Cortex: In the Metaverse


00:00:00   Oh, hello.

00:00:01   Yes, hello, CGP Grey.

00:00:03   Oh, it's funny bumping into you here.

00:00:04   What is this? This is different.

00:00:06   We're doing something different this time.

00:00:07   This is the first ever Cortex Special episode.

00:00:10   Ooh, a special episode. What does that mean?

00:00:12   It's shorter.

00:00:13   [laughs]

00:00:15   Listeners, I'm putting Mike on the spot there a little bit by going,

00:00:18   "What does this mean?"

00:00:18   Because we don't actually really know what this means.

00:00:21   No.

00:00:21   That's why this is Cortex Special.

00:00:24   We sort of tried a thing and wanted to talk about it

00:00:28   and feel like, "Does it make sense to fit in the regular show?

00:00:32   I don't know. How long are we going to talk about it? I don't know."

00:00:36   So we thought, "Let's do a Cortex special episode."

00:00:38   Cortex colon in the metaverse.

00:00:41   So we bought Quest Pros.

00:00:44   Yeah.

00:00:45   I want to tell you how this unfolded, right?

00:00:48   So, Meta had an event.

00:00:49   Already I have a problem with this.

00:00:51   Okay.

00:00:52   It's Facebook?

00:00:53   No, it's not. I'm not doing it.

00:00:54   Here's the thing.

00:00:55   You can say Meta, right?

00:00:56   I'm probably going to say Facebook a bunch.

00:00:58   - That's fine.

00:00:59   - But I do just think we're still at the time

00:01:02   when you say meta, where most people are not gonna

00:01:05   translate that straight away in their head as Facebook.

00:01:08   And this is different than the, oh it's not Google,

00:01:11   it's Alphabet thing, right, which was like,

00:01:13   Alphabet tried to push that for a while

00:01:15   and everyone was like, no, sit down, you're Google,

00:01:18   and that's just how this is gonna work.

00:01:20   But I do think Facebook is doing a much better job

00:01:25   of rebranding, like we are meta,

00:01:27   Facebook is one of our products.

00:01:29   But if you just start a sentence right now

00:01:32   at this period in time,

00:01:33   like not enough people are gonna do that

00:01:35   translation in their head.

00:01:36   - No, that's fair.

00:01:37   So Meta had an event, right?

00:01:40   Where they unveiled the Quest Pro

00:01:42   and took a look at what the future would be like

00:01:45   for their platforms,

00:01:47   including like a bunch of things that seemed interesting,

00:01:50   but who knows if they'll ever actually be true.

00:01:53   And one of the things they really focused on was their VR meetings products.

00:01:59   Horizon workrooms being their thing.

00:02:03   Because it is unbelievable how many brands they do have.

00:02:05   I don't know why it's called Horizon.

00:02:07   I don't know why it needs to be called Meta workrooms.

00:02:09   Like I don't know why it needs to have its own name again, right?

00:02:11   There's so many names.

00:02:13   They have-- Meta has the MetaQuest.

00:02:15   MetaQuest is also a MetaQuest Pro, which used to be called Oculus.

00:02:21   And they still use the Oculus logo in some places,

00:02:25   which doesn't make any sense,

00:02:26   but now it's the Meta Quest logo.

00:02:29   And also they have software called Horizon,

00:02:33   which is another brand,

00:02:35   because they have Horizon Workrooms and Horizon Worlds.

00:02:38   - It's branding that I find all over the place

00:02:41   and confusing, even for little stuff

00:02:43   like trying to pull up the app on my phone,

00:02:46   I'm still searching for Oculus,

00:02:47   and like, oh no, it's not Oculus.

00:02:49   Is it the Meta thing?

00:02:50   - No, it's Quest, and then try to search for Quest,

00:02:53   and you go, no, it's not Quest,

00:02:54   it's like the meta something app.

00:02:57   They need someone to come in and straighten out language

00:03:00   and reduce the number of words.

00:03:02   - It's almost like it's something you would do

00:03:04   during a rebrand.

00:03:05   - Indeed.

00:03:06   - But nevertheless, so one of the things that we do

00:03:09   with the company that we run together

00:03:10   is at least once a month, we have a long meeting

00:03:14   where we go over everything that's going on

00:03:17   with Cortex brand, we talk about the things

00:03:19   working on, we talk about where we want to go. And we have been using FaceTime or Skype,

00:03:25   but all audio for these.

00:03:27   I was gonna say, we only use FaceTime audio.

00:03:30   FaceTime, of course.

00:03:31   Actual FaceTime FaceTime. No, no, I have no interest in doing this.

00:03:34   And then usually Grey's walking around with some ducks or there was a time of a swamp

00:03:38   or something, who could tell?

00:03:39   You hear ducks if I'm out walking a dog, you hear me comment on like the vultures if

00:03:44   I'm in North Carolina. That's what you're thinking of. I'm walking through the swamp

00:03:48   and like, "Oh, there's a snake crossing my path."

00:03:50   - But for times where we don't need that,

00:03:51   we're in fixed positions.

00:03:53   And I thought it would be super interesting

00:03:55   to try these meetings in VR,

00:04:00   to see what that would look like.

00:04:02   Like mine and your meeting is like one of two meetings

00:04:06   that are fixed on my calendar.

00:04:08   Like I don't really do these kinds of things a lot,

00:04:10   so I don't have a lot of opportunities to try this stuff.

00:04:13   And also considering like our meetings

00:04:16   becoming more multimedia over time, right?

00:04:18   Looking at images and charts and stuff.

00:04:21   And so the more I was sore of the clips of Horizon workrooms and things like that, I

00:04:26   thought, "Hmm, this could be interesting."

00:04:28   So we wanted to try it out.

00:04:30   Yeah, you pitched this to me.

00:04:32   I think I was quite doubtful at first.

00:04:36   It is the fact that like our meetings are actually talking about products.

00:04:40   Like we want to be looking at stuff.

00:04:41   And so I was like, "Oh, I'm like minorly intrigued."

00:04:45   And then you sweeten the deal.

00:04:47   You're like, "Hey, we could just try this a few times

00:04:50   and then just record an episode about how it went."

00:04:53   And I was like, "Okay, now I'm in."

00:04:55   Like there's a Cortex Special episode.

00:04:57   Like I always want two reasons to do a thing.

00:04:59   And it's like, "Thank you, I've gotten my second reason now."

00:05:02   So this is how this Cortex Special episode came to be.

00:05:06   We're gonna talk about what it was like

00:05:08   trying to use the Quest Pro, META's VR headset

00:05:13   and their Horizons workrooms to do actual work.

00:05:18   We're not talking about playing VR games.

00:05:23   We're actually using it to hold real meetings

00:05:25   about company stuff, and I suspect we may be one

00:05:30   of a tiny, tiny number of people on the planet Earth

00:05:35   who are actually doing this.

00:05:38   But yeah, so let's talk about how that went.

00:05:40   - One of the ways in which I think

00:05:43   it is conceivable that we are one of the small group

00:05:46   of people actually doing it.

00:05:47   It's when we tried to do it for basically a week

00:05:50   and the Horizon workroom just was not working

00:05:53   and I could not find anything online

00:05:57   of anyone talking about the fact that it was not working

00:06:01   for the best part of a week.

00:06:02   This is like a couple of months ago.

00:06:04   Neither of us could join meetings

00:06:06   the other one was setting up.

00:06:07   That was really frustrating.

00:06:09   That was the first time we'd sat down to do it

00:06:12   and we were like, "All right, let's do this thing."

00:06:13   And then we just could not get anything to work.

00:06:17   - Yeah, that's totally the case.

00:06:19   I think you are reverse exaggerating,

00:06:22   because all told, it took us more than a week

00:06:25   to get everything working.

00:06:27   I cannot conceive of how a normal person

00:06:31   would have done this, because I feel like,

00:06:33   "Oh, I'm a pretty tech-savvy person

00:06:36   who already bought the first-generation Oculus."

00:06:40   So I'm like already familiar with how a bunch of this stuff works.

00:06:43   I have the accounts that were already set up, like ready to go.

00:06:47   And now I'm just trying to upgrade to this new professional business version of a VR headset.

00:06:53   And I've never in my life had so many just astounding technical problems, getting a piece of technology to work.

00:07:04   Even on just the most simple of levels, getting the apps to install, getting everything to work,

00:07:11   it took absolutely forever. And then we just had weird like server problems on

00:07:16   meta's end where it's like, I can't recognize you as a user. I do actually think we may be

00:07:22   one of a dozen people who have really used this to hold actual business meetings. Because I think

00:07:28   if you're trying to get four or five people together, there's no way one of those people

00:07:34   doesn't run into just like a normal person technical nonstarter for making it happen.

00:07:39   This is why I also like having two reasons to do something, because if we weren't going to record

00:07:45   a show talking about the experience, this is also the moment this would have died. It just would

00:07:50   have been like, forget it. It's just simply not worth it in terms of the difficulty of actually

00:07:56   getting something set up. I would describe the onboarding experience as extremely not good.

00:08:03   Yeah, not good.

00:08:04   So the end result of this was that we joked like, "Oh, we've just spent two grand not to have a

00:08:11   meeting." That was how it felt. It was really frustrating getting this set up. It was partly,

00:08:19   I was so surprised because it actually was a really nice experience, the physical hardware

00:08:26   of the Quest Pro compared to the original generation Oculus slash Quest that I bought.

00:08:32   Like, I don't know how you felt, but like when I opened it up and first got my hands on it,

00:08:37   because I really just didn't even have any idea what this product was going to be like,

00:08:40   this was where I was like quite impressed. It kind of felt like in the early days of the iPhone,

00:08:46   where it's like, each generation is significantly better than the previous one. That first generation

00:08:52   quest, like, I'm thrilled that I got it, but you know, it's not the best. But this hardware

00:08:59   felt much better. Everything about it. It was way more comfortable to wear. It's lighter. It

00:09:05   felt nicer. I love the little charging dock. The charging dock is such a winner. Such a winner.

00:09:12   Yeah, this is one of those little things like, I didn't even think I would would have wanted

00:09:15   a charging dock, but the moment I had it, it's like, oh great. In my office, I have it just

00:09:20   behind me here and it actually looks really nice on a shelf just sitting in the charging dock.

00:09:24   So on a hardware side, this is a headset that I'm not quite sure I would say felt like something a

00:09:33   normal person would use, but it at least felt a lot closer to that. It doesn't just feel like it's an

00:09:41   interesting tech demo or it's something for people who are really into tech.

00:09:45   It's approaching a normal use tool was the way I kind of felt about the hardware.

00:09:50   Yeah. I mean, it also feels like a professional version of the Quest,

00:09:54   which is exactly what it's supposed to be.

00:09:56   Yeah.

00:09:57   There's something about the design. It is more sleek.

00:10:00   Yeah.

00:10:00   It doesn't look so much like a toy. Like it has an element to it,

00:10:05   which is more professional in its design.

00:10:08   and that comes from the packaging to the physical design

00:10:11   at the kind of like glass front of it, right?

00:10:14   And then also the charging dock,

00:10:16   and it all just feels like a more professional package.

00:10:21   Which I mean, for its price, it should, right?

00:10:24   So I actually think hardware-wise,

00:10:27   I think they did a pretty decent job with it.

00:10:31   I wanted to ask you,

00:10:32   'cause in some of the reviews that I'd seen,

00:10:35   there were pretty mixed feelings about how much light it can let in compared to other

00:10:41   VR headsets. And I wanted to know, like they give you these kind of like rubber blinkers

00:10:46   basically is the best way that I can describe them that are optional that you can choose

00:10:50   to put on or not. Like for me, for our use cases of using it in meetings, I actually

00:10:58   quite liked it because we were using a lot of the pass-through stuff as well, right?

00:11:02   So that having just natural light from my office come in felt right for what I was using

00:11:08   it for.

00:11:09   But I've played some games using this, and I don't feel as immersed as I have with the

00:11:16   regular quest, which does a way better job, I feel, of keeping the outside out.

00:11:23   I don't know, I wonder if this is intentional so that you don't entirely lose your sense

00:11:30   of a little bit of place. The ideal fitting allows you to look straight down and kind

00:11:36   of see where your feet are or see your hands. I don't know, I get the feeling that they've

00:11:41   done that on purpose. Like if they wanted this to be a totally sealed environment, I

00:11:46   think they could have designed it that way. So I think this is on purpose.

00:11:51   I think so too. And I think when they were talking about it, they were like referencing

00:11:55   that idea that this is much more of a mixed reality headset than a VR headset, which is

00:12:03   again, they made the pass-through way better.

00:12:05   The pass-through is color, so you can use the cameras and you can see the outside world.

00:12:10   Yeah, so what Mike's talking about there with pass-through is you have the headset on, you're

00:12:16   looking at the virtual world, and it has this feature where if you sort of just physically

00:12:21   double tap like anywhere on the side of the device, it's not a button, it's just recognizing

00:12:25   that like you've hit it somewhere, it turns off the VR world and lets you look through

00:12:30   the cameras that are on the outside of the actual headset. And it's a surprisingly useful

00:12:36   feature. When I first heard of that, I thought like, when are you really going to use this?

00:12:40   But you actually use it all the time. And it is nice to be able to do stuff where you

00:12:45   don't have to physically take the headset off, because it is always a bit jarring to

00:12:49   go like back and forth between having the headset on and having it off. So it is good

00:12:53   that they have this mode where you can look through the cameras. It's not amazing resolution.

00:12:59   It always kind of makes me think of being like Robocop, right? You just have like this

00:13:02   terrible VHS vision of the world. There was a funny moment where we were having a VR call

00:13:07   and there was a package delivered to my house so the bell rang. It's like, oh, but I was

00:13:11   able to turn on pass-through and just let the person in and like talk through the intercom

00:13:17   in the building without having to ever take the headset off. And I realized like, oh,

00:13:21   This is actually great.

00:13:22   This is the whole purpose of this.

00:13:24   And yeah, having it in color does make a really big difference versus black and white in the

00:13:29   old systems.

00:13:30   So I do think with each generation, we see this is making it slimmer and smaller and

00:13:35   sort of more a device that can fit into your life on the physical side of it.

00:13:40   But when you set it up, you have to create an avatar of yourself.

00:13:46   You sure do.

00:13:48   How are you going to be represented in the metaverse?

00:13:53   Now, I have a lot of feelings about this experience,

00:13:56   but I would like to know, Mike,

00:13:58   what did you think of this experience

00:14:00   of creating "Metiverse Mike"?

00:14:03   -I was pretty happy with it, to be honest.

00:14:05   It was a decent enough character creation system.

00:14:10   Like, I felt like I could go in

00:14:12   and create someone who looks enough like me.

00:14:16   I mean, I have enough generic nerd energy

00:14:20   that they had the options for me, right?

00:14:21   They had glasses options and beard options

00:14:24   and clothing options.

00:14:25   I could make a version of me that was easy enough.

00:14:28   You know, I've played around with the Instagram avatar thing

00:14:33   or whatever, right?

00:14:34   They've done enough of this over time

00:14:36   that I think they could do a decent enough job.

00:14:38   Kind of like Memoji-ish.

00:14:42   They look different to the way that Apple does them,

00:14:44   but it's similar in that, like, without too much effort,

00:14:48   I think I was able to create someone

00:14:50   that I felt represented me,

00:14:53   because, you know, that is what people typically do,

00:14:57   you know, especially if you're gonna be like,

00:14:59   "Oh, hey, it's me. I'm gonna meet with you," right?

00:15:00   So what did you think of the character creation tools?

00:15:04   -[ Sighs ]

00:15:05   By far and away, this was my least-enjoyed part

00:15:09   of the entire experience.

00:15:12   I hate everything about the character creation process

00:15:14   in the metaverse just with this burning passion.

00:15:17   I just found all of it to be really unpleasant,

00:15:21   unappealing, and ugly.

00:15:25   There's a problem that I think kind of runs

00:15:27   through a lot of the Horizon metaverse stuff.

00:15:30   Like the metaverse stuff that Facebook itself is making,

00:15:34   not stuff that third-party developers are making.

00:15:37   And I don't know a better way to phrase this,

00:15:40   but when you say like you had nerd energy, right?

00:15:43   I think there is a certain kind of nerd aesthetic.

00:15:49   You know, when you have, for example, like you buy an app on the App Store, and it's

00:15:53   made by a single developer, and I buy and use and love tons of these apps.

00:15:59   But there is a certain kind of nerd aesthetic that can like, leak through all of these things

00:16:04   where you go, ah, the person who made this is very technically competent.

00:16:10   it does not necessarily have a nice design aesthetic.

00:16:14   And the thing that I kept thinking of,

00:16:17   like looking at the Avatar stuff,

00:16:19   is I found all of it just kind of repulsive.

00:16:22   I hate the way all of it looks.

00:16:24   And I kept thinking like,

00:16:26   "Can you guys please, please, just like hire

00:16:30   one former person who worked at Pixar

00:16:33   to try to make this stuff look cuter?"

00:16:36   - So they have been doing,

00:16:37   they're doing a bunch of stuff here.

00:16:38   like one they do have like new versions of their avatar system this is some of

00:16:44   the stuff that like they announced at the same time they announced a meta

00:16:46   quest pro they announced like two things which was like one we're gonna have like

00:16:51   new versions of the avatars and two we're creating a system where we will be

00:16:56   able to scan your actual face okay look no you're Mike you're making it worse

00:17:01   but like it was a lot that both of these things were very like in the future

00:17:07   right? And I was kind of suckered into that. Like I thought that the new versions of the

00:17:12   Horizon avatars were going to be available like now, but they're not. But these new

00:17:17   ones they do have more of a Pixar like look to them, I think.

00:17:24   I mean look, whatever. I can't judge the way that things are in the future. I'm just

00:17:27   a little bit doubtful that Facebook can pull this off well because I feel like this is

00:17:31   a recurring theme for a lot of their stuff is it just has this like unpleasant look to it. You need

00:17:38   a nice designer to come in here and like smooth off a lot of the corners like just make a like a

00:17:44   large number of small tweaks that add up to make a thing look much nicer. So yeah I found like I

00:17:51   just hate every part of this like to me on the internet nobody knows you're a dog kind of person.

00:17:57   Yeah, I mean, I will say I think you are the wrong person, right? When it comes to like,

00:18:01   create an avatar that's meant to be you. You are definitely not the target market for someone who's

00:18:09   going to ever enjoy that experience. Yeah, I totally granted like, I'm not the market of the

00:18:13   person who like wants to build a virtual model of themselves. I'm like extremely on the end of like,

00:18:18   "Oh, I hate this." Because like, you decided to do that, right? And what you did in your life

00:18:25   is to create a stick figure, right? Like you had the opportunity to make a decision

00:18:29   about a virtual avatar that would represent you in the world and you've made that decision and you

00:18:35   went with like, what is the simplest thing that can be done? I abstracted away the concept of a

00:18:42   person so much I don't even have a mouth in my representation of myself, right? I don't have

00:18:47   eyes that look at anything, right? Like it couldn't be less of an image that looks like a person. So I

00:18:52   I was very keen to see CGP Grey in meta worlds.

00:18:57   I was very keen, I wondered what I was gonna get, you know?

00:19:01   I will say there was no way I could've expected what I got.

00:19:05   (laughing)

00:19:06   Would you like to describe your meta avatar aesthetic

00:19:10   to people?

00:19:11   - Okay, so I made myself the cutest cortex in cowgirl

00:19:15   that I possibly could.

00:19:17   I don't know how you found my virtual representation

00:19:21   to myself.

00:19:22   I think it was just about as cute as I could have possibly made it, which is not very cute

00:19:28   in the metaverse.

00:19:29   I think it's still kind of horrifying and ugly and I could not believe how much work

00:19:35   it took to make it look halfway decent.

00:19:38   But yeah, like I spent maybe two seconds trying to be like, "Oh, I'll try to make a thing

00:19:44   that looks like me."

00:19:45   And then I thought like, "No, I hate this.

00:19:46   I'm not going to do that.

00:19:47   I'm going to pick something that doesn't look like me."

00:19:49   I don't know. This is a virtual world? Like why am I now being limited by the way that

00:19:56   I look in reality? Like, why do I have to make some decision about, "Oh, how fat am

00:20:02   I on one to ten? Pick these bodies. Which one do you think is you? Oh, what does your

00:20:07   face look like?" I just, I hate every single part of it.

00:20:10   I will say I did have that part with the body where I was like, had to make a decision.

00:20:14   Yeah.

00:20:15   And it's just kind of like, "I don't want to make this decision. Like, why are

00:20:19   make him make this decision. Here's the thing, I know that I am not the market for this,

00:20:24   but I think there's something that you like as a user if you're again you're not like

00:20:30   in nerd world you're just giving this to a regular person. Something you need to understand

00:20:35   listeners is that they have 10 body types. The body types only vary basically in how

00:20:42   fat they are and the body types are also unisex. You know I didn't know that. So you

00:20:48   You just picked you and you're like, "Oh, I'll just pick one of these bodies."

00:20:52   And I was like, "I don't want to be me.

00:20:54   I'm going to be a cowgirl."

00:20:56   Right?

00:20:57   So I'm like, "Where do I flip the switch for a female body?"

00:21:00   And then I realized, "Oh, there is no switch.

00:21:02   The 10 bodies are just the ones that you pick from."

00:21:07   And so it was part of the reason why it's like, "Oh, to make my avatar look feminine,

00:21:12   I have to pick all of these like really screamingly feminine accessories, right?

00:21:20   There has to be earrings.

00:21:22   There has to be heart-shaped glasses.

00:21:24   I have to put lipstick on.

00:21:25   I have to put makeup on.

00:21:27   I had to make my hair pink and in braids because otherwise the body doesn't read remotely as

00:21:35   a female body because there's only 10 generically shaped bodies on a scale of fat to thin and

00:21:42   like that's it and I like I can understand why Facebook is doing this but it's so strange

00:21:49   to me because it's like guys video games have had this solved for like 30 years where if

00:21:56   you're doing character creation one of the first things is often they're like hey do

00:22:01   Do you want a male body, a female body, or a neutral body?

00:22:04   And then you pick one of those three.

00:22:05   - But like a lot of games now,

00:22:08   they just label it differently, right?

00:22:10   Like just like body type one, body type two.

00:22:12   And then that's your starting block

00:22:14   for where you wanna move from.

00:22:16   And like the way that I've now realized

00:22:18   that they've done it, I think it might be worse.

00:22:21   - Yeah, it's way worse.

00:22:22   - Like I applaud having this as an option, right?

00:22:25   That like there is one body type whatever,

00:22:28   they're not allowing people to customize it when it is supposed to be a representation of you?

00:22:34   Yeah.

00:22:36   That's very strange to me. I've got to say that's very strange.

00:22:38   Just to continue, like what I think video games have done so well is again, like,

00:22:42   they give you that template and here's sliders. So you can choose things like

00:22:47   how far apart are the shoulders? You have some like bust slider, right? Which you could decide

00:22:52   like how does this go? Waist, hips, like you can do things to make your body look the way

00:22:57   you want it to in the game, or if you're trying to represent yourself, like make it look the

00:23:01   way you look. But it was just so weird and strange to realize all of a sudden like, oh,

00:23:10   the 10 bodies they let you choose from that only vary on scale of fatness have to represent

00:23:17   everybody. There's no option to like, masculinize or feminize or neutralize this body. It's

00:23:26   just this one way I think is gonna be incredibly off-putting to huge numbers of people when

00:23:32   they when they try it. I actually had my wife, like I didn't tell her anything about it,

00:23:36   I was just like "hey why don't you build an avatar in here?" and like her very first questions

00:23:41   were about like making the body actually look like her body and she was appalled when she

00:23:46   realized that she couldn't. She's like "oh I have to look like this? I hate it, I never

00:23:49   want to use it." I was like "wow that's an amazing reaction." Now for me personally, I

00:23:55   I just kind of don't want to think about the way that I physically look.

00:24:00   And so I'd rather just have an avatar that was like, abstracted.

00:24:04   And so this is also another place where the reason I made just like, oh, this cute cortex

00:24:09   and cowgirl is because I was also surprised that they didn't have any non human options

00:24:17   or just like, generic presence options.

00:24:22   My only frame of reference with this is just like Apple's Memoji, which I went to go see

00:24:27   like "Oh, how do they set that up when like Apple makes this little cartoon representation

00:24:31   of yourself?" and they play a little video that just shows like "Oh, here's all the

00:24:35   options that you can be" and it plays like "Oh, here's three people" and then it

00:24:39   shows like "Oh, someone makes themself like, oh it's a person but they have purple skin

00:24:43   so you can do whatever you want" and then the next one is like "Or you can just be

00:24:46   a shark like it's fine you could do whatever you want to do and so I find it anti the spirit

00:24:56   of the internet that you're constrained to your human physicality in this really weird

00:25:04   way in the avatar creation process I was just absolutely blown away that they didn't have

00:25:11   have like non-human but still like you know business professional options that you could

00:25:16   pick. I couldn't believe it and then when I tried to do like I want something that looks

00:25:20   nothing like me I'm going to be this cortex and cowgirl I was appalled again in the limits

00:25:25   of like making it look the way that I wanted to. I thought it was just so awful and I think

00:25:30   people are really going to be put off on that.

00:25:32   Again for me I like being me. I prefer that whenever I'm using these things if I look

00:25:39   at myself it's me if it's showing a character I recognize that it's me I

00:25:45   mean you know maybe I'm aided in the fact that it was easy to make me and

00:25:50   that it also doesn't bother me in general to have that well like I think

00:25:54   that me and you are coming from different worlds when it comes to

00:25:59   identity online right oh totally yeah anyway so that ended up taking up like

00:26:05   an entire afternoon of my life was just trying to make something that looked

00:26:08   okay so that we could have a meeting.

00:26:11   This episode of Cortex is brought to you by Hello.

00:26:13   Have you ever tried a buckwheat pillow?

00:26:16   They're incredibly different from the fluffy soft pillows that most people were used to.

00:26:21   A buckwheat pillow supports your head and your neck exactly how you want it to, unlike

00:26:26   traditional squishy soft pillows which collapse under the weight of your head and do not give

00:26:31   you the support that you are looking for while you sleep.

00:26:35   Both pillows allow your neck to fall in a downward bend, adding uncomfortable pressure

00:26:39   to muscles, nerves and discs over time.

00:26:42   This is not what you get with a holo pillow.

00:26:45   You get the exact support you're looking for.

00:26:48   I am so happy that holo is back sponsoring cortex because I get to tell you about a product

00:26:54   that I absolutely adore.

00:26:56   I sleep every single night on a holo pillow and it gives me so much comfort.

00:27:01   I used to sleep with multiple pillows stacked on top of each other before, so I could get

00:27:05   the support that I wanted, but for many years now, I think 3 or 4 years, I have slept every

00:27:11   night on one hollow pillow and I get the exact support that I'm looking for, but that's

00:27:16   not all.

00:27:17   Hollow pillows stay cool and dry.

00:27:19   Most pillows absorb and retain body heat and moisture so your pillow feels warm and humid,

00:27:24   kinda gross.

00:27:25   Buckwheat breathes better, so you no longer need to flip your pillow to the cool side

00:27:30   because it just stays cool. If you like me were using multiple pillows or folding your

00:27:35   pillow in some way to attempt to get that proper support you were looking for, that

00:27:39   is a sign that your pillow isn't firm or thick enough. Hallo's support allows you to keep

00:27:44   your head and neck where you want them and you can go with that one step further by adding

00:27:49   or removing the filling from the zippered opening to make sure that you get it exactly

00:27:53   to your liking and you'll get it just right. You can also remove the filling completely

00:27:59   and wash the case as well if you want to do that.

00:28:02   People have been sleeping on buckwheat pillows for centuries. They have been used in Japan

00:28:05   extensively and remain relatively popular to this day. You might also see them on the

00:28:11   pillow menu at some luxurious hotels. But bring that luxury to your own bed every night.

00:28:18   Hollow is made in the USA with quality construction and materials. The certified organic cotton

00:28:23   case is cut and sewn for durability and the buckwheat is grown and milled in the United

00:28:27   States. People like me really love this pillow. You can go to their website and check out

00:28:32   the reviews written by customers.

00:28:35   Cortex listeners can sleep on a holo pillow for 60 nights. If it isn't right for you,

00:28:39   just ship it back and they will give you a full refund. Just go to holopillow.com/cortex

00:28:45   and if you try more than one pillow, you can get a discount of up to $20 per pillow depending

00:28:50   on the size. You can get fast free shipping on every order and 1% of all profits are donated

00:28:55   to the Nature Conservancy. Why not give the gift a better sleep as well?

00:29:21   Moving past the Avatar creation, let's talk about the actual meetings.

00:29:25   When I finally did show up in the meeting, poor Mike not knowing what was going to happen.

00:29:30   Grey having spent like the most frustrating afternoon of his life trying to create something

00:29:34   and then popping into existence.

00:29:36   Hi, it's time for serious haha business time.

00:29:39   But I also have on these heart-shaped eyeglasses.

00:29:41   It couldn't have been more surprising for me really.

00:29:44   Like, I actually don't know if there is a way in which I could have been more surprised.

00:29:48   But what I will say is like we had, you know, we'll talk about the meeting in

00:29:51   detail, but like over the time and now we've had a few of these, it's not weird

00:29:57   to me anymore. And I think that is maybe my biggest takeaway from this experience.

00:30:02   So we've spent all told maybe four or five hours in Horizon Workroom meetings

00:30:09   at this point. And I have found it to be a very normal feeling experience for having

00:30:20   the meetings and I have memories of these meetings. Like a decision we made, I remember

00:30:30   being in the meeting room that we sat and talking about it with you, right? Like I remember

00:30:35   that like I would remember if we were actually in a room. Overall, my experience of having

00:30:44   these meetings in Horizon workrooms has been very positive.

00:30:49   I feel really bad because I just realized it never occurred to me until this moment

00:30:54   really that you're having these meetings with Cowgirl Cortex. I think I just never really

00:31:00   thought about that from your perspective. We are having these serious conversations.

00:31:05   But I do think this totally speaks for this magic power of VR that your brain just accepts

00:31:16   it as real, which is why I would continue to push for, "Oh, you know, you should be

00:31:21   able to just be an octopus in this meeting."

00:31:23   I just think that's going to be really difficult for them to try and pitch as like a business

00:31:27   tool though.

00:31:29   Like I don't think like management consultancy company ABC is going to really want their

00:31:35   employees to be showing up as like Cthulhu to the next meeting or whatever, you know?

00:31:40   Look, I think they can limit it, and I also still think like Apple does a very good job of it with

00:31:44   the Memojis of even their non-human ones fit into a design aesthetic that kind of matches the human

00:31:51   ones. Like look, we could talk about it later if Apple ever gets into this market, but like I'm

00:31:55   going to be very curious about what Apple does with regards to this if this ever happens, but...

00:32:01   I don't think you're going to be happy with the rumors, but we'll see.

00:32:04   I'm sure I won't be, but if you have not tried VR, this to me is the most difficult to explain

00:32:11   part of it. That is like is the most interesting insight into something about your brain.

00:32:18   That your brain is built to accept the visual world as real, no matter how strange it may look.

00:32:27   Now there are some asterisks on that for like, you can do this better and you can do this worse.

00:32:33   But it is still basically true. And I also have that same experience of, I have a lot of things to complain about this system. But there's something here. There's something here that is interesting and that is different. And that your brain does treat it as real.

00:32:55   Okay, so let me give like the most concrete example that I can think of.

00:33:01   One of the problems I find with doing a FaceTime call with people is it's very hard to do pauses

00:33:09   naturally.

00:33:10   So when you're doing a FaceTime conversation where you're looking at a person, I find people

00:33:15   tend to just alternate kind of monologuing or like you, you talk in longer unbroken stretches

00:33:23   than you would in real life.

00:33:25   You interrupt each other less.

00:33:27   And it's awkward to do the thing where you both just sort of pause, or you like look

00:33:34   around, as you would do in real life.

00:33:37   I'm not entirely sure why that happens, but one of the things that a virtual meeting,

00:33:45   I found that we both kind of did it immediately, is it does let you more naturally pause in

00:33:53   conversation, I felt like we were both more able to do the like, interrupt the other person

00:34:01   at the right moment kind of thing, because we could see physically, like, when I move

00:34:07   my hands at home in my office, the Oculus is showing you how my hands are moving with

00:34:15   like that animation. You can see which way I'm looking, I can see which way you're looking.

00:34:21   It's funny things like, "Oh, I can see that your arms are crossed now.

00:34:24   I can see that you have coffee in your hands.

00:34:26   I can see everything that you're doing."

00:34:29   And I think that having the full view of the upper body is kind of better than FaceTime,

00:34:34   because in FaceTime you're often just looking at a cropped in version of that person's face.

00:34:40   And there's also the effect that when the person on FaceTime isn't looking at you, you

00:34:45   can see that they're looking away.

00:34:47   You don't know what they're looking at.

00:34:50   But in the workrooms, if I look away or you look away, I can see that you're looking away

00:34:57   because you're looking for a number on the presentation board that's next to us.

00:35:02   And you can see I'm looking away because there's a virtual train moving by on the virtual window.

00:35:08   It just makes conversation easier.

00:35:10   You know that you're both in this virtual room, you have this shared sense of space,

00:35:16   And where people are looking and when people pause and how their body is physically posed

00:35:22   when they pause is a big deal for making conversations more natural.

00:35:28   And I think compared to like a FaceTime call or a Zoom call, not having that little preview

00:35:33   of yourself is nice too.

00:35:35   Yeah, you know what, I didn't think about that, but you're right.

00:35:38   I know I spend way too much time looking at the preview.

00:35:41   I don't know what it is that makes me do it.

00:35:44   I've heard this is a thing that a lot of people do and it has an exhausting feeling to it.

00:35:49   There's almost like it turns it from a call into a performance,

00:35:52   because you can see and evaluate how you look at any given time.

00:35:56   And having that no longer a concern is also quite nice.

00:36:01   And also the idea that like, I mean, I don't have to be presentable in any way either,

00:36:07   because you're going to see the manicured version of the digital me.

00:36:12   Yeah, I was going to say your virtual beard is always very nicely groomed.

00:36:16   It's better than I could ever wish for, to be honest.

00:36:19   It's very full, very good looking beard.

00:36:21   One of the biggest things for me,

00:36:24   this is something that I keep coming back to in my brain of like this idea.

00:36:29   So like, you know, we're in this room, right?

00:36:31   And you can customize the room and kind of make it feel like you're on a little bit

00:36:34   and you have a few you can choose from.

00:36:36   And the way that it would typically work is I am at a desk and you're at a desk

00:36:40   and we're across from each other.

00:36:42   So we're looking at each other around a big desk table thing.

00:36:45   And there is like a digital board on the wall,

00:36:49   which can be either a whiteboard that you can stand out and draw on,

00:36:53   or you can draw on your table in front of you and it appears on the whiteboard.

00:36:56   And you can also project a computer screen, like so your Mac,

00:37:01   you can connect your Mac using some software

00:37:04   and you can then project your computer screen on the wall.

00:37:08   It's really clever, right?

00:37:09   Like it's just like the way you would do it

00:37:10   in an actual conference room.

00:37:12   And there was just this one moment

00:37:14   where I was talking to you about some sales numbers

00:37:18   and I pointed with my arm and you looked.

00:37:22   That has stuck with me, that moment.

00:37:25   Because in that moment, I was 100% in that room with you.

00:37:30   Like that was a real feeling,

00:37:33   which didn't make any sense for me to do that.

00:37:36   It didn't make sense for me to point

00:37:38   because I was telling you the number anyway,

00:37:40   but I pointed at it.

00:37:41   And you, naturally, looked where I was pointing.

00:37:44   And you could see what I was pointing at,

00:37:47   because I was physically, to you, pointing at something,

00:37:51   and you could draw a line with your eyes

00:37:53   from where my finger was to the board.

00:37:56   And there was just something about that moment

00:37:58   where it was like, we're not together right now,

00:38:01   we're not in the same place,

00:38:02   you could have been anywhere, I could have been anywhere,

00:38:05   but because of these headsets, because of this technology,

00:38:08   we could have an in-person meeting,

00:38:11   which for all intents and purposes, with some weirdness,

00:38:14   just felt like we were in a room together.

00:38:16   - I'm realizing that as we talk,

00:38:20   this is one of those episodes,

00:38:21   it has the danger of sounding like

00:38:24   we're talking about a dream.

00:38:26   - Yes.

00:38:27   - Like it reminds me of, how many years ago was it now?

00:38:31   - Oh, I don't even remember.

00:38:32   - It was great, we got invited to Facebook

00:38:34   to try the VR headsets, which were, like, still in development then.

00:38:39   -I think the episode was called, like, "Tripping on Acid" or something like that.

00:38:42   -Yes, yeah, something like that.

00:38:44   So, for any listeners, like, I do apologize,

00:38:46   because I just think this is uniquely difficult to describe,

00:38:51   and part of it is what you were saying, Mike,

00:38:54   that it's not like playing a video game or doing a FaceTime call.

00:38:58   your brain really does encode this

00:39:01   as memories of a physical place,

00:39:05   but it's a physical place that is like a strange dream world

00:39:09   but that your brain also just takes 100% seriously.

00:39:13   And so it makes relating things quite difficult.

00:39:17   Just as a minor example, I had a funny moment

00:39:20   of just how seriously your brain takes something.

00:39:23   You were explaining something to me,

00:39:25   and I leaned back in my chair in my office.

00:39:30   But in our virtual meeting room,

00:39:31   there was a chair that was angled

00:39:34   in front of me a little bit,

00:39:36   and I went to put up my legs on the virtual chair,

00:39:41   which did not exist in my physical office,

00:39:44   and fell out of my chair, right?

00:39:47   But it goes to show you

00:39:49   how deadly seriously your brain takes it.

00:39:52   I wasn't tentative about putting my legs up on this chair.

00:39:55   I moved my legs and my weight 100%

00:39:58   as though there was something there

00:39:59   that would have caught me, and it didn't,

00:40:01   because it wasn't there.

00:40:03   That's how real it feels.

00:40:04   Like, it feels real in ways that you don't even notice.

00:40:08   And one thing that I do also find

00:40:11   is like a little creepy in the onboarding process

00:40:14   that I didn't know about,

00:40:15   'cause I basically knew nothing about these headsets

00:40:17   until you sent one to my house,

00:40:19   was it's like it needs to record your eyes, what your eyes are looking at, and you need

00:40:24   to give it permission to record your face.

00:40:29   Which is just like a little bit of an unnerving dialogue box to click yes on of like if you're

00:40:34   going to use this meeting room, you have to let it look at your eyes and you have to let

00:40:38   it look at your face.

00:40:39   And I don't like that at all, but in talking to you in this virtual room, if I couldn't

00:40:45   where you were looking and you weren't making facial expressions in this like avatar representation

00:40:50   of yourself, it would 100% change the experience to be just like barely useful.

00:40:56   I think this is the key part of what makes the Quest Pro better is that it has these

00:41:02   senses in it. That if we would have done these meetings with regular quests, I don't think

00:41:06   it would have been the same experience. I don't think it would have been as good.

00:41:10   Like realistically for me, this is so much more immersive than a Zoom call.

00:41:15   My sense of being with you, my sense of feeling like this thing I was talking to was you,

00:41:22   was better than me actually seeing you, which is very strange.

00:41:26   And it doesn't seem like that could be possible.

00:41:31   How could me seeing cowgirl Grey be better than a Zoom call?

00:41:38   With actual me.

00:41:39   And I can't explain to you why this felt better, but it did.

00:41:43   And I think it's just the simple idea of like, I feel like we're together in this place.

00:41:50   We have the same surroundings, in so much that I get enough from you, from your voice

00:41:56   and from your facial expressions, but then also that it is locked off to we're sharing

00:42:01   an experience.

00:42:02   Like this experience is 100% shared.

00:42:05   Everything that I can see, you can see.

00:42:07   It makes a big difference.

00:42:08   and I also prefer it to a zoom in that you can't get distracted I can't get

00:42:14   distracted yeah the sense of presence is different you can see that from looking

00:42:17   down at my computer so you know if I'm not paying attention to you when I'm

00:42:20   talking to you and she's not the same as when you're doing a video call or a

00:42:24   voice call there is no real sense of what someone's doing in that moment you

00:42:28   can guess if someone's paying attention to you but you don't know but in these

00:42:31   rooms, it's a room. It's like we're in a room. It's so simple, but it makes a difference.

00:42:39   So here's one of my many asterisks comes in. I am afraid for remote workers the totalitarian

00:42:46   nightmare that this headset represents. Because you have to grant it permission to track what

00:42:52   are you looking at in this virtual environment. I even think it's kind of horrifying that

00:42:57   Like, well, it knows if you're smiling or if you're frowning.

00:43:02   And so like, ah, that's data that's being collected about you.

00:43:06   What this makes me think of a little bit is the world of truckers is kind of like the

00:43:11   vanguard of this real monitoring of how employees are during the workday.

00:43:18   So like, lots of truckers have to consent to systems that watch their eyes to see if

00:43:24   they're sleepy and like are constantly being fed back into this big data system of like

00:43:29   exactly how is this trucker operating right now. For us, I would like to keep doing our

00:43:37   Cortex calls in VR, which I'm kind of like, there's many more disadvantages that we can

00:43:43   talk about and I'm kind of shocked to hear myself say that. But even after we've finished

00:43:48   what for me was like, oh, the reason we can do this is that we can talk about it on a

00:43:52   a show, I would actually prefer to do our next brand call in VR. We both know that we're

00:43:59   being forced to not be distracted and to like put all of your brain power into this conversation

00:44:07   that we're having right now. It's literally erased the outside world. It doesn't exist.

00:44:12   And you're just in this environment to discuss like decisions about the cortex business and

00:44:16   what are we going to do. And for you and me, self-employed people who've started a company

00:44:20   together who want it to do well. That's great, but I just think about like some of my previous

00:44:26   jobs and if I were forced to be in a BS meeting where I can do nothing but pay 100% attention

00:44:34   to the total ridiculous nonsense that doesn't affect me or like terrible decisions that

00:44:39   are happening up front or just like information that's irrelevant and my eyes are being tracked

00:44:45   and if I frown is being tracked, like, what an unbearable nightmare that is.

00:44:51   If I had a job where I was given the choice by my boss to commute into work and to be in the office

00:44:58   in person, or I could work remotely and get all that time back, but while I was working remotely,

00:45:05   I'd have to wear the headset. I also can't believe that I'm saying this out loud, but like,

00:45:09   I would choose the commute. I totally would. It would just be like, work but way too intense

00:45:16   and like this nightmare version of what bosses think work should be. Like you're paying 100%

00:45:23   attention 100% of the time to everything that's happening, which is just like an unreasonable

00:45:28   expectation in all jobs. I mean I would too because like again, this is why I think one

00:45:33   of the things is wild that I want to keep doing this. Every time that we finish one of these

00:45:38   meetings I get horrible headaches. The way I describe it is it feels like my

00:45:43   brain has turned to liquid like when we're done with these things and I don't

00:45:46   know what it is that's doing this like I wear glasses and I wear my glasses in

00:45:53   the headset so I'm not sure if it's like a eyesight thing or it's an eyesight

00:45:59   thing with a resolution thing or if it is the headset on my head like I don't

00:46:07   know what it is, but I'm usually like I'll have these meetings and I am like out of it

00:46:11   for a few hours afterwards because I don't feel great when I'm done. Yeah. In a way that

00:46:16   I've not felt playing VR games. So like I'm not really sure what it is that's causing

00:46:22   it.

00:46:23   I've been extremely drained after these and I agree it is very noticeable that it is not

00:46:27   the same experience as VR gaming. So it's not something about the actual experience

00:46:33   of VR or the headset. It's like, man, I can shoot a bunch of zombies with my bow and arrow

00:46:38   for like hours and it's and come out of it and it's like, boy, am I pumped. That was

00:46:42   great. I really do think it's a byproduct of the intensity that it forces you to have

00:46:48   in paying attention. So I think that's part of it. I do think also the biggest hindrance

00:46:54   to this actually being able to be used as a real work tool is that the resolution is

00:47:00   not good enough for text. That might be what's giving you actual headaches. And that's where

00:47:08   like I tried doing the thing where I load my computer into the headset to work. So you

00:47:13   can work at like a virtual office and then load up your computer. And so like, oh, cool.

00:47:17   I can have as big of a monitor as I want. And I can put obsidian on it. I can have all

00:47:21   the text for my scripts. And I loaded it up and I looked at it and in two seconds, I was

00:47:25   like "NOPE! This is never gonna work because the text is just not crisp enough." And I

00:47:32   think this is literally true, that for text, it's the worst computer display I have ever

00:47:40   seen, including when I was in college and worked on some of these like ancient CRT monitors

00:47:47   that had like worse than VHS resolution output.

00:47:50   Yeah, because the text you were seeing on those was made for those. The text that we're

00:47:54   trying to read from our computer screens.

00:47:56   Like, and I'm not excusing it here, but like,

00:47:58   these screens do not have

00:48:00   the resolution required to make

00:48:02   that look good. Like, they just don't.

00:48:04   But there's an additional problem, which is that

00:48:06   bad resolution

00:48:08   text on a bad monitor

00:48:10   in the real world is still

00:48:12   a flat object that you're

00:48:14   looking at with your two eyes.

00:48:16   Whereas, in VR,

00:48:18   the headset is generating two

00:48:20   slightly different images to give

00:48:22   the illusion of 3D. And for absolutely everything, if those two images aren't like perfectly created

00:48:30   or your headset isn't perfectly sitting, it's gonna be like ever so slightly out of focus,

00:48:36   but you won't even notice. Which is why I think like for any of the gaming stuff,

00:48:40   this never even comes up. Like I never think about it. But the text is intrinsically blurrier,

00:48:46   because if the 3D effect isn't absolutely perfect, which I just think they can't do right now,

00:48:53   it just looks bad, and I think your brain is trying to focus on it all the time.

00:48:58   This might be the difference between me and you, where like because I'm running the meeting,

00:49:02   and I have all the notes, like I'm looking at a computer inside of the Horizon workroom for most

00:49:08   of it, I'm doing a lot more reading to like pull up this and I'm looking through these charts and

00:49:12   and looking at this and like, here's my next item on the list. So maybe that's causing

00:49:17   me some focus issues straining my eyes.

00:49:20   And I think you're also having to do the thing of switching more, which is that you're going

00:49:23   more from looking at text to looking at me to looking outside to looking at text. Whereas

00:49:29   for me, I'm looking at you, I can see that you have this little computer in front of

00:49:33   you, but I can't see what's on there. I just see what you're choosing to project on the

00:49:37   virtual wall, which is also much bigger than the display that you're looking at, which

00:49:42   helps with the text size, which is also why if you ever play a VR game, you'll notice

00:49:47   that the text is enormous, right? If they ever need to show you something written, like

00:49:51   the game tries to make it as big as it possibly can because it just looks better that way.

00:49:56   But actual work documents don't get to have, you know, size 72 font letters because like

00:50:03   a meeting agenda just needs to be smaller than that. So I think this is the biggest

00:50:08   impediment to it actually being a useful work tool is the resolution is just bad for text.

00:50:13   The resolution is great for a virtual environment like your brain doesn't care. But I think

00:50:18   they are miles away from text that looks like text on a retina computer screen. And I think

00:50:25   they're going to need to be at some kind of much higher than we would expect resolution

00:50:31   in both eyes to make that work. So even if people talk about like, ooh, it's going to

00:50:36   be a 4K display in both eyes. It's like, I'm sure that will look great. But I also think

00:50:41   that probably won't improve text as much as you actually needed to because of the stereoscopic

00:50:48   effect and the need for it to be just like, perfectly focused in order to work. But that's

00:50:54   also why I kind of can imagine this as just like an absolute nightmare for a remote worker

00:50:59   to be like, Oh, work on your documents in VR so we can keep track of exactly what you're

00:51:04   you're doing at all times, down to the level of are you actually looking at the document

00:51:09   that you're supposed to be working on or are you paying attention to some other note on

00:51:12   your screen? I would suggest that if anybody listening, if their employer ever suggests

00:51:18   to them about using a VR headset, bring up very fast that you have VR motion sickness.

00:51:23   Just be like, "Oh, I have tried Beat Saber and I like I threw up all over my room immediately."

00:51:31   I genuinely think this needs to be a like,

00:51:33   hey, workers of the world,

00:51:34   you should probably unite on this front

00:51:36   of like you all have VR motion sickness.

00:51:38   Like I just think that might be quite good to do.

00:51:41   - I do wanna mention hand tracking.

00:51:43   They gotta do better.

00:51:44   There's a lot of things where they would prefer you

00:51:46   to use your hands and sometimes it works okay,

00:51:50   but most of the time it does not work very well.

00:51:53   Like when you're using hand tracking,

00:51:55   they have this like gesture they want you to perform

00:51:57   so you can bring up a menu

00:51:58   where you pinch your fingers together to bring up a menu.

00:52:01   It works maybe 25% of the time.

00:52:03   - Yeah.

00:52:04   - Hand tracking really needs to come a long way

00:52:08   to be doing this stuff, these meetings.

00:52:11   And I particularly want to be using a controller.

00:52:14   - Yeah, the controller is a bit awkward.

00:52:15   - And if we're doing things like where I talk about

00:52:18   like my transcending moment was a point, right?

00:52:22   And it did a good job of getting that,

00:52:24   but it doesn't all the time.

00:52:26   sometimes we're talking and your arm disappears behind the back of your head for no reason

00:52:31   all of a sudden. It is nowhere near as good at doing, I think, a representative job as

00:52:37   hand tracking as it is like facial expression tracking, which feels very good. Like I never

00:52:42   see your face do something bananas, right? Like your eyes don't fly out of the back of

00:52:46   your head at any point or anything, you know?

00:52:48   Yeah, the hands can be all over the place. And I think I really don't help that because

00:52:53   using this kind of thing will make you quite self-conscious of how you are in meetings.

00:52:59   And I think I never quite realized how often I put my hands on the top of my head when

00:53:02   I'm listening. And it's like, oh, there's no cameras up there. So the headset is like,

00:53:08   where does hands go? I have no idea. Make him fold his arms in front of him. And like,

00:53:13   I can see that sometimes. It's like my VR arms just did something different because

00:53:17   I put my actual hands on the top of my head while I'm listening to you talk, but the headset

00:53:22   has lost track of them and it's not great. Again, for any kind of "my hands are in front of me and

00:53:28   I'm gesturing" like I feel like it does fairly well nail that, but the moment you start going

00:53:34   to the edges or especially above the hands can be all over the place. Well, I do think it lacks

00:53:40   some precision though. Yeah, this is also where I think there's some kinds of things that are just

00:53:44   a little bit embarrassing and the gesture where you touch your index finger to your thumb to try

00:53:50   to bring up a menu, that seems like such a simple gesture and the number of times it

00:53:56   fails to register is like, "Oof, that is real bad."

00:54:00   It's like the one thing you're telling me to do.

00:54:03   So you really should have this one taken care of, you know?

00:54:07   Yeah, it's literally the only gesture.

00:54:09   It's like, "Touch my finger to my thumb."

00:54:11   And what's very strange about it is, I can see that my virtual hand has done it.

00:54:16   You know my index finger is touching my thumb.

00:54:20   But you don't bring up the little menu.

00:54:22   Yeah, I don't know what's going on there.

00:54:23   It's like there's two systems that aren't talking to each other or is trying to use

00:54:27   some different kind of recognition to bring up the menu.

00:54:30   I don't know.

00:54:31   It's odd.

00:54:32   Sometimes it feels like, you know, when you're like pointing at something and pinching, it

00:54:34   feels like there's like a weird lag to it sometimes where like I'm doing it and my hand

00:54:39   will come and join me in a second.

00:54:40   It's very strange.

00:54:41   Like the hand tracking does feel incredibly complicated to do.

00:54:46   So like I'm not surprised that it is something that requires more work over time.

00:54:52   But it is something that it's one of the only things that I'm doing that's pulling me out

00:54:58   of the experience while I'm in it.

00:55:00   Yeah and I do think they have the disadvantage of being caught in the middle of some things

00:55:06   you need to use controllers for, some things you need to use your hands for, which then

00:55:11   also means the system has to guess very fast which one of these two input methods are you

00:55:17   using.

00:55:18   And so there can be this lag of, "Oh, I picked up the controller, but it hasn't recognized

00:55:22   it for a second."

00:55:24   Or the reverse of that of, "I've put the controller down on my desk and now I've lifted my hand

00:55:28   up and my virtual hand just stays on the desk for a few moments until it realizes, 'Oh,

00:55:33   no, he's let go of that.'"

00:55:35   I think that is really hard, like the ideal for what they want.

00:55:39   Again, if you want like normal people in meetings to just use this, it has to be a controller

00:55:44   free experience.

00:55:45   Like these controllers just have to go, but it isn't there yet to be able to actually

00:55:51   just use it entirely without controllers.

00:55:54   This episode of Cortex is brought to you by Setapp.

00:55:57   Of all the tools available to us these days, looking for something new to improve the way

00:56:01   we work can feel like drowning in an ocean of different apps and services.

00:56:05   There are just so many available on the market right now and not all of them are worth your

00:56:09   time and money.

00:56:10   And what's more, so many of us are paying for apps and services that have never properly

00:56:15   integrated into our workflows.

00:56:17   So how do you know which are worth trying without emptying your wallet and subscriptions

00:56:22   that you're probably going to forget to cancel in the future?

00:56:25   The answer is Setapp.

00:56:26   Setapp is a platform that combines more than 230 powerful macOS and iOS apps and tools

00:56:32   under one 9.99 subscription.

00:56:35   Their selection of apps is super helpful if people use their Macs for work, covering complete

00:56:40   use cases like coding, designing, project and time management and more.

00:56:43   Once you're subscribed you'll get full access to the paid features of these apps

00:56:48   as well as the new apps that are constantly being added to the service.

00:56:51   So you'll always be sure to make sure that you're not missing out on anything that

00:56:54   can actually help you do your work more efficiently, all for just a fraction of the price.

00:56:59   Setapp is a smart way to get apps for people who create value with the help of their Apple

00:57:04   devices.

00:57:05   way the pain of looking up, comparing, buying and managing separate apps and they partner

00:57:09   with some of the world's best developers to handpick the most trustworthy and advanced

00:57:13   paid apps for Setapp.

00:57:15   When I need a new app to solve a problem that I'm working on, Setapp is where I go because

00:57:20   they have so many things that I enjoy. Like one of my favourite Mac apps of all time,

00:57:24   Bartender, which helps you organise and categorise the menu bar icons that appear in the menu

00:57:29   bar on your Mac. This is like a must have app for every Mac user. It's in Setapp.

00:57:34   about apps like craft which I've recently found one called hand mirror which lets you

00:57:42   turn on your webcam and a little window to see how you look before you go on that zoom

00:57:46   call. There are tons of tiny and huge and everything in between utilities and apps on

00:57:51   setapp and you are going to love it.

00:57:55   Setapp makes sure to remove outdated tools to keep the collection up to date with the

00:57:59   best software around. If you've got a complex task to solve you can delve into their app

00:58:03   collections. For peace of mind, every app is updated automatically with no annoying

00:58:08   ads that distract you, and you can install and uninstall apps with a single click. Check

00:58:13   out Setapp today by trying it out for 7 days for free. Go to stpp.co/cortex to try it completely

00:58:23   free for 7 days. That link is also in the show notes.

00:58:26   Setapp powers you up. Our thanks to Setapp for their support of this show and Relay FM.

00:58:31   As you know, Gray, I'm abreast of the rumors, right?

00:58:35   - Yeah.

00:58:36   - I'm all over it.

00:58:37   Apple rumors.

00:58:38   - You are literally my only source for Apple rumors.

00:58:41   So as far as I'm concerned,

00:58:43   you are where all the rumors come from.

00:58:44   - So as we are recording this,

00:58:47   Apple have announced nothing

00:58:48   and we're expecting something later on this year from them.

00:58:51   - So I hear from you.

00:58:52   - So you hear from me, you're about to hear from me.

00:58:55   We're maybe at this point,

00:58:56   a few months away from an unveiling,

00:58:58   maybe nine months away from a shipping product.

00:59:00   The things that we are talking about that we want to see improved are, as of this moment, the things that it seems Apple are most focusing on.

00:59:11   So, one of them is avatar creation.

00:59:15   So the rumors are suggesting in a one on one, they're going to do this really high quality avatar, which is going to be very intensive.

00:59:25   and seems like probably, unfortunately for you,

00:59:28   they're going to try and make something

00:59:29   as realistic as possible.

00:59:31   - What do you mean by intensive?

00:59:33   What is that, what do you mean by that?

00:59:34   - Processor intensive.

00:59:35   - Oh, okay, so just like high resolution?

00:59:37   - Very high resolution, because in any meeting environment

00:59:40   where it's more than two people,

00:59:42   it's going to revert to Memoji.

00:59:44   - I'm surprised the rumor is that they're doing something

00:59:46   more than Memoji, because--

00:59:48   - I was surprised about that too,

00:59:49   is that you have the perfect system,

00:59:50   why would you do something else?

00:59:52   But I think they are, Apple are going high end

00:59:55   with this product, right?

00:59:56   The rumors are it's probably gonna be like $3,000

00:59:59   and Apple's gonna make no profit on that, right?

01:00:01   Like they are going heavy now to build the platform

01:00:06   for when it can be cheaper later,

01:00:08   but they're gonna go heavy, high power,

01:00:11   high performance with the first instance.

01:00:15   I don't know why they're attempting to go that route.

01:00:17   My hope is that they will show us things

01:00:19   that are so mind blowing and that's the reasons

01:00:22   that they gotta go expensive, right?

01:00:25   And so the expectation is these will have basically

01:00:28   Mac chips in them.

01:00:30   And so in doing that, they wanna create this

01:00:34   very realistic feeling experience as a way to wow people.

01:00:39   I think for me, what I'm looking for from the headset,

01:00:45   I want them to be able to produce an event

01:00:49   which provides similar shock and awe to the original iPhone.

01:00:55   - Oh yeah, I mean, of course that's what you'd want.

01:00:56   - But I did not feel like this with the Apple Watch.

01:01:01   - Right, yeah.

01:01:02   - But I think if they want to really make this seem

01:01:05   like it's going to be a big deal,

01:01:07   they need to be able to shock us.

01:01:09   I don't believe they will get to that level,

01:01:11   but if they're able to do things like automatically create

01:01:15   a realistic avatar for you that looks like you

01:01:19   in the, it's like, you know, like, wow, you know,

01:01:21   like that's the kind of thing I think they're going for here

01:01:23   with that kind of stuff.

01:01:24   So they're going for maybe more realism.

01:01:26   Yeah, and to be fair, if there was an automatic avatar creation process,

01:01:32   I would probably be significantly less resistant to that.

01:01:35   Good point.

01:01:35   It's a little bit of like, I hate that I have to pick which nose is mine, right?

01:01:39   Yeah, I don't like that either.

01:01:40   Like, ugh, it's awful. I hate it.

01:01:43   And I actually think one of the things about Memoji is like,

01:01:45   the cartooniness of it actually made it easier.

01:01:48   Like that experience is nicer in that way,

01:01:51   because it isn't so like I'm trying to make me.

01:01:55   - Yeah, it can't possibly be you.

01:01:57   It's the cartoon version of you.

01:01:59   Again, like I just think of Pixar.

01:02:01   It's like if it was a Pixar-created version of you,

01:02:05   no one expects it to really look like you.

01:02:07   It's supposed to capture the idea of you.

01:02:09   - There apparently, you know,

01:02:10   we're talking about the resolution.

01:02:12   So they're going all in on screens.

01:02:14   8K screens in each eye is one of the rumors.

01:02:16   - Yeah.

01:02:17   - That's going to be very expensive.

01:02:19   and then apparently they have no controller.

01:02:22   It's all hand tracking.

01:02:23   - I think that's what it's gotta be.

01:02:24   - So here's what I'll say.

01:02:26   I think for certain use cases, I agree with you, right?

01:02:31   Like that is what it's gotta be.

01:02:32   Like for work, for the things that we're talking about here,

01:02:34   me and you sitting down in a meeting environment,

01:02:37   what I want is the very best hand tracking

01:02:39   that money can provide, right?

01:02:41   That would be great.

01:02:42   But not for games though.

01:02:44   - Yeah, no, I completely agree.

01:02:45   Like this whole conversation hasn't been games,

01:02:48   like explicitly from the top.

01:02:50   - But like if we're talking about me and you here

01:02:53   sitting down and having a meeting, then yes, right?

01:02:55   Like I want great hand tracking, I want great comfort,

01:02:58   which apparently they're going for.

01:03:00   One of the things that they've done,

01:03:01   which on the face of it sounds not great,

01:03:04   was apparently the battery is not in the headset.

01:03:09   There is a cable from the headset to a battery pack

01:03:12   that you put in your pocket or something.

01:03:13   - I don't think that's the worst idea though.

01:03:15   - I mean, when I heard it, I was like,

01:03:17   Well, my expectation is all of the reasons they've done this are things that I want,

01:03:21   which is I want it to feel more comfortable in my head and last longer.

01:03:24   That's something we didn't talk about with the Quest Pro.

01:03:26   The battery life is terrible.

01:03:28   It's so bad.

01:03:29   It's like two hours or something.

01:03:32   Which is not great, you know, using this thing for any kind of intensive thing and the battery

01:03:37   style it got.

01:03:38   I would not want to be in a meeting in the Quest Pro for one minute more than two hours,

01:03:43   but yeah, it's got to last longer.

01:03:44   It's still not great.

01:03:45   great because again I think in META's ideal world people would be doing several meetings a day in

01:03:51   this and it's like it can't the battery can't hold up to that it can't charge fast enough.

01:03:55   It's like it's great that I have this fancy charging dock but oh boy do I need it right

01:03:59   because it's in there all the time this thing so there were some potential rumors which I would

01:04:04   like is that the battery you could then swap out for another battery or you could just like plug in

01:04:08   a new battery so you could have a couple going if you wanted to have a really long session.

01:04:13   So I mean, I'm choosing to stay like positive about this.

01:04:17   And I will say one of the things that has changed my mind about Apple's headset

01:04:23   is my experiences with the MetaQuest Pro with you.

01:04:27   Now I'm like, yeah, I could use this as a work tool.

01:04:31   I could do this.

01:04:33   You know, like I think about recording podcasts in VR.

01:04:38   Like what could that be like?

01:04:39   Yeah.

01:04:40   Would that feel better in a way? We don't have to do video, but we could actually feel like we're in the same place.

01:04:47   Would it help with you knowing when I've got something to say? That kind of thing. Like, that could be really interesting.

01:04:54   Yeah, I hadn't thought about that with video podcasts, because to pull back the curtain, there's a thing if you're recording a podcast,

01:05:03   and like we are, you're willing to put in a bunch of actual editing effort to make it happen,

01:05:08   that we both do where you sometimes talk over each other,

01:05:12   but we've both learned to finish our own sentences

01:05:17   as we're simultaneously talking over the other person

01:05:20   because we know, like, you can fix that in editing

01:05:23   and just pull the two sentences apart.

01:05:26   - Or the best sentence wins. - Yeah.

01:05:28   But that is a byproduct of not having the visual cue

01:05:32   of when the person is going to talk.

01:05:34   And I just don't think that FaceTime is actually, like for all the reasons we discussed before,

01:05:40   I think if we recorded a podcast using FaceTime, it's more of a hindrance than a help.

01:05:45   But it is conceivable that a VR podcast could help there.

01:05:51   And even, again, if you're being professionals about recording something, you could just

01:05:56   have a little hand signal.

01:05:57   It's like, "Oh, when I put my finger up, like I have something that I want to say,

01:05:59   but I don't want to interrupt you."

01:06:01   You can have that kind of stuff in real life that could make an editing effort easier that

01:06:07   I hadn't really thought about.

01:06:09   But I didn't realize like, so you were just like not positive on VR as a future product

01:06:16   really until you tried this?

01:06:18   Like what's your position that's changed since using the Oculus or the meta or whatever,

01:06:24   the Quest?

01:06:25   into it for gaming right like I think great gaming experiences and I would

01:06:30   actually say great gaming experience is more than great games I have yet to

01:06:35   encounter personally a VR game that felt like a full video game you know and like

01:06:42   I've played a bunch of things that I've purported to be that kind of thing but

01:06:47   it still feels like there is a novelness to it that I don't experience in other

01:06:52   regular console games but I do believe that's coming as we move further and

01:06:57   further down the line PlayStation just released their PSVR - I believe we will

01:07:03   see more and more full video games in VR but I've yet to really have that kind of

01:07:08   experience yeah where this meeting has had actual real benefit to it over what

01:07:16   I was doing otherwise.

01:07:18   Where for me, the video gaming aspect of my quest experience is like, this is a nice way

01:07:24   to play this game, but it's not necessarily better than any other game that I would play

01:07:29   on any other console.

01:07:30   It's different and I enjoy the feeling in the world, but also sometimes there are some

01:07:38   games where like I could play them on a console and enjoy them, but too intense for me in

01:07:43   VR.

01:07:44   it can detract as well as enhance an experience.

01:07:47   But like, I'm not like in the meeting, I'm not getting scared of you, you know what I mean?

01:07:52   Like, it's only adding, for me, to that experience.

01:07:56   I mean, that's not technically true, because we did discover that you can teleport into different seats

01:08:02   and surprise each other a couple of times, but you know, that ends very fast.

01:08:06   But it's not so intense as like a dragon chasing me, you know?

01:08:09   - And I did keep getting, you didn't get them,

01:08:12   but whenever I loaded into the VR space,

01:08:15   it gave me this warning of like,

01:08:16   "Hey, you better respect people's personal space in here,"

01:08:18   which I found very funny as a warning,

01:08:22   but I can also get it that in VR,

01:08:24   if you get right up in someone's face,

01:08:26   it does feel like someone's right up in your face.

01:08:28   - It can be a little disconcerting,

01:08:30   but for me, the experiences that we've had of like,

01:08:33   "Oh, I could actually understand using this

01:08:35   "in my professional life,"

01:08:37   which then it becomes more than novelty.

01:08:40   Like the novelty can still be there,

01:08:42   but I can also use this professionally.

01:08:45   And then if I can use it professionally,

01:08:46   maybe one day it could be used for more like

01:08:50   talking with friends kinds of experiences,

01:08:54   rather than just being like a professional thing.

01:08:57   Because what I was concerned about for Apple

01:09:00   is all of the rumors suggesting the price.

01:09:03   $3,000, right, is this expected price,

01:09:06   this number that keeps getting thrown around.

01:09:08   And it's like, well, that's too much money, right?

01:09:10   Like, you are not going to sell enough of these.

01:09:14   It's too expensive.

01:09:15   It's more expensive than the max, most of the max.

01:09:18   Like, it's very, very high.

01:09:20   But if they're doing this because they

01:09:23   can offer an experience, which in all

01:09:25   of the professional realms here that we're talking about

01:09:28   is better than what META can do, then maybe it's

01:09:31   a decent place to start.

01:09:33   Yeah, I've thought many times while we're having those meetings that it's useful for us, but if,

01:09:40   let's say we worked in computer graphics or anything that had CAD, like architecture software,

01:09:47   you know, you've seen videos, right, or like movies where people are discussing like a physical

01:09:53   object in a virtual space, like we've all seen this in movies, but having done the actual meeting,

01:09:59   It was like, oh my god, if I was an architect, 100% this would be incredibly useful if we can like,

01:10:05   bring physical objects into this space. It was like, if I'm designing a video game,

01:10:10   and I'm like having meetings with developers around the world, and we need to talk about like,

01:10:15   models for characters. It was immediate, like, this is a no brainer, we should do it in this

01:10:21   environment. I mean, who knows what Apple is going to do with their initial product, but I

01:10:25   could see that they have something that's very high end, but they're also trying to

01:10:29   target a particular market.

01:10:32   And I mean, I've always thought Apple does seem to be going after the entertainment industry

01:10:36   in interesting ways with some of their production stuff behind the scenes.

01:10:40   And it's like, I could see this fitting in very well for like, people who are having

01:10:46   meetings about special effects and movies.

01:10:48   Like, I could see that.

01:10:49   I think ultimately the place that they're going to start is this is for some high-end

01:10:56   customers, customers that are going to pay this money, right?

01:10:59   It's going to be for professional customers who are going to want this for the enhanced

01:11:05   FaceTime experience that they'll get out of this.

01:11:08   And it's for developers who are going to start crafting the apps and experiences that will

01:11:14   then be ready for when in three years time we have a $1,000 version of this

01:11:18   product right and then we're ready. Michael has an upgrade, Jason Snell keeps

01:11:23   talking about this and I hope that he's right that when they announced this

01:11:26   product they talk openly about this is the beginning of a line of products that

01:11:32   we will produce so they contextualize that like the Apple headset is not

01:11:37   always going to be a $3,000 product every single year right that is a start

01:11:42   but they've chosen to start in this place because they want to show what they believe they'll be able to offer

01:11:47   to everyone for a third of the price in an amount of time from the future, but they have to start somewhere

01:11:53   And I do believe they just need to get going with this because if they believe this is important to them

01:12:00   Meta will just take the market. Yeah, so like if they want to do it

01:12:05   They've got to get in and they've just got to get going no matter what their headlines are gonna say, right?

01:12:11   Apple charging $3,000 for their headset.

01:12:16   Meta charges $500 for their headset.

01:12:20   It's gonna be bad press 'cause that's just

01:12:23   what it's gonna be if this is the product that they offer.

01:12:26   But I understand why you might start here.

01:12:29   If you believe this is the beginning of a thing.

01:12:32   It's worth remembering, when the iPhone came out,

01:12:35   the idea of an $800 phone on a contract was ridiculous.

01:12:41   but they just pushed it forward and people went in on it because it was so impressive.

01:12:46   So that's the kind of thing they got to hope that they can do, right?

01:12:49   Ultimately the thing that has surprised me about this whole experience,

01:12:52   when we decided we were going to do this episode,

01:12:55   it was going to be more of like a "haha how fun is the metaverse?"

01:13:00   - Yeah. - How silly all these game experiences are.

01:13:03   But it quite quickly changed when we had a couple of these meetings

01:13:07   and then it was like "oh no wait we're believers in this technology now"

01:13:11   yeah we both expected that we were going to spend a bunch of money on these headsets

01:13:17   and it might be an entertaining disaster we have both been surprised that for all of the complaints

01:13:25   meta has proved there's something here like there is something here in terms of a useful tool

01:13:33   like they're going to keep iterating on it and someone is going to win this space. How big is

01:13:40   this market? I don't know but I've felt like and ever since we had that very first demo at Facebook

01:13:47   headquarters that was for me the experience of a new medium for the first time and it's like oh

01:13:54   there's plays and then there's radio and then there's television this is amazing it's a new

01:13:59   medium and VR for me was like I cannot believe this is a new medium and I still really enjoy

01:14:06   gaming in VR as that like new medium experience but this is something else on top of that

01:14:15   now like it's not just entertainment there is a useful tool here it may be in the most

01:14:22   baby form, but there's something here and someone is going to be the winner in this

01:14:29   market.