Shorter Than a Goldfish – Capturing Mankind’s Ever-Shrinking Attention Span with XR, featuring Oncor Reality’s David Sime (2023)

If a picture’s worth a thousandwords, then a video is worth millions! That’s David Sime’sphilosophy, anyway; he’s marrying online video marketing to XRtechnology, to reach people’s gaze — in a world with increasinglymore competition for their attention — with Oncor Reality.

Alan: Welcome to the XR for Business Podcast with your host, Alan Smithson. Today’s guest is David Sime, founder and technical director of Oncor Reality. With over 19 years of digital media experience, David delivers promotion and analysis at strategic, tactical, and operational levels. Disciplines include virtual reality, augmented reality, targeted online video, and strategic digital marketing across social media, mobile, pay-per-click, smart TV, and out-of-home mediums. David directs the multi-award winning digital media agency Oncor Video and now Oncor Reality. Based in London and Central Scotland, this multimedia team delivers results based in immersive media solutions across engineering, construction, hospitality, and luxury retail sectors all around the world. If you want to learn more about his company, it’s

David, welcome to the show, my friend.

David: Thank you for having me,Alan. Can I start paying you to introduce me in events? That soundedamazing, I’m really impressed by myself now.

Alan: Okay, let’s restart.*David Sime, here we go!*

David: [laughs]

Alan: No? Too much?

David: No, I think that–

Alan: I mean–

David: I think that’s justenough for me. Just enough. [chuckles]

Alan: [chuckles] We’ll sell youthe whole state, but you’ll only need the edge.

David: [laughs]

Alan: Oh man.

David: I’ve been watching whatyou’ve been doing on LinkedIn for years, man. And it’s superimpressive. I really, really enjoy watching all your travels and allthe places that you go. I can only aspire to that kind of activity.But, hey, I’m doing my best.

Alan: Well, I can tell you thatI can’t go on LinkedIn anymore without seeing your smiling face, soyou must be doing something right.

David: I think I’m developing anaddiction. That’s what I’m doing. [laughs]

Alan: It’s like crack.

David: I can’t seem to stay off.I managed to wean myself off Facebook. And then this came along, thespecter or the methadone of the digital marketing world. And now hereI am. But it’s great, because people are super friendly and a lotless rude than in any other channel.

Alan: It’s amazing, because youreally have– I’ve only experienced maybe 10 people — out of 30,000connections and millions of views — that I’ve had to block. Andthat’s really amazing. I think it’s because people know that if theydo dumb shit on LinkedIn, I know where you work.

David: [laughs] Exactly. I mean,I’ve always said it’s the anonymity of social media that can be theproblem, that makes people not behave themselves. LinkedIn, you arethe representative of yourself, your business, everybody knows whoyou are, where you live. You just have to behave. Although somepeople still don’t. And it just seems ridiculous to me.

Alan: The great thing is you canclick a button, and they disappear from existence.

David: [laughs] I know! Becauseyou get people that ruminate and ruminate over this kind of stuff,“Oh, that person said that thing.” and they’re working ontheir response for the rest of the day. Me, I just click “block”.Enough said.

Alan: I give people two chances.I call them out. I say, “Listen, you’ve got a problem. Youcannot post that dumb shit on my LinkedIn. You can either retract itand stay connected to our community, or you’ll be blocked.”

David: Or you’ll be blocked.

Alan: That’s it.

David: That’s it.

Alan: Yeah. Let’s move away fromLinkedIn, because LinkedIn’s awesome, but it’s how we got connected.And I want to learn more about Oncor Reality. Tell me what is OncorReality.

David: Oncor Reality. Okay, phew. For the backstory. Okay, listen, I’ve been doing kind of communications and education-related stuff for the last couple of decades — actually, yeah, 20 years this year — I started off by doing standard marketing and I was lucky enough to work with some very technical people and web development stuff like that. So I helped them with marketing, they helped me with technical stuff. And I’ve developed– I’ve actually maintained most of those relationships to this very day. One of my best friends, in fact, Alan Thayer, who runs a company called Contact Online — Contact Digital now, actually — he still works with me. I still help him with marketing. He still helps me with digital. That was all good. But I was trying to help people with communicating with the world, on usually very low start-up budgets without getting ripped off by — at the time — things like directories, and conferences, and magazine advertising, and that kind of stuff that rarely works unless you got a huge budget, right? So I was trying to get them to use more sensible ways to get to more people cheaper. And then along comes this new-fangled fancy-dancy internet thing. And I’m like, “OK, well, this is perfect, because this means that somebody with a wee bedroom operation can actually reach anybody in the world, anybody can be a multinational.” So that’s why I started — for most instances — started working with these techie people — who had the help — to learn more about this Internet stuff. And I’ve run a few companies myself. I applied the same stuff to marketing, that kind of thing. What I observed was, people’s attention spans were going down and down and down. We were using analytics systems like Urchin, which was subsequently bought by Google and became Google Analytics. And you would get maybe 2 minutes, 1-2 minutes of attention span on a website, which at the time we thought, “Oh my God, that’s nothing!” That’s hardly any time at all, in comparison to magazines, you know? And then as time passed, it went down and down and down. The options online got more and more and more. The speed of connections got better and better.

Alan: It’s crazy, I just heard astat today, that the average American sees between four and 10,000pieces of digital content a day.

David: [laughs] This doesn’tsurprise me. Hey, do you know of somebody’s attention span when theymake a decision about a message online, like a website or whatever?Do you know how long it takes them to do?

Alan: My guess is in less thanfive seconds.

David: Oh, it’s less than fiveseconds. Let’s go down, slower than five seconds. What’s your nextguess?

Alan: Two seconds?

David: No, no, slower than that.It’s less than a second. Fifty milliseconds.

Alan: Really?

David: 20th of a second.

Alan: Is it really?

David: Yep, absolutely. Has beenfor ages, it’s probably lower than that now.

Alan: You make a decisionwhether to stay or leave.

David: Yep.

Alan: We have less of anattention span than a goldfish.

David: We do. We absolutely do.About two seconds less.

Alan: Oh my god. XR — orvirtual, augmented, and mixed reality — how are these taking backsome of those attention spans?

David: Well, here’s how I gotinto it. I went from online stuff — blogs and things — to heavilyimage-based stuff as people’s attention spans went right down, sothey weren’t reading very much. So then I started Oncor Video,because that was all about targeted strategic online video marketing,because if a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaksmillions. And so it’s a really good way to get a lot of contentacross. But what was happening simultaneously, Alan, was thatpeople’s expectations of interactivity and communication had changed;gone from this kind of one-way hierarchical thing where Coca-Colasays, “Drink Coke!” and we all go out and drink Coke —that was their slogan at one point — to we actually expect to have areply. We expect our brands to do stuff for us. And this is startedto affect the way people work. They expect their bosses to listen tothem, not just tell them. And I figured this was going to be the nextthing. It was going to affect people’s behavior online, that theywould require interactivity to the point of immersivity. So if I’dmoved from just reading stuff to watching stuff in a video, the nextlogical step would be being actually fully immersed in that content.And boy, was I ever right. This was a good tour. Get on for fouryears ago, I said, “Right, this video stuff’s been workinggreat. But I think this is gonna be the next thing.” No. Sellingvideo in Scotland — which is where I’m from — we’re quite arisk-averse nation. We don’t like paying for stuff, until we knowexactly whether it’s going to work or not. So selling video was quitedifficult.

Alan: Very similar to Canada. We’re a fast follow country. We want everything that the Americans are doing, with one-tenth the budget.

David: [laughs] Well, that’s basically Scotland versus London, in the UK. So I’ve got an office in London, and you find that they are the early adopters. And we do a lot of work with the Emirates and stuff, and they are really early adopters, but they are coming from a place of plenty. They don’t have any scarcity issues, or as many scarcity issues. So they can just have fun things and see whether or not it’s going to work. It doesn’t matter. Whereas up here — and maybe even in Canada — there’s more to lose. I can understand why they labor. But, see, that breaks down entirely when it comes to augmented and virtual reality. Everybody wants it. They want it, whether they know what the return on investment is going to be or not, whether they have an idea of how it’s going to benefit their business or not. It’s the shiniest shiny new thing ever. And I feel like I’ve gone from trying to sell healthy snacks, to selling freshly baked cakes in a room full of hungry people. They just all want some, it’s great. And I’m doing my best to try to convince everybody. “Okay, look, here’s what you need this for. Here’s why we’re doing it. Here’s your target audience. Here’s how much you’re investing. And here’s how we’re going to ensure a continuous return on investment for you.” and half the time they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just give me the shiny!” Which is fine. You know, that’s fine. I’ll go with that. But it’s meant that we get to do all sorts of things. You know, we’re getting.

Alan: All right. So let’s talk about that. Your website lists a number of different industries. You’ve got energy, construction, education, corporate, commercial. Let’s unpack that. What have you done or what are you doing in industry and energy, for example?

David: Right. Now, the energy sector is interesting, because it’s split up between traditional energy, fossil fuels and oil and stuff like that — and that’s big news in Scotland, there’s a lot of oil going on here, a lot of money there — to renewables, which is also big news here, because we’ve got a lot of wind — not so much sunshine — and a lot of waves. So there’s a lot of power being generated by these. And you would think that what these two bits of the industry would require would be completely the same. Or maybe completely different, where we are actually selling the same thing to them, but in different ways. So what we’re selling to the oil and gas industry is the live, remote, safe visits to places like oil platforms and high-risk places that are offshore. It means that we can send any number of people to these places. All we need is a 360 camera stay up there. They can do a lifesaving station, they can be guided around. We’ve even worked our way whereby that live 360 body has actually movement within it.

You can have avatars — virtual people— in there, you can have virtual objects and so forth, and seethings coming alive. That means you don’t have to fly 15 people fromall the corners of the globe to Scotland, and then give them anoffshore safety training certificate, which is expensive and not fun.It’s going to be on the water in a helicopter — which isn’t verygood — and then they get their insurance, and then you put them in ahelicopter, and then you fly them to one oil platform. Now they don’teven have to leave their office. Bam, they’re in that oil platformwith those other people, they go and have a wee confab about it. Theycome back, they move to another one. They can take in 5, 10, 15different oil platforms in a single day. Savings there are huge. Andthe oil industry — oil and gas industry — are really interested insavings, because they’re not doing so well now. The prices have gonedown. People are moving over to renewables. Qatar and places likethat have actually done their best to artificially keep the pricesdown, to keep competition out from these renewables and so forth.That means that they need those cost savings. But when I’m sellingthis to renewables, I say to them, “Well, do you really want tobe having people going in jets and flying around the world andleaving massive carbon footprints and unnecessary travel emissions,when you could just use this instead?” and they go for it on thecarbon kick. So it benefits both of them in different ways, eventhough they’re the same industry and we’re selling them the samething.

The next thing that we’re doing is thatwe are using drones to fly around buildings and take a– any droneoperator anywhere in the world can just– we just tell them what todo. You go there, fly around this building, take photos from theseangles. Send it back to us and we can fire you back a really, reallyaccurate 3D model of that building. Now, the purpose of that is,we’re using it for solar energy installations. So basically there’s adichotomy, there’s a divide between the people that invest in stuffand the people who care about the environment. Yeah, usually you justinvest in stuff that makes you the most money. We’re trying to makecaring for the environment make the most money. So what we do withthese 3D models is that we tie in other information like the angle ofthe building, the orientation, the prevailing weather conditions inthat part of the world, the longitude, the latitude, etc. And fromthat, we can actually calculate and even design these solar arrays onexactly how much power they will generate. Which means that we cansay, “Okay, it’s going to cost you this much to put these solarpanels, on these roofs, in this city. Here’s where you put them.Here’s how much it’ll cost you. Here’s how long it’ll take for thisto generate enough power to pay you back for your investment. Andhere’s how much money you’ll make on your selling that power back tothe people that live there at a reduced rate.” But it means thateverybody’s happy, right? People are happy to have the panels and therisk, because they’re paying less for their power. The investors arehappy, because they know exactly what bang they’re going to get fortheir buck, and when they’re gonna get return on their investment.The environment’s happy because we’re not using oil, coal, gas, etcfor that purpose. Does that make sense?

Alan: A little bit. That “savingthe environment” stuff; who really cares? Let’s be honest. I don’tthink that the global climate change is a thing. I’m a denier.

David: Are you really?

Alan: No. [laughs] I watched the video of my friend, he’s a futurist. And today he had a post on LinkedIn. He’s like, “I met a guy who works for a big company, who is a legitimate denier.” And he goes, “By the time– I had an hour-long conversation with him, everything that he was saying was just a bunch of fake news. He was quoting a Time magazine article that was a fake.” And I’m like, “Guys, wake the [bleep] up! The world is on fire!”

David: [laughs] I know, right?Here’s the thing. I had a chat with somebody online and they weretalking about “Oh, the plastic in the oceans, we should dosomething about it and clean it up!” You know, the usual kind ofpreachy stuff that they’re never going to actually do anything. And Isaid, well look, what you really need to do is, you need to make thatplastic profitable. Because then the big corps will come in with theresources that they have, and they will literally and figurativelyclean up that shit. You can turn that plastic into building materialsor fuel or something like that, they’ll come in and they’ll get itdone.

Alan: But what I saw recently that blew my mind was actually India is starting to use ground-up plastic in their roads. It turns out that it makes a great building material for roads. It’s resilient. It lasts longer than traditional concrete. And it doesn’t have the traditional cracks that concrete gets. So it’s actually a great building material for that. I mean, look, we have enough plastic on this planet to pave every road in the world over again.

David: We sure do. I mean,that’s it. You know when you go in like children’s play parks andstuff, you know that rubbery kind of material that they put there sothat they don’t hurt themselves on concrete and spikes, the way wedid when we were younger, you know?

Alan: I know. When we grew up,it was like “Go and hurt yourself. It’s OK. It’s part of growingup.”

David: Yeah. Yeah. “Here’s a ladder, it’s 50 meters high. You know, just try not to fall off.” But yeah, the stuff they got now, it’s all bouncy, these flakes. I don’t know the word. Anyway, that stuff’s made out of ground-up tires, and that’s been around for ages, right? Tire crumb, they call it. Because tires are a notoriously difficult thing to recycle. But that’s a really good thing to do with it. But you see, the road surface that they’re using in India, it doesn’t lose grip as it wears down. That’s the problem with using other materials; usually when they wear down, they get shiny and slick and they lose the grip. This stuff doesn’t, this is great.

Alan: You can re-use it. If you need to, you can pull it up, regrind it, put it back down. Plastic doesn’t ever go away. So it’s– if you have a million-year lifespan of a piece of plastic, you get a million-year life span of your road. Awesome.

David: Yeah. Yeah. That’s something you want to last for a million years. But I know they’re getting better at it all the time. Well, this is why I’m basically trying to do. I figured, OK, what’s an unlimited resource? All those poor buggers, photographers who bought into drones and were sold the dream. “Oh, yeah. You get drone, endless work will come in, and you’ll be laughing.” And most of them have got these things sitting on a shelf, gathering dust.

Alan: I mean, I actually was one of those people and I did the business model. I was like, “OK, we’re gonna have a drone company. We’re gonna do exclusive drone footage for high-end real estate, and all this.” And… yeah. We looked at it, and we were like, “These drones are dropping in price, and they fly themselves now. I don’t know about that.”

David: Exactly. And the thing isthat there are some very– we’ve got a thing out in the UK — I don’tknow if it’s spread out of the UK — called the Dronesafe Register.And you have to have a minimum level of qualification. You basicallyhave to be a pilot practically, to run these things commercially now.

Alan: It actually makes sense. Let’s be honest, we don’t want people flying around with potential bombs on people’s heads, because if that falls in somebody’s head, that’s it, they’re done.

David: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And those things go so high now, and they go so fast. And then you’ve got things like you need to know about the flight path. You need to– so the guy that we’ve got in our team — oh, you’d love this guy — he’s ex-Royal Navy. He used to be a submariner, right? So in the Cold War, he was “Hunt for Red October” kind of stuff. Except his Scottish accent was legitimately meant to be in his submarine, because he wasn’t Russian.

Alan: [laughs]

David: And then he went and hewas in charge of the coastguard in Scotland, like really, really highup in the Coast Guard. Anyway, he’s the guy who coordinates all ofour global joint activities because he’s the guy you can phone up onArmy base and go, we’re gonna fly a drone over here. And they say,“If we are, then what altitude and why are you doing this?”And he knows all the answers. He knows all the people. He’s justsuper good at coordinating that, predicting weather.

Alan: Let’s talk about that fora sec, because I have seen some of the stuff you guys do in terms ofphotogrammetry. So basically flying a drone over a space frommultiple heights and flight paths, capturing photographs of, let’ssay, an industrial building. And then from those, you’re able tocreate a point cloud map, a 3D model of that, which you can thenimport into VR. And you can now look at the building from all angles.Instead of climbing up the building, you just fly drone over, put itin VR and you can actually zoom right into all parts of the roof, andreally give it a good inspection in the right amount of time, withouthaving to climb the ladder, climb down, climb a ladder, climb down.

David: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when we originally put this to the housing associations, it used to be hard to deal with community housing projects and that kind of stuff. We say to them, “Hey, we can predict all your solar stuff!” and they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can you tell us what condition our roofing tiles are in?” Because that’s a big issue for us. Because normally what they do is, they just put in all the roofing tiles in all the houses, and then they go, “Okay, this thing’s got roughly 10-year lifespan, so in 10 years’ time, we just take all off and replace it.” You don’t need to, everywhere. You may find that in some places it wears earlier, and in some places it’s sheltered. They can save — I’m talking a small housing association here in Scotland, which is a small country — they can save tens of millions of pounds in a single pass. And then they can take that money that they’ve saved, and apply it to other things. Like we’ve got a problem with fuel poverty here, mostly keeping places warm. [laughs] This is a problem, you know. I don’t think there’s as many air conditioning units in Scotland. And they can apply it to dealing with fuel poverty. And we can even, if you fire off an infrared camera onto the same drones — which is cheap, a lot cheaper than things like LiDAR and laser scanners and stuff — then we can share the heat egress from buildings, so we can say, “Oh, that one’s actually got some seriously bad insulation. That person’s spending way too much in their heating, they’re losing most of it to the sky.” We go in and get them insulation. That save them money, saves us money, everybody’s happy. I mean, the thing is, the technologies are meeting, it’s finding solutions for it. As you know from my background, I’m all about things like education and communication and stuff like that. So I tend not to think too hard about the tech. I tend to think, “Okay, here’s the tech. Here’s what it *could* do. Where’s the need? Where can we find people who could benefit from this?”

Alan: Well, let me ask you aquestion. What is, in your opinion– because you’ve been doing thisall the while, you’ve done all sorts of different industries. Whereare industries seeing the highest ROI?

David: Highest ROI is in– it’s definitely in an engineering and energy sector engineering. That’s where you get the most bang for your buck. But that’s because their outgoings are so massive. It’s not so much return, it’s savings. That’s where it really seems to benefit them, because they can actually save money on travel, they can save money in insurance, they can save money on other forms of energy generation, that kind of stuff. They can, for instance, see with an offshore oil platform — here’s another example of our user — you fly a drone around that thing once a month, and you check the structure of it, let’s say using laser scanners. And then you just come back the next month, and we see if it’s moved. If it’s moved, you’re in trouble, because this thing is like hundreds of thousands of tons of steel, where it’s being battered by North Sea waves and stuff like that constantly. If that thing even begins to shake, it’s going to start to fall to pieces. And the repair bills for that are going to be vast in civil engineering. So, yeah, so those kind of savings, this kind of pre-emptively working out whether damage is occurring, or pre-emptively working out whether you need to get in there and just fix something, once that frees a station team, it saves time. That’s where the real benefits are. But my God, are they interested in the remote meeting side of things, because that’s going to save them an absolute fortune. The lost man hours, the transportation, the corporate and social responsibility to reduce travel emissions, to stop flying people around in jets for pointless meetings. Have you ever met somebody who works for a big company that actually enjoys business travel?

Alan: When you’re 20, businesstravel’s amazing. But no, I can’t imagine anybody who says, “Yeah,I can’t wait to go fly anywhere without my family.” And it’s funonce you get there, you meet with your friends, and it’s great. Butno, I don’t think anybody really truly enjoys that, especially–there’s certain things– you get on a plane, you fly across the worldfor a meeting, and then fly back. That’s just ridiculous. We do itall the time. Here’s what I think is even better, because let’s behonest, you’re getting on a plane, you’re flying across the world,and you’re sitting in a boardroom. If you’re gonna sit in a boardroomanyway, you may as well sit in a boardroom. Now, instead of sittingin a boardroom talking about an oil platform, why don’t we meet in VRin the actual oil platform, and have a meeting about the oilplatform?

David: Exactly. And then you canget other stakeholders involved, you know? I mean, it doesn’t justhave to be engineers talking to engineers, or financiers selling tofinanciers. If everybody can see what they’re actually talking about,be where the are, they really get an understanding of each other’sdisciplines. As a teacher — the modern apprenticeship scheme havecreated some content on digital marketing for them. And they got meinto teaching regularly. I like it, keeps me grounded because it’sthe younger people, early stages of marketing and business and thatkind of thing — and I get to tell them all the things that theyshould be doing, which frequently reminds me of the stuff I’m notdoing. [laughs] “Do as I say, not as I do.” I mean, mostof my anecdotes are when I’ve screwed up, by not doing the thing thatI’m telling them do. But they– I always tell them, like you can onlybe effective in an organization if you understand truly whateverybody else in the organization does. And the only way to do thatis to get your hands dirty and get in there, you know? Work withthem, talk to them. See how they do it, where they do it. But that’snot always possible, when everybody’s spread out geographically, andthere’s risks in all cases there’s hazardous environments and thatkind of stuff. In virtual reality, not a problem, Virtual reality,you can be right in there, doing it, talking with the people, seeinghow they do it. Because it’s really hard to explain how CNC lathingworks, or even what it is, but you only need to see it for fiveminutes to actually get a gist of it.

Alan: We actually work with agroup and they’ve built several just very basic hands-on training.And you just do it, and then that skill is literally transferable.All the configurations are the exact same as you just did. It’stransferable, 1-to-1.

David: Absolutely. That’s thedifference, right? Because now we’re getting into education. Theycall what you just described there lower learning. It’s experiential;it’s doing, learning from doing. I remember my background and myfamily background says engineers, going right back to Watts, like,*the* Watts, where the name for electrical watts came from.

Alan: Oh wow.

David: Yeah, I know, I know. I’mquite pleased with that one. But they more recently, they all went–my family got into teaching. My parents were both teachers and I seemto have been born with a bit of both, because I’m obsessed witheducation, I’m obsessed with engineering. And so I’ve been learningand learning and learning about these forms of education. I gotmyself a qualification as a further education lecturer a few yearsago. And that’s kind of what got me into modern apprenticeshiptraining and Google, the stuff I do with Google and the stuff I doChartered’s chief marketing, which is all training based. And I can’tsee any better way to learn — having interviewed loads of candidatesand so forth — than better theory, better practice, better theoryabout practice. But I remember doing this lecture in front of GlasgowUniversity’s greatest in the good of their academia. And it was thetoughest audience I’ve ever had, because basically I was telling themwas education is screwed. Education has gone so far in the directionof one too many pedagogical learning, like Peter the father figureteaching, the sage on the stage. Now it’s moving in the direction ofguide on the side, rather than sage on the stage. Let people dostuff, just guide them. And now, with virtual reality, it’s goingright back to what we used to do in the Palaeolithic on our gathererancestors. We’re– if you wanted to learn how to debark a tree orskin an animal, some dude would show you. [chuckles] And that’s howwe learn, that’s how we evolved to learn. Don’t get me wrong, rotelearning and pedagogical learning has its place, but the best way todo it is a combination. And it’s the kind of things that we’relearning to do aren’t skinning animals and debarking trees. It’s likehow do you turn this dial so that this thing doesn’t blow up? Andthat’s a big deal. You want to get that right first time. [laughs]

Alan: That seems important.

David: Yeah, not blowing up orblowing off everybody around you. And similarly, if you’re operatinga digger or an excavator, god, you could cause a lot of damage withone of those things, you know? I’d love to get the opportunity tocause a lot of damage with one of those things. But certainly it’s alot cheaper, better and easier to train people in a safe environment,where they can get it nailed first time. And then when they’re inthat situation again, they know what to do. We actually came up withsomething for — again, it was oil and gas industry, as you can see,it’s a big thing here, right? — if you’re on an oil platform and thealarms go off, you’re in trouble, right? So you wake up in your bunk,you look at your laminated thing on the wall that says, “here’syour nearest exit” or whatever. And maybe somebody showed youthe day that you arrived, in nice sunny conditions. But now it’snighttime, it’s driving wind and rain. There’s smoke, there’s fire,there’s people screaming, and it’s chaos. That laminated card thattells you where your nearest lifeboat is, isn’t going to be that muchuse.

But if you look at people in life ordeath situations, there was talk about their life flashing beforetheir eyes. Well, there’s a reason for that, right? I’m obsessed withpsychophysiology and psychology and stuff. Basically what’s happeningis your brain is accessing all of the other panic experiences thatit’s ever had and going, “How did you survive? Is there arelevant survival plan for the situation that we can use here?”and see if you instead of giving somebody a laminated card, you stickhim in virtual reality and you say, “Right, alarms are going.”You can actually smell the fumes, using the olfactory stimulus.“You’ve got to get out. You got to find your way to thislifeboat in time. And OK, you did it right this time, but *this* timethe oil derrick’s collapsed in front of you. You got to find anotherroute.” Now, simultaneously, somebody also there is observingyou, what you’re doing, how well you’re achieving it. And see thenext time that really happens in real life, and your brain flashesthrough all the experiences, it knows what to do. And that is goingto be much more useful in saving lives than some placard or grouptraining day.

Alan: The more I learn aboutthis and the more I listen to people, the more I learn. It just– alot of this is anecdotal — or up until recently has been anecdotal— we think VR can give you real memories, like real people. OK.Great. Well, now we’re proving it. Now it’s actually being shown. Andif this can save lives, that’s incredible. And saving money is great.Saving lives is really important.

David: Absolutely. Absolutely. Although you do tend to find– this is quite sad, really. But when we’re dealing with, again, you know, offshore oil and that kind of thing, we were talking to them about using a drone that can detect hydrocarbon clouds, you know, like gas loads of explosives, from a distance so that human beings don’t have to go into that situation. So they’re not at risk. And I thought, “Oh, that’s amazing. That’s great that this industry is interested in safeguarding its workers’ lives.” It’s not. [laughs]

Alan: No, it comes down to eachworkers’ life is worth $347,521.

David: Precisely. And ifsomebody gets caught for doing something bad, their share values dropand they can’t be having that. So that’s why they’re doing it. Butthat’s okay. I mean, if that’s how they are motivated, then fine. Imean, we’ll do the right thing and get paid to develop these things.But the reason so that we can actually do something good for theworld, save lives.

Alan: The end of the day, companies, the way we’ve designed capitalism — and I think it will change over the next 10 years, to be honest — the way we’ve designed capitalism is we have one measure for success of a business, that is economic. My personal purpose is to inspire and educate future leaders to think and act in a way that’s socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. That three-phase of this is really what I think is going to be how we manage this.

David: Yeah. No, I totally agree with you. There’s a book I read — there’s there’s a writer here. I really like, he does science fiction, and he does fiction; he’s called Ian Banks (when he is doing his fiction, he is called Ian Banks, when he’s doing his science fiction, he is Ian M. Banks, right?) — this was one of these weird crossover ones where it was a bit Sci-Fi-ish, but it wasn’t fully, and it was called “Transitions.” Basically, Ian Banks is a bit of a socialist, and he describes these guys that can — these people — who can transition from one dimension to another. And some of these dimensions are slightly more or slightly less advanced or slightly further into the future or further back, or whatever. But they’ve defined them — there’s this organization called The Concern, which, that’s their job. They move through these different dimensions, attempting to find patterns and right wrongs or avoid catastrophes, that kind of thing — but they’ve defined certain dimensions as being cruel or kind. And the ones that they define as being cruel are the ones where shareholder capital and limited companies has come into being as a means of growing organizations, because it inevitably ends up with profit being put before anything else, because your shareholders — most of the time — they really know are disconnected from the actual activities of the company, or what they’re connected to — usually by like a hedge fund manager or whatever — are, “how much money am I getting back on my investment?” That’s it. So I thought, a company has two choices. One of them is, “let’s put out an oil pipeline across Alaska: If we put it above ground, it disrupts caribou migratory pathways and cause mass extinction; if we put it under the ground, it won’t, but it’ll cost us more.” They’ll put it above the ground, because they’ve got to get the best return on investment. And there’s our problem. But there are ways around this, like ethical investment planning and so forth. And there are ethical investment charters, and groups, which only allow investment — or basically, highlight which companies do not qualify for this investment — and those ones, the ones that do qualify, are doing better. So even if you are to take it as, “it’s just money,” people are actually moving in that direction. They will get more investment if they are ethical. And I think that’s a good move.

Alan: What problem in the worlddo you want to see solved using XR technologies?

David: Lack of communication.We’ve become a very isolated, insular society through a lot of stuffthat we’re talking about. There are people out there who don’t get totalk to other people, so they don’t have an understanding of them.They don’t get to see other bits of the world. So they don’t have anunderstanding of the world. Maybe they’ve got mobility difficulties.Maybe they got communication issues. We have the ability to takeanyone from anywhere, *to* anywhere, regardless of their physicalcondition, regardless of their place in the world for the purposes ofeducation, for the purposes of avoiding loneliness, and for thepurposes of just learning and working together as a… we’re acommunicative pack creature. You know, species, right? So we workbest when we weren’t together. And I think that with 5G, withconnectivity, with virtual reality, with full Multi-sensory,fully-immersive, experiential communication like this, that isn’trestricted geographically, and isn’t restricted by your financial andphysical means, we have no reason not to communicate with each other,you know? That’s what I would like to see: us, as a species,connected together globally.

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