Why Virtual Reality?

Why Virtual Reality?

Ian steps outside of the realm of virtual reality to shake hands with Bill
Ian steps outside of the realm of virtual reality to shake hands with Bill

Way back in May of 2015 Ogilvy of Hong Kong came out with a spiffy idea for Pizza Hut box with a lens in it pairing up Movies and Pizza Night. Of course they go together. My family is no stranger to movie night. We were the first on our block to get the big blow up screen and drag it out onto the State Street lawn, ordered 50 foot Hdmi cable so we could do just that. I’ll admit, even though we have a projector, I tried making a shoebox projector and I wanted one of these Pizza hut projectors when I read about it in Ad Age circa 2015. My projector won but it was fun trying. When I read about Kellog’s Nutrigrain Cereal adding Google VR glasses in their cereal the same year I wanted to buy those too – hey no luck, why is is that the foreigners get the fun stuff? Guess I’d have to move to New Zealand. We opted to just buy a pair of Google cardboard glasses. I actually downloaded a pair but truly – I really did not want to go to all that trouble. I folded (not literally in this case) and bought a pair already assembled.

Those kids in Sweden? They got the the Happy Meals that could be assembled into a VR glasses kit. But hey, I’m that mom that only goes through McDonalds for the toy and not the food, so I guess thank-you Mcdonald’s for NOT encouraging me to buy one of these for all my children because I cannot like your food. New York Times subscriber’s received free Google Cardboard glasses (one million subscribers!) which tool their delivery staff over 10 weeks to insert the devices by hand. Their app was downloaded more times in its first four days than any other time in the app ever before according the the New York Times. For the AT&T “It Can Wait” Campaign, a campaign about texting and driving, Google distributed over 100,000 devices. This was all in 2015.

So again Why Virtual Reality and Why Now?

  • According to Deloitte Global, VR is expected to be a $1 billion business with hardware sales at $700 million (content contributing to the rest)
  • According to the International Data Corp., forecasts for VR Hardware shipments  will total just 9.6 million worldwide and in 2020 to 64.8 million contrast that to Smartphone forecast shipments of 1.5 billion according to the IDC.
  • According to SuperData Research, the awareness of VR today remains low with about 80% of consumers only occasionally or even never hearing about the technology.
  • According to SuperData Research, in the early stages of VR especially the touch to reach consumers demographics of 12-17 and 18-34 consumers this tech is appealing.

What did we do with our Google cardboard goggles?

We played with the Google app and that was about it. Most of the VR apps weren’t very impressive especially with an Iphone and no game controller. The apps that resonated with me were NY Times, Google cardboard app, rollercoaster and travel type apps that were then basically deleted after trying. Meeting up with my teammates who were excited about the possibilities of VR and Augmented Reality based applications was exciting to me because I knew that there had to be something more out there than just a rollercoaster ride or a trip to the Eiffel Tower. I already visited the tower and the Louvre and yeh, it was cool seeing it again but there was still something missing that they were advertising and I knew virtual reality could do so much more – just what else? My teammates saw the vision and the other side.

Looking at the statistics, realizing the training needed in maker spaces and other applications around us, the opportunities are great and we have a lot of catching up to do as well as a lot of informing and awareness to create among users. There is so much to learn and we are all up for the challenge!

At Maker Faire, teammate Bob Sopko and I picked up a VR Kix headset and was able to speak briefly with the creator and will be reviewing the headset soon. Look for it here!

 

 

Colorado Business Fair, Boulder Theater Finals

Business Fair and Boulder Theater Competition Finals

Up to this point, things were pretty well taken care of back at home  but this morning I received a text at 6:18 a.m. with a request for someone to drive a forgotten final project to school. Finally we were able to get more than three hours of sleep after the whole bus trip and finals and I had to get up early. Oh well. I’m grateful we were able to get it fixed quickly and Lake teachers are pretty understanding when they hear what’s going on in the background.  I’m so grateful to my family for helping me out too.

We were able to get down to business and enjoy the business fair, meet up with vendors in the theatre before the competition. Our team met at ‘The Ghost’ restaurant to begin talking about traction regarding Spacecraft and the people we would be meeting in California and when we arrived back in Ohio.

That evening Dash Pilot, our fellow buspreneur team came in as the the runner-up team and are continuing on with their product which is needed product in the marketplace. Everyone cheered them on and were happy to have made our sponsors proud to have Akron Maker’s representing on stage. Filling out surveys, answering questions and doing what we could to help them out as a team members before the finals was a great collaborative thing to watch unfold. What a great bunch of guys. The mission of DashPilot is to prevent the more than 60,000 annual automotive collisions due to fatigue and distractions on US roads.

This type of collaboration is still one thing that I’m amazed about this industry that is unlike any other that I have been unaccustomed to in the other industries I have served. This open-source, sharing of information and jumping in to help is amazing. I love it. I was beginning to think it was just the circle of people I hung around. Then, maybe it was an Ohio thing. Maybe it’s a tech thing? A maker thing? A communication thing?  There’s a genuine love for technology and the desire to share this knowledge. There’s so much of it. I’ve always felt that way about marketing and figure that if I help people out by showing them how to market something by themselves, they’ll need me for something bigger. It never hurts to share your knowledge – why wouldn’t you? There’s always more to learn anyways.

Back to the finals…..and the winner is…..

The winner of the competition was Tub Fill the Tub was built on the Uber API. It is customized so that the content is personalized from your personal bookmarks for your next Uber ride. Uber was a sponsor of Startup Bus North America along with Cisco Spark by Cisco. They had a great pitch and as well as so many others. You can watch the pitches on the Startup Bus North America Facebook Page.

Thank you to our Startup Bus Akron Make Conductors Ray Lewis and Will Yaworski, and Startup Bus mentors Gordon Schorr, Chris Bue, and Chris Laco. 

Akron Maker Bus Sponsors included: MorganBurton D Morgan Foundation, Knight Foundation,  University of Akron EX[L] Center, and the University of Akron Research Foundation as well as Wastebits, Cover My Meds, Balsamiq, Hotcards, Coffee and Code, Boxcast, LaunchNet, Cleveland Whisky, and Think[Box]. Thank you wonderful sponsors to Akron’s Startup Bus, as well as my GoFund me Sponsors, Ed’s Equipment and the EX[L] Center for making my trip possible.

Boulder Theatre
Boulder Theatre

Colorado Pitches, Wednesday, May 18

Finally, Colorado

We arrived in Colorado a little later than everyone else because of some minor transportation issues so I wish now I would have paid more attention to the scenery.  The other buses arrived earlier and were able to stop and take pictures of mountain formations but were not able to stop because of our minor bus malfunctions.  Tech Stars would be taking place on Thursday evening during Boulder Startup Week in Boulder the same week. This was an amazing time to be in town.

We were all excited to pitch early in the morning to Ray and head over to Shine in downtown Boulder and pitch on stage. We were one of the first teams to pitch to our mentors in the morning to our mentor and bus conductor Ray. Just outside on the curb by the bus, Ray sat with several other groups of folks milling around the hotel. Ian started to pitch and a man who was clearly high and homeless started weaving in and out of our group started and blurting out loud things then finally sat down next to Ray.

We actually thought this was part of the strategy to distract us and maybe he was judging us in the end. He ended up saying some pretty hateful things so that strategy was probably out and Ray actually stopped our pitch. I noticed he a knife tucked in his belt. Bob stepped in front of him to close the circle which just made him angrier. I took the mom approach and walked over to him and asked him if he would come with me, be the audience with me and be my friend. He said yes and walked over and sat with me away from the crowd on the curb. I asked him all kinds of questions, like his name. He said it was Nathan. He kept talking about Jewish people and was so angry. I finally asked him if he wanted me to pray for him. He said yes so I just prayed for him silently but I told him that Nathan was a biblical name – and it meant ‘gift giver’. I held his hand and he started crying. He starting telling me about how people stole from him.I told him that it is wrong that people steal from him and I told him that I was sorry that those things happened to him.

I asked him if hiked in the mountains and he said of course he hiked in the mountains and he showed me the snake bites and wolf bites he had to show for it. He then told me his name was something else Charles and he worked on boilers. But then he switched back to be being grateful and he said, ‘thank you for holding my hand. thank you for praying for me.’ I told him that I was a mom and that’s what mom’s do best. They know when people need hugs, and a hand to be held and when someone needs a prayer.

I told him all about the competition and that me and my friends really needed to do well. I asked him if he would be nice. He shook his head yes and then threw his shoe off and said – “those are angel feet”. He peeled off one of his bracelets to give to me and I said – ‘Oh no, I can’t take that from you. You keep it,’ but he insisted. And then I said, ‘Oh…you are a gift giver! That’s right. Thank you Nathan!’ He walked up to one of the guys really close, sized him up an down but walked away.

I missed our pitch to our mentors but they were glad that he was gone. The guys thanked me and were like oh man, did you know he had a knife? I went right to the bathroom in the hotel and cried. I prayed for him some more. I understand when people are not in their right minds and are under the influence of something beyond their control but my heart goes out to all those mama’s, sister’s and grandma’s who have Nathan’s or Charles -whatever his name is – who can be clear for a moment who can reach out and understand compassion from a mom. Sometimes it just takes someone to hold your hand or say your sorry for something that you didn’t do or say a prayer for someone who is afraid, hurt or wronged. That was more of a gift to me. I know the inherent risks of being around crazy people with weapons and I knew exactly where his was but let me tell you – that there was something about just simple compassion that was in it for me. When I came out of the bathroom there were three police officers and an EMT taking him out the hotel. I hope he gets the help he needs.

We went on Shine our venue for the afternoon and evening. Our pitch went well with the exception of having to use my computer at the last minute because it had to be a Mac ( and Mac’s rule.) End of story. We ended up having to take a different spot in line later because the other team also had an issue with their power point. I wish we would have practiced on  stage because of the very large and tall nature of everyone else in our group. Both Matt and I ended up in the behind Bob who is almost 7 feet tall when he began answering questions.  At one point Matt tried to move us away from Bob so that we didn’t fall off the stage but we did not anticipate being on such a small stage behind such a tall guy!

We received excellent feedback from our peers, the cheers were great, the judges asked to see the VR example right away. We felt excited about it until they announced the results which did include us in the next round! We were floored.

Ian and Bill on stage giving pitches.
Bob, Ian and Bill. Our pitch is linked here and starts at 7:20 if you would like to watch it.

Elia Bizannes, the founder of Startup Bus came back after the results were given and graciously talked to us for quite a while. He showed us his scores which were high for us to go to the next round. He encouraged us to keep going because we already had a team in place and the VR and Augmented reality space is hot right now. He shared the story of one of the Mexican teams who created an app that made it to the final round for an app that he thought was really silly but the the execution was wonderful. It was an application that was pretty simple and consisted of taking pictures of clouds and users would draw on them. He felt the team was successful not because it was necessarily an innovative idea but their pitch was hilarious, creative and great execution. He said they had over 1000 users, they were hilarious in their pitch, had a memorable presentation and in the end Rackspace ended up buying them. He said, “A pitch is a story, a story is a vision, and the product brought traction.”  He encouraged us to now go and make traction with Spacecraft.

It was encouraging to hear from him that we are in the right moving technology space and he warned us that if we don’t pursue it, someone else will quickly take over where we won’t – that was just as exciting to hear. It helped us solidify the rest of our weekend we had planned in meeting up with key people in Silicon Valley.

We were excited to hear our fellow buspreneurs in Dashpilot had made it to the finals as well as Poppins Parenting and Lo-Key.

Elias, Founder of Startup Bus at Shine
Elias Bizannes, Startup Bus Founder speaking with our team

 

Akron Maker Bus Sponsors included: MorganBurton D Morgan Foundation, Knight Foundation,  University of Akron EX[L] Center, and the University of Akron Research Foundation as well as Wastebits, Cover My Meds, Balsamiq, Hotcards, Coffee and Code, Boxcast, LaunchNet, Cleveland Whisky, and Think[Box]Thank you wonderful sponsors to Akron’s Startup Bus, as well as my GoFund me Sponsors, Ed’s Equipment and the EX[L] Center for making my trip possible.

Tuesday Google Fiber, HammerSpace Makerspace and A Flying Saucer!

Tuesday Google Fiber, Hammerspace Makerspace, & a Flying Saucer!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It feels like it’s already been a week but it has only been a couple of days. My team consists of Bob Sopko, Bill Meyers, Ian Schwarber, and Matt Allen. All of us seem to mesh pretty well and get along well. I’m grateful for that.  I’m the only female in the group but so far it doesn’t seem to bother them. Because I have kids, I can go with the flow so that makes it a little bit easier. We already seem to be pretty good at having a sense of humor, sharing food and not getting too wound up.  That’s pretty important!

Spacecraft at Google Fiber
Spacecraft at Google Fiber

 

We stopped at Google Fiber Community Center in Kansas City, Missouri where we were able to pitch once again and get some feedback. I am disappointed that I’m not able to pitch or use any kind of speaking skills. The personalities are big in the group. Ray has been a great mentor to everyone on bus and to and already had me correct my speaking in responding twice and I’m grateful for that. This is why I wanted to do this competition. He pulled me aside and asked if he was being too hard on me and I said no- I had wished that I could be in the game a little more. I still believe I made the right choice in teams though, the subject matter is what I believe in and I can get behind what we promoting in research, development and the track where we are going. He encouraged me to work on pitching with roommates or fellow busmates on anything just to practice.

We were delayed at the community center because the bus broke down, which was fine because we worked on the site and the pitch and ate lunch at a wonderful Italian restaurant across the street. That evening we visited Hammerspace, a maker space and were able to talk at length with the owner Dave Dalton about being an artisan in a maker space and the need for training and certification. It helped us solidify the need for training in spaces others that may be different than his and gave us a feel for how different each space can and will be – there are no cookie cutter spaces. There will be artisans, there will be institution spaces, educational, etc. and we will need to differentiate these and really listen to his words and glean from them.

Dave Dalton talking with our table about maker spaces.
Dave Dalton talking with our table about maker spaces.

That evening as a team we really came together and unified at a local pub appropriately named the Flying Saucer and whose theme was a spaceship. Spacecraft was getting recharged and Ian almost got the red light to pitch the whole restaurant. The manager said ‘no’,  but Ian was able to at least pitch the manager and the waitresses. (One more task off the Trello board goals) and they both thought it was a great idea and one worth pursuing. Our waitress wished us luck and told us she would be watching out for us. Throughout this whole time, the team has been stopping at makerspaces working on our website, perfecting the pitches by giving them to our mentors and teammates, a series of questions on a Trello board are also to be answered in a timely manner in regards to the business similar to putting together a business model.

 

The Flying Saucer
The Flying Saucer

Akron Maker Bus Sponsors included: MorganBurton D Morgan Foundation, Knight Foundation,  University of Akron EX[L] Center, and the University of Akron Research Foundation as well as Wastebits, Cover My Meds, Balsamiq, Hotcards, Coffee and Code, Boxcast, LaunchNet, Cleveland Whisky, and Think[Box]Thank you wonderful sponsors to Akron’s Startup Bus, as well as my GoFund me Sponsors, Ed’s Equipment and the EX[L] Center for making my trip possible.

Monday Missouri Startup Bus

Monday Missouri Makerspace TechArtista | Squarefruitlabs

Bill Ian Squarefruit Labs
Bill and Ian create a 360 movie at Squarefruitlabs in St. Louis

It’s 12:18 and we’re making a 360 camera to create an example of a movie to play in a virtual reality headset

Our team wrapping up in Missouri
Our team wrapping up at SquareFruitLabs, Missouri

for our pitch to the judges. Because we are on the Maker/IoT bus (Internet of Things) we have had to pivot several times because we haven’t had a prototype of any sort. We have tossed around having our users create their own set of lenses, or create a project, but our mentors have assured us that this is within the guidelines which are not too strict. Our idea has been honed down to creating virtual reality training specifically for maker spaces. The plan then for later will be to expand that and open it up to other spaces.

IMG_5842 (1)Our teams were welcome to stay as long as we needed to at the maker space there but we wrapped it up as soon as we were able to and thanked the folks at SquareFruitLabs and tried to get some sleep before heading out in the morning to the Missouri Innovation Center where we were to practice our pitches to a lovely bunch of volunteers who listened to and gave us great feedback.

We were treated to a delicious lunch with homemade cookies and were given excellent feedback as well as given business cards and networking opportunities to help with our businesses down the road. Mr. Turpin and his colleagues explained the background on the center’s objectives and goals, and how people travel from all over the world to house their businesses there.

Bill Turpin at Missouri Innovation Center
Bill Turpin at Missouri Innovation Center

 

Akron Maker Bus Sponsors included: MorganBurton D Morgan Foundation, Knight Foundation,  University of Akron EX[L] Center, and the University of Akron Research Foundation as well as Wastebits, Cover My Meds, Balsamiq, Hotcards, Coffee and Code, Boxcast, LaunchNet, Cleveland Whisky, and Think[Box]. Thank you wonderful sponsors to Akron’s Startup Bus, as well as my GoFund me Sponsors, Ed’s Equipment and the EX[L] Center for making my trip possible.

Sunday Startup Bus

Sunday Startup Bus

Teams Chosen

We each had our chance at pitching our ideas and giving a background on ourselves and what we had to offer. There were so many great ideas and only four women buspreneurs on the bus. I spoke with Bill who was into virtual reality and Kyle who taught classes and they both had such a passion for teaching and learning that I knew whatever they were doing, I could get on board with that.

We picked our team!
We picked our teams!

The project manager in me was putting people together in my head and I knew I shouldn’t be doing that.  Virtual reality has been something I’ve been looking into with the Google cardboard with the kids, had downloaded a class on Udemy on Unity to take over the summer and made a mental note to find more relevant and educational uses in that space. When Bill pitched his idea which including VR and augmented reality, I knew I had to look into it more after reading about Google Cardboard sets being included with Pizza boxes  in other countries and now in cereal boxes here. I know it is something that cannot be ignored and like every other technology when one is an early adopter, it quickly escalates.

VR Camera Proto BuildBar
VR Camera Proto BuildBar

I moved to all of the teams and there were others that were  tempting because of their storylines. I could get behind most of them. The app to help drivers who are falling asleep at the wheel because of the pitcher’s own accident as a teenager falling asleep at the wheel was great. The father’s application to create a bot that helps say no to your kid seemed promising. It seemed like these teams had a large amount of people already, almost too many. The app that tracked employees everywhere they went, on breaks and tracked their every move –  I felt like has already been done. I think I actually worked for that company and I’m pretty sure the sensor was in the name badges. I was beginning to feel better about the virtual reality.

There were so many good ideas and we pivoted several times after talking with our mentors. With two game designers, two members active in higher ed, and with my background as well with higher ed, marketing and project management I felt that we definitely had the resources to make this happen.

I had not accounted for motion sickness at all. I’ve never experience it before and I’ve been used to riding in boats. Apparently I had been standing on the bus which had been swaying and I was facing backwards. No stranger to pain, this little warrior I weathered on with a green face until we made it to Dayton with my first ever Dramamine.

We stopped at an amazing maker space called Proto BuildBar in Dayton, Ohio.

The owner Chris Wire was kind enough to show up the huge VR movie camera they had used and we oohed and awed at his space. There was a game that you could play that pitted Tesla and Edison against each other and if you lose you get a little shock. There is also the world’s largest claw machine along with 3D printing machines and plenty of space for soldering machines and other goodies to make things.

Startup Bus Akron at Proto BuildBar Dayton Ohio
Startup Bus Akron at Proto BuildBar Dayton Ohio

On to a pub down the street where I purchased a pretzel bigger than my head. I ended up sharing it with everyone else because I still was feeling puny.

Dayton pretzel as big as my head
Dayton pretzel as big as my head

We stopped again at a workspace called Nucleus and the Mayor of Dayton greeted us and we were able to work more on our projects. We felt a lot better about things although there was more pivoting.

Mayor of Dayton stops in at Nucleus and welcomes Akron Maker Bus.
Mayor of Dayton stops in at Nucleus and welcomes Akron Maker Bus.

 

Akron Maker Bus Sponsors included: MorganBurton D Morgan Foundation, Knight Foundation,  University of Akron EX[L] Center, and the University of Akron Research Foundation as well as Wastebits, Cover My Meds, Balsamiq, Hotcards, Coffee and Code, Boxcast, LaunchNet, Cleveland Whisky, and Think[Box].Thank you wonderful sponsors to Akron’s Startup Bus, as well as my GoFund me Sponsors, Ed’s Equipment and the EX[L] Center for making my trip possible.

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