They chat about:
- How to present a business case for XR to businesses
- How WebAR is changing the game
- How volumetric video works and why it's so exciting
Martin Stahel: Welcome everybody to the Zappar 10x10 sessions, where we celebrate 10 years of growth in XR through a series of inspiring 10 minute subject matter expert interviews across the spectrum - from agencies to platforms, tools, specialists, journalists, investors, business leaders, educators, and more. We hope these bite-size anecdotes inspire and encourage more people into the world of XR.
And today I'm joined by Jeremy Dalton. The XR lead from PwC. He's a prolific keynote speaker, author of many XR reports and most recently a highly acclaimed book, ‘Reality Check’. So, Jeremy, I think you're just about qualified to speak on this matter and thank you very much for taking the time out of your diary to join us.
For the benefit of the audience, Jeremy, could you explain your role at PwC and how you got into the world of XR?
Jeremy Dalton: Absolutely. And I really appreciate you having me on this 10x10. Thanks a lot for that. I take care of the XR team in PwC UK, and we as a team are mainly involved in talking to businesses all around the world about how to implement XR technology.
So if you looked at my day-by-day calendar, I think you'd see a lot of different things. You'd see some research into new and emerging platforms in XR. You'd see some dealing with clients in different industries, having chats to them about how they could potentially use the technology. A lot of conversations around how to get headsets set up and sent all over the world. You know, we're dealing with hundreds of these headsets right now. So logistically the exercise does become a little bit challenging. I guess in summary, the role is quite varied, but that's what makes it so wonderful at the same time.
In terms of how I got into XR in the first place, I actually have had a weird and wonderful trajectory into XR. I used to teach mathematics online. I was a software developer for three days. That's a story for another time. I was teaching, or I was summarizing lecture notes for disabled students at a university. I was dealing with the stocking and the shelving at IT departments.
So all sorts of things. And eventually I made my way to PwC as the company had a good reputation, and it seemed like a solid career choice while I was there. I meandered about from audit to business recovery, and then to innovation before finally landing and building the XR team at PWC, because I saw such value in the technology to change our personal and professional worlds.
Martin Stahel: Great. That is definitely a story with a couple more interviews, to dive a bit deeper. But what you mentioned there I think is fascinating because your role touches on so many different industries, use cases, and, daresay, different levels of understanding of tech and how to use it.
So under your belt, you must have so many learnings from across those years of how to basically scale this within different companies let alone within PwC itself. What would you say would be your key learnings out of that time?
Jeremy Dalton: I'd say one of the key learnings would be that because of virtual reality and augmented reality, and other such unique visceral experiential technologies or another way of putting it, they're unique in the sense that they are front end, as opposed to backend. So they're presenting you with information there. They're putting you in different worlds and different intervals. It's a very visual experience.
And because of that, what I found is that when you are engaging with other people around the value of the technology, in order to get them to buy into it, they really need to experience it firsthand. And secondly, another important learning is that when speaking to business leaders, a lot of them tend to have this all or nothing approach.
In other words, we are going to spend, or consider spending millions and millions of dollars on implementing this technology. Or we're not going to do anything at all. It's very difficult to find some middle ground there, but that's really where you need to be, especially when you're first starting to introduce XR within an organization - it needs to be tested.
Start with a pilot program, start small and based on that, build a business case, get some data, and then present that case to show that if we extrapolated and expanded it out into the wider business, then you'd be in a much stronger position.
Martin Stahel: And are you finding the world's becoming more reliant on that data to prove the impact?
Jeremy Dalton: Absolutely. The big phrase in the industry, ‘return on investment’, gets talked about a lot and it makes sense - business leaders want to understand what they're going to get from implementing this technology. So you can show return on investment in many ways. But one of the strongest ways is going to the data and digging into it, analyzing it and presenting it back to help build that case.
So really data backed arguments are the precursor to building these business cases, which will help to implement them more successfully and get more buy-in from stakeholders and organizers.
Martin Stahel: Great. Thanks for sharing those learnings. And I suppose as we look forward into the XR roadmap, is there anything out there on the horizon that you've spotted that you are really looking forward to and makes a difference to XR?
Jeremy Dalton: So I'm super excited about two key areas. The first is volumetric video. Now, for those of you listening, who haven't heard of volumetric video before, let me explain some of the forms of content that you can bring into virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. You've got computer generated content, which starts its life on a computer and it ends there.
So it's purely digital information, you know, a digital route. A digital table, a digital chair and so on. Then there's 360 video now. 360 video is pretty much what it sounds like - you've got a camera in the middle of the room, but instead of just taking a small rectangular shot in front of you, it is taking a video or image of the entire environment, the 360 degrees around you.
Then you've got volumetric video. Now volumetric video is kind of the inverse of 360 video, so instead of having a camera in the middle of the room, shooting outwards, you've got these cameras all around you, shooting inwards, capturing you or someone else doing some sort of action or speaking, running, jumping, dancing, whatever it is.
And the amazing thing about this technology is it takes all of those videos from all those angles and produces a 3D model of you. So it's a great way of creating a three dimensional model of someone that is photo realistic. And I think that's really exciting because imagine how it could be used for training purposes to bring real life individuals into an experience for communication purposes. To help convey a message to someone.
And then the second thing I'm really excited about is WebAR, and WebAR is all about taking XR experiences,
and instead of you having to install an application to access them, it simply becomes a case of going to your browser and entering a link to start the experience. Now, why is that so special or important? You might think it's important because it reduces the friction of the experience for the end user.
So imagine all the steps you've got to do to install an app, find an application, install it, run it, get it, open access and the right functionality, and then get going. Now all you have to do is scan a QR code or click on it, and there it is. and that will help drive adoption of this technology in the industry.
Martin Stahel: Definitely. And we've found ourselves in the last couple of years of WebAR for example, getting rid of the app, and when that then collides with 5g, then that becomes, I think, really ubiquitous.
Well, Jeremy, that takes us up to our 10 minutes, and it's just whistled past, so thank you very much for joining us and sharing your thoughts. So I've taken from this chat your approach of crawl, walk, then run. Don't think we have to change the world in one go. Then there's definitely a whole layer of data to prove the impact of the technology and then therefore justify the investment. Then there’s the crescendo of volumetric with WebAR and then 5G that's going to power it. It's really exciting.
It's such an amazing world with so many facets that have yet to be explored, but I think we'll get there as an industry over the next few years, for sure. Jeremy, thank you very much. It's been an honor to have you and I wish we could chat for hours, but thank you for your time and sharing your thoughts.
Jeremy Dalton: The pleasure is all mine. Thanks a lot.