“We want to make sure we create a computer that works with your brain, that’s the number one thing”
Seeing in the Future
Raymond Lo is a very smart guy. The Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Meta, Lo is helping to shape the future of personal computing, by changing the way we see.
Some of Lo’s computational algorithms are inside the Operating System for Meta 1 Developer Kit, a version of which is currently shipping.
The eyeglasses, use a dual projection system to provide images to both eyes, an infra-red depth camera to capture gestures and a 9-axis sensor array, (gyroscope, compass and accelerometer) to track head movements. All of this allows the wearer to see and interact with holographic images overlaid directly onto the real world.
Meta believes their augmented reality technology will one day replace the need for phones and computers entirely.
In person, Lo is amusing, passionate and technically brilliant. With a background in software engineering and a pedigree in 3D computation, he is a crucial part of Meta’s team, but he isn’t doing it alone. Meta is currently sixty strong and growing.
Its charismatic CEO and Co-Founder, Meron Gribetz, dreamed up the Meta project while studying Neuroscience at Columbia University. Creative Director Jayse Hansen designed the Iron Man UI. Lead Advisor Professor Steven Feiner is a leading augmented reality expert and Chief Scientist Professor Steve Mann is a pivotal figure in the history of wearable computing.
The Father of Wearable Computing
Mann is a legend in certain technology circles, someone who has almost single-handedly carried wearable computing on his back for over thirty years. Described as ‘the world’s first cyborg’ he founded the wearable computing group as a part of the MIT Media Lab.
Lo is a former student of Mann’s and has spent almost a decade on his rigorous Ph.D. program at the University of Toronto. There is a well-worn story that Mann’s students have to demo a new iteration of their wearable computer every day to survive the course. Regardless of the exact truth, Meta’s ‘demo or die,’ philosophy owes a great deal to Mann’s decades-long search for better ways of seeing.
Pioneering Holographic Futures
Meta currently has a ‘Pioneers’ program where developers are exploring innovative uses for its technology. If the concepts and ideas presented by the company come to fruition, Meta will be creating the world’s first platform for augmented reality applications.
They will have heavyweight competition along the way. Google and Microsoft have already declared a serious interest in AR, and there are many others working on headwear. Some experts believe that the timeline for augmented reality to become mainstream is at least five years away. Meta’s strategy seems intent on shortening that.
Re-inventing personal computing and transitioning millions of people away from a world of flat devices are not easy challenges. Succeeding will require more than having an innovative technology. If Meta holds any unique advantage over its competitors, it lies with the fact that the company has a genuine vision, and a plan to execute it.
As a taste of the future, Meta’s product is more than intriguing. It points to a world where the everyday and the virtual, the imagined and the real blend seamlessly, close enough to touch each other.
Holographic computing, promises to bring that world to life, taking our dreams out of our screens and into the world around us. That’s a magical and powerful vision.