Around the Block With Jefferson Nunn – Interview With Daniel O’Brien of HTC Vive

Around the Block With Jefferson Nunn – Interview With Daniel O’Brien of HTC Vive

In the newest edition of “Around the Block With Jefferson Nunn,” Jefferson interviews Daniel O’Brien Of HTC Vive.

Hey guys, buckle up for a new edition of the Around the Block podcast, the only podcast to go behind the scenes to talk with the movers and shakers of the cryptocurrency world. Today we’re talking with Daniel O’Brien. Daniel is the HTC Americas’ President and Global Head of Enterprise. He has over 20 years of leadership and executive management experience in emerging technologies. He held multiple P&L roles, including 7 years in Extended Reality and Augmented Reality Technologies. He’s focused on delivering revenue growth, brand building, leading e-commerce strategies, strategic business development, content creation, and partnerships.

To listen to the podcast, click on the link below.

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Jefferson Nunn  0:45 

Welcome to another edition of Around the Block with Jefferson Nunn. And I’m here today with very special guest Daniel O’Brien with HTC Vive. Welcome to the show. How you doing?

Daniel O’Brien  0:55 

Good, good. Thanks for having me.

Jefferson Nunn  0:56 

So, tell me a little bit more about what you’re doing right now. And all the exciting advancements in metaverse.

Daniel O’Brien  1:07 

Yeah, no, it’s been a, it’s been a really interesting ride. So far, for the HTC Vive team, where, you know, we initially started back in 2014, but we’re, you know, building just wireline and you know, cable tethered, you know, five-meter tethered PC, you know, driven the VR headsets, right. And now we’re quickly moving to the space where we can actually all be in this very, very connected virtual worlds. You know, we look at the metaverse is in this very, you know, it is the next evolution of kind of what’s been happening in gaming for quite some time, right, looking at some of the big MMO games have multiplayers, and people connecting and collaborating. But now we see it kind of coming towards professional and just general consumer and technology and enterprise and business. And it’s really starting to weave its way into just more of their everyday life, you know, and how people are going to use it, you know, we’ve quickly moved from 2014 and 15, were these very, very clunky, you know, immersive immersion, you know, displays and headsets and controllers, and lasers and things that just general consumers would never ever consider using to, you know, now we’re getting to these much lighter headsets, like the Vive flow, where you can actually connect them to a 5G signal, and you’re seeing carriers, you know, get into the game and actually deploying, you know, the data infrastructure wirelessly and create these cloud infrastructures, where now the computer the tether, the runtime and the content are all in the cloud, right. And so now we’re going to be delivering and streaming all the different types of content to consumers over a cloud delivery, as opposed to, you know, these very, very heavy PCs, and GPUs and things of that nature. So where we kind of saw, you know, back in 2013, and 14, when we really started our movement from smartphones into more of the immersive space, we really didn’t see this as kind of an evolution of what people were going to do and how they were going to connect and looking at your audience you know, and how they kind of connect and how they use, whether it’s gaming products, or PC gaming products, and how they can act like this aligns very well kind of generationally with how people are going to adopt the technology and whether they’re going to use it at work or professionally, or in their daily interactions and socially, or if they’re going to use it for their entertainment purposes.

Jefferson Nunn  3:46 

Awesome. That’s exactly what I thought. Back in 2014. You mentioned that, and now it’s the last great crypto Rhys, I wrote a little bit about it in my book, but it was, it was a very, it was a little bit clunky. But to be very immersive. This is just right before ready player run, the movie came out, right? But one thing I noticed and maybe you can talk a little bit about it if technology wise, was I tried to play one of my favorites, you know, sci fi games, it’d be I don’t know what it would be Elite Dangerous. And I put the headset on and I was like, in most I never get motion sick. And I would just all of a sudden motion say just from that experience. Has that been largely solved by now?

Daniel O’Brien  4:36 

Yeah, no, it has and you know, looking back at like 2014 and those early days 2015 Those headsets were running at a much lower frame rate. They weren’t you know, really optimized GPUs to handle you know, the, again the frame rate or the GPU performance and there was a lot of frames dropping and things like that. They’re just kind of naturally cause users to become very uncomfortable without really understanding why we’ve increased not only the visual fidelity and quality, but the frame rate, you know, we have headsets running at 120 frames per second, we have brighter displays, we have much better tracking, you know, that that, that I think largely the nausea effects, we learned quickly, what we what bar we had to hit from a performance standpoint. And, you know, I do remember looking back at 2015, we sat in a room with Valve, and about 30 developer teams. And we were for the first time ever explaining to them how they had to create content that was going to run at 90 frames per second. And before that, at best, I think it was about 60 frames. So this was like a whole another level of, of content, quality, speed and performance on that had to be overcome. And now it’s just it’s table stakes, like the developer community actually understands how to do this extremely well. And there’s a lot of what I would call best practices out there, you know, in the developer community to really help other developers learn how to do this properly. And, you know, Unity and Unreal, you know, from a game engine standpoint, have really stepped up with a lot of great tools for the developer community, also, so that even if you have more or less mature developers trying to get into the space, you know, they have now better engine tools to actually create content that’s not going to make people feel, you know, uncomfortable.

Jefferson Nunn  5:24 

Which is incredible. Adam Draper was on our show, a few months back, and he’s investing quite heavily into metaverse. Just a large variety of different companies and products and technology. It seems like a Nike just one guy out of 1000s of investors that are doing the same investing heavily into metaverse. Could you just theorize a little bit about maybe a little bit about what’s next? You know, you put on one of these headsets? What can you experience?

Daniel O’Brien  7:08 

Well, I think it’s also important to remember that the metaverse in the interactions in the metaverse is also going to be multi-platform, it’s not only going to be multi headset and OEM between like the HTCs of the world and the meadows of the world and Pico and Lenovo and the limited number of people that are creating, you know, immersive products magically began on the, you know, Microsoft on the AR side that you’re going to see, you know, where there’s going to be this multi-dimensional, you know, levels of interaction, like I’m on my PC, you know, I have a Windows PC, I have a Mac, I have my iPhone, I have my iPad, I have my, you know, my tablet over here and the Android based tablet like you’re going to actually be able to interact at different levels and different layers inside of that metaverse. It’s going to become very, very agnostic across platforms, as well as across the immersive you know, headsets and I think are wearables. And I think that’s really important to know, because you’re going to you do want, when you think about your Metaverse play, you don’t want to just go into it and go, Okay, I’m just going to create this immersive game or this VR game or this you know, and the only way to experience it is to do that this way. I think what you know is going to be really interesting is you’re going to have players that are gonna be on their iPads or their tablets, you know, playing with players that are, you know, wearing a full immersive headset and you know, gloves and haptic gloves, and they’re having an even more immersive experience. But I do think that you’re going to see that the experience levels, you know, really, really vary. Where we see it going it is in that path where we see going also is mobile operators, you know, the HTC, the Verizon, the T mobile’s the DoCoMo, the China telecoms, the orange and Vodafone, like, we’re gonna see these really, really, really large carriers that service, you know, millions and millions of customers with other technology, consumer technology, both to their businesses, as well as their consumer application. And we do see this where the deployment of the wireless technology in the cloud technology is going to allow for the headsets to get lighter, it’s going to allow for the headsets, you know, to become more of that wearable kind of glasses. Everybody, you know, five years ago was like, hey, well, where are we going to? When are we going to get to the I just wear these glasses? Well, that’s gonna take some time. But we have to solve a whole lot of other problems in order to do that and getting the content the runtime the all of those things into a cloud environment instead of a PC environment or localized environment. That’s a massive hurdle for the industry to solve. The carriers really do see that the mobile operators see that that’s like a great value that they can bring to the industry. Now what happens there is now the introduction of all sorts of other new technologies that will come into play with this right, and so now you’re gonna start to see brands and companies look at it probably in two or three ways, right? One is, how do I interact with my own employees in the metaverse? And how do I have like, kind of my own brand? And how does HTC you know, operate? And how do we stay connected with our employees inside of our own metaverse? And are private and secure? And then how does our brand interact with consumers? Right. And users, whether they’re professional users, or just general consumers? And then how do I then socially just interact inside of that environment? So, it’s going to become this very multidisciplinary, you know, environment, different things that you’re gonna be able to use the metaverse for, in so many ways, it can be used for general consumer entertainment, and fun and play and those types of experiences. But it’s also going to be used for a lot of the professional just upskilling training, access to better information and data. You know, as we bring these things in, and the artificial intelligence comes into it, and you know, it’s really going to be very impressive about the volume of data and what we can actually present to users.

Jefferson Nunn  11:07 

Yeah, I think there’s a world of opportunity here. I tried to explain it like this. I mean, how many people do you know, in a room, you know, how many people you know, like, they’d like to read a book, you know, a couple of hands will go up. You know, how many people like to watch a movie, everybody. Right. And that’s really, I think the difference between if you will web2.0 and then say web3.0 and Metaverse, all that’s coming next.

Daniel O’Brien  11:30 

Right. And I think, you know, as you’re moving towards, like web4.0, you know, you’ll start to see where, you know, because we are so immersed and you’re actually the first person right in the story, if you will, now. You know, there’s good and there’s bad and that like you’re going to be you know, everything you do in the metaverse can be analyzed, right from data standpoint. So, what you’re then being presented based on your likes and dislikes, and what you’d like to kind of gravitate towards from an experience standpoint. You know, the metaverse is going to be able to analyze that very quickly, brands are going to be able to analyze that very quickly. And then present you with more of those options and more of those opportunities, you know, but one of the really interesting things from HTCs point of view is we have this triangle, right, this blue triangle is a brand. But those points on that triangle are actually very purposeful. It actually represents technology, innovation, and humanity. A lot of what HTC went into immersive technology to do was actually combined a lot of this innovation and the technology and ways that we could actually benefit humanity. So, we’ve actually focused in a lot of areas around health care, medical, you know, scenarios working with companies like the number on stroke rehabilitation, companies like axon on how to deescalate high stress scenarios between you know, safety officers or officers in the general public. We’re working with, you know, XR, health on mental health kind of applications and use cases. And then we’re really starting to dive into education as well, where we know things like 100% of human beings learn kinesthetically with our hands or eyes, or ears and interaction. And not everyone learns, as well, you know, through typical lecture, or visual or audio style. And, you know, there’s a significant portion of kids that kind of just get left off, you know, and they’re brilliant kids, they’re just not really, we’re just not reaching into them in a way that they can retain the info or bring inbound that information, retain it, apply it, you know, and recall it right. And so I’d kind of got the older of that backwards, but you get the gist of it. But the reality is, you know, there’s, there’s a tremendous, the technology can be used tremendously towards, you know, applications where we can really benefit, you know, learning, you know, styles of kids and health care and safety and a lot of other applications that we’re really excited about.

Jefferson Nunn  13:54 

Yeah, I think there’s gonna be a lot of people wearing these headsets real soon. And, and to that end, I mean, I’m thinking even experiences cuz that’s the number one thing humans like it, experience it. You think we’ll get to, you know, say within the next decade, the ability to have ringside seats at an NBA game? You put the headset on and you’re there.

Daniel O’Brien  14:17 

Yeah, no, I think you’re getting there. Pretty much already now. Like there are, you know, companies and there are brands that have already moved into that space from like a live action, whether it is in the NBA, whether it’s with Major League Baseball, or concerts. We’re working heavily with that entertainment industry in the concert industry and a lot you know, we have beats day was one of our partners out of the Asia region. We’re working with Live Nation as well. But I think going to live concerts and being able to kind of walk out of your, you know, walk out of your office, you know, and out of your virtual office and walk into your virtual concert or to that live action. Experience. The answer is going to be really compelling, right? It doesn’t mean we’re always going to be, you know, there’s still going to be the experience of going to these events and being there physically and doing those events as well. But I do think, you know, when you look at economies of scale, and the opportunities, you know, the concert venues are going to really be an interesting place to see how they can change the business model, right? Because if you think about, you know, the Super Bowl, or some of these really, really big games are at the college level, or, you know, even at the professional level, you know, how many seats can you sell, right, you know, at the 50 yard line, or the middle of the court or center court, and, you know, on the, on the field, you know, those are, those are the only seats right, that sit there that seat or you know, are the seats around and see if you know, some of the stadiums about 70,000 to 100,000, or even 35,000, you know, people that can enjoy that that firsthand experience, I mean, you could turn around and actually sell that same seat for $50 to a million other people that want to have that experience, you know, and so you don’t need to sell it for 400 500 or $3,000, for that one seat, right, you can turn around and actually sell that seat to, you know, a million people for 50 bucks, and you’re gonna make a whole lot more money from the viewing experience. So, I think, you know, when it comes to that, that next level, you know, from a business and economy standpoint, like that’s not quite there yet, but it’s moving very, very, very quickly, I think that people in the entertainment industry really do understand that, oh, wow, I can actually 10x My, my audience, you know, that’s getting the firsthand experience in here. And it can be collaborative, right. And it can be, you know, you can have been there with your friends and your family that are connected in other locations. So, I think that that’s all super, super compelling. And then the next day, you’re back at work, I mean, he had HTC, we use vive sync for our internal meetings, and I meet regularly with people from Europe, as well as in Asia, and then I’m in the US. And, you know, we are in the same conference room. And we’ve recorded that conference room. And it’s a highly effective room, because I didn’t have any distractions while I was in that meeting, right. So I’m bouncing around a little bit, but you can see where things just move very quickly from like, a really, really in depth, immersive and functional, and efficient meeting at work to having an amazing entertainment experience and being able to go to some of the greatest soccer stadiums in the world and see some of the greatest athletes play, you know, in the world against each other, and you’re going to be able to increase the volume of people that actually go and have that experience significantly.

Jefferson Nunn  17:26

So, it’s an exciting time, and I already, you know, see mentioned healthcare, a lot of the other benefits, I think there’s going to be a lot of benefits to even humanity as a whole. And I think crypto is a part of that. I know it’s odd, within a tea, a lot of people miss kind of missed the point of crypto. But crypto can help to keep track. Really, it’s like that data, public data registry up to keep track of things that have happened, for example, your concert ticket could be mentored on an NFTs, therefore, that’s the only one that could ever give you this like that you can’t copy it, right and cheat your way in that sort of thing.

Daniel O’Brien  18:11 

Yeah, I think the brands I mean, the brands will be able to do that, where, you know, when you go to that concert, like and you go, you know, if you’re there, this immersive experience, like you will be able to have access to NFTs that nobody else will ever be able to have access to is so unique. Right. And so, you can, and I think people really want that, right? They not only want to go have great experiences, but they really want to feel the value of like, hey, I did this thing. And I’m the only one that gets to now have this right. And there’s a there’s a level of pride and you know, that comes along with that. And that becomes a currency right for them, you know, and how they want to then use that in the metaverse to trade or, you know, exchange with other people there. And so, look at that all of those things and go you know, what’s happening with NFV NFTs, it’s just in its infancy, right of what it’s going to be used for and how you can apply it. There’s been some hiccups with it, you know, from a technology standpoint here and there. But you know, ACC gosh, we were we were making smartphones well before they were actually called smartphones, you know, back in the Windows Mobile days and styluses and QWERTY keyboards and right so, and I made I made several of those songs. That was where I started my product career. Yeah. And so, we’ve seen this, you know, over so many years, and you know, it’s happening with crypto too. We’re heavily invested, you know, from an integration of crypto technologies and NFT technologies into not only some of our smartphones, technology and our mobile technology, but it is being incorporated into our you know, how we think about, you know, the VI versus what we call our version of the metaverse, but, you know, how does those technologies get incorporated into the metaverse? I think it’s very, very important that everybody stays, you know, very locked in on open standards as much as possible. We don’t do these walled gardens. You know, that’s going to be really, really important for that to be successful because, you know, looking at the, there’s everybody thinks about like, who’s the end customer? Well, there’s multiple customers in the metaverse, right there is there’s infrastructure players, right there is the OEMs that make the actual hardware that people will buy and put on. There’s the secondary economy of like the creators, right? And the people that are going to create content for the metaverse for you to consume, there has to be a healthy economy, for those creators to make money, right? Otherwise, it will not take off, it will, it will start, it’s not going to die. But it’s going to stall, and it’s going to take way longer for it to become successful. So, the most important thing is that we all use these very open standards, we get as many players in to actually participate. And that will actually raise this ocean up. And then you actually see these other sub economies, right, all the way back to the supply chain, and suppliers that create the lenses, and the displays and the silicone that is used inside of these headsets. And these wearables. Like there needs to be a very, very healthy, you know, value chain that leads to success for a lot of companies and a lot of brands. And then that’s when the metaverse is really, really going to take off is when that economy is established, and people can really, you know, make money in there and actually, you know, have create those types of experiences and move it forward.

Jefferson Nunn  21:20 

Awesome. One, just thinking back, how did you get your start into the metaverse? It’s such a rare industry, right? But it’s growing. How’d it happens?

Daniel O’Brien  21:32 

Well, you know, there’s I think there’s the argument of, you know, are we getting a start into metaverse? Or has it always just kind of been there? And we’re evolving it? And I don’t know, I can kind of talk to both in that. You know, when we started making smartphones, people were like, well, people are never going to do their camera and their email and all of these things on their phones. Like I literally had people tell me that when I was making smartphones in the early days, and the feature phones were selling, you know, you know, potentially like 50,000 to 100,000 feature phones on the small side a day. Right? And the and the smartphone guys are selling literally like 5000 units a month, right? You know, it was just, it was it was this nascent version of the industry and where it evolved to. And I think kind of you know, the metaverse is really kind of this evolution of, you know, the next generation of the internet. It’s the next generation of like, what is happening with massively multiplayer, you know, games out there that that hundreds of 1000s and millions of kids are playing today, and how they’re interacting. This, you know, the metaverse really becomes an evolution of that, that drives that a broader consumer, right, that is now going to use it for work for telehealth for interacting with brands and products and entertainment. And I look at it and go, how did we get our start there? Well, you know, the panels that are used in the VR headsets that exist today are smartphone panels. And if we didn’t have the screen wars and the smartphone days, we never would have got to a VR headset that could handle the frame rate and the speed, you know, to be able to be used as a display inside of a VR headset. So, we’ve always kind of been there, right? We’ve always been working on this. Back in 2016, we knew that we wanted to actually target a significant portion of users to be enterprise and professional. So, we’ve been looking at the professional use cases for immersive technology since then. And now I think what we’re seeing with looking at working with carriers, right? Because back in 2015, and 16 and 17 carriers really couldn’t engage, right, because it was not had nothing to do with telco networks or infrastructure. And now you look at it and go, Okay, now it’s starting to really crystallize, it makes sense, how we’re going to deploy immersive technology and have it been adopted. And so, you know, we actually really had that vision back in 2000, like 14 2016, that, you know, this is going to be the progress, this is when we’re going to get there. And this is how we need to get there. I think it’s all just an evolution of like, where we kind of see people interacting from a, you know, inside of their digital worlds. And whether it’s a brand or whether it’s a product or a service, a lot of its going to move over to that space.

Jefferson Nunn  24:23 

Awesome. Well, this has been a very informative show, and I really thank you for joining us. Do you have any final thoughts or tips you’d like to share with our listeners?

Daniel O’Brien  24:37 

Sure. I think you know, I think, you know, be open be encouraging to it. You know, I think it’s a I think you know, there’s have fun with it, you know, get involved, I think you know, if you’re looking to get your kind of your start or move into the space as like a as a career path. You know, the there’s so many areas you know, to participate in from, you know, looking at that supply chain and looking at that value chain. You know, I encourage a lot of people, you know, especially young people to really understand, you know, the basic coding that is needed and whether they want to get into the art and the creator side of it, or they want to get into the storytelling side of it, or the entertainment side, or, you know, the humanity side, like, do you want to go into biotechnology and digital twins and go into, you know, the immersive space and the technology and combining it there. I think that there’s just massive, massive opportunity for especially the young audience to really consider this as a career path and looking at the different areas and saying, hey, great, I want to get in and I want to, you know, get in early, right. It’s always good to get in early on the industry. You know, there’s always frustrations that come with doing that and risks, but I do encourage as many people as possible to look at how they can participate and how they can find success there.

Jefferson Nunn  25:48 

And if they want to find out more about HTC or getting in touch with you, how can they be?

Daniel O’Brien  25:53 

Yeah, I would say you know, definitely check out you know, come to our website. I’m on LinkedIn and Twitter (@obriend17) and a bunch of other places you want to connect with me. I’m always happy to connect with people in the in the industry that are looking to understand and learn more.

Jefferson Nunn  26:06 

Awesome. The links will be at the top of the show page and thanks again.

Daniel O’Brien  26:11 

Yeah, thank you. Thanks for having me. It’s great to have you here.

This concludes today’s episode of the around the block podcast, the only podcast to go behind the scenes to talk with the movers and shakers of the cryptocurrency world.

This podcast is produced by

Our host is Jefferson Nunn.

Managed by Urooj Fatima.

Edited by Muhammad Wasay.

Voiceovers by Daniel Rubin.

 Please follow us on any major podcasting platform. Thanks for listening.

Jefferson Nunn

Since 1999, Jefferson Nunn has been a consultant to high net worth individuals. Always an innovator, his ideas have generated millions for his clients including Ronco and GoWireless. He has been involved in the CryptoCurrency industry since mining his first Bitcoin in 2010. Since then, he has met with many of the early pioneers in the CryptoCurrency space including the founders of Ethereum and the founders of Crypto Capital in Panama, and more.