LØRN case C0106 -
LØRN. SME

Aki Kolehmainen

AR/VR Business Lead

Futurice

The smart glasses of the future

In this episode of #LØRN, Silvija talks to AR / VR Business Lead in Futurice, Aki Kolehmainen, about how to combine the virtual world with the real world. He talks about creating businesses around emergent technologies, doing speeches and presentations, sales and consultation, and also rarely, real development and service design work.
LØRN case C0106 -
LØRN. SME

Aki Kolehmainen

AR/VR Business Lead

Futurice

The smart glasses of the future

In this episode of #LØRN, Silvija talks to AR / VR Business Lead in Futurice, Aki Kolehmainen, about how to combine the virtual world with the real world. He talks about creating businesses around emergent technologies, doing speeches and presentations, sales and consultation, and also rarely, real development and service design work.
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17 min

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SS: Hello! This is Lorn, I am Silvia Seres and the topic today is augmented reality and virtual reality. With me in [the] studio I have Aki Kolehmainen from Finland from a company called Futurist. Welcome!

AK: Thank you.

SS: Aki, please tell us a little bit about yourself and then a little bit about Futurist. I think you’re an amazingly interesting innovation agent

AK: Yeah

SS: Tell us more.

AK: So I’m Aki. I’ve been working in the IT industry for twelve years and the past four years more or less in emerging technologies such as AR & VR and like [at] our company, we try to solve our clients’ problems and make new business for them using digital, like, services and approaches. Also we try to encourage our clients to do things better. For example we teach them, what we think and they’d like; culture and how to do things in lynway. So we don’t own any products, we do projects for clients for their needs.

SS: And I was on your stand at a recent conference and your projects look like playing. There’s Lego and there is a social robot and there is how do these things make your clients more innovative?

AK: So we have the least I would say this kind of an experimental lap we call photo lap and we try out different technical innovations, so like building a robot, building autonomous cars, trying out new things like whether it’s…

SS: With your customers?

AK: Uhh

SS: Or?

AK: This is more like keeping our people aware that what’s happening in the digital industry and we see that if we are the ones who try to be on the edge of technology, we can then tell our clients that what should be the best approaches for them to move because there is no silver bullet if we think about digital, like services and products, there you need to focus on the problems and then select the technologies accordingly.

SS: Can you give us some examples of the work you do in VR?

AK: Yes! For example at the moment we’re working with one big pharmacy company and we’re part of the team working [on] how to use VR in order to relieve chronic pain for the patients

SS: How do you do that?

AK: Well, for example the visual input is one thing, that you would take the patients from current state to something somewhere else and there’s, there can be like memories for the good old times or let’s say a good example about you have massive leg pains about like, like burns, burn marks in your body, so putting you on let’s say North Pole and you…

SS: And it really helps alleviate the pain? You experience?

AK: Yes the brain is like, interesting, interesting thing.

SS: It’s an interesting organ yeah!

AK: Yes because you can fool it many ways and VR is very good with that so like, they trust a lot of things you can visually see.

SS: Hmmm

AK: So that’s one thing. We’ve done VR experience for example museums for media companies but there’s this like, you can there’s the entertainment part and then, where you can use it for different industries, and I think like simulation and training are one of the most interesting parts from my point of view.

SS: You also mentioned to me augmented reality where you increase this feeling of being immersed in the virtual worlds by adding real physical elements how do you do that?

AK: Yeah so for example we built one ourselves so we have one room set up and we match all the physical elements like floors and walls to the virtual world so they are exactly in the same place so when you walk near the wall and you touch the wall in the virtual world your hand actually stops and you get the haptic feedback and it starts to fool your brain and then we add like four other elements for example we have an elevator and you have a big red button to push and then the 3D model in the virtual world is exactly the same and in the same place and then in the real real world so when you press it again you got the haptic feedback and you can assist

SS: Does it feel like the elevator suddenly stopped? Can you do something about that?

AK: Well we are actually planning that we will install a fan that goes near towards and like the best part of the experience is that you have a wooden plank and it's on top of 50 metres fall and then you need to cross go across the plank and you can feel it you can see representations of your feet just like shoes you can see and you can touch the plank and you can it's 10 cm high so you cannot quite hit like the floor with your with your toes and then your eyes see that there's a 50 metres drop and then they...

SS: Are people usually terrified?

AK: Yes so there's been screaming and swearing and we have one guy who's helping the people who try it out and he's very good at catching people mid-air so to say

SS: Lots of people fall?

AK: Yes so like nowadays we usually we try to, we learn to be quite good at seeing that our people like falling down that we need to catch them or is it just that we give them a hand and can they manage or do they need a little assistance

SS: I have to tell you I tried a similar experiment recently and to be honest people told me about this experiment sometime ago and I was thinking I mean you know, in your brain you will know that there is only 10 centimetres to the floor how hard can that be to walk a few metres on the plank? That’s just above the floor and I tried this and they didn’t you know they, it was terrifying and I'm just curious about how can my brain which I believe is somewhat rational be so completely fooled by just something that is in these goggles?

AK: It is amazing so I am definitely not a doctor but I have tried myself and we've built like several VR experience that we are we tried to fool the brain so if you take the visual and even if you put good headphones for example that it has noise cancelling then you can isolate yourself from the real environment then your brain starts to get used to the real like the virtual one and then if you add elements for example we have one example when you're on top of an airplane flying across Helsinki and we have a fan that’s blowing air to you and like people are like completely faked on and then when they suddenly like for example may fall down they tried to save themselves they just jumped in the wrong direction to like save them self in the virtual world because their brains got so confused.

SS: Yeah. Yeah Yeah. The brain it’s a... what what was my kind of strongest impression of VR is that I could not understand how efficient it is until I tried it and I tried it and when I tried it I was shocked by how much my brain accept it

AK: Yeah and you can go pretty far we can actually give you nightmares by doing there’s this famous VR experience where you need to be sitting on a chair and you look around there’s like pictures of mediaeval times and then you look up and guillotine blade comes and cuts your head off and people have been like having nightmares because of that and because you …

SS: ...you're living a nightmare

AK: Yes and it’s very strange so there’s also like you could use VR for wrong purposes so you should...

SS: ...be careful

AK: Yeah know what you're doing if you’re trying these things.

SS: So you are designing also same user interfaces for VR where you try to use VR in unusual ways what does that mean?

AK: Well for example, one example that we had that we were using for example lead motion so instead of using controllers you can use your hands to control things nowadays it start to be like pretty common thing

SS: Yeah there is a camera catching your motion and then interpreting it or there is some haptic on the…

AK: Yeah there is a camera recording everything you see that when you put your hand in front of you like all the other hand gestures will be recognised.

SS:: The camera is in your goggles.

AK: That’s actually on your goggles so it’s sold separately so you can attach it we 3D printed a case that you can put nicely there not nowadays that they are sold they practically cost nothing but the idea is that like how you can control things without controller so like you are so used to use your hand so what if we create a virtual reality that you control the same way and same kind of move if you want to grab something you just take it with your hand and try to create the experience.

SS: This is like Tom Cruise in the the third what's the name of the film but you don't even need the screen

AK: Well...you practically need the goggles

SS: Exactly! and that’s your screen.

AK: Yeah. Yeah!

SS: But that’s an interesting thing because people saying that our goggles are going to become our screen very soon do you believe that and what will that be like?

AK: That’s the interesting question so I will I believe that AR will win the battle

SS: AR as in augmented reality rather than virtual reality. Remind us of the difference

AK: Yes so in augmented reality you see the real world through your own eyes or through a video camera like live stream and then you like you put digital content do it like 3D models text 2D content and....

SS: ...you make it richer

AK: Yes in virtual reality everything uses virtual or artificial like pixels and the good part with augmented reality is that when you have a conversation with somebody you’ll see...

SS: Who they are…

AK: ...their face and eyes and emotions and that’s something comes from way back in the human nature that you need to have this kind of conversation not go isolated and use VR glasses and then talk to avatars which is like something that can happen as well as has been in any movies like ready-made one was a good example that came last year.

SS: Yeah so with augmented reality basically it's the context that you add that's interesting and with VR you completely erase the real world?

AK: Yes, so in augmented reality you are somewhere you can see so we can utilize that and bring valuable so a very good example is Google Translate there's this live mode where you can just take your camera select from one language to another and just put the camera there and it can translate for example from Russia cyrillic letters to English and instead of you trying to figure out where the cyrillic letters are in your phone you just point there and it tries to do the job for you and actually something that might take 5 to 10 minutes now takes like 5 seconds and that's a really good example why for example AR is good.

SS: Or bus times with the small QR code that your phone interprets for you in a very friendly way in the real world

AK: Well that really doesn't need AR then because you just scan the code but…

SS: People still get impressed!

AK: Yes. You but you could… I think the world is going for small AR classes and then what could happen that you go to a bus stop and the glass is not at where you are it knows your history where you are going you can even say that I’m going home and then it shows you the option in your glass that shows like a list with where you want to go and you can't even speak and order pizza home that will arrive at the same time so I think things will be getting like connected so you can work and you can just like do else like small side step and or order food or like call somebody and you don't need to switch to call them so much then nowadays

SS: I mean we are running out of time and I have a million more questions for you very briefly do you have a favourite set of goals?

AK: That’s a good question, I really like the new Google enterprise glasses…

SS: Why?

AK: They are pretty simple but they are so lightweight that I could use them everyday like

SS: They are AR?

AK: AR glasses they are assistive information only 2D only for one eye but they are so light to use that you can print out of

SS: But it doesn’t look creepy?

AK: No no, it is not that much bigger than normal glasses and you can have your own lenses there if you’re wearing glasses so I think that's and I'm waiting for Apple glasses

SS: Ok cool expecting big things

AK: Yes in 3 years or so maybe

SS: And Oculus Rift?

AK: That's really good so it’s HTC vive pro, it’s really good as well.

SS: Is it a bit like different shoes for different occasions different goggles for different occasions?

AK: Yes at the moment so there’s no winner and Finnish company Varjo is doing a virtual reality headset that is around twenty to thirty times more accurate in resolution than the current at the moment.

SS: Can you tell us a tiny bit about your favourite examples of VR that you've played with that are not made by you? You mentioned to me high vision and you mentioned to me tobil eye tracking.

AK: Yes that's that's a really good example, I think it's a Swedish company who does eye tracking for many purposes.

SS: What do they do? Just tell us briefly.

AK: So they track your eyes and then you can control things with your eyes and that's amazing because instead of you try to focus somewhere you just talk and then it like it's like it’s selected. It makes the user experience like way faster.

SS: Does it take a long time to get used to speaking with your eyes?

AK: No you need to have a light camera system that recognises and then you just…it works like magic.

SS: Ok. I like magic.

AK: Me too.

SS: And what is high vision?

AK: That is a project that Hiab made for Cargotec so they have cranes that lift wooden logs onto trucks and instead of you go outside in -40 and go there to cabin and try to operate and lift the woods to the truck you just sit in the cabin put your headset on and control everything in a safe environment and there's a camera set up so you can load more stuff because there’s no need for the cabin on the back. When it's empty it uses less fuel and it's safer and faster so that's the real life example of VR that I really like.

SS: Very cool. If you were to recommend to people something and something to read or to look at what would you say?

AK: Well there's like a look at LinkedIn there’s like a lot of stuff happening all the time road to be VR is one website that has a lot of material.

SS: Road to VR dot com and VR focus dot com

AK: Yes and VR focus dot com for example, but…

SS: Your advice is to try to distinguish marketing materials from actual footage? What do you mean?

AK: Yes so people say that they are doing very nice things but if you look at the videos they are just after effects instead of being the actual products so try to distinguish those two

SS: There is real magic and then there’s fake magic

AK: Yes

SS: Ok. What is your favourite VR quote do you have something you'd like to leave us with?

AK: It’s just related to the comment I said earlier that most likely AR is going to win the battle between AR and VR and I think the reason will be exactly that human interaction part in AR because you can see. I can actually…

SS: We still want to see the real us in the picture so…

AK: Yes and you’re gonna practically change AR to VR if you feel that spree in which the virtual content so like...

SS: They will converge maybe?

AK: Yes that’s like nicely put.

SS: By the way something you said to me really stuck with me smart glasses will take over our digital interactions

AK: Yes so..

SS: As in we won’t need another screen that would be what we communicate through.

AK: That is one option yes so that we would use these glasses like all day everyday and then we’ll get all the new information but we would still need add-on screens because I think working or like…

SS: ...more efficiently

AK: Yes then you need a bigger screen and I like good inputs and so forth.

SS: Hmm very cool.

AK: But like machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a big part in AR because the content will that content is the key and that would define if something is successful or not.

SS: Very cool. Aki Kolehmainen from Futurist thank you so much for coming here to learn us about VR and AR.

AK: Thank you.

SS: And thank you for listening.

Who are you and how were you interested in VR?

I run Futurice's AR and VR expertise. I got really interested in VR in 2014 when we bought the Oculus Rift DK2 and started testing its limits.

What are you doing at work?

My job is to create a business around emergent technologies. We try to solve our client's problems or create new business by focusing on the right things and using the best technologies for each case. In my work, I do a lot of speeches and presentations, and I also do sales and consultation. On some rare occasions, I also do some real development and service design work.

What are the most important concepts in VR?

I like to divide VR into the simulation, training, collaboration, and entertainment. All of them have different angles on how to gain value for the end-user.

Why is it exciting?

VR can take you to a completely different place from where you are. Because your whole field of vision sees only digital content, it can fool your brain very effectively. VR can be used for fun, recovery, easing chronic pain, help you with phobias, etc. On the other hand, we can make you feel sick and have nightmares at night.

What do you think are the most interesting controversies?

VR is just for fun and games - No, definitely not.

Your own self-made best example of VR?

Our team created a VR cave experience, where all of your real surroundings are mapped in the virtual world. When you touch walls or elevator buttons in VR you are also touching objects in a real environment. In the experience, you can see visualizations of your hands and feet.

Your other favorite examples on VR internationally and nationally?

- HiVision from Hiab were are using VR for crane operation

- Tobii eye-tracking with HTC Vive (Pro) can make the user experience in a completely new level

A favorite VR quote?

VR and AR will eventually converge, and smart glasses will take over our digital interactions. - Carlos López.

Aki Kolehmainen
AR/VR Business Lead
Futurice
CASE ID: C0106
TEMA: ENABLING AND DISRUPTIVE TECH
DATE : 181109
DURATION : 17 min
LITERATURE:
https://www.roadtovr.com/ https://www.vrfocus.com/
YOU WILL LØRN ABOUT:
Opportunities with VRUse of VR for chronic pain VR in combination with the real world
QUOTE
"VR is not just fun and games. There are many real use cases where VR can provide real value to end - users."
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