Category Archives: HoloLens

10 Questions with Michael Gourlay

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Michael is a former game developer for Electronic Arts with a physics PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder who now works as a principle dev lead in the HoloLens group. He also led the teams that worked on spatial mapping and inside-out-tracking for the HoloLens.

He is an amazing speaker about topics related to AR and VR. I should probably admit, at this point, that I actually listen to bootleg recordings of some of his talks. It isn’t that he’s saying anything proprietary so much as that, even when his talks aren’t officially recorded, some of us in the HoloLens dev community make a point of recording his public talks anyways and pass them around because – as I mentioned – he’s an amazingly knowledgeable and thought provoking speaker.

Even if you don’t have access to the Gourlay bootleg tapes (2016-2017),  there are plenty of talks available online that you should definitely peruse in order to start understanding how Michael views the world and the role that AR technology like the HoloLens plays within it:

Here are Michael’s answers to the 10 Questions.

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
Miller’s Crossing. Among its many themes, one of my favorites is that no matter how calculating you might be, you can’t always explain your actions. I spend a lot of time strategizing but ultimately I make decisions based on intuition.

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
Space Invaders, in a cabinet at a pizza restaurant in Florida.  I have a massive collection of Atari 2600 games from the 1970’s. I keep it because it reminds me how I got started doing what I do.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
A person very special to me, MFT, who has taught me the value in being deeply and genuinely curious about people.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
I change my mind so frequently I don’t keep track; I keep my mind in a superposition of multiple decisions and the weights of each possibility shift as new information and insights arrive, which is constantly, even while I sleep and shower.

What’s a skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
People might assume that I have confidence and know what I’m talking about because I tend to make declarative statements that might sound like claims about a fact of this world.  But those statements are often just me thinking out loud while I’m imagining a world where that statement is the case.  I live in my head, in a world with many possibilities but when I speak, I pluck out and verbalize some hypothetical version to try it on for size. I might, immediately after hearing myself say something out loud, decide it’s wrong.

What inspires you to learn?
Curiosity about the way the world works, and a desire to tinker with that.  I also love being able to transfer what I’ve learned.  I feel like learning is difficult for me and that I remember the snags I encountered, which sometimes makes me able to explain ideas to people who are also not subject-matter experts, because I can dodge the same snags.  I love to dabble in lots of knowledge areas.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
My motivation comes from believing my actions help people achieve more together.  I value bringing people together and helping them making impact on others. Ironically sometimes I do that by working solo to make tools meant for others, who think differently from me, to use.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
I feel like I say almost daily, that I’m making a claim I can’t defend, but my intuition tells me it might be the case.  I start there, form hypotheses, then ideally gather a preponderance data and test the hypotheses.  But all cost is opportunity so often I have to make decisions based on a paucity of data.

A recurring indefensible view is that cooperation permits more value than does competition, borders impede progress and people who seek to bridge distances between persons are better than people who defend territories.  But the world seems to run on competition so I feel lonely trying to espouse that view.

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
Virtual companions will reside in your brain, talking to you telepathically in your own voice.  Today’s mixed reality platforms are a stepping stone to a fusion of humans and computers where we blur the lines between thought, computation, exotic sensors and retrieval of salient information.  The ultimate augmentation will be to your inner monologue.

What book have you recommended the most?
Understanding Comics. It’s about how to communicate with a continuum of images spanning abstract (words) to concrete (pictures), and about how we complete stories when information is omitted.  Comics permit a kind of universal story-telling language that requires only very low technology (cave paintings, ink on paper) but which modern technology (e.g. the web) effortlessly enhances.

10 Questions with Chad Carter

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Chad is a kindred spirit. Like me, when he saw the early demos for the HoloLens he decided that that was what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He purchased a HoloLens with his own money, learned to develop on it and then started mentoring others to create their own HoloLens products and services, building on his background as a game developer.

You can see his articles, tutorials, and code samples on the website chadcarter.net. He also runs a mixed reality master class series at learnhololens.com where he provides group and individualized lessons. I also highly recommend his HoloPaintball app. You can learn a lot just by downloading the source code and working your way through it. 

I ran into Chad at a Holo-hackathon a few months back and, in a moment of exhaustion and depression after 24 hours of being awake, asked him what he thought was keeping the AR and VR industries from taking off. He considered my question for a beat, then looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “James, we need to build better apps.” Maybe it was the tiredness, but it hit me like an ask what you can do for your country moment. It’s a piece of advice I’ve kept close ever since.

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
The 13th Floor – the synopsis is “A computer scientist running a virtual reality simulation of 1937 becomes the primary suspect when his colleague and mentor is murdered.”

I almost chose the Matrix, but I actually saw this one first and it blew me away. (They both came out in 1999.)

I don’t want to spoil it, but it sort of goes along the lines of Elon Musk thinking we could actually be in a simulation ourselves…

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
This one is hard … it would have to have been on the Atari 2600. Probably was Combat or Pong. My favorite was Circus Atari though. I played pinball machines before then, but that’s not exactly a video game.

The one that made the biggest difference though was Police Quest from Sierra. I made a post where I talked about it the game I was thankful for because it was when I figured out that you could type commands into a computer and it would do what you asked. This was my introduction to programming – even though it wasn’t exactly programming…

I really loved all of Sierra’s “Quest” games…

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
What a difficult question… several come to mind, but I’ll have to go with my parents. In particular, my dad and his work ethic is something that influenced me greatly.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
About 3 questions ago…

What’s a programming skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
Advanced math. I should have this skill, but I let the engines do the heavy lifting for me…

What inspires you to learn?
Input… More Input…

I never liked reading when I was a kid. In fact, I don’t think I really could read very well until middle school. It was the Infocom games like Deadline and Witness that really helped me with reading comprehension.

Being in the technology field has just fueled the desire to learn with the ever-changing landscape.

I made the mistake of thinking that Windows 3.1 was a fad.

“Why would anyone want to use a mouse?”

When Windows 95 came out, I had a lot of catching up to do. The Windows message pump was a beast for me to understand originally. After being that far behind, I decided I wouldn’t do that again.

Of course, that has resulted in learning a lot of things that didn’t last very long. (I’m looking at you Zune…)

But it is also one of the reasons why I jumped onto the HoloLens journey as soon as it was announced.

And it is because of it that I’ve been able to teach other developers as they are moving along their own HoloLens development journey.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
I don’t have a problem making it through the day. I’m unsure which one of my world views has made it that way, but I’ll go with a core belief that affects all of my other ones. That is the belief that the Bible is true.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
Windows Phone / Windows Mobile is a superior product over the other phones…

I can’t defend it because of … apps … but I really do love the OS. I also really liked the Zune too…

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
If I knew this, I’d create it. 🙂

I think that before too terribly long we will be able to use these devices in such a way that monitors will become a thing of the past. When we use these devices like we do our smart phones where it is always with us and we use it for everything, monitors will become obsolete for the most part.

It is really crazy to think about how much computing will change in the very near future.

Although, I’m a little concerned about AI to be honest. I mean, I, Robot.

What book have you recommended the most?
That would have to be John Sonmez’s Soft Skills book. There are so many topics in the book and he has several chapters devoted to learning, productivity and even finances.

10 Questions with Neeraj Wadhwa

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Neeraj is one of those key enablers within the mixed reality ecosystem whom you’ve probably never heard of. He is a Senior Development Lead at Microsoft and is the guy responsible for curating the HoloToolkit—the set of open source modules we all use to get anything done when developing for the HoloLens. He came to the HoloLens team after working on the Xbox Kinect and Kinect for Windows.

He goes about his work quietly and without fanfare, seeing his role as one of nurturing the community behind the scenes rather than trying to stand out within it. Today, however, we’re going to put the limelight on him for a change. Here are Neeraj’s answers to the 10 Questions:

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
I am a huge movie and TV buff and have very eclectic tastes. It would be super hard for me to pick one. There are so many Indian movies that have inspired my sensibilities and emotions. Some international cinema that influenced me a lot while growing up include Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, The Matrix and all the Julia Roberts films. Clearly, I am most in love with the fantasy genre.

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
Mario Brothers, Contra, Dangerous Dave are some of my earliest gaming memories. Wow. Seems like forever ago. My cousins and I used to compete over the summer holidays.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
My parents, especially my mom, shaped the core of me; but my wife has made me the adult and man I am today. I truly get inspired by so many qualities in them. Both my parents instilled in me the value of not just hard work but smart work, aiming high and dreaming big, respecting others and cultivating love for family. The most important lesson my father always repeats to me is that ‘failure is ok’ and however the odds may be stacked against you, persevere and you will get through it. Don’t give up.

My wife taught me to value diversity in thinking and approach, making the most of what resources are available, adapting to change, resilience and patience.

I would be nowhere without these north stars in my life.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
I like to believe I’m a strong-minded and strong-willed person but when presented with a good reason for a different cause, I absolutely change my mind about it.
I am super fickle about matters in my personal life, though, like daily chores etc.

What’s a programming skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
JavaScript. At one point in life I tried to learn it when I was working on Windows Runtime but gave up on it. It might be nice to pick it up again once our new baby is older and I have more time.

What inspires you to learn?
Not knowing the answer to something and wanting to solve it is the greatest motivator for me. When I see others around me do remarkable things, it inspires me to better myself.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
Come what may, I can handle it.

Be so prepared that I can handle anything that I did not prepare for.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
That the wizarding world exists and I can do magic. BAM! I know spells. 🙂

Faith is something very personal and to each his own—but I don’t like defending those beliefs. If it makes me stronger and better, I roll with it.

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
Seamlessly work across device categories and technologies. Imagine realities truly mixing with not just my HoloLens or immersive headset but encompassing my IoT devices, phones, watches, cars etc. My experiences, choices, data being truly mobile and adapting with the environment I’m in. Screens should not block or determine my experience!

AI is awesome and will hugely help here.

What book have you recommended the most?
Again, hard to pick just one but some good ones are: Crucial Conversations (Kerry Patterson), Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell) and live a little, go read the Harry Potter series. It really does bring forth so many awesome lessons in life.

10 Questions with Tim Huckaby

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Tim Huckaby is a mover and shaker in the Microsoft consulting world. He can tell you stories about the early days at Microsoft, where he was a product development lead for many years, as well as stories about the near-future technologies he is working on. Besides being a Microsoft MVP, he is also an RD (Richard Campbell describes him as an “RD’s RD”), a body of business leaders who provide independent feedback to Microsoft leadership about technology trends and strategic direction. In that role, Tim has been a forceful advocate for Microsoft’s transformative technologies like the Surface, Kinect, Perceptive Pixel, and now HoloLens, Mixed Reality Headsets and the Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK), Microsoft’s deep-learning AI stack.

Tim is the chairman and founder of Interknowlogy and Actus Interactive Software. They do interactive work across multiple industries, but the piece you will probably be most familiar with is the CNN Electoral Map touch screen used by John King.

Tim is also an avid fly fisherman.

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
All those comedies before we got “politically correct”: Animal House, Caddy Shack, Austin Power’s Goldmember, Arthur (with Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli), Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles… I could go on and on. I’m all about humor. Life without humor just isn’t life. When we get so serious about software that we lose humor then we are plain losing. I try not to be that guy. And it’s hard sometimes. The CEO job can be a lonely one.

I know you were probably looking for something more thought provoking but, really, the human race is insignificant without humor. The absolute smartest humans I know are also some of the funniest.

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
Well, I’m 55 years old. I go back to pong. In fact, my younger brother Tom and I were so competitive in Pong we’d get in fist fights and screaming matches over it. It drove my parents nuts; constantly grounded from Pong.

But, my most fond memories were of Choplifter. I built myself a black market apple 2+ in my teens. I illegally downloaded Choplifter from a BBS (this is before the internet) and played that game for hours on end. It was so creative and the graphics were spectacular. So ahead of it’s time. And, of course, in college I used to hack on a few games. I’d put my roommates into the games to make them giggle. Good times.

One of my fellow founding members of the RD program, Don Awalt, was the guy that built Castle Wolfenstein. A truly brilliant guy. He’s retired now. He told me that the biggest engineering challenge in that game was the sound bytes… remember the German guards in the game saying, “Achtung!” ? Well, games back then didn’t have sound. The OS’s didn’t have sound APIs. He had to build all that in software.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
I love the process of aggregating role models though a lifetime. I have a lot of them; People who have helped me so much through the years. But, in all honesty the most influential person in my life is the exact same as most people: my dad. My dad was an English Teacher and super smart and wildly eloquent. He spoke a version of English that is long gone. His command of the English Language was impressive and his knowledge was extensive. I lost him almost 3 years ago. In today’s terms my dad would be called a “bleeding heart liberal”. He was a loud, eloquent voice for social and environmental causes. “Selfish” were the people that he despised the most…..well, those and racists. He would not stand for racism in any form; even in humor. And that is saying something for someone born in 1937. Sacrifice was what my dad taught me the most about, though. and how you are always rewarded by sacrifice. My youngest brother, Kevin, was a totally normal kid until at age 3 he started having grand mal seizures…the onslaught of epilepsy. It was terrifying. Still is. And the disease back then was so not understood…it took a toll and severely handicapped my brother. Today my brother would be totally normal because of technology. My parents know what sacrifice is because of 50 years of my brother Kevin. I am the man I am today because of witnessing that lifetime of sacrifice. My independence, fear management, confidence, etc. comes from being there and still continues to this day.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
I pride myself on a statement I always say at work, “I could be wrong; I often am.” I have surrounded myself with such brilliant and talented people. Not all of them; but they are typically younger than me and have awesome ideas. Many of the ideas are contradictory to mine. And I’m wrong a lot. Of course if you have been married as long as I have, 28 years, you get used to being wrong a lot.

My favorite story about changing my mind on something I thought was a terrible idea was a number of years ago at InterKnowlogy. The technical side of the management team came to me all excited about this great new idea, “RECESS” (Research and experimental coding to enhance software skills). The idea was simply a creative stab at a formal R&D program. But, InterKnowlogy is a service company. So to make a long story short they did their pitch to me, all excited, and a little bit of “asshole tim” came out. I said, “So, every week for 4 hours you want to pull engineers out of revenue so they can play with technology toys.” I immediately saw the look in their faces that I had made a management mistake. So, I backed up and was more professional about it. But, I still thought it was a terrible idea. But, I agreed we’d try it. and, of course, I was totally wrong. Best program ever. Pulling engineers out of revenue each week for 4 hours has produced so much innovation, so much IP, so much camaraderie. We do the high tech stuff we do (3d, gesture, holographic, etc.) because of RECESS. Awesome program…that I was totally wrong about.

What’s a skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
Well, I wouldn’t say I’m terrible at it, but most people assume I’m a god-like programmer. I truly am not. And I really never was. I used to be a good programmer, but I was always forced into a dev lead position or a PM position or an architect position in my career. And the dev lead doesn’t get to slay code like all the brilliant people that work for you. These brilliant people here at InterKnowlogy run circles around me in terms of programming. In fact, I haven’t written production code in years. I can still build a mean demo and recently built a proof of concept in computer vision that is going viral within msft. I can’t go into details because it’s currently slated as the flagship demo for Satya Nadella’s keynote at ignite. It’s jaw dropping awesome. my new found love for the last couple years is computer vision.

What inspires you to learn?
Can I turn that question around a bit? The older I get the more inspired I am to learn…about everything…..especially science. I barely watch tv for entertainment anymore. It pisses my wife off because I tend to mostly watch documentaries or television I can learn from. I feel like growing up in college and then in the software industry I got so enamored with software that I missed out on a lot of the world. I was so sheltered in the software community for so long. The business part of the business was a welcome respite when I got older. But, it was not enough. It took me until my mid 30s to discover nature and science. And now I’m obsessed with it. I have been told that I have obsessive personality traits; not obsessive/compulsive. When I am interested in something I go all in. I started fly fishing in my early 30s…and read everything I could about it without actually doing it. I still do. Now, I write, guide and tie professionally in the fly fishing industry. It’s a sickness. I know more about the bugs that trout eat than any other human you know.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
I don’t think that is the right question for me. I don’t “get through the day”; the day simply is not long enough for me. Typically, my day ends with me saying this to myself: “my god it’s dark and I’m exhausted and I have to sleep because I can’t wait to do this all over again tomorrow.”

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
My political views….especially that I’m a bleeding heart liberal…people think I am, but, I really am not. Nor am I a conservative; nor am I a libertarian. And now I feel I find myself more and more conflicted on issues. So, really I am a mish mash of what I believe are the best parts of all sides. Which means sometimes I catch myself in a hypocritical political view.

Also I believe the big bet on Unity has huge risks … risks that can be overcome by brilliant engineering and brilliant business….and Moore’s law….

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
It’s funny you ask this. About six months ago I was doing an industry keynote (as opposed to a developer keynote) and saying things like, “…imagine a world where…” I tend to use that strategy in keynotes: show a killer demo and then talk about how and why it’s going to be better in the future. I strongly believe the future of entertainment….especially movies…lies in mixed reality. Imagine a world where you are sitting in a movie theatre yet totally immersed and actually interactively part of the movie. That is the killer MR app: Interactive holographic in the Movie theatre. We’ll couple in the AI for vocal interaction… If we can figure out some tactile reinforcement even through haptic methods … oh man, what entertainment that would be. Couple in some Virtual Olfaction and that is a world I want to live in. Let’s face it. No matter what Hollywood says they just are not making the money they did a few years ago yet spending at a much bigger rate. Getting people into the theatres is a huge problem. Millennials actually prefer watching movies on their computers. It’s an interesting challenge. Well, Imagination Park entertainment caught wind of my comments and contacted me. I was honored. These are the brilliantly creative Hollywood people with Oscars. They put me on their advisory board and it went quickly. Now, we just completed the most exciting joint venture in IK history. There has been plenty of press already… and I can’t disclose the roadmap just yet. But it is going to be jaw dropping awesome.

What book have you recommended the most?
It has nothing to do with technology; software as you well know is not my only love. This book has everything to do with another one of my loves: running and endurance sports. It’s called, Born to Run. Actually now that I look it up the actual title is: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. It goes from science to this amazing tribe of Mexican Indians, The Tarahumara, who live in Copper Canyon, Mexico—pretty much hell and desolate and devoid of almost everything—where they thrive, and back to science. Everyone should read this book. It’s riveting. And it’s all true.

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What question did James fail to ask you but you really wanted him to ask?

Tim what are you currently most proud of?

Well, my current joke is that after a career of writing 3 books, hundreds of magazine articles and probably over 500 published works in the technology industry I have never been more proud than of writing a regular column for California Fly Fisher Magazine called, “Fly Fishers who backpack.” 🙂

10 Questions with Michelle Ma

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Michelle is a digital media artist and a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon with a Bachelor of Computer Science and Fine Arts. She’s currently a lab associate at Disney Research in Pittsburg. You can read more about her amazing explorations of art and technology at michelledoeswhat.com.  

While in college, Michelle worked on a HoloLens / Kinect integration project that has become the inspiration for many HoloLens sharing service apps on the market. She basically figured out how to modify the HL sharing service in order to use it as an integration backbone between mixed reality devices and other peripherals such as 3D cameras. It seems fitting that it took a mind trained to think along less traveled paths to come up with a way to adapt the HoloLens toolkit for an unintended but even cooler purpose. 

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
I’m an animation nerd and the movies that affect me the most always have a story that feels complete and characters that are compelling. Lilo and Stitch really made me feel the importance of these two components early on.

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
The earliest video game I played had to have been something like Treasure Mountain or Math Blaster. But if we’re talking about the earliest video game I really got attached to it was Pokemon Emerald. It was the first game that really felt like I could explore and understand the world presented to me, and even now I compare my game experiences to how I felt when I first played Pokemon on Gameboy. Yes, graphics nowadays are always better and amazing, but sometimes the complexity of a virtual world gets in the way of the feeling of control I had playing old 90s games.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
I have so many people that played a role in shaping the way I think, but the most memorable one was my art club president from high school. As an artist I am very hard on myself and detail-oriented so I would always ask questions about how things should be done. He would jokingly respond with “Follow your heart”, which drove me insane but eventually it sunk in and that’s how I started answering other people’s questions. This way of thinking greatly helped me indulge in my whims and let my creative side do the decision making.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
I change my mind about something every hour. In fact, this past summer after graduating Carnegie Mellon, I’ve changed my mind about my career path once ever week or so. Its kind of hard to deal with but I have confidence in my skills and my experience so I’m prepared for the obstacles or opportunities coming my way.

What’s a programming skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
People make way too many assumptions about programmers and artists in general, and since I’m both its really hard to communicate my role to others. As a programmer, people assume I can write software and tools. As an artist programmer, people assume I can do web development. As an artist, people assume that I do graphic design. I have assumed all these roles for work and experience, but I must say I am pretty slow at these things compared to the work that I’m truly passionate about.

What inspires you to learn?
I learn new things in hopes of understanding more things and more people, being more aware of the current state of things, and improving myself. It sounds vague, yes, but the learning I do is also vague and all over the place.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
I just need to believe that things are going to be ok. Also vague, but there are so many things to worry about that keeping myself together with a giant umbrella helps at least for the day.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
I like to think that irrational fears such as acrophobia and fear of worms can be worked through but I haven’t really gotten past them so who knows.

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
The next killer MR app will probably bring people together–whether it is through avatars or something else–and focus on the social capabilities of the technology. This is important because, as great as it is to design flawless virtual worlds and interactions for each and every application, it is the social energy of play and discovery that will keep an experience going.

What book have you recommended the most?
Honestly I don’t read as many books as before. I do, however, indulge in web comics and TV series, and my current recommendation for something visually stunning, highly disturbing, and surprisingly relevant is The Handmaid’s Tale.

10 Questions with Marek Czarzbon

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Marek is CEO of Made in Holo, a German consulting firm that offers HoloLens design and development services. He won the 14th HoloLens Challenge with a multiplayer HoloCar app. Made In Holo’s latest product is SpaceCatcher, which uses HoloLens to scan and model a room. Here are his answers to the 10 Questions:

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
The Devil’s Advocate – the big question about what we need to be happy in our life. An aesthetic journey about the weakness of mankind. And about what we believe makes us strong. I like movies that prod me to reconsider what I do. To feel happiness if I’m on the right path, or a wakeup call if I’m not 🙂

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
Prince of Persia – at the time very impressive graphics, even if very reduced. Good mix of logic riddle, fast use of keyboard. To get the impression, see this fragment of the game.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
I don’t have a single idol. I like to listen to many opinions, to stay open minded. I’m not able to mention a single person but I have a lot of people who have given me signals to “filter” my life.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
Yesterday. Very often I’ll change my mind if the known facts are changing (from my perspective).

What’s a programming skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
No discrepancy 🙂

What inspires you to learn?
I’ve studied computer science and graphic design at the same time. This is the way my brain works. This give me the ability to connect technologies and information in a different way than the typical computer nerd will do 😉

All combinations of technology and aesthetics provoke me to try it out. To learn.

Other motivations are traveling, discovering other cultures, people—our roots. This is the best way to understand why we behave the way we do.

Hunger to understand.

I want to have the level 7 experience –> See the last question.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
To trust people.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
Trusting people 😉

I really don’t like the “politics” involved in human interactions. This make us progress slowly. But even if I don’t like them, I can play the game, if I have to.

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
Connect the things that computers are good at, i.e. collecting information, with the analytic capabilities of our brains. Look at this TED talk to understand what I mean.

I believe the final version of MX will be a direct connection between biological brains and computers. The optical connection like HoloLens is a good substitute.

What book have you recommended the most?
On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins – Jeff is the creator of Palm, of you remember, the first successful hand computer with graffiti as special way of writing characters, to make it easy to read by a computer.

The money he earned with this device, he invested in research about how our brain works.

One of the amazing “wow” effect of the book was how our brains learn. For new experiences, we need up to seven connections in our brain. This gives us the feeling that time is slowing. If we are in a routine, we need only up to three connections. In this case time feels like it is rushing. This is the reason that with age time seems to be much faster than in the childhood. After reading this book, I try to proactively have a lot of level 7 experiences.

My HoloLens Vacation at Disney Epcot

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In July I took my family to Disney World for our summer vacation. I also brought along my HoloLens and, one promising morning, brought it into the park to create some holographic memories. Security was very chill about it and I got a few hours in before the device finally overheated from being under the Orlando sun for too long.

It was around the same time that indie devs, studios and agencies started publishing ARKit videos. ARKit is probably the best thing to happen to the HoloLens in the past year. While the HoloLens has incredible hardware and technical capabilities, this comes at a price – literally the price: $3,000 to $5,000 depending on the SKU you purchase. This has necessarily limited the number of developers who have access to it and can build things with it.

ARKit lowers the bar for developers who want to take AR for a spin. It makes AR more accessible than it’s buffed out cousin the HoloLens, in the same way that Google Cardboard gave VR a bigger boost than the better appointed but more expensive cousins, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, did.

People like to use a hackneyed phrase to describe this: “democratization”. But this is to confuse consumerism with a political process. The consumerization and eventual commoditization of AR brings the potential of AR back into everyone’s consciousness.

More than this, ARKit creates some welcome competition for the HoloLens. With the slow rollout of the Meta 2 (about a year late) and Magic Leap (who knows?) it was starting to feel like the HoloLens was too far ahead of its time. This is a bad place to be, since in the past, Microsoft has tended to go on vacation after coming out with similar products that were ahead of their times.

In the business of incubating a technological and experiential revolution, there is no time for vacations—figuratively speaking.

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10 Questions with Mike Taulty

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Mike Taulty is a near-legend in the world of HoloLens. A Microsoft Developer Evangelist out of Manchester, England, he runs an amazing technical blog where he tackles some of the biggest problems in mixed reality development (as well as lots of other Microsoft stack technologies).

How to describe his style? He writes as if he’s a computer programming version of Columbo, the TV detective, tackling cases he shouldn’t and stumbling over clues in an apparently haphazard way until he arrives at a solution, solves the case, compiles the app. He is our everyman.

In the process he manages to do two things. First, he provides a guide for working through some extremely thorny HoloLens scenarios for anyone who needs it. Second, and maybe even more important, he gives us an archetype of how a developer should approach new technology—with joy and a sense of adventure. He takes things that are very hard and makes them approachable.

Mike is held in high regard throughout the community not just because he has solved, over the past year, many of our hardest HoloLens problems for us, but also because of the panache with which he has done it.

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
Can we mix Spartacus with The Godfather, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and It’s a Wonderful Life?

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
I can remember playing Star Trek on the TRS 80 if you can really classify that as a video game 🙂

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
My wife. She’s undeniably, consistently, calmly, infuriatingly right 🙂

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
Every few minutes. I’ve usually got things wrong and I’m easily persuaded that I’ve got things wrong.

What’s a programming skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
Unit testing. I don’t work on production code these days so I don’t often write tests. You don’t want me on your dev team but I’m quite handy with a debugger.

What inspires you to learn?
Natural curiosity mixed with the fear of being left behind.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
That everything can easily be finished before bedtime.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
The technology industry and the fashion industry are closer than anyone would dare to admit.

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
I wish I knew – I’d be out there trying to build it! My view is that whatever it is has to lean towards the part of the spectrum where the real world is truly mixed with the digital world providing an “additive” experience rather than an “alternative” experience. It’s the “mixed” that for me is the key part of this.

What book have you recommended the most?
I’m a big fan of Raymond Chandler, I read them all every year or two. Recommended!

10 Questions with Vincent Guigui

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Vincent makes magic in the City of Lights.

He is a HoloLens developer in Paris, France and head of Innovative Interactions at OCTO Technology. Like many of the people profiled in this series, he has a long history with NUI interactions stretching back to the Kinect and original Surface Table. He is an in-demand speaker throughout Europe and also one of the organizers of NUI Day 2016.

 

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
I remember a movie called Explorers where a bunch of nerds receive schematics and source code from outer space and start building a spaceship. That definitely was the proof that convinced me anything is possible with a computer.

There were also some VR movies like:

The Lawnmower Man (I won’t give the actors names in order to respect their careers)

Disclosure with Demi Moore and Michael Douglas

and obviously T.R.O.N and The Matrix

Wargames was also a blast for me.

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
Oh my God, I think it’s Pong on the Atari gaming console plugged into my TV.

Around the same time I also “play”-ed with my parents computer (IBM PC 198x with green and black display) and did some stuff in a text editor called EasyWriter.

I also had a Sharp MZ-80K computer with a tape drive. You had to type “Load MyProgram” and wait for tape to roll until it found the right entry. Or you could fast-forward for the right amount of time and press play to quickly switch programs. Kinda felt like hacker at this time.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
My father. He was a teacher and always tried to bring innovation / technology to his students and kids (no, he didn’t shrink us and lose us in the backyard).

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
Last week, I finally decided to delay a customer summer project in order to spend more time with my family.

What’s a programming skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
Not a programming skill itself but quaternion, Euler angles and rotation matrices are my worst nightmare. I always end up filling my trash bin with a loads of angrily crumpled papers with mathematical nonsense written on it. 

My wife (who is a scientist) usually comes to the rescue.

What inspires you to learn?
Passion and the desire to understand.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
As long as I believe I can do it in 30 minutes, I try to do it. Usually it repeatedly takes 5 more minutes … 5 more minutes … 5 more minutes.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
Computer science is a passion, it’s a way of life. But it’s also a job. If you live for your job, you don’t need another hobby.

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
There won’t be any killer app.

There was no killer app for TV, for Phone, for Smartphone.

A new medium like MR (or VR/AR) needs multiple services and added-values with a big S.

Training content, real-time assistance, virtual visits (museum, holiday location, real estate…), augmented preview for architecture and interior design…

And also smaller and cheaper devices…

What book have you recommended the most?
Rainbows End which is a good guess of what could happen to us.

10 Questions with Bruno Capuano

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Online, he’s better known as El Bruno, the author of the Innovation Craftsman blog. He is a Spanish developer working as an Innovation Lead in Ontario, Canada for Avenade. Besides his great posts on the HoloLens, he’s also been writing about Kinect development for many years, hosts a Spanish language technology podcast, and is a Microsoft MVP. But what I’ve always admired most about Bruno is his infectious love for coding and making. He is a well I return to when I feel down and need inspiration. Here are his answers to the 10 Questions:

 

What movie has left the most lasting impression on you?
My all-time favorite movie is The Matrix. I still remember the day I went to the cinema to watch this movie and how it basically made me choose to do something related to technology. Before this, I wasn’t even close to a computer.

What is the earliest video game you remember playing?
I’m not a big “gamer”, I’ve got several consoles but just for casual and social fun mostly. However, when I was a kid, I spent a lot of time playing Double Dragon 2. And with “time”, I may say “coins”, I didn’t have access to a console or a computer, and Double Dragon was the only video game available in my zone. I still remember when we passed the “final boss” with a friend, how happy we were, until we saw … there was still one more to kill! It was an amazing winter for me.

Who is the person who has most influenced the way you think?
I’m 40, and I can probably pick a different one every couple of years. Some of my professors, my colleagues, my bosses, very influential people, tech gurus, and so on. Living in 3 different countries also made me switch environments a lot and meet a lot of people. If I must pick one, at the end, I’ll go for my father and mother. They both share with me a set of values, which I believe are the ones guiding me right now.

When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
Yesterday, I was almost going to quit a very hard trail race, and one runner had a T-shirt with the sentence: Any idiot can run. But it takes a special kind of idiot to run 42K.

You can guess the rest of the story.

What’s a programming skill people assume you have but that you are terrible at?
Maybe “Solution Architect from scratch”. I mean, I can pick up a system and do amazing things to improve the complete SA. However, starting this work from zero it’s very complicated for me. I’ve met amazing developers who can easily create a solid base foundation that can be used to create an amazing solution or App. This is a place where I need to improve my skills a lot today.

Bonus answer: I won’t add JavaScript here; I hope I will never be in a position where I need to improve my JS skills.

What inspires you to learn?
I get bored very easily, so I find that learning something new is an effective way to keep me focused. In the last 20 years, I’ve never spent more than 3 years focused on the same technology / platform. This is not an easy task; I need to unlearn tons of concepts and start again. But in the end, it’s very rewarding to learn something new and go from a simple “Hello World” prototype to a full inference reliability model in AI.

What do you need to believe in order to get through the day?
I don’t have a fixed schedule. I mean, yes kids need to go school, I need to prepare their lunch, they got extra activities, there are always some home improvement activities to perform, and I also need to work. My additional activities include running marathons, podcast recording / editing, writing my blog, collaborating with User Groups, and more.

So, since I don’t have a fixed schedule, I usually try to focus on what’s more important to me right now, and I focus all my efforts in that direction. Of course, the balance is always “family first” driven, so I find myself coaching soccer matches, or playing guitar at my kids’ school. These types of activities help me to think in new scenarios, in example: Hololens and kids are always an innovative idea; or to think on more business focused scenarios, in example: should we talk with a Soccer team to discover how Mixed Reality could help them into their daily basis?
At the end, I’m always looking to learn something new and to find some real scenario to apply these innovative technologies / ideas to.

What’s a view that you hold but can’t defend?
This one is easy: “Kinect was (and it’s still) an excellent product”. Most people always talk bad about kinect, and how poorly it was received in the gaming community. I still believe that Kinect was kind of the “starting point” of some of the cool AR / MR experiences we are using today. To have a 3D sensor with body tracking capabilities under $150 was a great experience, and it was the chance for plenty of people to start the “path to 3D apps”. But in the end, unfortunately, the prevailing idea is that Kinect was a failed product.

What will the future killer Mixed Reality app do?
When we have a very smooth and light device, very easy to use, and with a very massive group of people using it, every app will be a killer MR App. I mean, when everyone has a MR device, and people use these Apps without the word “Mixed Reality”, that will mean that people finally are used to the MR concept, so we will see a lot of data augmentation apps, a lot of collaboration or communications apps, and … games. The next big change here will be at the gaming level.

What book have you recommended the most?
Technically I probably need to go for Clean Code, or something similar. But I don’t recommend technical books often. What I really recommend to the people is to read the complete Geralt of Rivia series of books by polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. It’s an amazing journey of short stories and novels about the Witcher. (This is also the source story for the “The Witcher” games.)