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Episode 8 - Jaron Lanier: Father of Virtual Reality, Renaissance man

By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our updated Cookie Notice. The wealth management industry has suffered significant loss of customer trust since the financial crisis and now faces challenges from disruptors on several fronts. Automated wealth management services and social trading platforms are seeking to grow their customer bases and bringing about some fundamental changes in the way the industry operates. They can offer less expensive, highly sophisticated alternative approaches and empower customers to have more control of their wealth management.

Efficiencies brought about by automation are lowering operating costs, online and mobile channels offer customers information on demand and social trading enables individuals to gain insights from crowd wisdom. Passive investors who have in the past tended to go with the default option on their pension plan may now be able to afford a customized service that is far better suited to their personal needs.

Interactive engagement with embodied agents: an empirically validated framework

All these factors have created growing pressure for the wealth management industry to deliver greater value to customers and provide more widely accessible services. The continued shift towards great empowerment of individual investors looks set to bring substantial benefits to customers no matter who they choose to take care of their wealth management.

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Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. For example, they provide trainees with safe virtual exposure to complex and potentially dangerous equipment and scenarios. They also make it possible for supervisors to review video recordings of training sessions to monitor progress and tailor lessons to specific employee needs.

Operations: By providing field service technicians, warehouse pickers, assembly-line workers, and others with IoT applications and digital system content tailored to their unique tasks, companies may be able to boost employee productivity and streamline work processes. On the production floor, for example, job aids can guide workers performing kitting tasks to locations of shelved items.

In the field, engineers could access the service history of specific equipment, guidance on triage and repair steps, and any real-time information that intelligent devices may be generating from a site. They would review this information in a hands-free, heads-up manner that maintains their autonomy and supports worker safety. Mixed reality can support this kind of next-generation interaction by replacing shared productivity tools and videoconferencing with immersion and a sense of presence.

Workers in disparate locations can interact with the same digital artifacts, just as if they were in one conference room manipulating the same physical objects. Automotive manufacturers are applying these methods to visualize design improvements of existing components—dramatically accelerating the concept-to-manufacturing process among globally distributed teams. Marketing and customer service: From high-tech experiential marketing to virtual branches, MR—specifically leveraging VR capabilities—can provide experiences that not only replicate aspects of the real world but build compelling engagement patterns predicated on the convergence of technologies.

Shopping: Virtual reality stands poised to revolutionize the way we shop. Mixed-reality capabilities could enhance these virtual experiences by providing pricing or descriptive information on the products or services you are considering, along with suggestions for similar offerings. These platforms offer new ways of framing and delivering content, experiences, and interactions.

They also bring with them opportunities to redefine the tools, models, and business processes that they could potentially replace. But as MR devices, software, and standards evolve, enterprises are discovering hidden challenges beyond the management of technology. Learning from the workplace adoption of smartphones and tablets, organizations can begin their MR journeys on the right foot by developing appropriate controls and policies to monitor and enforce enterprise needs. Security and privacy are important considerations—at the device level, the data and supporting content level, and the application level.


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Safety and regulatory compliance implications are paramount, especially since many potential scenarios involve critical infrastructure and sensitive operations. To process event streams, render mixed-reality experiences, and capture and respond to the movements of an individual user, platforms will need several enabling environments.

An Empowerment Perspective

This requires the kind of complex signal processing and response generation found in some advanced videogame designs. MR must also navigate interfaces that allow for the blend of voice, body, and object positioning to open up a world of business process opportunities in every industry. Recognizing subtle expressions requires precise techniques, from eye tracking to interpreting a wink or a smile correctly. MR design patterns should make it possible for digital content to react intuitively to signals. MR should bring together relevant data to provide insightful interactions.

Conversely, MR can be an important tool to digitize work—potentially automating underlying workload, updating data with supplemental supporting information, or allowing MR steps to be a part of a longer-running business process. Perhaps most importantly, natural interfaces make it possible to simultaneously process the meaning, intent, and implications of content in context of how the world works—and how we behave in it. Sound and haptics or sensory feedback can replace graphical predecessors, allowing for the enterprise to rethink alerts, warnings, or the completion of tasks.

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Built-in object and facial recognition gives us the ability to map spaces and people to accurately render in the virtual or augmented experience, and to insert purely digital enhancements in a way that seems both natural and realistic. MR requires an entirely new set of digital content and context. High-definition, degree renderings of facilities and equipment are necessary to translate the real world into virtual environments or to marry augmented physical and digital experiences. Sensors and embedded beacons may also be required to track devices, equipment, goods, and people.

Even as we elevate mixed reality above its piece-parts of AR, VR, and IoT, the underlying technologies themselves are continuing to advance. Individually they represent very different solutions, domains, and potential applications.

However, if companies pursue them in isolation, their full potential will likely never be realized. The goal should be evolving engagement—building more intuitive, immersive, and empowering experiences that augment and amplify individual users, leading to new levels of customer intimacy, and creating new solutions to reshape how employees think and feel about work.

Each year, newly graduated social workers enter child welfare agencies determined to make a difference. Unfortunately, many of them may be unprepared, both practically and emotionally, for what awaits. Immersive technologies may someday offer child welfare agencies an efficient way to accelerate that learning process.

Advisory services in the virtual world: an empowerment perspective

Using serious games—games designed specifically to teach skills—and 3D simulation, social workers would be able to practice real-time engagements designed to help develop sensitivities and nuanced evaluation skills previously achieved only after years on the job. For example, one training module might place a trainee social worker in a virtual home setting and ask her to identify all potential risk factors in a few minutes.

After the initial scan, the trainee returns to the virtual room, where risk factors she overlooked during the initial assessment are blinking. When the trainee points at a specific signal, a description of the specific risk factor and an explanation of its importance appear in her field of vision. As part of this same process, the trainee could also practice reacting to difficult situations and documenting what she sees. Not only could this expand the breadth of training available for new recruits—it would likely help veteran social workers further their professional development.

When used over time, these capabilities might also help agencies assess and improve their overall effectiveness and teach critical thinking and decision making. In this light, MR capabilities are not just technical game changers but behavioral solutions, creating experiences that potentially benefit social workers and—even more importantly—help those they serve.


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In , two innovative companies introduced to each other at the MIT Media Lab convened at Jabil Blue Sky, an innovation center in Silicon Valley, to kick the tires on a new digital manufacturing process technology. The companies involved were Jabil, a global provider of engineering, manufacturing, and intelligent supply chain solutions, and Tulip, which offers a cloud-based platform featuring shop-floor apps, industrial IoT, and real-time analytics. The solution being tested?

A new cloud-based operating system that feeds IoT production-line data in real time to workers on a shop floor through their smartphones and tablets. By monitoring this information stream as they perform their production tasks, workers can respond on the fly to process changes. Eventually, the system could also integrate the power of mixed reality into manufacturing environments.

Innovative Advisory Services in the Virtual World

The goal is to improve manufacturing flow through the shop floor. With real-time information enabled by the latest improvements in digital technology, companies may be able to reduce worker pauses or idle machine cycles that typically accompany changes in production conditions. After initial testing at the Blue Sky innovation center, Jabil and Tulip deployed the system in a production environment used by workers executing highly specialized work processes.

For a period of six months, engineers monitored cycle and step-times data to further optimize manufacturing processes through continuous time studies and root-cause analysis exercise aided by the new digital tools. The results? Production yield increased by more than 10 percent, and manual assembly quality issues were reduced by 60 percent in the initial four weeks of operation, which exceeded customer-accepted yields and predictions for the current design. According to Tulip co-founder Natan Linder, in the near future, AR capabilities will likely amplify the power of IoT manufacturing solutions such as the one his company tested with Jabil.

The delivery of contextual information to workers without requiring a screen is already providing significant benefits to global manufacturers, says Linder, citing increased product and service quality, increased worker productivity through reduced rework, and higher throughput, as well as reduced training time. These IoT data sources provide the real-time information that the hands-on workforce needs to get work done and optimize processes, with augmented reality delivering the information at the right time and in the right place.

Those initial broadcasts gave viewers a degree view of the playing field and allowed them to choose their own vantage point throughout the game or race, supplemented with fully mixed 3D VR audio, announcer commentary, VR-like graphics, and real-time stats. The use of sensors can enable broadcasters to provide additional value to remote viewers.

Musical events are obvious settings for social interaction, and virtual streaming of concerts is becoming more common. One VR company is taking it a step further to let music fans be the performers: TheWaveVR has developed a virtual reality concert platform that not only allows users to watch musical performances—when paired with the HTC Vive, it enables them to DJ their own set in a virtual venue.