The Augmented World Expo (AWE) went live on Tuesday morning. We weren’t able to cover everything at the massive XR technology conference, but we’ve collected some of our day one highlights.
Ori Inbar’s Welcome Address
AWE launched at 11 a.m. EST with event founder Ori Inbar’s “It’s Time to Go Spatial” welcome address.
“Welcome everyone to the eleventh year of AWE. For the first time ever – we will join AWE from home… and it’s awesome to have you join us from around the world,” Inbar said to the audience of around 400 live viewers. “…I wish we could be in-person in Santa Clara like every (other) year, but it is what it is.”
Most of the opening keynote was given through “a message from my future self” that Ori Inbar from the year 2030 sent via “a feature of the Quantum Internet where I can manipulate photons across time to send you this message.”
The Inbar of the Future spoke of “SPAI” – a combination of spatial computing and artificial intelligence that powers societies of the future. However, not everything about the future is bright.
“There is a perpetual tension between truth and fiction. Seeing is no longer believing,” said the Inbar of the Future. The Inbar of the Future also spoke about “the internet of eyes” – countless connected cameras always watching us and leading to companies competing to offer privacy rather than sell data.
Of course, there wasn’t really an Inbar of the Future. Inbar confessed that the recording wasn’t from the future, although the technology may be. The transcript of his address, linked above, is annotated with references to the material that inspired his predictions.
AWE 2020 Day 1 Talks and Panel Discussions
A theme of Inbar’s welcome address and many of the Day 1 discussion – and likely of talks to come – was the future of XR technology. While 2020 may be what Inbar of the Future called the “lost year,” it has been good to the XR technology industry.
Google’s Dr. Ivan Poupyrev
Google’s Engineering Director, Dr. Ivan Poupyrev, discussed the allure of XR technology as being a reimagining of the computer interface in his talk.
“Today’s interface model, which was developed in the ‘80s, wasn’t meant to be used while we were doing something else. The computer was designed to be the center of attention,” said Poupyrev. “…Today, we want computers to augment our reality, not distract us from it.”
The Future of Entertainment
A panel discussion titled “Who Will Control the Future of Entertainment?” brought together StoryTech Principal Lori Schwartz, Warner Bros. SVP of Emerging Technology and Innovation Strategy Tony Driscoll, Sony SVP of VR Jake Zim, Paramount Futurist Ted Schilowitz, and Arcadium President Marcie Jastrow.
The talk discussed XR technology facilitating conventional entertainment more than it discussed new types of entertainment facilitated by XR technology.
“COVID has basically created an accelerant for trends that were already happening pre-quarantine,” said Zim. “…As we’re all still in our houses or our apartments or wherever we are…, we all want to consume entertainment.”
Some have speculated that when the world opens back up people will have lost their taste for live entertainment. The feeling in the room at this panel discussion was quite the opposite: that there will be a rush on venues like theaters.
“The world is coming to us,” said Schilowitz. “Slowly, people will realize that this safe distance protocol was just one use-case.”
However, with sets closed, the entertainment industry – like most industries – has turned to remote work and that may not change. For example, film companies now know that editors don’t necessarily need to travel to location to work on a film.
“What we’re seeing is, the concept of everyone saying, ‘wait a minute, we thought you needed to be sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a room together to collaborate,’ …ultimately, we’re seeing that remote work does work,” said Jastrow.
Announcements by 8th Wall, XRSPACE, and Charlie Fink
Of course, an event like AWE isn’t just important because you get to listen to the experts. It’s also important because it gives those experts a platform to make announcements to the XR technology world.
In order to make XR a part of their 5G offerings, Qualcomm has partnered with a number of global operators. Qualcomm Director of Product Management Said Bakadir’s talk also included the announcement of a new 5G-enabled VR headset, the MOVA, by XRSPACE.
Forbes Columnist and Chapman University Lecturer, Charlie Fink, used his talk to announce a new book “The XR Directory.”
Keep Coming Back
There are still a few days worth of XR technology content coming from AWE. Even if you don’t have a ticket, you can watch the live streams on awexr.com. We can’t cover everything, but ARPost will keep bringing you the highlights.