this as well I mean because I also want to have everything free but also I think the the way that patreon is structured is that they have a lot of reward tiers and I initially had sort of create different reward tiers and eventually I kind of just sort of functionally treat it as one flat system, although there is a Actually anybody that joins my patreon that gets access to the discord but you can have different tiers that you donate at different levels and then I could imagine like having Like, if you're donating at this tier, then using the Patreon API, feeding into High Fidelity, you're able to then get access to these other rooms that kind of unlock different dimensions of different events. Which I think that we're in an era where community media, by these cable access channels, we kind of have this sort of image in our mind that it's like these sort of like really fringe, just kind of boring talk shows. You know, the cable companies were obligated to be able to provide access to these community access centers, and there's, like, thousands of them around the country. But cable subscriptions are dwindling, and so there's a little bit of, like, a reimagining of what this community media looks like. I did an interview with the public VR lab, talking a bit about what their initiatives are and how they're trying to actually totally revolutionize this cable access model, moving away from just TV and moving into VR and production. I know that Portland's Open Signal, that's where I shot my mixed reality video for Beat Saber at the Open Signal. So to have people to sort of go in and drop in and be able to shoot a mixed reality video, So I kind of see this is what you're aiming towards. It's kind of like this fusion of the next iteration of what used to be the community access or the cable access, but this place for communities to come together. And I think that it's incredibly vital for people to support it, especially considering the history and the legacy of what SVVR has been able to do in terms of the importance of the evolution of VR. Industry, I would encourage everybody to become members of your patreon, but also to you know as you move forward It's going to be a negotiation to see is it going to be like you pay one flat fee and get access to everything or are you going to actually sort of break it down into these different tiers or whatnot, but The future of community media and these community building aspects I think I know we've both similarly faced the challenges of being in a world that's so driven by the competition and all the numbers and the quantification of things that It's hard to survive and to keep running and that like it really does take the the community to believe in it and to support it

[00:34:28.508] Karl Krantz: Yeah, yeah, I absolutely agree. I mean, I think I imagine you're in a similar place that we are as an organization in the past year or so, which is, we're, you know, seeing all the things that have been happening in social media and in politics and, you know, across these platforms and a lot of these kind of data breaches and privacy concerns as only made us double down on the fact that community is so important and community needs a voice. And the interests are not all just industry. It's not all about verticals and industry and VC-backed company. VC-backed companies have a place and they are helping drive VR forward, but they are not everything. They have their own goals, but that's not necessarily the same goals as the users. And someone needs to speak up for the users and at least at least provide platforms for conversations. So, you know, we hope that that's one of the many roles that we can fulfill as VR evolves and going forward, and especially as VR and the community moves more into VR, because that's where we have, you know, the most extreme example of walled gardens right now. And, you know, something we have to figure out a way through that and to kind of break down these and let people participate in things on their own terms, you know. Who are we to say that, you know, if you want to attend one of our events in VR, you have to enter in your real name on this specific platform, which has all these other implications and your data is being sold and you have no idea and it's not secure and they've had a history of breaches or whatever.

[00:36:01.900] Kent Bye: Then you should have the option of attending that event on your own terms if you want to you know attend that in a way where you're somewhat anonymized Fully anonymized or you know, you're yourself or that should be your choice Yeah, and I know that high fidelity has had a lot of initiatives towards trying to implement Self-sovereign identity as a platform and then be able to create this blockchain alliance with other companies initially starting with Janice VR and I think they just added another one here within the last couple of days, but I They're trying to take an approach towards privacy, which is sort of the long game of, like, this is where we need to go. And also, Microsoft, they were a part of the Decentralized Identity Foundation, which was announced last year at ConsenSys in May, where they had, at that point, around 19 or 20 blockchain companies that were open sourcing their privacy technology, and then Microsoft was there. And I think a year later, they have IBM, as well as Accenture. But also, they have over 40 companies now, as well as working on W3C standards for technology for self-sovereign identity and a whole set of services that would enable privacy. And me just coming from FA to VRLA to the Microsoft Build, as well as the Google I.O., I have this contrast between Microsoft's approach to privacy, which is sort of like, very enterprise, and they've been a huge driver towards these new practices of privacy. But contrast to Facebook and Google, it's a little bit of like Google didn't even necessarily even talk about it, and Facebook sort of talked about it obliquely. So, I feel like we are at this really key turning point of these deeper privacy challenges for both VR and AR. And now is like the time for the community to come together and say, what is it that we want to create? And I think it's through entities like my podcast, but also through SVVR, that there's going to have a collective voice that's going to be able to to be able to engage into these conversations and to have these dialogues. And I think that there's trade-offs in all this stuff. There's amazing benefits and things that are on the other side of all this technology, but there's also a lot of risks. And I think that we're at a time where we really need entities like this to be able to actually talk about the deeper implications of what we're doing.

[00:38:15.902] Karl Krantz: Yeah, and I think, you know, having the community, having some community at your back and community behind you allows you to, you know, gives you some leverage in these conversations. You know, a lot of what we are doing with Multiverse and what we plan to do with Multiverse, we absolutely hope becomes standards, you know, at some point in the future. But I've seen how standards work, how they get rolled out, it takes time, they're often driven by the bigger companies, and there needs to be something in the short term that's more, so we're taking a very pragmatic approach to this where it's like we're kind of showing the example and showing the value, why it's important to connect these things together. All right. Now, this is why it's important because it works really well. It brings value. It's awesome. The community wants it. The community needs it now. And then we hope that, you know, the standards bodies will come in and kind of backfill and, you know, really formalize all of that. We just want to show the value and really make it possible to do these things today as soon as possible. There's no reason, there's no technical reason why you know right now why you can't go into alt space and talk to people in VR chat and also talk to people in high fidelity and also talk to people in a real-world event like It's totally possible. It's just it's not a priority for any of those guys, right? And it's probably not going to be but for us it can be our number one priority. Let's make that work so let's figure out how to make that work and kind of use our community as leverage to kind of some cases kind of show them and lead them along with the carrot and in other cases maybe force their hand a bit and say look we're doing a big event you want to be part of it then you've got to open up to this.

[00:39:53.490] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I think you have the benefit of being in a location where there's just a lot of key players in the industry that happen to live in this area and may come to these different events and speakers and people who are at all these different companies, both startups and these bigger companies. And so you're kind of providing access to the nexus and the epicenter of a lot of this, the technology side of it. At least the content side, I see if really LA is really kind of pushing a lot of the content. But in terms of the technology and the all of the different platforms that are going to be developing. A lot of those are here in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco. And I'm just curious to hear from your own perspective, because you have this big screen, and you have a camera of yourself that you're interfacing with these avatars, and you emphasize that it's important to have, like, as close as possible life-size avatar representation, and what that has felt like for you to be able to have this conversation mediated while you're talking to these virtual avatars and they're talking to you.

[00:40:50.558] Karl Krantz: Yeah, it's actually really interesting. I mean, we've used this internally and even with some of our partners that we're working on for, we've had, you know, business meetings where we're negotiating something and sitting down and one side is people and the other side is avatars. We've used it in that use case, which is, you know, Very interesting and you know really excited to see where that goes because I think these kind of idea of these meeting environments and people meeting that way. I think that is a thing there's really there is value in that there's definitely some challenges that need to get worked through on that and we hope to work through them all. But in general, I've been really just pleasantly surprised how natural it just starts to feel, especially if it's someone you know. It just feels like talking to them because you're used to them. Their voice really ties it all back to your internal representation of them and the body language is there. The body language is so important. I think we've all discovered that you can tell who people are in VR based on their body language and the social experiences with hand tracking. And especially if you take the tracking beyond that with like a perception neuron, so you really get a sense of like who that person is and you know how they're reacting to things. And I'm just surprised at how well it works. I've also been kind of surprised at how People who maybe wouldn't normally interact with each other, by abstracting it a little bit like that, it takes some of the social anxiety out, so people become a lot more comfortable interacting. You know, some people are more comfortable interacting as an avatar than they would be in person, and the social anxiety goes away. That's kind of a magical thing, right? Because you're getting people past something that's actually holding them back otherwise. And I think that probably goes beyond just getting people past limitations, but there will be probably in the very near future, and maybe already, people who are more their true selves as an avatar than they are in person, because they can truly express themselves in ways that are just not physically possible. And that becomes their true self. You know, the physical side feels like, you know, they're not at full bandwidth almost.

[00:42:55.535] Kent Bye: Yeah, I could see how this reality portal that you've created here could almost be like an opportunity to have a serendipitous connection, but then at that point they may want to go off and have a one-on-one connection where the person who is in reality may want... Well, we're all in reality. The person who's in the in-real-life co-located meetup may want to go off to the side to a booth with a virtual reality headset and then maybe have a private one-on-one interaction with somebody while they're in virtual reality. I'm not sure if that's part of the intended workflow, but I could imagine how this sort of reality portal could be like a serendipity machine that could then drive people to then, if there's people from across the world that are of different levels of significance for people who are maybe it's as someone who is a business, or a customer, or someone who they really want to actually connect to, but they have this opportunity to have this serendipitous interaction with them.

[00:43:51.253] Karl Krantz: Yeah, that's absolutely our goal. One of the things we're doing with this over the next year is we're bringing this technology out to large events, both industry events, public events, music events. We're going to bring this out there and see how people interact with it. But particularly on the industry events, we see a use case where people will you know, meet me at this conference, or I'm at this conference, and they want to meet with someone, that person's not necessarily at the conference, but there's a meeting room where they can, you know, the physical person can pop into this meeting room at the conference and interact with someone across the world who's there as an avatar. And maybe they just met on the floor during, you know, through one of the reality portals that's really set up for more serendipitous conversations, or maybe that was arranged ahead of time, but, and also we see that happening here in this space, you know, the space, you know, co-working and, and meeting rooms and demo room kind of reservations as part of what we offer here at SVBR Studio. And I absolutely see a case where we have meeting rooms that are designed specifically around one side being in VR and the other side being in the real world and being used for both meetings or for someone who wants to come in and speak at a conference across the world, but they could just plop into a meeting room here and get connected.

[00:45:00.753] Kent Bye: I just had this vision of coming to one of the events and sort of being away from the screen, because the screen is where the audio is coming in. So when I go to conferences, I typically do the hallway track. So I'm not actually watching the presentation, but I just love to have those serendipitous conversations so I could see how There could be an ethic of people coming to the event, but maybe not even as much of interested watching the actual content event But more of having those types of serendipitous interactions with people who are there to see that and sort of dip in but sort of like the the mixer aspect of just kind of meeting people and that It sounds like that you're actually going to start deploying this next week. They're going to have the Maker Faire. Maybe you could talk a bit about what your plans are there after you publicly announce this next week, then what you're going to be doing then that following weekend.

[00:45:46.863] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so Maker Faire, we've been doing Maker Faire since our very first year in existence. So we've been doing a VR zone at Maker Faire, you know, since back when we were showing the DK1 and the kind of Razor Hydras, you know, in the earliest days of Maker Faire. And our zone at Maker Faire has kind of grown every year and become a bigger and bigger hit. And now it's one of the most popular exhibits at Maker Faire. We were like, we won an award last year, second or third place or something. just for the presentation there. So we have a fairly large space at Maker Faire, and we are putting this year, for the first time, we're taking this to a kind of a very public event. We're going to stick this probably in the most crowded environment it's ever been in, and we're just going to plop this window into VR onto the floor at Maker Faire, and we're going to see how people interact with this and how they react. I'm very interested in seeing how people that are outside of the VR community kind of react. You know, we always have this moment where people see the screen, And they look at it, they think we're just projecting a game or something or a social VR experience on a screen. But there's always this moment where they realize, wait, that person's talking to me. They hear someone talking, and they think it's like a conversation. They realize they're being pointed at, and the person's like, the body language. They're like, oh, wait, this is actually a window. It's not just a screen. It's a window. And I can't wait to see how the general public reacts to that, and especially in the kind of masses and the crowds that you get. Maker Faire. So that'll be a three-day long. We're plopping this giant screen down at Maker Faire, and we're bringing VR to Maker Faire, and we're bringing, in a way, Maker Faire to VR. So there'll be serendipitous conversations, and it'll be interesting because a lot of families are at Maker Faire. We've had some experience with our own meetups because there are a few folks in the industry who bring their kids to our meetups, so we've had some experience, and the kids love this. All day they want to play with the people in VR and make them play games and make them here do what I'm doing and all these things But I can't wait to see what the general public does with this Yeah, it reminds me.

[00:47:40.222] Kent Bye: It takes me back to the Silicon Valley virtual reality conference Expo back in 2014 when there's a very first one and I know someone did a scan of it but there was also an infinideck like omnidirectional treadmill and by George, who was basically showing this technology that had been. And then now we're over four years later, or just about four years later, and a lot of that technology, there's a unit here in this office, but also the technology was kind of the basis of what was featured in Ready Player One. It was the same sort of idea of this omnidirectional treadmill that is being featured in Hollywood and shown. So I'm just curious to hear that, like, from your perspective, that journey of Infinideck, but also, like, the impact of, like, Ready Player One in terms of, like, the storytelling of this potential of the technology.

[00:48:30.402] Karl Krantz: Yeah, yeah. I've always loved the Infinidec technology and to see it evolve. You know, a lot of the companies that were there at that first year are either giant, have been acquired, or they died, right? They're not there anymore. But Infinidec is just consistently kind of honing that design and getting better and better. And yeah, you're right. It was first shown at the first SVVR conference where you started Voices of VR. And it was actually their unit that was featured, actually a couple of their units were featured in the movie Ready Player One, including the unit that is up in the front over there. So that was actually the very same unit that's in the movie. Yeah, to see them get to this point where they've now, they're now signing up beta, and they're actually selling units now. So to see them get to this point has been really rewarding, and we've been really excited to be part of that. They did their launch event last month here at this space, and we've had an InfiniDeck unit here for, I guess, a couple months now. Yeah, that's just been fantastic to see them. I really hope to see that get kind of miniaturized and made more affordable at this point. At first it was like, just make one that works, is like the challenge. They've gotten that, they now have it working with tracking, with Vive, and it's, you know... I feel like it's more and more a solid product, and it's really the only kind of treadmill-style locomotion device I've seen that actually works for me. The others are, they look cool or they look great in video, but when you actually, in real-world usage, you kind of don't want to use it. That's the one where I'm actually excited to use it every time. Yeah, that's been really great watching them evolve. I can't wait to see, you know, where they go, and I'm so excited for them for actually getting in the movie Ready Player One. Ready Player One, it's hard to tell how much of an impact that's having on the mainstream perception of VR. extremely hopeful that that was going to open up the floodgates. And I think in a lot of ways it did. I think sales definitely spiked after that. I think at least now people have a language around it. Unfortunately, you know, the book is very different than the movie. And I thought one of the coolest things about the book was the how important and how tightly integrated it was with education. And they even had some real privacy concerns around education, the whole idea that your identity was protected until you turned 18 or you graduated and it was kept very separate. And I'm pretty sad that that did not make it into the movie and therefore into the mainstream consciousness around when they think about VR and as the first way that they're framing it. more thinking of it more on kind of this arena gaming kind of character based stuff, which is still really cool. It's still going to open up a lot of people's minds around what's possible in VR. That's fantastic. It was a fun movie, not my favorite movie, but a fun movie. I always thought it was a very dystopian future of VR anyway, because that's actually what we don't want, right? That's a single company who shows up one day and says, hey, everyone, VR is here. Here it is. Make your account on this platform, and that's VR. And that's a ready alternative.

[00:51:27.058] Kent Bye: Future because you know, it didn't go that way It's not going that way and hopefully it never goes that way because that's you know, also the most dangerous kind of VR future Yeah, I see it as it's gonna likely much more likely be some sort of blend of this you know that all of the IP that is in the movie is sort of like from these big major characters and Like we've seen with VR chat. We've seen like this meme culture of people creating their own culture so I think there's gonna be the some sort of blend of the decentralized future as well as the centralized future like there's going to be benefits to the Unified user experience of the centralized solution but yet there's gonna be the open web and in ways of like this this vision of the the multiverse that's out there that is going to kind of include all the different dimensions of the open web and the open internet and these interlinked worlds that are out there. And I think that WebVR and as well as High Fidelity and JanusVR, they're kind of like carrying that spirit of the decentralized web as we're moving forward.

[00:52:25.322] Karl Krantz: Yeah, I think the important thing there is not that everyone becomes open or everyone becomes these kind of centralized closed systems. It's the diversity of approaches. Because the open folks will learn from, you know, you definitely get a tighter user experience when it's a very top-down design. You can really get a tight user experience. And the more open side can learn from that, and vice versa. The closed side can learn from the benefits of seeing what happens when you open things up, and different things work together, and you get these synergies and exponential increases in value that happen when you connect different things. And the more closed sides can learn from that. So I think the important thing there is the diversity of approaches. So that's what we support, diversity of approach. We're not necessarily, you know, everything has to be open or everything has to be closed. It's just we have to be free to try all approaches.

[00:53:18.312] Kent Bye: So next week, you're going to be announcing a number of things. What is going to be available to the wider community? Or what are the actual things that people can do with this announcement that is going out? By the time this episode airs, it'll have been launched. But I'm just curious what is coming and what people can be able to do.

[00:53:35.279] Karl Krantz: Yeah, so initially it'll mean that people can start attending all SVVR events you will be able to attend in VR, initially on High Fidelity, and we plan to bring that to other platforms as time goes on. It will also mean that SVVR is going to a large number of events this year with these reality portals, so that means people in VR will be able to attend other people's events, not just SVVR events. The great thing about this for us is that it allows us to be more collaborative with the overall community and work tighter with other conferences and other organizations who may have seen us as competing or competitors in the past where it's now we can kind of amplify what they're doing. and they're kind of amplifying what we're doing. So for people, this will mean, you know, you'll be able to peek into Maker Faire and kind of get a sense of what it feels like on the floor at Maker Faire if you've never been there. Maybe you could never go there, but you can actually start talking to people in the Bay Area there. At Maker Faire, you know, real-time, AWE is the next one, and then we have a whole kind of schedule for the year, and we intend to bring this to events not just in the U.S. and not just on the West Coast, but really across the world. So hopefully the immediate benefit for people will be that they can attend events in VR across the world.

[00:54:52.197] Kent Bye: And so what do you personally want to experience in VR?

[00:54:56.290] Karl Krantz: Oh, what do I personally want? I mean, everything, right? I mean, I can't wait for that magic moment when I exist in a space. When I exist in three worlds at once, that's going to be like this kind of magical moment where I'll have tears in my eyes. There's been a few moments in VR where I've had tears in my eyes, like trying the DK1 for the first time. I was like, oh my God, it's like magic and it opens up so many possibilities. I think, yeah, being able to exist and have like a meaningful conversation with multiple people, you know, a group, meaningful group conversation with multiple people on multiple platforms at the same time, you know, especially if it includes the real world, like for me, that'll just be, that'll be magic and I'll feel like, you know, we've achieved some level of success with this.

[00:55:42.480] Kent Bye: Great. And finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality, and what am I able to enable?

[00:55:49.963] Karl Krantz: I love this question because it's so big, and so it's that big, sticky question. I think my answer, I wonder if my answer evolves over time as I've gotten on your interviews, but the ultimate potential of VR, it's really, it's everything. It really is everything. It's being able to go anywhere, do anything on your own terms in the way that makes you most comfortable, in the way where you feel most naturally yourself and express yourself. you know, without the limitations of geography, without the limitations of your own body, without the limitations of physics itself, you know, the kind of the limitations of the world. Yeah, it's just really kind of opening up, kind of unleashing the human mind on all potential of the universe.

[00:56:42.378] Kent Bye: Great. And is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say?

[00:56:46.939] Karl Krantz: Please join us. Check out SVVR.com. Learn about the Multiverse Initiative. We think this is really important for the health, the long-term health of VR. And this is really important. This is how SVVR is going to be here in five more years when we have our 10-year anniversary and we can do this interview again. So yeah, please check out SPVR.com and you can learn more about everything that we do. And if you see us at events, come and say hi. We're friendly people, we try to be. So please come and visit us and say hi and come join our events in VR if you can't make it in person.

[00:57:20.580] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Carl, I just wanted to thank you for joining me on the podcast today and for all the work that you've been doing with SVVR for the past five years. It's a huge benefit to the entire community. And yeah, it's a huge part of my own journey into VR. So yeah, just thank you for joining me and for everything that you've been doing.

[00:57:40.205] Karl Krantz: Yeah, thanks for having me. And likewise, thank you for all your hard work.

[00:57:43.520] Kent Bye: So that was Carl Krantz. He's the founder of SAVR. And they're having their five-year anniversary on May 16, 2018. And they're announcing a number of different initiatives, one including the Passport Program so that you can become a member of the SAVR studios and be able to have a place to do demos, as well as their Reality Portal as part of their multiverse initiative in order to create this interface between virtual worlds and real life. So, I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, one of the demos that they showed me was absolutely mind-blowing. They were doing things that I didn't even know that you could do. So, the thing that Carl said that he wanted to really experience within VR, what he said was that he wanted to be in multiple VR worlds at the same time. When I've heard that, I just thought that he was meaning that, like, you would have, like, half of your world in front of you would be in one VR world, and then you look behind, and you're in a completely different world. That's one possibility, and I think that will happen. But what he was speaking about was going into, like, something like High Fidelity, and then somehow merging High Fidelity with another virtual platform, like WebVR, let's say, and be able to basically have people come in through WebVR and interact with them within High Fidelity, but also to be able to interact with them within the real world. And this is something as a prototype that I've actually been able to pull off. And I didn't even know that you could do that to essentially kind of like take a virtual world, mirror it, put it into another world to be able to have like people from different virtual worlds being able to interact with each other, but sharing the same like perceived virtual space. You're kind of mirroring other people from other worlds, but you're also having this portal into reality so that you're able to actually interact with people. And I think that the blockchain alliance with High Fidelity and their initiatives around self-sovereign identity are going to be able to enable these types of things where you're able to kind of merge these different virtual worlds and be a little bit agnostic as to like which world you're actually in and how you're able to kind of mirror and have different embodiments into these different worlds, but to be able to kind of blend them all together. So what that made me think about is like, what does it look like for you to eventually have these interactions with the virtual world and the in real life? At start, it's having these reality portals. And so they're very discreetly delineated between your interface, between being in a co-located in real life context, but then being able to have this interactions with people in these virtual worlds. But over time, that differentiation between those two are going to dissolve and eventually kind of be overlaid on top of each other. If you think about the potential of augmented reality and what you can do to be able to have somebody in a virtual space that's kind of located in some sort of coordinate system, well, if you overlay that coordinate system onto reality, then all of a sudden you can start to have people who are in real life having these different conversations, but having like virtual avatars be able to come up and interact with you. You'd have to have at least, you know, some type of augmented reality headset, like the HoloLens, or at least an audio connection and a microphone for you to be able to interface like that. But this is where this is all going. And I think that SEVR is trying to make a strong stance of being a community organizer, having people being at the heart of the VR community, and to create these events that people actually want to attend virtually, and to really start to blend and experiment with how you can start to merge and blend these different realities together. And that they're taking an approach where they're starting with the reality portal, but where this is all going, I think, is pretty mind-blowing in terms of what's even possible and what that even means. So SVR as an entity, I think is trying to reinvent itself to really, you know, become sustainable and to survive what has been happening within the VR industry. I think part of the challenge of something like SVR is that they were trying to be everything to everyone in terms of like bringing the entire VR industry together. And as an individual company, as they were trying to evaluate the value of attending one of the SCVR conferences versus all the other many sort of niche conferences that are out there. If you were a game developer, then at GDC, you basically have everybody from the entire games industry that is there. And if you want to have interactions with them, then you basically have to be at GDC. And then in the film world, you have these different events like Sundance and Tribeca and VRLA. There's these different epicenters for entertainment and the content there. And then for people who are having like their direct customers for medical applications, they would be going to like the medical conferences. And I think for enterprise is probably the strongest market in terms of like, you know, trying to get people who are bringing different services to other people in terms of B2B services for other people within the industry. And I think that just over time, because they made it like a professional conference with a certain price point, then to a certain extent excluded a lot of people who didn't have the resources as these different scrappy startups or community members, they couldn't actually afford to go to SVVR as a conference. And so I think over time, it's just had trouble really finding its niche. And I expect at some point they're going to have some more conferences and still continue that. In the interim, they're really reorganizing, they're creating themselves as a public benefit corporation. That gives them a mandate to be mission driven and be able to do different things to be able to serve the community. And so they have the SVVR studios that is of service to the community for people to come be members and to be able to use that space and to do demos and to record mixed reality videos or If you just don't have a space within Silicon Valley, but you need to meet with people within that region, then SVDR Studios allows this Passport program for you to be able to get access to the space and be able to have different meetings there and whatnot. And the reality portal is part of their multiverse initiative. And it's quite ambitious for the different types of things that they're trying to do. And they're eventually wanting to move towards like making this an open standard that can be kind of be built in, but it's also really driving this use case where they're starting with high fidelity, which is this open platform. And they're trying to merge and blend these different worlds together, but also create an interface into in real life events and. find new ways of having the virtual and the in real life co-located be able to interact with each other. So I'm super curious to see where this goes and if there's going to be different initiatives that can help support both from their passport program of really, you know, getting support from the community. Within the context of these big companies, in order to get budgets for these types of things, like let's say sponsorship for SAVR, that was really coming out of the marketing budgets. And so it was like the marketing initiatives to be able to like serve the needs of the marketing and those marketing needs have like very specific quantified needs that they need to be able to like meet in order to justify where the marketing people are gonna put their money. With a limited budget, they have to make decisions, they can't support everything, and so it really kind of comes down to the size of trying to get the biggest bang for the buck. And so what that means is that for these different various community initiatives, there's not somebody that is within these companies that are really thinking about holistically how to support communities, and so it essentially gets sort of offloaded into the marketing departments, who are, in some respects, kind of like the most disconnected to the heart of these different communities. So I know that I have faced my own sort of challenges with regards to that, but I know that also SVVR as an entity has to kind of like in some ways find a way to really get that community support to be able to both from people within the community of Silicon Valley, but also if they do end up launching a Patreon, having people from the community really support those types of initiatives that they're really kind of trying to drive. Because to a certain extent, there is this inherent bias towards these social VR programs to create these walled gardens and to create everything that you absolutely need. So there isn't a lot of incentive for like, say, a VR chat or Facebook spaces to be able to create a self-sovereign identity interface with high fidelity and be able to blend and merge those two realities together. That's just like something that is absolutely never gonna happen with Facebook and you know VR chat They have probably the biggest social VR community and they're thinking more about like what kind of features they can do to be able to serve the needs of their community and That's actually not at the top of their list to be able to kind of like create these interfaces and portals between these different social VR spaces that you know aren't at the same scale and level that they are and So, but overall, in the long run, it's going to take different community initiatives and efforts to be able to create these types of technologies that are pushing for these types of open standards to be able to create the, the decentralized aspects of the community that are going to be driving the different dimension of the decentralized metaverse. So find a way to support community media, these community initiatives, uh, become a member of the Patrion of SVR, become a passport member and support your local community groups, uh, send money, financial donations, find ways to help volunteer and just, you know, help build the world that we want to create in virtual reality. So, that's all that I have for today. If you enjoy the podcast, then spread the word, tell your friends, get the word out about what is happening within the VR industry, and consider becoming a member of my Patreon. This whole effort is a community-supported podcast. It relies upon the listener donations in order to continue to bring you this type of coverage. And so, if you enjoy that and want to see more, then become a member. You can join today at patreon.com slash voiceofvr. Thanks for listening.

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