Leap Motion’s David Holz divulges secrets about future of AR, VR, humanity

[Among other interesting items, there are echoes and extensions of Minky’s predictions about telepresence in this story from Inverse, which features the full 90 minute VR session, a Magic Leap demo video and more images. –Matthew]

Magic Leap CTO Holz VR presentation (screenshot)

Leap Motion’s David Holz Divulges Secrets About Future of AR, VR, Humanity

How would you like to become a cyborg wizard?

Joe Carmichael
July 20, 2016

Leap Motion co-founder and Chief Technology Officer David Holz recently offered his vision of our weird future, and how augmented reality and virtual reality will forever change what it means to be human.

During the recent presentation — within virtual reality, of course — Holz divulged some secrets from closed-door meetings at Leap Motion, which makes an impressively precise, responsive hand-tracker for VR headsets. It’s a tiny little sensor that can detect your hands, transmit their whereabouts and movements, then present a simulacrum of them in the virtual space. It boasts something that no other company can compare.

Holz says that AR and VR will spawn a generation of humans that will be, in his words, “cyborg wizards,” before he previewed a for-now unexplored territory: the profitable crossover of robotics and VR. Here are the highlights:

Here’s Holz:

“I’m starting to see bits of it, but it’s something that everybody’s going to start to see very obviously in just the next few years.… Google put $500 million into Magic Leap, which works on transparent glasses. And then you see Alibaba, which is the China version of Amazon, put another $800 million into it. That’s just a little bit of ‘Oh my God’ happening in the background, but it’s ‘Oh my God’ happening behind closed doors, so most people don’t actually see it. But as that gets more and more out there, you can imagine everybody kind of collectively going, ‘Oh my God,’ and that’ll be really, really fun.”

What Has Holz Seen “Behind Closed Doors?”

Holz, upon fielding this question, broke out in what can only be described as maniacal laughter. Then, he regained sanity and responded to the question as best he could.

“There are AR headsets out there right now that have perfect form factors, meaning, like, they look like a pair of glasses, and you can’t tell. But, generally, in the process of getting a perfect form factor right now, you have to sacrifice the display quality.

“There are two different philosophies for AR companies right now. Either you think that the most important thing is form factor, or you think the most important thing is functionality.

“Behind closed doors, there are a lot of things that are really, really incredible — with some major tradeoff.”

AR Will Produce a “Fundamentally Different Type of Human”

When kids begin to play with galaxies and quantum particles instead of soccer balls, Holz said, they’ll have the same intuitive grasp of the physics. VR is “not just games,” Holz argued. “It’s not just entertainment, or social contact. It really changes the fundamental makeup — the fundamental stuff — of the world around us, and the human experience.” In 2030, for instance, it’s not just that the world will be different. “We will be different,” Holz believes. “You’ll have people who grew up their entire lives immersed in this digital-physical soup.”

And he’d like others to understand just how influential this technology will be. “Too many people are thinking about, like, ‘How do I watch movies in VR?’ Not, like, ‘How do I do completely new things that I couldn’t do before.’” VR enables people to take very abstract ideas and make them concrete. When we are able to approach abstract problems from a physical, concrete perspective, we’ll become far superior at solving those problems. Holz can’t wait.

We’re All Going to Become ‘Cyborg Wizards’

“At some point, we’ll probably also get some really interesting fusion of artificial intelligence and brain science. We’ll start to have parts of our brains in the cloud. Crazy things like that. But it’s not going to be like The Matrix. I think it’ll be more, like, everybody’s a cyborg wizard. We’re all cyborg wizards in the future. And the wizards are digital stuff, and the cyborgs are all the technology that’s worn and carried around with us.”

Robotics + AR / VR = Unexplored Potential

Two aspects of the impending crossover of robotics and VR excite Holz most. First:

“The vision of robotics that I’m most interested in from a virtual reality standpoint is when you merge robotics with telepresence with manufacturing with artificial intelligence. So the idea is, like, I have a headset. All of a sudden, I look down — I have robot hands, and there’s an assembly line in front of me. The assembly line is moving, and I pick something up, put something together, and then I do it again.” And again, and again, and again. “And then I disconnect myself, and then the robot does it by itself from then on. In the process of being a robot, I’m actually teaching the robot how to do something without me.”


“The other thing I really like is telepresence for skilled labor. So, for example, if I am a guy who fixes jet engines, I could telepresence into a robot and fix a jet engine in Texas, and then fix a jet engine in San Francisco, and then fix a jet engine in Florida. And I could just be going around, beaming all around the world, fixing mechanical things in different places as if I’m there.”

Holz seems thrilled to be at the front of the augmented and virtual reality wave that seems destined to crash over the entire planet in a matter of years. In this talk, he spoke about how fast that wave will rise up and forecasted when it will come crashing down.

The audience questions came after his familiar lecture. Each time Holz puts himself in these situations, he masterfully teases the audience with his insider knowledge. But each time, he can hardly contain himself — he’s passionate about AR and VR technology, and the future, and so he does his best to strike a balance between saying just enough to keep his audience intrigued and not saying enough to get himself sued.

The fact that the event was in VR made for some amusing moments. There were a handful of audio glitches, VR glitches, and virtual slideshow glitches. Part of the audience, upon losing Holz’s audio feed, tried to get his attention — but, since they were in VR, had few options. They resorted to spamming emoji into the virtual air, hoping that Holz would get the message. And given that there remains an air of anonymity in VR, the inevitable trolls made an appearance. (One man, at one point, just repeated “Saddam Hussein” several times.)

Holz, for his part, remained composed — even affable. Given his privileged status as an insider and likable geek, he’s spent much time thinking about what AR and VR mean for our future. The full video is [available in the Inverse story and on YouTube].

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