Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background? Is it your first business?
My background is in computer science. I had studied computer graphics in college, but I’ve always considered myself more of a general software engineer with project management skills than a subject-matter expert in CG. CG has been a perennial hobby of mine, especially in relation to optical illusions, as I never had the patience for photorealistic rendering. I’ve always worked in a consultant capacity for the 15 years of my career, which I think has given me a broad exposure to a wide variety of problems, with an associate sense of urgency in solving them. No, this is not my first business. Even before college I was doing some freelance web development, making product pages for people selling their inventions and trying to get involved in the then-nescient e-commerce trend. I’ve always had side businesses, with freelancing being my full-time endeavor for the last 5 years.
Write 2-3 sentences about your business. What problem is your business trying to solve?
Primrose makes it possible to build Virtual Reality experiences on they fly, using web development tools. You can see the changes you make as you make them, reducing the VR testing cycle from several minutes per test in tools like Unity and Unreal Engine, to nearly instantaneous in Primrose.
What are your business growth plans?
We use consulting services in VR and mobile to fund fully realizing the Primrose framework, as well as build our own VR experiences, focusing on the Serious Games and productivity markets.
What excites you the most about the possibilities of VR? In terms of transformative technologies where do you see VR on the spectrum? Fire, the wheel, the automobile, phones, airplanes etc.
Social VR is the most exciting aspect of the VR market right now. With the growing trend of teleworking, companies that embrace remote work are finding huge benefit in being able to access the full world of talent. But we here the same concerns from the companies that haven’t incorporated remote work into their culture: they’re concerned about being able to collaborate in real time. Social VR productivity tools will make remote work as engaging and collaborative as being together in the same office, in a way that teleconferencing systems like Skype were never able to do, by eliminating the barrier to communication created by the camera lens and computer display. We see VR as being the final lynchpin in turning the Internet into a truly global community, where face-to-face conversation with anyone around the world is as common as email or texting today.
What industry do you think will be most impacted by VR? Education, HealthCare?
Education and healthcare have proven themselves particularly resistive to technological change. I personally know of one private practice that is still using DOS-based systems for tracking patient records. While certain surgery systems incorporating VR headsets have gained popular press coverage, it’s first going to take a culture-wide sea-change in how humans interact with computers before it spreads to areas like education and healthcare. For that reason, software development and productivity tools will be the first market to truly benefit from VR. We tell novelists “write what you know”, and programmers–the people doing the dirty work of building all this stuff–know programming tools.
Will VR unite or divide the world?
VR does what we can’t do in the real world: it tears down barriers to communication, be they from travel restrictions to achieve real face-to-face, or clipping of body language cues from adopting text- or webcam-based communication systems. It’s similar to how blogging enabled a huge movement of citizen journalism. Look at Twitter’s role in broadcasting the Arab Spring–140 characters at a time–to the world. Would we have gotten to learn about it, be inspired by it, if it had been left to the corporate news agencies to report, as had been done for decades before? VR will certainly face challenges in our ever pervasive battle over privacy–one I hope we can face head-on–but orthogonal to that is the power it gives us over communication.
What will your children be able to experience with VR that is currently not possible?
It’s difficult to say what will come from all of this. I think people tend to think of the internet and technology as “other”, as not integral components of life. But computers and the internet are here to stay, which is to say they are fundamental components of the human condition now. My son will grow up in a world that is not only 100% connected, but doesn’t remember a time when we weren’t, unlike mine that grew up during a time that was working to make those connections and secure them for everyone. But a short list of things I’d like to see happen: a metaverse in which we all maintain a presence, much as we do now with social media sites; “away” avatars in that metaverse that look like us, talk with our voices, utilizing AI to give responses like we would give; ethereal corporations that have no physical presence in the world, being created on the fly, with meeting space and employees sourced through the metaverse; the curbing of greenhouse gas production as we stop commuting to work; the opening of true accessibility of the workplace to differently-abled people; art that can forcefully challenge your own notions of self.