#761: Facebook’s Head of Enterprise AR/VR on Oculus for Business

maria-fernandez-guajardoFacebook announced new information about Oculus for Business at their F8 Developer conference last week, and I had a chance to sit down with Facebook’s Head of AR/VR Maria Fernandez Guajardo to go over some of the the details that have been released so far. The full launch of Oculus for Business should be sometime in the Fall, likely around Oculus Connect 6 in September or October.


The launch of the Oculus Quest was one of the primary catalysts for expanding their technical support services, since most of the Rift tech support would come from managing a VR-ready PC. But the self-contained mobile units of the Oculus Quest and Oculus Go require their own set of very specific technical support needs that could benefit from a focused effort from Facebook. Oculus for Business originally launched in 2017, but Facebook the range of offerings have not gone much beyond handling logistics fro bulk sales as Facebook has not historically prioritized the needs of the enterprise AR/VR market for most of the past six years.

But with the launch of the Quest and after selling 17,000 Oculus Go units to Wal-Mart as a part of an Oculus for Business pilot program, then Facebook has starting to develop specific software to deploy applications at scale. They’re going to provide specific enterprise technical support services for a price of $999 per 128GG Oculus Quest Headset (retail is $499) and $599 for the 65GB Oculus Go (retail is $249) plus $180 per headset after the first year.

I received a range of reactions from developers with on one side expressing relief that Facebook is going to help own some of the burden of providing technical support to enterprises who adopting these emerging immersive technologies. But I also heard some hesitation at the price point that’s double the retail price of a Quest, which will make it harder for some smaller companies to make the leap into what may be seen as speculative virtual reality solutions.

But there has been a lot of impressive statistics for the value that virtual reality can bring to businesses, and Guajardo shares some of her favorite stats and also cited the “Getting Things Done Virtually: The Value of VR for Enterprise” session at F8 as having a lot more details for the value of VR.

Here are some stats from Accenture on the value of Enterprise VR:

Here’s a video providing more information about Oculus for Business

Here’s some of my live coverage of Oculus for Business

Overall, I’m happy that Facebook is taking the Enterprise VR/AR market seriously, and not just focusing on gaming and the consumer market. For most VR developers that I’ve talked to, they have a diversified range of work and clients that spans across gaming & entertainment, advertising, training, architectural projects, and other enterprise or medical applications. So it’s nice to see that there will be more support and awareness of the full range of VR applications coming to Facebook’s developer conferences at both F8 and Oculus Connect 6 coming later this Fall.


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

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.412] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So at the Facebook FA Developer Conference, there's a lot of news that was announced, and one of the pieces of news that was announced was the new efforts of Oculus for Business. So Oculus for Business originally launched back in 2017, but Oculus in general has been pretty behind when it comes to different offerings and outreach to the enterprise clients. I know that pretty much at all the different Oculus Connect developer conferences, there's been so much emphasis on gaming and not as much emphasis on enterprise applications. And to me, there's just so many compelling applications. But also in just talking to a lot of the independent developers within the ecosystem, there's not a lot of companies that are just only doing gaming. Most of them are doing some sort of diversified portfolio of some gaming, but also some different contract work for enterprise clients and training and medical applications and architecture, engineering, design, construction. There's so many compelling use cases when it comes to the enterprise applications that I just felt like Oculus could have been doing a lot more over the last five years to be supporting and sustaining those efforts and initiatives to help grow the overall ecosystem. The good news is that it sounds like they're finally coming around and they're starting to offer more robust solutions. So back in 2017, they started to offer bulk units of different headsets. I know that Walmart, for example, bought like 17,000 Oculus GOs in collaboration with Stryver to do different training applications for their employees. So whenever you start to do deployments that are that large, then it doesn't become very feasible unless you have like customized software to be able to start to deploy those specific applications. And that is a lot of what the Oculus for business offerings are going to start to be working on or those types of features. So there's going to be a whole suite of different software and services, which is going to be a completely different privacy and end user licensing agreement in terms of service. And so. If anybody has any concerns around Facebook and privacy, then this specific Oculus for Business offerings are gonna be under a different privacy policy and different terms of service. I think they'll be announcing a lot of that in the fall. Sounds like probably around Oculus Connect 6 to be able to get a little bit more details on that. The other thing is that the price, the price is going to be around $999 for the 128GB Oculus Quest. That's about double the price of what a normal Quest costs for 128GB, that's $499. The 64GB is $399. And there's an additional $180 fee after the first year, per year, per headset, in order to continue to do the licensing and support. So for some people I talked to that are in the industry, you know, that price isn't a problem. A lot of people are more than happy to not have to do a lot of that customer support and tech supports that falls onto these independent companies, that there's a lot more that can happen on the Oculus side to do a little bit more of the technical support. And the software companies can focus on just making software rather than becoming like these whole fully robust enterprise support entities. But at the same time, I also talked to some people that were a little concerned about the price point. It's about double the price of what a individual Oculus Quest would cost. And for some of the smaller companies, if they were only buying a handful of headsets, that may completely change some of the different budgeting and ways that they start to approach and how many headsets they're going to buy. Some of them may price it out. But for other people, they may be operating at a scale where they will likely have savings from all the other technical support if they have deployment solutions and different offerings that Oculus is working on. So I had a chance to talk to the head of enterprise for AR and VR at Facebook, Maria Fernandez Guajardo. And we had a chance to kind of talk about some of the latest offerings, a little bit of the history and context, and some of the more details and specifics for what the plans are for Facebook's enterprise VR and AR offerings. through Oculus for Business. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Maria happened on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019 at the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Jose, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:04:18.805] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: Hi, I'm Maria Fernández Guajardo. I lead the enterprise team for ARVR at Facebook. I currently lead the Oculus for Business team, which is an initiative that we have announced here. It's actually not new. Announced here at EFE, the relaunch of Oculus for Business. My job is really to help businesses with our immersive technology improve their business by removing physical barriers, which is very exciting.

[00:04:43.470] Kent Bye: Great. So I've been covering virtual reality for about five years now. And so I've been able to see from many different perspectives the evolution of the industry from gaming and industry and enterprise. And so you said that Oculus for Business isn't new, but there's some new stuff that's being announced here. So I'm wondering if you could maybe fill me in a little bit of the history and the context of where the Oculus for Business initiative has been, how it evolved, and where it's at now.

[00:05:10.096] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: Yeah, so we launched originally Oculus for Business in 2017 at OC4. It was mostly a place for companies to buy devices at bulk. It was very limited support for businesses, but we knew that company pioneers who, you know, love VR and they have been using mostly as consumers that technology, they knew that they wanted to find solutions for work. It was a way to remove a little barrier of being able to provision those units. We always knew that there was more that we could do. Businesses keep knocking at our doors and developers who were addressing these use cases, this industry. And it was a matter of timing for us to figure out what was the right time to provide what they need. And we can get into the details of what is that we are actually providing. So it was a matter of timing. One of the big timing moments is Quest. Our developers are telling us that Quest is a transformative device for enterprise. It helps us scale. It helps getting those use cases to more people. So we thought that now was a good time to time the revamp of this program and bring those solutions with the launch of Quest. There's another timing thing also that has happened, which is those pioneers, those early adopters of VR for Work, they are now coming up with numbers, with return of investment, with improvement in how people learn or how people are more engaged, and those numbers is what the industry requires to really start adopting those technologies at scale. So those two things came at the same time pretty much. You have now a device that can help businesses get this technology in their masses, and you have proof that this technology brings value. So it was a perfect timing for us to double down on Oculus for Business.

[00:06:52.430] Kent Bye: Yeah, I know that there was a session here yesterday at F8 where they were sharing some numbers and some of the statistics that are being pointed to in terms of showing what those numbers are and trying to quantify the value in some ways for the decision makers to be able to be convinced to take the leap into virtual reality. And so maybe you could share some of the ones that you find the most compelling in terms of what the value is added by VR into different enterprise applications.

[00:07:16.823] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: I love to talk about those numbers. Yes. So one of the use cases that is very much adopting with good momentum is immersive training, right? We have a marquee customer, which is Walmart. We know they have deployed 17,000 Oculus Go across thousands of their stores. They plan to train a million people this year. And it wasn't a training that happens overnight. Like you don't deploy 17,000 headsets overnight. that deployment took several phases of testing, looking at the numbers, and keep scaling that program. So we do have a lot of numbers, like, for example, in Walmart case, the test results for people who train in VR are 10 to 15% better. 70% of the people who train in VR perform better. And all of that while reducing 40% the time of training. It's very important for an employer like Walmart, who has 2 million employees, how much time do you spend training those people? It's really a business decision for them. So that's very exciting. The other number that I'm very fascinated about is the one that Oso VR provided. Oso VR is a developer who does surgical training, and they tested how people learn in VR for surgical training. Different use cases, but I think the one I saw, it was like a knee surgery. It's pretty visceral. You are getting someone and doing the surgery. A person who trained in VR performed 230% better than someone who trained with traditional methods. It's easy to say that number out loud, and it's a big number, but during the session, and I encourage your listeners to go back to our archives in the developer site of Oculus, look at the video of those two people, one who trained in VR and another one who trained with the user methods, how they perform with just one day of training the next day on simulating that surgery. They are 230% better. They go faster. They know exactly what they're doing. They learn by doing. So it's pretty impressive to see the performance of those two people side by side. So that's another number that is fantastic. Another number that it was pretty unbelievable is in automotive. Automotive has been using VR for a long time. All those CAD models of cars, they used to do it in clay. And it cost millions of dollars. And there's five clay masters in the world. And it's very hard to do those clay models. They adopted VR very early on. We have numbers like Ford, who is working with Gravity Scratch, designing an interior and an exterior of a car. It used to take months. They are now doing it in 20 hours. So this is like very measurable, easy to show numbers that prove that this technology is really valuable for business. So all of those numbers keep coming, keep coming in, and it's going to help more businesses say, huh, wait a minute. I'm missing something here if I'm not trying these things.

[00:09:59.215] Kent Bye: Yeah, I had a chance to talk to a couple people on the Oculus for Business team yesterday and just getting the sense that they were really excited about now having a little bit more support to be able to use virtual reality to solve real business needs and to see where the value is in these different enterprise applications. And I know the story and I guess the vision for Oculus from the very beginning was to step into the game and really focusing on gaming. And there were early employees that were really focused on trying to look at the non-gaming, non-entertainment applications, but I think there wasn't a lot of buy-in from the executives at the early days of Oculus. And so I'm personally happy to see that there's a lot more of an emphasis on these enterprise applications, mostly because when I talk to small developing teams, it's very rare to find a development team in virtual reality who only does gaming. They're doing some mix of enterprise applications and training, and in order to really have a healthy, vibrant, immersive industry, I just felt like most of the people that are in the industry are not just doing one thing, they're diversifying within themselves to be able to do many different applications. And that in the end of the day, I think it's gonna be a fusion of all these different components, of narrative components and gaming components, to really come up with what it looks like to do education in the future, but it's gonna be pulling from all these different disciplines, and so it makes sense that the immersive industry is going to be pulling all these things together. But I'm just curious to hear a little bit more of your own personal journey of coming into virtual reality and focusing on the enterprise space, and what kind of things you're pulling in from your own background and experience.

[00:11:32.563] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: I've been working as a product executive from business to business most of my career, so when I joined Oculus I was working in a group doing advanced technology, so more like hidden a little bit from the surface of the product, but I've always had business in my mind of, you know, what we could solve with this technology. It's not that it's new that we see what businesses need. As I said, in 2017 we launched Oculus for Business. We always knew that there was something more that we could do. It was a matter of timing and finding the right momentum and the right opportunity for the organization to get started. So for me, even when I was working in my previous role at the company in these core technologies, we already prototyped a lot of things in the world of productivity, in the world of businesses, because it was a natural tendency, not only for me, but a lot of people in the company, we believe that VR is the next computing platform. And as the next computing platform, it's not only gaming and entertainment that will make that platform. It will be work use cases and the rest of your life, social use cases. So they're coming at different speeds and at different points, but in the future, this would be a universal computing platform. So you'll see different things from us coming at different times. There's this timing aspect. So for me, it has been very exciting to be put in charge of this team. We started from scratch. It has been actually pretty easy to staff it because there was a lot of people in the company who was just like raising their hands like, oh, we want to work in enterprise. It's like, yeah, me, me, me. So we got a bunch of people pretty quickly up and running to deliver on our product that we are launching in fall.

[00:13:06.868] Kent Bye: Yeah, I had a chance to talk to a couple of those people, and yeah, it was just striking to see how excited they were to be involved with starting to solve some of these business problems. Just because I think gaming's exciting and interesting, but to see that VR as a technology is this real transformative potential, and to see how you know, a lot of these things that are being prototyped in the enterprise are eventually going to come back out into the rest of the VR industry, but that for right now, there seems to be a part if people want to be really sustainable, in some ways, it's more of a safe bet to go into enterprise development, just because there's real need, real value that can be done right now. and it's less speculative in terms of needing to get to a network of a critical mass in order to come up with a potential future of a revenue stream, but that there's already enough value that can be delivered to these companies right now. And so I'm just, for me, I'm just excited to see that it's featured in the F8 as well as the specific sessions, just because I know that as I go into the industry and talk to different people, there's been things that have been asked for for a while for different things. So maybe you could go into a little bit in terms of the price is a little higher. It's a little more than doubled. It's from $399 to $999 for Oculus Quest. And then an additional fee, I don't know if it's like $180 a year or something like that on top of that for ongoing subscription and to access to different warranties and services. And so maybe you could just kind of lay out the value proposition in terms of how much it costs for both the Go and the Quest, and then what the enterprise clients are getting for that for each headset.

[00:14:37.949] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: So when we started the initiative, we took a fresh look at what this offering was. And, you know, it goes without saying that the business model of a consumer offering versus an enterprise offers are very different. So we took a step back and say, OK, what are the things that businesses need for them to be successful with this technology at scale? If that's our goal, that's what we want to achieve, what do we need to provide them? So we came up with a list of software needs and services needs. You know, you mentioned customer service and warranties and what is that we need to provide. We took a look at the value chain, like who are the players here? What do we need? We need to get those devices into the hands of people. So there's a distribution channel that needs to happen. Like there is a lot of components that goes into that. Then we look at the competitive landscape. We put all those pieces together and this is how we came out with our pricing that offers the hardware, the software, and the services all combined. Our offering, as you know, we added Oculus Quest to the lineup. We're so excited about Oculus Quest. It offers hardware, software, and services. The offerings are on three pillars. The first one is scalability. We know that when people try to use consumer units for deploying 10 units, they may get around it. When you need to deploy 1,000, you just can't do it with a consumer unit. You need a dedicated software that is going to help you for IT professionals. set up the devices. You have today in the consumer unit a one-to-one relationship between an account, a mobile app and a headset. It takes about 10 minutes to get you up and running. You can't afford to have 10 minutes and an application and an account for 10,000 headsets. So we needed to figure out a way in how businesses are going to use this and change that offering. So bulk setup, mobile device management, these companies have tools to manage mobile devices. They need to be wiped, applications need to be put into the headset, they need to be updated at the right time, at the right moment. They use companies like MobileIron or VMware. We are partnering with them to provide solutions for that. So those are the scalability pieces that we needed for VR to work in the enterprise. The second piece that we are offering is that a request that we get very often is like, I don't want my employees trying to do a training and then all of the sudden get into the home and there's like a zombie game jumping at them. Like I don't want them distracted or lost in that home environment. We wanted to create a user experience that is professional, it's focused, it's specific for work use cases. So we have removed a lot of the consumer applications, like you have things like Oculus TV, they have Friends and Sharing, which are great for consumers. But you don't want that at work, right? So in this version, you will not have those consumer links or applications. It will be much more streamlined. You will have access to the applications that your company wants you to see in the device. There's also another request that came fairly often is that there is the Oculus button that people accidentally press when they're in the middle of experience and then up it takes you out and then people get confused and they don't know how to come in, the time that you spend in those exchange when people are getting, being trained is very valuable. Like we can't afford that, right? So we modify, for example, the behavior of the Oculus button. Some people can program it or people can disable. So that's the second one. And the third pillar of our offering is about reliability. We know that businesses need to trust you to put their businesses into your hands. So what does this mean in this world? It means that you need to be able to have customer support. Something happens. Someone needs to be on the other side of the phone. Someone needs to answer the chat. Someone needs to answer that email. You need to have the right data security. You need to know that your data is yours, et cetera. You need to know that if your device breaks or something happens, you can call someone and have a replacement very fast in your facilities. You know, the right warranty is a 24-month warranty versus the 12-month for consumer. So there's a number of things that we are providing in those three buckets. So scalability, professional, and reliable.

[00:18:32.472] Kent Bye: Yeah, and talking to some of the developers that have been in the enterprise space, a lot of those tasks that you're laying out there have kind of fallen onto them as individual companies to have to manage that. And I got the sense that some of them were very relieved that now they didn't have to worry about doing all those things, manage the support for these enterprise clients. For Facebook as a company, I know that getting into something like the hardware for Oculus and being able to even have These VR devices out there and to be able to support them. There's a certain amount of Learnings that have had to happen with the company to be able to know how to do customer support Or some of those lessons from customer support from oculus being rolled into doing Enterprise level support because I know that Facebook's been mostly a consumer company so this seems like a little bit of a pivot into the enterprise space and I'm just curious of I What type of learnings have you been able to pull from Oculus and the immersive technologies and this new computing platform? And I guess just to speak to a little bit of like, as companies are looking at Facebook versus other companies, say Microsoft, who's been in the enterprise business for a long, long time, like what is it about how Facebook is approaching this that they can have some assurance that all these things are gonna be figured out without having to go through too many iterations of learnings and growth and evolution as a company?

[00:19:48.958] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: So first, before I answer your question, I want to make a comment about developers. When you say that they were doing this type of job and they were relieved when we came up with the solution, I agree with you. I mean, we had a dinner with some of them last night and I told them, thank you for keeping the lights on. Thank you for pushing this industry. We're here to help. And they really, they looked relieved and they say, thank you. As a platform, we need to step up and start taking some of these things that will make connecting all those pieces together much easier. So yeah, I agree with you. It was a good connection there when we came up with this announcement. Regarding customer support, so it's funny because people think that, of course, obviously Facebook is your app, it's a consumer company. We have tons of business customers. We are one of the biggest marketing companies in the world. Obviously, because we have engagements with a lot of big brands. There is also another piece that is very important for our engagement in Oculus and moving forward. We have a product called Workplace, which is Facebook for work. You take your user experience in Facebook and then you put that at work. And people use it for internal communications and people use it for collaboration. It's a great product. We use it internally, obviously, but more than 2 million people, paid business users, use Workplace. Around the globe, companies like Walmart or Starbucks or Chevron, Delta, use Workplace. They know how to support businesses and how to deal with the ride. with the right relationships, the right engagements, the right deployments. So we do have between our GMS, we call global marketing solutions, between our workplace teams, we do have a lot of experience in how to support customers at scale. So despite Facebook being a prominent consumer company, we do have a lot of business relationships. And we are tapping on that, both on best practices and infrastructure. So we don't have to start from scratch in how to deliver solutions that are what customers and what businesses need.

[00:21:44.325] Kent Bye: So I know that both Oculus Go and Oculus Quest are running a modified version of Android. It's using that open source system that originally started with Google, well, bought by Google, and then really popularized through all their phones. But when it comes to security, I know that's a concern that a lot of enterprise companies have. Are there additional security features that have to be developed in order to put into something like the Quest in order to be compatible with some of the security policies with some of these enterprise companies?

[00:22:14.907] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: There's two pieces to it, I will say. One is like the headset on itself, and then the other one is like what you have in the cloud, like some of the things that we are talking about here, like an admin console for IT professionals to connect to the headset. They will be in the cloud versus what is in the headset. There is not currently, for this version, any additional security feature on the headset. The headsets are encrypted already. We're using state-of-the-art practices for the headset themselves. If you want to dig into that, I'll put you in contact with the right security experts on headsets. So there's no currently additional features for those. Regarding the cloud, as I was saying, we are following the steps of Workplace in our infrastructure. They have enterprise-grade certificates and enterprise-grade accreditations to run with those very top global Fortune 100 companies that cover their security requirements. So we are following those steps. They have been there for a while, for a couple of years, delivering to those customers. So we will have more to announce when we launch in fall. But yeah, we know it's security is very important and privacy is very important for our customers. So those are guiding principles for us.

[00:23:24.490] Kent Bye: Yeah, and speaking of privacy, I'm wondering if these enterprise headsets, do they follow under the same privacy policy of Facebook? Because I know there's a very specific privacy policy that is covering all of the different Oculus Go and Quest and Rift and all of the AR devices. But when there's an enterprise company that comes in, is that a privacy policy a part of that? Or is it sort of a separate, like there's even more privacy and security within some of these enterprise units that are being sold through the Oculus for Business?

[00:23:55.082] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: With the program, you get a license to use the devices commercially, so the EULA would be different. The privacy policy is also different. The terms of service are also different. There is an entire offering specific for businesses. In terms of privacy policy, the data is the customers and the customers only. It's a very different business model. It's a very different environment than what you have in consumer. So that's one of our guiding principles when we work through them. All of those details, the privacy policy, will be available once we launch at Fold, but this is what is guiding our work.

[00:24:30.478] Kent Bye: Yeah, and one of the principles of just talking to different people within the VR industry, especially in education, one of the principles that I find the most exciting and compelling is this principle of embodied cognition. Meaning that we don't just think with our brains and our minds, but we think with our entire body. And that as we put our body into the computing platforms, then we have all these new capabilities to be able to have this intuitive interactions that we're able to have much deeper learnings. And I think that if we look at some of the results that Stryver or also VR are seeing, I think they're seeing this impact of what it means to be able to put someone in a context, to have all the emotional engagement that happens from being immersed in that context, and then to have them make choices and take action, and then be able to take the action in a way that's very embodied and intuitive and very similar to the ways that they would do it in real life. And I think all those things combined together just creates this really super compelling experience that makes VR one of the most amazing training platforms and mediums that's out there. So I'm just curious if you've looked at some of the embodied cognition or the other deeper neuroscience that's driving some of these new educational theories.

[00:25:38.248] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: I'm not a researcher, but I'm a big fan of Mel Slater's work in University of Barcelona about embodiment and how we learn and how we believe what we are, like what's happening to us while we are in VR. As you say, it's one of the key reasons why immersive learning is proving to be very valuable because you believe that you are there, you are learning by doing, and all of those things combined, I think that it just makes you retain information better, right? So, yeah, I follow that line of work because it's very exciting for us. And, you know, we will continue to improve the technology to make more immersive experience. So we really blend the limits of what is real, what is virtual, and people get to train better on these devices.

[00:26:23.014] Kent Bye: Yeah, when I was at South by Southwest, I was able to see some of the VR experiences that were being shown. I think we're using the Oculus for Business software because they were just pushing the button on top and then it was just kicking into the video that was playing and so. Yeah. So just noticing that, you know, because even just playing videos when you're at a film festival becomes an issue because you have to get into the headset and then do it for them. And then, you know, you have to have them put it on. And then, you know, it's just better to kind of push the button, have a little bit of pause, and then you put it on and it plays. But it seems like that was a process that was already being deployed out there at some of the film festivals. But that is for streamlining that user experience so that when you're putting the headset on someone, you don't have to kind of mess with this. 3DOF or 6DOF controller in order to get things started. But maybe you could just talk about that process of getting those quick starts.

[00:27:14.922] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: Yeah, so we learn a lot from those experiences. We call that retail demos. And we learn about being able to let people play those experiences. It's not sufficient with just doing it on the spot. You need someone who is able to manage. So one of the key things of our software is that you are able to control that from an admin console. So you can push different behaviors to different headsets. You can group them. You can say these ones do that, this other application. They start on this app or no, they start in the home. You can control all of those things. But yes, one of the features is very similar technology to what you are referring, that we internally refer as retail demos, and that our brand ambassadors use all the time to conduct demos for people. It wasn't prototyped, it was not in our main code, so it's part of the work that we are doing right now.

[00:27:58.017] Kent Bye: And can you talk a bit more about the logistics of, say, updating 17,000 headsets from one version to the next version of the software? Because I can imagine that Stryver working with Walmart, if they want to give the latest version of an experience, then maybe they have to deploy new code to the actual headsets. And so how does that work? Are you able to deploy and send out Remotely with each of these connected like how does that actually work to get those to be online? With the internet because usually when you it takes you putting the headset on for it to even have any interactions with it And so is there a way to do that wirelessly or what is the logistics of actually updating? Code to that many headsets at scale

[00:28:37.643] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: So that's one of the things that we need to solve for this to work, right? Because those applications are going to be constantly updating, there's going to be new modules, there's going to be new things. So companies needed a way to do this at scale. So the applications can be, of course, the headset needs to be in Wi-Fi. Otherwise, there is no new data that can come to them. They can be sleeping, you know, cut from the internet for a while. But if you need them to update, or if you want them up to date, you need to put them back online. You can decide you have a window This is another requirement that we go from business is like we don't want to push updates the moment they come like it may be bad timing like we need to stop and Do it overnight or we want to do it during the weekend or like we want we want to have control Over when we push whatever updates that being applications or system updates I don't know if you have had the experience where you want to play VR and then all of a sudden there's a system update and you're like ah

[00:29:26.111] Kent Bye: It's happened a lot to creators at film festivals, actually, where they were about to do a demo and then an update broke their experience. So yeah, I've definitely had that experience of seeing people within the field have to deal with those type of issues.

[00:29:39.037] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: Yeah, so we knew that this would be an issue if you are putting your business and you have a classroom full of people and then all of a sudden everybody has to wait for 10 minutes for a system update. It's a lot of time wasted. So to have the control of when those updates get deployed, it's part of the functionality of the administrators that will push those updates. And then yeah, it can be done in remote, like someone has a PC, someone has a laptop and is logged into the web console, and they can decide which headsets get which version. We push the update, they are in the Wi-Fi, they're in their whatever remote location, and they get the update over the air.

[00:30:13.308] Kent Bye: And within the Oculus for Business division, is there a way that you break up the different industry verticals and think about all the different use cases and applications of VR?

[00:30:24.237] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: maybe in the future. There's so many use cases and it's so like different verticals are using it so differently. I think that where we are very excited about the version that we are releasing this fall is that really enables many of them, you know, from product demonstrations, data visualization, collaboration, training. There's so many of them that we're waiting for the ability to do it like in a business. and what we are providing is really foundational. It's the basic functionality that they need to get started, so we are not differentiating right now. Every use case in business to business can use this functionality.

[00:30:59.743] Kent Bye: Just the way that I think about it, there's the architecture, engineering, design, there's medical applications, there's training, which seems to cross pretty much every domain, but also education, data visualization, anything that does a lot of spatial design seems to be a pretty compelling use case. And in talking to a lot of these different companies, I think that the go in 3DOF has been good. And I've actually seen a lot more startups and companies that were deploying medical applications that they weren't able to do before because it was just too high of a cost entry to be able to expect these different clinics around the world to buy a whole VR-enabled PC and to have all the technical infrastructure to be able to support something like a VR piece of equipment. Now that the Go is out there, I've seen a lot of these different companies be able to actually deploy these medical applications and training for autism spectrum disorder or whatever it ends up being. But with the Quest, it seems like it's this real sweet spot of really getting the affordances of all of the spatial computing, but to have the ease of use of not only deploying it, getting it into hands, but you put it on and it's tetherless and you're just diving into these different experiences. For me, knowing what the potential is for adding full embodiment and 6DoF and what is going to happen with training, I just see that there's the potential to have this big explosion for what's even possible, given that there's these different needs in companies. Once they understand the fundamentals of spatial computing and experiential design, because it's not just an easy port to be able to take existing training, there's a whole philosophy for how to best train people in an experiential way. But it feels like the Quest is this real inflection point for what is going to be possible for all the enterprise applications for virtual reality.

[00:32:45.178] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: Yeah, again, super excited about Quest. I agree with you. Quest is like this perfect intersection of mobility and immersion and performance. You know, between Go and Rift, it gets like all in their package. It seems like an ideal device. We still believe that there is a lot of applications for Oculus Go as well. And this is why we are They both share the same software platform, but we believe both have a place for different use cases. Oculus Go, you can also make it interactive. You can also make it quite immersive. There are people who are doing pretty good things in that area. It's very easy access to get into an Oculus Go. It has the single controller. So for use cases where you have probably more frontline workers or is more knowledge-based, there's a lot of legacy content that you can very easily port. into VR, and you get a lot of benefit already from the immersion and from the, you know, learning by doing. All of the numbers that I shared with you on Walmart, they're on 3DOF, so there is definitely a market for that. Moving forward, when we're talking about skill training, when you're talking about doing something with your hands, movement, precision, memory, muscle memory, Yes, like 6 Degree of Freedom is going to be transformative. So I think that there is still room for both. We are supporting both. We are going to be monitoring very closely, like what are customers telling us? If they see much movement between 3DoF, 6DoF, it's going to take a while, exactly what you were saying, right? Understanding spatial movement, spatial learning. I'm a big believer in spatial learning. I'm a spatial learner myself. I memorize much better. I always have to write things and I have to put them in buckets to memorize. So I'm a firm believer that you can learn better when you see things like in 3D space and six degree of freedom, but maybe other people are not like me. Anyway, both have a place, we believe.

[00:34:30.743] Kent Bye: Well, I know that it is difficult to optimize for both the GO and the Oculus Quest, especially if this is your first creation of a VR experience. And so, does the Rift S have any Oculus for Business applications, or is it only just the Oculus GO and Oculus Quest that are being supported within this Oculus for Business initiative?

[00:34:50.445] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: So you can still purchase bulk of Rift S from Oculus for Business, like we're super excited about Rift S, great device. We started with focusing on Go and Quest because as mobile devices they require more handhold from IT. to get them working in a company. Drift, because it's tied to a PC, companies know how to deal with PCs slightly easier, in a slightly easier way than these mobile devices that require an entire new way of introducing them into your company. So we realized that people needed more help with that. There is also the fact that because Go and Quest are portable and they're built for scale, there will be many more of them. So when we're talking about bulk setup, provisioning, et cetera, you're going to have a lot of them. So we needed a solution for them versus Rift and Rift S, which you may have a smaller number because just, you know, the type of use case, the type of applications you are tied to a PC, it may be more manageable for the time being with the version that we currently have. It was most urgent need to deal with Oculus Go and Oculus Quest.

[00:35:59.194] Kent Bye: So for you, what are some of the either biggest open questions that you're trying to answer or open problems you're trying to solve?

[00:36:06.963] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: In general? You know, as a team, super excited about the announcement here at F8. The feedback has been fantastic from customers, from developers, from the press. Thank you. It has been great. It was like, yay, finally Oculus is doing it. So we're welcoming that. For the team is to really gear up for the launch this fall. My open questions are going to be around what do we do next? Because we do have so many opportunities. We know all of the investments that we are doing in presence, in avatars, in collaboration, in inputs. There is a lot of technologies that Oculus is working on and trying to figure out and decide in which order of priority we bring these things to enterprise is going to be our job over the next months to figure out.

[00:36:55.725] Kent Bye: Yeah, the productivity apps are the ones that I'm particularly interested in. Is that something that you've been prototyping and working on, or are there branches within Facebook looking at the productivity applications of VR?

[00:37:06.355] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: We have a lot of things going on internally across a different number of use cases. We will be sharing more soon, but everything from training, collaboration, data visualization, we use a lot of VR internally. We don't talk about it yet, but we do our own products. It's very exciting, and we'll be talking about it sometime later.

[00:37:27.791] Kent Bye: Awesome. I can imagine the intersection between AI and data visualization around AI and a lot of sense-making possibilities. Being able to do knowledge representation is something that I think about a lot because I have like a thousand interviews and just to be able to experience that spatially like what does that look like to have like a memory palace of information and content. How does it get translated spatially? So I feel like that there's a lot of unanswered open questions that have yet to be figured out, but that there's a wide possibility of innovation and discovery that's yet to happen there. But finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality is, and what am I people to enable?

[00:38:08.872] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: That's a tough one too. It's funny. I work my past career. I work in Mobile for 10 years and I started working in that industry when there was no smartphones They were like totally dumb and we were working like in the first custom silicon to create these experiences and we always have to think like five years out, what will a mobile phone do? And, you know, the industry blew all our expectations, right? Like we have these devices right now that are like these supercomputers in our pockets. So I'm glad that I'm working in VR right now because I feel I'm reliving that time where we are in step 0.7 of this journey and I know that we will figure it out. Like this spatial computing era is going to happen. Whether we want it or not, it's inevitable. Like Michael Abrash says all the time, it is inevitable. And it's exciting to be part of the journey. It's going to be AR. It's going to be VR. It's going to be MR. It's going to be a combination of it. It's going to happen through work. It's going to happen through consumer. There's so many unknowns. There's so many we're all trying to figure out. The only thing I'm convinced is that we will figure it out, and this will happen.

[00:39:13.785] Kent Bye: Great. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the immersive community?

[00:39:18.845] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: Yes, come to our website, oculus.com slash business. We are launching the fall, but you can start piloting. You can start testing these technologies on your own right now. Super excited. All the developers who have been working in enterprise applications, we welcome to the family. And yeah, we excited for OC6 for the fall and come up with more news then.

[00:39:44.517] Kent Bye: OK, great. Well, thank you so much.

[00:39:46.178] Maria Fernandez Guajardo: Thank you.

[00:39:47.246] Kent Bye: So that was Maria Fernandez Guajardo. She's the head of enterprise for AR and VR for Facebook. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, well, I'm just really happy to see that Oculus is starting to have more effort and initiative into the Oculus for Business. Just the fact that it was in the keynote at F8 and that there's a whole session. I think this is something where a number of people within the virtual reality community have been asking Facebook for a long time to step up and to be a little bit more engaged in doing some of these offerings, but also just telling the wider virtual reality ecosystem that gaming is not the only way to be able to make a living within virtual reality as a development platform. But in fact, some of the most innovative and cutting edge applications for VR are going to be in the enterprise for architecture and engineering and design and construction and medical applications and training applications. There's just so many potential use cases for virtual reality. And I'm excited to see where this goes because I really do think that the Oculus Quest is going to be a game changer when it comes to enterprise training. I mean, Just to be able to have a self-contained unit, you don't need a VR rig, it's tetherless. You do have to do quite a bit of virtuality optimization in order to get an application running and running well on the Oculus Quest, but after having a chance to play around with a number of different VR experiences on the Quest over the last couple of weeks, I have to say it's like super impressive that how they've been able to do a pretty good translation for a lot of these big VR titles into the Oculus Quest. And I'd say that, you know, a big reason why Facebook I think has been focusing on gaming is that if they can really nail down the gaming use case, then there's just going to be so many different other applications that are just going to open up. I mean, just doing like a standalone tracking your body as you're walking around training type of scenario is going to be pretty easy relative to all the things they had to do in order to get the tracking to be working with an application that is as intense as Beat Saber. So being able to do like lots of people in a multiplayer training simulations in a big space where it's tracked I'm excited to see where everything goes in terms of what types of things people start to do with this because I think there's actually going to be a lot of new things that are opened up that weren't as feasible before. So it sounds like they're still working on a lot of the different deployment solutions. If you want to be able to deploy an update to a thousand or 10,000 headsets, then you really need to have a really sophisticated deployment system and version control, all that stuff. And so. It sounds like that that's a lot of the different options that they're working on. And that, like Maria said, if it takes around 10 minutes or so per headset, then, you know, that may make sense for like 20 headsets or whatnot. But once you get past that, then it just becomes prohibitively expensive to be able to, you know, have to do all the deployments. And also just it sounds like they've got a lot of ways that are just super streamlined. They don't have the Oculus Store. And I was excited to hear that they actually have a completely different privacy policy in terms of service and on user licensing agreement. So it sounds like they are not going to be announcing that or releasing that until like the fall. Maria said that probably at like Oculus Connect 6. It's usually around September, October, sometime around that timeframe. Expect to see like the launch of Oculus for Business properly. But I know that they had a number of different beta programs that they had been testing for a while, especially when you go to different conferences like South by Southwest. I know there's a number of different companies that had specific deployments, you know, where you just tap the button on the front and it automatically kicks it into the virtual reality experience. So even though it's been a little frustrating to see that Oculus has been leaving a lot of this on the table, likely the previous executive leadership of Oculus just wasn't all that interested in the enterprise applications. And I think once Facebook took over, then I think that shift in leadership may have been marked a little bit of like the different shifts and changes of starting to pay a little bit more attention to the enterprise markets, especially as HTC and Microsoft are really starting to make these different inroads into these companies through their virtual reality offerings. So I'm excited to see where this goes and to continue to see all the different applications for the enterprise. I'm about to go to the Microsoft Build in Seattle and I'll be there for Monday and Tuesday checking out all the latest announcements for Microsoft and their mixed reality and augmented reality, their virtual reality with the HoloLens 2.0, as well as whatever latest mixed reality stuff they have for the virtual reality and other applications. And usually there's a lot of different developers that are showing all the different latest applications there as well. So I'd say that Microsoft has a lot of experience and history with dealing with enterprises, but I have to say that the Oculus Quest is probably the best technically pulled off piece of hardware that's out there in terms of a mobile self-contained unit. And it's just going to be super easy to be able to deploy out. I think in talking to a lot of different people in the enterprise, they've been really waiting for this moment to have something that is self-contained. They can deploy it very easily. And it's just going to enable so many different applications. It's really a friction-free experience. And I'm personally excited to see what type of innovation comes from all the different applications from the enterprise market. So that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listeners-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon your donations in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. Thanks for listening.

More from this show