Russ: This is The BusinessMakers Show, brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business. And this is the Digital Leader Series, our quarterly event where we highlight a cutting edge technology in front of a live audience of digital leaders. And our focus for DLS 6 is virtual reality meets business reality. Our guests, a four member panel, all from Chaotic Moon Studios. The lineup: Michael Hall, Omar Khan, Will Womble, and last but not least, Marc Boudria. Guys, welcome to the show, and let’s start right at the top. Give us an overview of Chaotic Moon.
Will: So, yeah, thanks for having us Russ. Um, we’re really excited to be, to be here. Chaotic Moon is, uh, is Chaotic Moon Studios. We actually named it that purposely. We do a a lot of different things inside Chaotic Moon Studios, um, and ultimately what we ground ourselves on is a services firm that designs, develops and delivers digital products and experiences that transform businesses or or solve big problems. And recently, as Russ said earlier, we were acquired by Accenture. You know, we look at technology uh, from a distance—from a from a an angle that believes no box kind of exists. Uh, we love being in this space, and I know a lot of people here are in the oil and gas and energy sector. We were fortunate through Michael, uh, Marc, and Omar to get into this not that long ago and and have started doing really really well we help companies be profitable at a time when gas or price of oil is so low. Um, one of the ways we do that is through technology.
What I like to say is, we look at technology as just another arrow in the quiver of business strategy, and one of the best examples that we can point to that kind of highlights that is what we did for a company that had a problem that isn’t dissimilar than a lot of problems we look at. They were wanting to find out how to visualize dysfunction down hole. And they came to us and they gave us a short time frame to take the data that was being generated from 4500, 5000 feet below the surface and put it to a, to a a dashboard to a user interface to where the end user can understand what the heck is happening, intuitively. Well, the outside the box thinking, from a Chaotic Moon standpoint, and a studio standpoint that we brought was, what we did was take this data and we ran it through a gaming engine; something that hadn’t necessarily been thought of, yeah we overhauled the user experience and the interface as well.
But what ultimately what we did was the ask from the stakeholder was to be able to take massive amounts of data that otherwise may not necessarily be understandable to the rig operator and allow somebody, with just a few minutes, um, being a former lawyer I’ll say probably longer than a few minutes, to train somebody on how to operate this thing, but that they know how to do it intuitively through a user experience to where you can now take the more experienced people who are you’re losing, put them on a remote operating center, and be able to monitor more than just one well at a time. The the gaming engine was great, and that was an opportunity to kind of turn this industry on its head; where can we go next. And we said we can put that on a face shield, we can put that anywhere that uh in a in a mixed reality medium. That’s what kind of brought us here today to start talking about it.
Michael: But I think it’s pretty important to understand what, why people are so excited about the technology. And I’m doing that in finger quotes for a reason because this is a very big paradigm shift with how technology is affecting all of our lives and it’s coming very very quickly. And then actually virtual reality/mixed reality, that’s actually the next chapter. And the reason, right now it’s easy to get confused because you see this technology being used a lot in the context of gaming. That’s just because they’re their first, that’s the most obvious way that virtual reality can be used to great effect. There’s a reason, if you guys don’t know, Facebook bought Oculus. That seemed weird for a lot of people at the time, but those in the know understood how significant that acquisition was.
And the reason is that one for one, where you know you put on a headset and you’re having this mind blowing experience where we’re basically teleporting you to a place you’ve never been before, yes that’s significant, yes that’s impactful, but the future is one to many, and experiencing that with other people. So, everybody in this room, everything we’re doing right now, we are within a incredibly short window of being able to duplicate this experience with a very high degree of fidelity in a virtual world, without any of you guys having to battle traffic and get here the way you did. It’s going to be that fast that quick, and it’s going to be that easy very very soon.
Russ: But if we, if we did it and we all had to have, you know, and Oculus Rift on, would we have to go cook our own steak, too? I mean, how–
Michael: Virtual steak doesn’t taste quite the same. Yeah, it’s a little gristly.
Russ: Ok. A couple of things that you guys have said, real interesting, but I always hear this word immersion when I hear people start talking uh about virtual reality. Are you saying in oil and gas they’re be a point in time probably in the not too distant future where, you know, you’re immersed in the drill hole and watching what’s going on and are you just looking at a at a replay of a simulation or could you, at some point, could you actually be doing it real time?
Will: Marc and I spent last week with uh uh a major company that was doing an HSE workshop to specifically around AR/VR and how that could be applicable. So, it’s not just uh down hole, but it’s also HSE and safety as well.
Marc: Yeah, the answer to your question is all of the above; it can be all of those things and if you took the application that you just saw in the video and with a few minor tweaks we could actually drop that into an Oculus. You could put it on and look at the bit as it’s coming down the hole. Is that the right use case? Is that the right scenario? We don’t know because it’s never been done before, but that’s really the question that needs to be answered with all of these things. How are you applying it? What are you actually trying to solve for? And that’s going to dictate the experience, because there’s things like transparent LCD, where we can have something sitting in the log shack that looks out over the rig, and as you’re just looking through the window, it’s overlaying data on it. You don’t ever have to take your eyes off of what’s in front of you, and that’s the promise of mixed reality.
Russ: Ok. Why don’t you guys, both of you, you and Omar, kind of share with us this whole world about what is mixed reality. Share your perspective on that.
Omar: Sure, so currently what we’re doing in our department is actually exploring a lot of these different technologies as they’re coming out. Uh, currently we have a couple engineers actually going to Seattle’s work with the HoloLens, if you guys are not familiar with that it’s Microsoft’s new technology that they’re working towards releasing soon, and that’s kind of what mixed reality is about. Where we take uh the real world and we superimpose data onto the real world, and I think that type of application is what really would be best suited for enterprise type solutions because you’re not, you’re no longer constrained to the amount of monitors you might have, you’re no longer constrained to the hardware that might be at a location, rather, you can use the surrounding view and actually pose whatever data you want onto it.
So, imagine being at a drill rig, onsite, and instead of having all these different computers that need to be blast proof, that need to be you know a certain type of specification that prevents it from being damaged, you have your engineers just wear this helmet. And this helmet can be then guided by somebody back at the office that’s able to dictate or showcase some data directly onto the rig site. They can say, here’s where some dysfunction occurred. And if the dysfunction occurred at a certain point on the pipe, they can show that data directly onto the feed, onto their headset, and they’ll know what to do or they’ll have an idea of what to do. Maybe some guidance about where you should go, or where you should look at, where these changes can happen. And that can all happen remotely. So not only is it safe for a lot of the majority of the engineers, you don’t need as many on the drill rig site because they’re collaborating in real time.
Marc: And we can add to that sensations of haptic feedback. So, the person that’s wearing the rig could actually have embedded in the headband or in their clothing, the ability for somebody remotely to give them directions as to where something is. I need you to go adjust this valve. Well, I may not know where that valve is exactly, and that person remotely can just tap a direction and you just walk toward that direction. We actually just recently did a project that essentially is depth of field to blind people and that’s the same exact technology that we’re using there. It’s very similar to the way that the autonomous vehicles work today. So, it can be done, it can be done lightly; it doesn’t have to take years of work. Everything that you’ve seen and that you will see represent short bursts of months of work, not decades of work.
Omar: That’s the beauty of the engines that we’re using; the engines that we’re showcasing. Even though we’re saying that they’re game engines, they’re not necessarily game engines. They are 3D engines that have already done the hard work, they’ve done the heavy lifting of not having us write the engine from scratch. The engines that we use are called Unity and Unreal; those are the two common ones, but they have immediate uh hooks into the VR and MR devices, so there’s very quick turnaround to get these things up and running. A lot of the demonstration you see up here are done in about a couple months at the very most, you know, we did a lot of these examples in weeks, even, for certain types of demonstrations that we’ve done. So, there’s always the opportunity to have prototypes and different things out there to quickly and easily showcase some of the stuff, and then we can start building upon that as we move forward.
But that’s one of the beauty of these engines is that it gives you a kind of baked solution right out the gate.
Russ: Ok, so do you see a day and time where you don’t have to put a helmet on or goggles, and particularly mixed reality, I mean, you want to kind of see peripheral vision too. It’s just like a coating now on your glasses.
Omar: It is getting there soon. That’s the thing. Like, the beauty of this, we’re right at the beginning of this, right? It’s at the start of this whole experience. So, as we move forward, technology’s going to get better, things will be much more concise, things will get smaller, and then you’ll start instead of wearing this giant headset, put on a pair of glasses. Uh, there was a patent recently by a large company that described that exact system, where they’re not putting on a full headset, they’re putting on things that look like glasses.
Russ: Ok. Now you mention gaming several times, but you always veer away, probably because of my warning that we don’t want to spend too much, but gaming has played a huge role in virtual reality, right?
Omar: I mean, it it kind of, I wouldn’t say it’s a driving force, but it was something that helped create the 3D experiences. We wouldn’t have these engines that allow you to make these VR/MR experiences quickly if it wasn’t for gaming, right. And myself, my degree was in gaming; I learned how to program because of gaming, I’m a—
Russ: Did you go to school or did you just play games a lot at home?
Omar: Both. I played games while at school and that’s how I became..uh, I went to school, I literally went to school like, I want to know how to make games. And I went and I learned how to program and from there I was able to do mobile applications, I was able to do stuff for iOS and Android, I mean, programming is a very agnostic type of discipline. So, my love and passion for certain things led me down this path to where I’m at today and I can’t be more happy, but it all this stuff is connected, right? So, in order to have these experiences you need to be able to build those engines and those engines came from that common starting point.
Marc: One of the things that people don’t quite understanding is that building games, especially the big triple A games like you see on PlayStation and Xbox One, are some of the most difficult engineering that you can do from a software perspective. There’s math and physics, everything is rolled up into one singular discipline, whereas building mobile applications and web applications there’s very little of that computer side that’s gonna happen there, but in the gaming world it’s a really heafty uplift and these engines help make it possible to do these things in relatively quick times instead of spending decades to build something.
And this is, one of the things that we’ve seen as we worked, especially in oil and gas, is that it’s loaded with a fantastic engineering talent, but their their toolbox that they’ve grown up with and used is very limited, and it’s not by any fault of their own it’s the world that they live in, it’s the time that they kind of evolved and educated in; there just didn’t, these tools just didn’t exist
Will: I’d say that, you know, tying into what Omar and Marc were talking about as far as gaming, yeah we bring that mentality and the methodology to it but what we like to say, and it’s not necessarily a novel concept, we’re hyper focused on the end user, whether that end user is a customer facing product, whether it’s a back office product, or the entity itself that we’re working for. But ultimately, if you serve the end user, uh, you’re going to solve some serious problems and achieve some pretty big goals with that mentality of using some outside of the box or no box existing mentality.
Audience #1: Yeah, obviously your market, from what I understand so far, has been oil and gas centric. Uh, this is an industry that’s in a little bit of turmoil. Uh, kind of a two part question: in general, other markets, specifically what are you doing/anticipate doing in the healthcare world?
Omar: Yes, it’s a few months back and then, you know, you can always leverage pre-existing technologies, right? Like, MRI machines and get the data from there and then visualize it differently. Um, there’s also certain ways that you can use this to help the patient get more involved with what’s happening to them, right? So, there’s one example where recently we were having a discussion with a company that was interested in taking uh uh actual uh sonograms from a pregnant woman and actually having them wear something like a HoloLens device or something and they can actually see in 3D their child as it’s developing. And that’s something, I recently had a kid, and that to me would have been amazing; to be able to sit there and be able to see my child in all angles in all forms after they just took a quick read from the doctor and being able to explain it, point certain aspects of it right there in 3D. You’ll be able to spin that thing in front of you, be able to see certain aspects of it.
So, there’s a huge potential in the medical field for this type of stuff in terms of either educating, or being able to visualize the data on a patient easily.
Michael: That’s a great example actually of, I don’t know if they’ve if they’ve quite got the setup right, but they’re in the right track of that shared experience. They’ve recognized there’s a wall between physicians and patients. And it’s something we’ve all experienced where they know something we don’t know and we feel on the other side of the wall. We want more information and we want it right then.
Marc: Yeah, you can look at it as from an emergency situation, too. Combining two pieces of technology, something like the Tech Tats that we just, that was out and kind of been going viral, but you have a triage so Tech Tats is literally a conductive tattoo that can pick up data from yourself and send it as a beacon. So, if I’ve got a triage situation; an emergency, a bus crash, lots of people hurt; come by, slap Tech Tats on each person, then somebody with, a doctor coming behind can glance out at all of the people and do a fast triage and know which are the ones with the most priority just based on the stats that are coming up. And they just shows up as beacons.
Russ: Ok. Next question.
Audience #2: So, I had a question about this gaming stuff. You talk about all these technologies and platforms that you’re using and how it might be applied to the oilfield, but part of gaming is also collaboration and then competition and I’m just curious if you’ve identified application where those aspects are um kind of well-endowed with what you’re doing for the oil field?
Marc: Well, gamification is sort of a slippery slope. So, I think, while I think gamification is important and I’d like to see more places do it, I’d like to see it done in more meaningful ways with better strategy behind it, and I think that’s what’s really been missing in a lot of the enterprise implementations of gamification. It’s just a total lack of strategy and lack of direction, what they want to do with the information once they get it.
Russ: All right, let’s hear it for our Chaotic Moon panel. And that wraps up this episode of the Digital Leader Series brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business.
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