Did Apple just reinvent eyeglasses? Chatting AR and smartglasses with Robert Scoble


Did Apple just reinvent eyeglasses? Glasses haven’t changed much in 500 years … you take glass, grind it to a shape, refract the angle of light impacting your eye, and you see better hopefully. A new Apple patent, however, seems to indicate that Apple is working on glasses that will change as your prescription changes.

In this episode of TechFirst with John Koetsier we chat with Robert Scoble, former Chief strategy officer of Infinite Retina and co-author of multiple books, including The Infinite Retina: Spatial Computing, Augmented Reality, and how a collision of new technologies are bringing about the next tech revolution.

What we chat about:

  • Apple’s new patent for eyeglasses
  • Hololens
  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • Spatial computing
  • Magic Leap
  • F-35 fighter jets and AR
  • Real, Focals by North, Mojo AI, and other emerging AR and smartglasses companies
  • When we can expect Apple’s AR smartglasses
  • Human-computer interfaces, and the next generation
  • VR versus AR, and the new Oculus Quest from Facebook
  • Apple Pay
  • Siri
  • CHOOCH.ai
  • Privacy and safety
  • And much more …

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And a full transcript: Did Apple just reinvent eyeglasses?

John Koetsier: Did Apple just reinvent eyeglasses?

Welcome to TechFirst with John Koetsier. Glasses haven’t changed that much in maybe over 500 years. You take glass, you grind it to a shape, refract the angle of light that’s impacting your eye, and you see better… hopefully.

A new Apple patent, however, seems to indicate that Apple is working on glasses that will change as your prescription changes. And maybe, just maybe, do even more than that. To learn a little bit more, we’re joined by Robert Scoble. Robert Scoble is currently the chief strategy officer at Infinite Retina.

Welcome Robert!

Robert Scoble: Hey, how are you doing? Actually, as of a few hours ago I’m not, so I just announced…

John Koetsier: Oh wow, yeah… I didn’t know it was as of a couple hours ago. So, you are now Robert Scoble, private citizen.

Robert Scoble: Yes!

John Koetsier: And maybe we’ll talk about that a little later if you want to, but let’s jump into this patent. What’s your understanding of the patent?

Robert Scoble: There’s a lot of patents going on. The way somebody who’s inside Apple explained it is, it almost bends the light coming into the glass, so it corrects your vision. The problem is that there’s a belief in Apple that you really need a camera to do this, which leads to the range of rumors that you’re hearing about Apple, right? They’re everything from Jon Prosser said, oh, they’re doing a cheap $500 pair of glasses with a LIDAR and no camera, and sort of plastic or some aluminum material, all the way up, I hear they have 19 different prototypes that they’re working on, which shows the effort that Apple’s doing, this is a multibillion dollar effort going into eyeglasses and thinking through literally everything. The holy grail, I mean, in ten years what they’re wanting to do is you put on a pair of glasses, and it sees inside your eye and bends the optic or changes the optic in a way that corrects your vision perfectly, so you don’t need to go to an optometrist.

The cheap end of the product line you still need corrective lenses of some kind and so you’d still need to go to an optometrist like I did for these glasses and get your eyes checked, and you find out you have a, you know, near-sighted and you need astigmatism fixed and stuff like that, and you can’t read very well. So these lenses actually are progressive. I can see distance on top and close-up at the bottom, and they’re pretty cool.

And these cost $1,500 by the way, these are expensive glasses, the titanium frame, these are the best…

John Koetsier: You’re almost getting into smart glass territory there.

Robert Scoble: Oh yeah, I mean that’s why people like me are like, ‘Bring it on!’ right? I have to wear glasses every day. I don’t have the resistance to that. I know that these augment my world, when I put them on the whole world gets sharper. If I don’t wear them, the world isn’t as good, and so I’m used to wearing eyeglasses and I’d studied eyeglass-making down at Oakley.

I got a tour with the CEO and they showed me … Oakley is the R&D lab for Luxottica Essilor, which is a multibillion dollar company, a $54 billion company. It’s a big company, they own all the eyeglass frames like they own all the brands or most of the important brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley, and [Sun]glass Hut and stuff like that, right? Sunglasses. And so they design their own optics, they make their own optics in America which is really pretty cool, and they do a lot of R&D on making eyeglasses.

Well, Apple is going to try to disrupt them the same way that they disrupted the Swiss watch industry. They took a good chunk out of the Swiss watch industry by coming out with watches, and now people, you know, most people don’t get excited about buying a new Casio anymore. I remember my dad used to bring home a new Casio every year or two and go, ‘Hey, look, mine has a calculator now,’ or ‘Mine has…’ nobody cares about that anymore, right, it’s Apple’s watches.

John Koetsier: Good stuff, Dick Tracy.

Robert Scoble: Yeah, and Apple is going to try to do a variety of things to disrupt eyeglasses to help you see better with a lightweight approach to technology…  I got a HoloLens here so I can explain the basics of what the technology is. This is almost like an ugly prototype of what’s coming…

John Koetsier: Almost, almost.

Robert Scoble: In the next couple years, right.

John Koetsier: Yeah, yeah. So let’s back up two seconds, and so somebody who’s just tuned in and hasn’t been following smart glasses, isn’t following augmented reality or whatever, is going like ‘what are you talking about?’ Apple makes computers, they make the iPhone, they make other things like that. Situate Apple’s work in glasses for that person.

Robert Scoble: Well think about the use cases, right? You’re driving a car, why are you looking down at a screen at a phone screen to see a map, or to see a number, or to pick up a call? Why are you even touching this or picking it up? If you had a screen on your face that you could talk to, you could just say, ‘Hey, Siri, pick up that call’ or, ‘Hey, Siri answer’ or, ‘Hey, Siri reject and send a message.’ And this is… it’s trying to listen to me right now.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Robert Scoble: And if you have those basics, now you can compute while riding a mountain bike, or driving a car, or walking to a shopping center, stuff like that. If you start adding on a lot of smarts, and the reason I brought my Microsoft HoloLens, my Microsoft HoloLens has four little cameras on the front which actually make a 3D image of your room and basically a map of your room, and once you have that, and if you spread it out of your room and into the shopping mall or into other places, you can put virtual things on top or replace things.

Like you can replace the floor and make it something new, different, like a video game. You can then fly things in the air and they could bounce off the walls like balls, because this thing understands the 3D space it’s in. That’s why we call it ‘spatial computing,’ because you’re now computing as you’re moving through space, right? No longer are you tied to the little rectangular pieces of glass to compute, you can compute on literally everything…

John Koetsier: That’s almost a Magic Leap.

Robert Scoble: It is! And that’s what Magic Leap was trying to do, and that’s why they got three point something billion dollars now, because the promise of this is really extraordinary. It’s going to change all computing eventually. It’s just we’re like looking at early mobile prototypes right now, and you know the Palm Pilot hasn’t even come out and we’re starting to talk about, ‘Oh, someday everybody’s going to have a phone in their pocket.’

And so a lot of people look at me like a crazy person, but I know what the tech industry does. The tech industry takes something that’s big and expensive and ugly, and makes it super small, super cheap and super usable. So in ten years this HoloLens is in my pair of glasses and now I have things coming out of the walls and I have all sorts of new utility. And this radically changes all sorts of jobs, right? It already changed the F-35 fighter jet pilot. If you want to fly an F-35 plane and you’re in the Air Force, you have to learn how to use augmented reality.

And one of the pilots told me ‘I will never lose to an F-16 because I can see him and he can’t see me’ because I have augmented reality glasses that lets him see through the plane to the F-16 underneath him. So he can see underneath, because magic, right? We can now visualize the battle space in a new way.

Well, that technology is going to come to surgery, to factory lines, to car driving, and calling a car is going to be done with these kinds of glasses, to buying things, you know, you don’t want to touch anything anymore because of the virus scares. So when you go into 7-Eleven, you want to buy a gallon of milk, you can just tell the guy, ‘Just charge me for a gallon of milk’ and it’ll do Apple Pay right from the glasses. Thanks to all sorts of technology that’s coming. But all of that’s going to come in the next decade.

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Robert Scoble: It’s piece by piece by piece in the next decade. You’re already seeing this year, Nreal is a company in China that’s coming out with a pair of glasses that’s a lot smaller, much more like eyeglasses than this. You’re seeing Focals by North, which looks like a regular pair of eyeglasses. It doesn’t have the magic of the Magic Leap for the HoloLens, but you know it shows you that you can put a computer in a pair of eyeglasses.

John Koetsier: A very simple one so far, exactly. But I mean, when we get there eventually, it will make augmented reality come alive. Right now, like you’re saying, it’s on that little rectangle of glass in your hand and sure you can look at the world through that little lens, or the whole world can be that lens in some sense, right? So, I mean, we’re talking what, five, ten years away? What do you think?

Robert Scoble: The first Apple Glasses are coming in 2022. Focals by North are coming this Fall in 2020. Magic Leap has another pair of coming 2021. Nreal has a pair coming later this year. And even if all those dates slip by six months, who cares you know, it’s next year or two, there’s all sorts of new stuff coming in the next 24 months. So we’re just at the beginning of this revolution. Now, does any of that work with consumers? Does it sell to everybody? Probably not, and probably another five years before everybody can afford one of these, and maybe another five years after that before they’re so amazing and so great that everybody’s forced to wear them.

John Koetsier: Well, that’s the interesting point actually when it comes to Apple, because Apple typically doesn’t release like a developer version of something, right? You didn’t have a developer release.

Robert Scoble: No, but they did do the Newton…

John Koetsier: What’s that?

Robert Scoble: They did do the Newton. Remember the Newton came and then the Palm Pilot, then the Treo, then a whole bunch of Nokia phones, and then the iPhone a decade later, right?

John Koetsier: The Newton was a long time ago.

Robert Scoble: Yeah, yeah it was a decade before the iPhone came.

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Robert Scoble: And so that’s why I think this cycle is going to happen faster than phones did because of the extraordinary investment being done at Facebook, and Apple, and Google, and other places. And Avi’s asking me about Mojo Vision which we should talk about. Mojo Vision’s a little company two miles from here that’s making contact lenses, and they have a really, really small display that basically fits right in the iris and sprays light backwards into your eye, and you can see images or words on a contact lens. I think for consumers, for a while, glasses are a better way to go. They’re going to be higher resolution and easier to use for a whole lot of reasons, and you know, people like me don’t like putting things on their eye.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Robert Scoble: And you know there’s still some complexity there and they have serious engineering problems. They have a couple of hundred million dollars to build these contact lenses and they’re working through battery life, heat, radiation problems, how do you connect these things? What’s the operating system? There’s a lot of really fundamental science that has to go into making a product like that possible for consumers, but I think that you’re going to see them ship something for enterprises sometime in this same 24 months.

John Koetsier: Yeah. I will be surprised if we see Apple release something that isn’t significantly usable for a significant purpose, because I can’t see Apple doing something like Microsoft did with early versions of HoloLens…

Robert Scoble: Right, they’re not going to ship something like this. Tim Cook knows better than that, right? Ah, no, when Apple does move, it’s going to be with a product that is appealing to a lot of consumers, it’s going to be like the Watch or the AirPods. And they’re going to have thought it through, from what I’m hearing they’re doing more human factor testing on these Apple products than Apple has ever done, combined, on any other product. So they’re putting a lot of effort to make sure that they mail what you’re talking about. They have to look good, they have to feel good, they have to give good utility, and they have to be a decent price that people can afford, and it has to augment the Apple ecosystem, the iPhone ecosystem, right? And that’s a lot, that’s a lot.

John Koetsier: It is a lot, but it is also a major revolution in computer-human interface.

Robert Scoble: Yes.

John Koetsier: Situate it maybe for us for a moment, with the other revolutions that we’ve had with computer-human interfaces. I mean…

Robert Scoble: We had three major ones.

John Koetsier: We got screens, we got keyboards, we got mice, right?

Robert Scoble: In my book we’ve laid them out… this is the fourth paradigm, real paradigm shift of computing. The first one was tech screens with an Apple II or something like that, and a TRSA-80 from Radio Shack, something like that. The second one was the GUI that the Macintosh brought but really wasn’t popular for another decade until Windows 95 came along, right?

John Koetsier: Yup.

Robert Scoble: And then mobile phones kicked along for a long time. Like we said, Newton and then Treo, and then Nokia phones and Blackberries, and all sorts of devices, and then the iPhone comes along and really nails this new use case. So now everybody uses a phone that looks like an iPhone, right?

And this next paradigm shift is computing that you use while walking around, while moving around in space, and there’s different slices to it. There’s VR, which is going to be much more immersive and it feels like you’re in an IMAX theater, and you’re able to really be immersed inside the video this way. Most of the people building VR call themselves ‘immersive designers or developers’ right? But VR brings you presence, which means you feel like you’re together with somebody. AR can do some of that, but VR really is the pure drug because you’re totally in a virtual environment and with a big, huge screen.

And by the way, we’re going to see many new products from the VR side over the next 24 months as well. HP has a new device coming. Sony is rumored to be announcing one with the PlayStation, we’ll see if they announce on the 11th, but the PlayStation 5. There’s a new Oculus Quest coming. So there’s a lot of new devices coming in the next 12 to 18, 24 months from the VR side as well. And that’s going to be pretty interesting for a whole lot of things, for entertainment at home, for personalized media viewing, for exercise, I’m getting exercise now that I never used to get.

John Koetsier: Beat Saber …

Robert Scoble: Right, and then you’re going to see this eyeglass thing and they’re both going to come from separate points of view and they’re going to converge probably in 2025 to 2030, and Facebook is coming out of the VR world with the Oculus Quest, and they’re going to get closer and closer to eyeglasses. And then Apple’s going to come with eyeglasses and get closer and closer to VR, right? So, and get them more and more featured, and more and more powerful.

And as computers continue to shrink over the next decade, you’re going to see the two come together and I expect we’ll have one paired device that does pretty cool stuff for both VR and AR. But for the next three to seven years, I think you’re going to have two separate devices, one for playing games, training, being entertained, being immersed in media, being in the sporting event, being in the arena, and then these lighter weight glasses that give you utility while living your life.

John Koetsier: Yeah, yeah.

Robert Scoble: I’ve got some famous people watching and commenting, so…

John Koetsier: Yes exactly, and only some of those are going up there because only some were relevant in any given time. But in some sense, the VR people have a harder task in terms of painting all the pixels. In other senses, they have an easier task because it’s something that you use occasionally, it’s not something that you’re intending to wear 15 hours a day or something like that. It’s hard to build something that you can have utility with while you’re having a conversation like we are right now, maybe in real life while you’re walking, while you’re driving, or other things like that.

Robert Scoble: Yeah. This is the engineering problem that Apple and Facebook are fitting into this, right? The optics, the little screens that are inside a HoloLens or a Magic Leap, or a device, or an Nreal generally give you about a 40 to 50 degree field of view. So field of view means with HoloLens I get to see about…

John Koetsier: That slice.

Robert Scoble: … a box about this big, so I’m not immersed. It’s not like being in an IMAX theater. Like with VR, I get 90 to 110 degree field of view that my human eye can almost see 180 degree field of view. So even with VR I sometimes see an edge to the display. It doesn’t bother me because the display is so big visually. With these eyeglasses, they’re having to make choices on size and on battery life and heat. And so they’re having to go with devices or ways to put light in your eye that reduce the resolution, or aren’t as bright, aren’t as colorful, aren’t as contrasty.

This is a problem with Magic Leap, right? When I wear a Magic Leap, particularly if I try to do it outside, it doesn’t look very good. It’s almost unusable in bright sunlight. And so now Apple’s going to have to really come up with a smart way to put light into your eyes without using much power because you don’t want big ass batteries on your head while you’re mountain biking, or running, or shopping in a shopping line, right? You want really small glasses, and so right now we’re in this kind of space where the technologists who are building these devices really have to make trade offs.

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Robert Scoble: They have to decide, are you going to go for a big field of view? You can do that, I just saw some optics coming from Lumus in Israel, they give a 90 degree field of view with 20,000 or 10,000 nits, really bright images, but the projectors are big and they need a battery, a big battery to fire. And they cost money, right? I mean, a HoloLens is $3,500 and Magic Leap is $2,500. And right now these are fairly big devices.

You’ve got to make a trade off. Do you want that? Or do you want a smaller pair of glasses like Focals by North that have a much smaller field of view and much less resolution to work with, good for a whole bunch of stuff.

John Koetsier: And a limited feature set.

Robert Scoble: Yeah, but still pretty exciting, right? Because if you see your wife calling and you see notifications and you see your heart rate while you’re running and you can see a whole bunch of utility stuff. And if you get your vision augmented, like you can make it work at night. Think about this one, these little sensors are making a 3D map of my house.

John Koetsier: Yes.

Robert Scoble: And so my HoloLens already knows literally every centimeter of my house. So why do I need the lights on to walk around my house? It knows where it is, in space, and it’s spraying an invisible grid of light on this, on the world. This is what the LIDAR is in a new iPhone or a new iPad. There’s a little one on your iPhone, right? It’s aimed at your face and it does face recognition, that’s 30,000 points of little data on your face. The iPhone coming this fall is going to have 300,000 points of data. So now you start aiming that thing around your house and it’s going to start doing magic, right?

John Koetsier: Yes.

Robert Scoble: It’s going to start doing really pretty advanced, I call it ‘Next Generation, Augmented Reality,’ really advanced stuff with your house. So…

John Koetsier: … outside as well.

Robert Scoble: What’s that?

John Koetsier: And not just in your house, at some point outside as well.

Robert Scoble: Yes. And that’s where you start talking about the AR cloud, right? And when you start talking to Niantic, who makes Pokémon GO and just bought a company called 6D.ai, they were building a map of the world in 3D with a whole bunch of data on top of that map. So Niantic knows where every park in the world is, because their users for Pokémon GO taught the system where every park is. And as soon as you play Pokémon GO and start moving your camera around, it’s imaging the park and adding that data to their map.

And so they know all sorts of stuff. Their maps are huge now, petabytes, and they’re starting to do that with your living room as well. So now think about wearing a pair of glasses and you can play Pokémon GO while you’re walking around and it’s going to be pretty damn amazing. And they’re building a platform that other developers can build all sorts of new things on top of this new grid of polygons around the world, a new AR cloud.

John Koetsier: Very very interesting. We had a comment here I’m going to bring back from Chad, and he said, “How does conversational AI fit into this space? Seems like a pretty obvious integration.” Agree with that, the interesting part on that, is that Apple’s AI is not very strong compared to major competitors, let’s say Google, and some others, perhaps even Facebook.

Robert Scoble: Don’t assume Siri of tomorrow is going to be the same as Siri of today, right?

John Koetsier: I did not make that assumption, but frankly, Siri sucks in a lot of ways.

Robert Scoble: And I had dinner with a guy who ran Siri team at Apple three, almost four years ago, and I said, ‘What, what are you learning?’ Siri was launched in my son’s bedroom, so I have good relationships with the team that launched Siri, they like me a lot. So I said, ‘What are you learning by being at Apple?’ And he said, ‘I’m learning that Google’s beating me.’

This was four years ago.

I said, ‘How do you know that?’ ‘Because well, when you instrumented Google and we see that Google is learning faster than our AI is learning, and they’re adding more features than we are,’ right? This was four years ago. Now I assume that Tim Cook figured this out too, and is spending a lot of money and he’s been buying AI companies left and right, little ones that you haven’t even heard of. In fact, he’s been buying companies that I hear about starting at Stanford and they don’t even ship a product and they just get sucked into the beast of Apple. Now think about the advantage of having a LIDAR on your face with conversational AI.

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Robert Scoble: If I try to ask Siri, ‘Hey Siri, how big is this?’ it has no clue what I’m talking about. It doesn’t know that I’m looking at a coffee mug, but in two years, you’re going to look at this and the LIDAR is going to go… and image it and compare it to other mugs. And it’s going to know the brand name of this coffee mug, and it’s going to know where it came from, and it probably knows how much it costs. And it’s going to say, ‘Oh, that’s a 16 ounce Contigo cup’ right?

John Koetsier: And if you fill it with this liquid, that’s how many calories you’re ingesting.

Robert Scoble: There we go. Now you really can understand the world because it knows, these glasses are going to have eye sensors that see what you’re looking at. So if I start looking at that cup and I ask Siri, ‘How big is that cup?’ it’s going to have an answer for me, someday. And so will others, you know, Facebook is working on this kind of thing. There’s all sorts of students, like a little company out of Berkeley showed this to me, Chooch.AI is the company, C-H-O-O-C-H dot AI, and they already have a trainable AI that’s trainable on video. So you can just circle this and say, ‘That’s a coffee cup from Contigo’ and train the system, and then from then on everybody who sees one of these it’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s a Contigo coffee cup.’

John Koetsier: Yup.

Robert Scoble: And this is how Tesla’s training on the world. My Tesla, when I bought my Tesla, it didn’t know anything about the world. Now it sees garbage cans and it sees lane markings and it sees all sorts of stuff, it sees stoplights.

John Koetsier: Ultimately, what you could see this being used as, as Apple gets that technology, is a stealth way to improve their AI, to improve their knowledge of the world, mapping obviously, but also the everyday objects we engage with and make Siri as intelligent as it needs to be.

Robert Scoble: And now we get into the privacy promise, because yeah, I have a Facebook camera over here, a Facebook Portal and probably it will turn on now because I just said its keyword. And I call that thing ‘The Eye of Sauron’ because it wakes up when I get in front of it. So it’s always looking and then it does things based on what’s happening in them. But what happens when Chooch.ai gets put into the Facebook Portal?

John Koetsier: Yep.

Robert Scoble: Now it can see that I’m eating cereal, Cheerios, right? And it can see that I went into the kitchen and pulled up a gallon of milk out of the refrigerator, and it can see who is in the kitchen with me, my son. You think how Facebook doesn’t have great face recognition? Yeah, right. So it knows who’s in the kitchen, who eats what, who touches what, how much do they consume? And now what do they do with that data? Do they even collect that data? Do they process that data? Where does that data get stored? Who gets to touch that data? That’s a lot of data and think about now, I’m going to be wearing a pair of glasses with a LIDAR that’s watching everything I touch, everything I interact with, that’s pretty scary…

John Koetsier: And every one you interact with.

Robert Scoble: Bingo! And Facebook is planning on doing all sorts of magic stuff when you meet a friend in the street it’ll go [beeping sound] and all of a sudden I’ll see your 3D costume that you just bought, something made for you, right? I’ll be like ‘yeah, nice costume.’ It’ll be like, I say in ten years, we’re going to have Burning Man 24-hours a day in the streets, you know? And people react to me saying this, but you’re all gonna use it, you’re all gonna be in, because it’s going to bring a lot of utility for that privacy. You have to have a conversation about what’s the downside of the utility. There’s a lot of utility and we have to talk about that, but we have to talk about the scary side of it too.

John Koetsier: We absolutely do. I mean, we started entering the Ready Player One world, right? And that is the world that we are heading towards, there’s no doubt about it. But who owns that data and how can you… we actually need that data. I need that data. I want to know how much I’m ingesting and I can’t easily say that right now. I want to know many things about who I’m interacting with, who I’m engaging with. I see you on the street five years from now, I’m going to remember you, but there’s many people that I’ve met that are maybe Facebook friends, that I don’t have a clue who they are if I see them.

Robert Scoble: But in five years how do you know it’s really me? I’ve seen AIs that scan the 3D image of me, and then there’s AIs that can talk to you. So, hey, I might send my bot on your show and you won’t know until you ask a very specific question…

John Koetsier: Absolutely.

Robert Scoble: Mary’s asking about GDPR and all these regulations. The regulators are going to struggle with figuring out what is the right thing to do, and the companies themselves are struggling. IBM just yesterday announced they’re not going to do any facial recognition software anymore.

John Koetsier: I saw that, I’m a little cynical about that because I don’t think they’re very good at it anyways, so it’s an easy decision to make. But…

Robert Scoble: It’s funny you know, ten years ago I met the guy who started Face.com, whose face recognition system that Facebook bought, and I talked to him like the week after Facebook bought him and I said, ‘Alright, so what are you going to do?’ And he goes, ‘You shouldn’t be scared of our algorithm. You should be scared that we have 2 billion photos.’ In other words, they have the ability to do amazing face recognition. And you see this, I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but I was filming a video a couple of months ago of my family, and a friend walked in the picture and instantly it said, ‘Would you like to tag Andy?’

John Koetsier: Wow!

Robert Scoble: And I’m like what?! That thing is fast and it’s hooked up, and it knows all my friends. So it knows who’s probably going to be, it can reduce the set of choices and be [fingersnap quick].

John Koetsier: And you said, ‘Andy, what did you build?’

Robert Scoble: Yeah, it’s crazy what’s potentially possible. And yeah, we need to have some conversations about what’s possible, what’s probable, what’s good, what’s bad. You know, it’s interesting, when I got my Google Glass home, my wife, the first question she asked me is, ‘Does that show me anything about people?’ And there’s, and that gets to we have a need for remembering names, right? Even at a conference you’re wearing a badge. I was at Davos and I had met this guy that said Peter Piot, right, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was very, very memorable. And people around him were talking scientific to him, so I knew he was a scientist of some kind. I knew he was famous at some point, because he’s at Davos and he works for Bill and Melinda Gates and they don’t hire dummies. So he’s a fascinating dude, but I couldn’t get on wifi, there was no wifi where the party was…

John Koetsier: Couldn’t Google him.

Robert Scoble: I couldn’t Google him. I get back to the conference center and Google him, well he’d discovered the Ebola virus! Now if my glasses had said, ‘Hey, he discovered the Ebola virus,’ we would have had a completely different conversation that night.

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Robert Scoble: But you know, this is the expectation, we want these kinds of memory aids and we’re going to ask for them. I mean if your family member has dementia and can’t remember your name that’s frustrating for them, it causes a lot of anger amongst dementia patients because they can’t remember anything. And it was frustrating for the family member, so put on a pair of glasses and it reminds them ‘Oh, that’s John, that’s your son.’ And so you can, your brain can stay together a little bit more and survive a little bit more, and even have a little bit more fun with life, right?

John Koetsier: And you get augmented in ways that don’t require being plugged in, which we think may happen at some point as well. But I think that’s absolutely huge, absolutely.

Robert Scoble: It’s way after my time.

John Koetsier: Maybe not.

Robert Scoble: Maybe not…

John Koetsier: Depends what Elon Musk has to say about that.

Robert Scoble: You know what? If I get Parkinson’s and my hands are shaking like this and I can’t hold a cup of water, what do they do? They put a probe into your brain. I met the surgeons who do this, it costs $150,000, they put a probe in your brain, they find the place that’s causing this shaking, they turn on electricity and they stop it. And then it cures the Parkinson’s. You can go to YouTube and see the effect of deep brain stimulation and it stops their hands from shaking. So if I get Parkinson’s tomorrow and in a year my hands are shaking like that, I’m signing up for that, right? Well, that’s not far from Neuralink.

John Koetsier: Yup.

Robert Scoble: So you start thinking, okay, well, what’s the next step? That’s what Elon Musk is working on with Neuralink, is putting little wires on the brain to do things for you, to remind you of things, to tell you things, and to let you communicate with the digital Siri, but without voice.

John Koetsier: Version fifty thousand of Apple Glasses.

Robert Scoble: Yeah, version four.

John Koetsier: Where it’s actually an eyeball, connected with the optic nerve.

Robert Scoble: God plugs it in, you know.

John Koetsier: Yup, literally.

Robert Scoble: That’s scary for a lot of people. I think if you come at it as a Parkinson’s sufferer, it’s not scary at all, you’re signed in, right? You’re very willing to sign up for the side effects that come with putting something in your brain to having somebody drill into your head and have a little robot stitching up some wires. I’m in.

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Robert Scoble:  It’s just, we’re so early right now it’s hard to conceive of that world, and it’s hard to conceive of the utility. But the people who tell me about brain and have let me experience some of it, you start thinking things and things happen. So think about having a third arm in a video game, shooting or something, throwing a football. I can throw three footballs at one time.

John Koetsier: Yup.

Robert Scoble: Because my brain can start hooking up to a virtual limb or a robotic one, right?

John Koetsier: Yeah.

Robert Scoble: Think about driving a new kind of robot where I’m working a factory line and I’m controlling six arms with my brain.

John Koetsier: And that’s exactly what Cathy Hackl and I talked about last week on TechFirst as well. So, we’re going to have to draw this one to a close. It has been fascinating. I do want to thank you, Robert, for being part of this, much appreciate your time.

Robert Scoble: Yeah, thank you so much for having me on. It’s going to be a real interesting decade. It already is, every day is something new.

John Koetsier:  It already is.

Robert Scoble: I call it the ‘change decade.’ There’s actually three major economic shocks coming. Technology is number two and climate change is number three. And I think the technology I’m talking about is going to be a real important part of solving the climate change problem, as well as some of the other fundamental problems we have.

John Koetsier: I absolutely agree. Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining us on TechFirst, everybody who’s been along with us. My name is John Koetsier, of course, appreciate you being along for the ride. Whatever platform you’re watching on, please like, subscribe, share, comment, or all of the above. If you’re on the podcast later on, hey, rate it, review it. That’d be a massive help. Until next time, thank you so much. And this is John Koetsier with TechFirst.




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