31 May 2018 | Emily Friedman
AWE USA 2018 Day 1 Recap
Augmented Reality Virtual Reality AWE USA 2018

What a first day, and an incredible start to AWE USA 2018! There were keynotes in mixed reality, on-stage announcements and demos, persistent themes around storytelling and simple use cases for glasses, lots of live tweeting, and even some XR magic. Here's what went down on Day 1:

Ori Inbar set the tone and the stakes ("Now is the time to go XR or go extinct") for the event, appearing with his point cloud hologram double and imagining the XR ads of the future. "We still live in Flatland but we can see Spaceland." - Ori

What followed was nothing short of magical: Marco Tempest performed a real-time AR magic show for the audience, with drones! "People don't remember data but they do remember stories." - Marco

(Watch this short video captured by Twitter user & AWE attendee Tamara Power-Drutis.)

Before the morning break, Zvi Greenstein of NVIDIA stressed the importance of high-quality VR to the design process:"Virtual Reality has the potential to completely revolutionize design. It enables the sense of presence and the sense of scale in a way no 2D experience can." - Zvi

On the XR Market panel, Tim Merel (Digi-Capital) said "2018 is not the year of AR; 2019 and 2020 will be." AWE attendee Jake Steinerman @jsteinerman came away with the realization that "In terms of AR use cases...'dull is good.' The more 'boring' the use case, the more useful it's like to be."

Elsewhere inside the convention center, Google's Alesha Unpingco shared 5 pillars of AR design and earned herself some fans"Don't scale fail." - Alesha Jeff Jacobsen of Kopin gave a tutorial on the design and development of AR apps with a smarter UI; Qualcomm's Hiren Bhinde talked about the combination of VIO and SLAM; and Microsoft's Yoon Park showed off open-source building blocks for Windows Mixed Reality experiences.

On the Life Track, we heard that "immersion is not just physical; it's also cognitive and emotional" from Brenda Laurel; learned about Facebook's AR tools with Matthew Simari; and found out best practices for delivering AR work instructions according to David Beard of DAQRI. The Work Track gave us a deeper understanding of the AR ecosystem, while the Intro 101 Classes got those of us newer to the space up to speed on everything AR. Industry vet Steven Feiner of Columbia caused a room overflow talking about the future of AR!

After a coffee break, Upskill's Jay Kim and Brent Blum of Accenture sat down on the Inspire Stage for a fireside chat on making enterprise AR "sticky." "You won't have lasting sticky success in enterprise AR/VR without storytelling and coordination across your business." - Brent 

"It's important to build digital literacy around XR tools with workers, not just teach them how to do a specific job." - Jay

Mike Campbell shared the latest efforts by PTC and Vuforia to make AR easier and more scalable for businesses. The Mission City Ballroom was packed - "standing room only" - for Microsoft's Dioselin Gonzalez; and it was all about getting more heads in headsets with Samantha Wolfe of PitchFWD.

"With mixed reality, we're giving computers the ability to perceive the world like we do." - Dioselin

Wikitude's Philipp Nagele told developers that "context is the single most important concept for augmented reality experiences" and who knew that sports and XR storytelling go well together? "Live in VR with social is the way to go for esports." - Louisa Spring, Vari Parks (Engaging Sports Fans Today panel)

Some other highlights before the lunch break included Nuheara's David Cannington on augmented hearing as the new frontier for the XR world and Travis Chen of Snap Inc. joined by Sophia Dominguez of SVRF and Brian Garcia of Tacolamp.com in a live and quick demo without code in the Intro 101 series.

Live demos with Meta's Joe Mikhail got things rolling again after lunch on the Main Stage. "AR is the first technology that doesn't try to describe experiences; it actually delivers them." - Joe Lance Anderson of Vuzix followed with a strong call to action: "To the developer community, drop your phones and tablets and start developing for smart glasses. Funders, invest in app developers so they can go beyond phones." Lance also announced that Vuzix will be shipping the Blade Edge as of June 1st, which made Twitter user @detansinn very excited. Intel's Frank Soqui also spoke directly to content creators about collaborating and partnering with industries to bring ideas to life, while Thibault Marion de Proce of Vyking revealed real-time AR foot tracking for online retailers. "Online shopping can become social again." 

We learned that Niantic Labs is building a platform for engaging geo-mapped AR experiences and that Pokémon Go users walked the distance equivalent to Pluto and back from Phil Keslin. On the design side, Quantum Interface's Jonathan Josephson and Angel Adams of Catchwind Innovations gave tips on using VR for storytelling and Lucas Rizzotto of Where Thoughts Go described principles for amplifying emotion in XR.

Unity's John Sietsma guided developers through the lifecycle of an AR app user--"Great onboarding advice" according to Twitter user @patchedreality. The subject then turned to WebXR with Marley Rafson and Max Rebuschatis of Google followed by Mozilla's Blair MacIntyre. And according to Eva Gaspar of Abylight Studios, "too much freedom is too much to handle" when it comes to UX/UI design in AR.

AltspaceVR not only live streamed some of the sessions for people who couldn't make it to Santa Clara but Katie Kelly also gave a great presentation on using social VR to empower the next generation of content creators.

"AI will not replace the architect but move their efforts away from known execution to more inspirational ideas and concepts." - Alan Robles, Gensler on the Life Stage. 

A panel with Qualcomm's Patrick Costello, Rafaella Camera of Accenture, Andrew Sugaya from Upskill and Geoff Blaber of CCS Insights consisted of some real talk: "Assume your competition will be deploying XR technology within the next 12-18 months." - Patrick Proceedix's Peter Verstraeten shared real use cases of iReality (informed reality) glasses making work safer and faster: "You need your eyes on your work or your job is no longer safe." And a massive AR Cloud roundtable with the AR Cloud Foundation, apprentice.io, ARCortex, GeoCV, Ori Inbar and others drew attendees to the Intro 101 Track.

Tom Emrich's afternoon keynote "The Death of Reality" featuring a projection mapping experience by face mapping artist Nobumichi Asai was unforgettable and thought-provoking. Check out these real-time audience impressions from Twitter users @fer_ananda and @buzzer.

“Who we are is defined by this outer shell we inhabit. But soon it won’t matter what body we are born with, as we will be able to express our own identities with XR” - Tom

Modiface's Parham Aarabi spoke about AR at scale followed by Jüergen Lumera of Bosch on how AR will change the modern auto dealership. The XR investment panel with Richard Tapalaga (Qualcomm Ventures), Martina Welkhoff (WXR), Ajay Singh (Samsung NEXT), Alice Lloyd George (RRE) and Michael Yang (Comcast Ventures) was invaluable for XR startups figuring out how to get financed, choose KPIs, measure traction, etc.: "We always focus on three skillsets when investing in a founding team: A business lead, a technical lead and a creative lead. Each needs the other to survive in business." - Michael 

Audio Architect Patrick Flanagan shared THX's innovative research on rendering 3D soundscapes in VR gaming and entertainment in Design. In Develop, Urho Konttori showed a demo shot through Varjo's forthcoming XR device at near human-eye resolution. The afternoon Life and Work tracks featured Lowe's Innovation Labs' Mason Sheffield using digital storytelling and comic book writers to connect customers' means with motivations; a panel with Cathy Hackl, Kelly Kandle of Media Monks, and others provided insight into the impact and opportunity of XR in retail; Walmart's Steven Lewis talked about creating the killer app in AR to bring together e-commerce and brick and mortar shopping; and Paul Davies of Boeing and Heidi Buck, Director of the US Navy's Mixed Reality Lab, gave a look inside how both are leveraging AR to solve problems of complexity and danger.

In the Intro 101 series, there was more real talk from active investors followed by everything law and then everything PR in XR in back-to-back sessions. The day closed with the women creators of HoloPay breaking down how they built their product and discussing the future of payments in the AR world; Mat Chacon from DogHead Simulations explaining why you can forget about going to school or traveling for training in the XR future; and Lockheed Martin's Shelley Peterson, Amanda Chatman and Decker Jory getting down to the applications and numbers of AR in enterprise.

Silka Miesnieks from Adobe Design Lab and Charlie Fink closed out the Day 1 Inspire Track with two crowd-pleasing keynotes. Silka spoke about designing for humanity - "Good design shows empathy" - while Charlie Fink's lines "Tech succeeds when it makes what we are already doing, better" and "AR is the biggest wealth creation opportunity since the Internet" may have been the most tweeted quotes of the day.

And finally, the full crowd from the all-day Circuit Stream workshops must have walked over to the Hyatt Pool en masse because this year's AWE USA 2018 Pool Party was packed!

Thank you for a great start to #AWE2018!

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