E52: Season 5 Episode 7 – The Field and Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality
In this episode, Tom Dunlap and Kurt Klaus of Dunlap, Bennett, and Ludwig chat with Will Gee, the CEO of Balti Virtual about the field and future of augmented and virtual reality. Listen in as they cover topics such as VR and the AR Cloud, the potential future of the industry and what Balti Virtual has learned through business culture, growth and working with some amazing clients.
What is Balti Virtual
Will first explains what Balti Virtual does. They are a full-service software studio that focused on creating virtual and augmented reality experiences. In this episode, he discusses the difference between the two, the field of VR and AR and the future goals of this technology.
Tom, Kurt and Will also touch on how virtual reality could help the Army, where soldiers could eventually wear glasses that tie into their weapon systems. In fact, the Army and Microsoft teamed up already to create this mixed reality device, that would allow them to scan their environment with an overlay of additional information.
Will Gee and How Balti Virtual Began
Will lays out his journey to Balti, from programming in the video game industry, to eventually starting a small company that applied gaming technology to other fields such as a training program for the NFL and museum exhibits.
After some time, he and some of his teammates started Balti Virtual to grow and create a positive impact in the Baltimore area. They found some great clients through a combination of existing relationships and being in the right place at the right time. For example, his team put on a demonstration of their new technology where it would create augmented tattoos for kids. During that demonstration, the CEO of Under Armor saw what they were doing and wanted to set up a display down in his store in Disney.
The Potential Future and VR and the AR Cloud
Tom, Kurt, and Will also converse about the future of VR and AR. A few years ago, there was talk where industry leaders thought soon everyone would have a VR headset. However, that grew much slower than they expected. Instead, they saw in increased interested in AR. There is this idea of the AR cloud, where the user would pull out their phone and graphics would pop up based on their location. However, this presents all kinds of legal challenges.
Game of Thrones and Raised by Wolves
Will also speaks on his interesting experience working on the shows Game of Thrones and Raised by Wolves. His head of business development connected with people at HBO and discussed their capabilities. Together, they decided to build out a test of a newer technology in which the user could press a button on the HBO website and see a display of their living room with a white walker in it.
Growing the Business
Although Balti Virtual began as a virtual reality company, Will and his team realized there was a growing interested in augmented reality built into the devices we use now. As a result, they decided to pivot to include more AR into their business model. Will stresses the importance of
He also highlights the importance of working on pet projects while they still had other client work coming in. They then put their early products out there for the market to see and learned a lot from that process. Ultimately, there isn’t opportunity for lucky breaks without putting something out there first.
Will touches on another imperative area to the business is work culture. He believes that they have a great culture because they work towards their core values every day. Will tells us one of his core values is sustainability for business in terms not growing too quickly. The other would be transparency within the work place. All his teammates understand what the other days, and is free to schedule time with anyone
Work with Hopkins
In addition to big names such as HBO and Under Armor, Balti Virtual has also worked with John Hopkins on a number of projects, some multi-year. In pairing up with the institution’s large research departments, Balti has worked on products that help assess the visually, as well as an augmented mural project where an augmented video of an artist can tell the user about their work.
For the three tips that Will wants to share, his first would be a reiteration of staying flexible. He discusses the misconception of “stick with it” as something to drive you, despite hitting wall after wall. He distinguishes it as keep driving but change directions if you have to. Another piece of advice that he gives is focusing on a niche. Lastly, Will brings up having a phenomenal team, and just letting them do what they do.
Will Gee: LinkedIn
Balti Virtual: Website
Tom Dunlap: LinkedIn
Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig: Website