(All photos by Asa Mathat)
Founder and CEO, Net Power & Light
Founder and CEO, Techonomy
Tara Lemmey of Net Power & Light demos Spin, a new digital communication platform that lets people “experience emotion at the scale of the Internet.”
Read the full transcript below. (Transcript by Realtime Transcription.)
Ross: Next up is Tara Lemmey, CEO of Net Power & Light, someone who I think a lot of you guys are very familiar with. She is going to be talking about Spin and demoing her latest innovation designed to instill more human experience into digital communications.
This is actually something we’ve tried out at Techonomy in the offices as we’ve been programming this conference. So we’re going to test it out here as well.
For a technologist, Tara has a wonderfully unique perspective on technology: that the more it fades away, the better it serves the actual user.
Tara, if you could please join us up here.
Lemmey: Hi, guys. So David is missing from us, but we’re going to go find him.
So can you guys …
I’m going to introduce you to my world a little bit, which is the world of Spin. So David is out and about somewhere. And I want to bring him together with us. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile …
There’s David. I don’t know where you are, David.
Kirkpatrick: Hi, Tara.
Lemmey: Do you guys have audio on?
Kirkpatrick: Tara, what did you tell them so far?
Lemmey: I didn’t tell them anything really.
Kirkpatrick: Did you tell them the name of the product that you’re demonstrating and what it is?
Lemmey: I told them we were introducing the world of Spin and that you are part of that. So David is out and about somewhere.
Kirkpatrick: I’m actually not too far away, and I can show you another way of—it’s sort of a Dove Mountain view. That’s the other side of my iPad. I’m going to turn it back to myself again.
Tara, what is it we are looking at and what makes it different?
Lemmey: So in Spin, what we did was we tried to create a way for people to experience emotion at the scale of the Internet, or really create an amplifier for what we call the Experience Age. How do we start to have experiences with each other? In our world, experiences are about human emotion and human fidelity.
So David’s with me. Other people could be with me, and we would start doing things together. So I could start bringing things in together. We are fully synchronized anywhere we are in the world, so we can start moving through images, and we can start touching and feeling. You’ll notice nothing that I’m dealing with has a keyboard, because the best experiences in your life don’t have them.
So David is with me looking at some photos. We can zoom into great detail or out. If I want to make David louder, because he needs to be, he gets bigger.
Kirkpatrick: I can zoom in.
Lemmey: David can zoom in or out.
Kirkpatrick: I can draw on this too. Whatever that—the bridge—
Lemmey: We can get a little funky here together.
Lemmey: The way we look at the world is about having more fun together. Sometimes having more fun is just better sort of emotional experience.
I’m going to send David a missive right now, and he can fly back to me if he wants. Being in each other’s experiences are really important, whether they’re images or other things. But we can also start to be together differently. We can start to have experiences where we bring in remix in video and photography.
Video: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Lemmey: So we’re fully live in this experience together, and it could be live-live, or it could be video, that we’re remixing and moving between the audience and ourselves.
David or I could move it forward. We have full sort of ability to engage in that together. We can change color, we can start to draw on it together. We can move it around.
Kirkpatrick: Tara, what fundamentally makes it different from something like WebEx or another video collaboration tool? There’s a lot of those out there. What would you say is the single biggest difference between this and those?
Lemmey: We designed for fun. We really started—the impetus was how do you—it’s called Spin, because for those of you who are new in here, it’s about entanglement, or sort of quantum entanglement, how do we entangle each other sort of emotionally. And really our goal was to do things together, not see each other and not have asynchronous relationships, but be very dimensional and dynamic. We paid massive attention to all of the fundamentals—audio, video, HD.
We had to go back down to the core of the Internet and rewrite a lot of the fundamentals to make it happen, file over 80 patents and work on the tech for three years. So we’re not a fast startup, we’re a slow startup.
Kirkpatrick: The thing that interests me, Tara, you’re somebody who I know from your work in the policy realm. You’ve worked with the CIA, you’ve had a lot of involvement in security technology with jobs and employment. So what is it that led you to develop this? Which to me, it seems kind of like a new form of communication you’re trying to develop. It’s obviously very consumer oriented. But what is it that inspired you to do this particular project?
Lemmey: When—after 9/11 when I got asked to do pro-bono work with the Markle Foundation to rethink the intelligence infrastructure, both from a technical perspective, what I found is you can provide a lot of big data and you can get better answers than we had. But really it was the ahahs of being together, it was sort of the emotional engagement of people experiencing each other that gave people insights. That, and my background is in theater and film and computer science. So I’ve been waiting for a long time to invent the technology that brings those parts of myself together differently.
I’m flipping through some Monterey Bay Aquarium pictures here, so you guys can play around.
Kirkpatrick: Can I show some of my pictures too?
Lemmey: Sure. Pull in some photos. Show us what you got.
Kirkpatrick: Did it go in there? This is one of my wife’s paintings, actually. Can you see that clearly?
Lemmey: I sure can.
Kirkpatrick: My wife is a painter, and she is in the audience. I’m sure she’s embarrassed that I’m doing this.
Lemmey: Give her a little love.
Kirkpatrick: This painting was actually in the New Yorker when she had her show earlier this year. I’m very proud of that. It’s just an example of the kind of thing—there is another one of her paintings, actually. This is an old picture of me. I’m sharing my photos with you now. I will probably stop doing that. How do I stop doing that? Let’s see.
Lemmey: We’ll get rid of them. There they go. I just dropped them out.
Kirkpatrick: So you can drop them out?
Lemmey: Yeah, I can get rid of them. We wanted to treat everything sort of like real, real life. So everything is sort of physicality, movement, touching, feeling. We wanted to treat sound, video, audio, imagery, applications, and anything as if you’re an artist moving them around. That really—you’re opening up your sense of self, just like you do in the real life. So we treat it very differently.
The best experiences in life have never had a keyboard. I don’t think any of you would say your overwhelming experience had a keyboard. So we left that behind.
Kirkpatrick: Can you show you can resize the windows, Tara?
Lemmey: Yeah, sure. I’ve been revising all sorts of things. Everybody can get bigger or smaller. I can flip David over, shut him off and stick him in the corner if we want to get rid of him, which I do to my mother while we watch football together on Sundays occasionally, because we have different teams we’re rooting for.
So everybody can be resized. And everybody is resized in their own way. We call this the sort of Thanksgiving dinner approach to remixing audio and video. Really at Thanksgiving dinner you pay attention to who you want to, not the person across from you or not because somebody else dictates it.
And so we treat things as ensemble, and we treat everything from an experience perspective. We think about the world from an experience. We didn’t think about asynchronous or calling as a model to come from.
Kirkpatrick: Well, I know along those lines, watching sports together is one of the sort of use cases that you talked a lot about. Since it is intended for a significantly larger number of people than two, why don’t we include a couple people here? And then I think if we have time, we can ask the audience if they have any comments or questions or—
Lemmey: So I’m going to pull in Hee-Yoon, who is in Copenhagen, see if she’s around, and some of the folks—see if Stan and those guys are around and we’ll see who shows up.
Kirkpatrick: I’ll show her a little bit of Dove Mountain.
Lemmey: Oh, cool. This is where we would be if we weren’t in here. You’re not at the pool having drinks. Then we would be really jealous. You can be anywhere on here. It doesn’t require a lot of connection. We used the Spin platform to actually create a global classroom with Michael Sandel at Harvard—between Shanghai, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, New Delhi—and taught classes in sort of large remixed environments.
So Hee-Joon is coming in from Copenhagen, and Stan is coming in from San Francisco. They just came to visit. He is walking around. So whoever we want to pay attention to, we would mix and flip and slide. They can bring in things, they can pull in video. We mostly pulled in photo. But really, you can actually have any—any videos that you want. We will screw around with slow loris because that’s always—
Kirkpatrick: Hey, Hee-Yoon, you’re in Copenhagen?
Hee-Yoon: Yeah, I’m in Copenhagen.
Kirkpatrick: What are you doing there?
Hee-Yoon: I’m currently studying abroad for the semester.
Kirkpatrick: Well, thank you for joining us.
Lemmey: See, so you all feel slightly more emotional and close to us with slow loris there.
Kirkpatrick: How cute.
Lemmey: David, I know we don’t have much time—
Kirkpatrick: I think you should turn your camera in the other direction and see if somebody in the audience has a comment or a question. It’s an interesting use of consumer technology. Basically, Tara, what I see you trying to do is a new form of communication, pretty ambitious, and there’s a lot of realtime technology and patents behind it that I understand are quite complicated. Let’s see if anybody in the audience has any thoughts.
Lemmey: Anyone? Bueller? Maybe not.
Kirkpatrick: No questions or comments? All right.
Peiris: Hi, Mini Peiris with NetSuite. Just one question, can you pull apps in there too, so if you wanted to share the dreaded PowerPoint or Word document?
Lemmey: Not in the current release we just released two weeks ago. Clearly a lot of things are possible. Yes.
Camarata: Hi, my name is S.J. Camarata with ESRI. I’m curious, is all the things going on here being stored or is this going to go away when we’re done?
Lemmey: This is going to go away when we’re done. We are very sensitive to trust and privacy. If we’re invited into your lives, we want to be very respectful of that.
Kirkpatrick: Probably have time for one more, and I know we’re really trying to stick to the time, which I didn’t do a good job of earlier.
Lemmey: You have a question over there. Sorry. I’m going to try to turn the camera. I may screw up all the wires here.
Shine: So I was curious, can multiple people pull in multiple videos at the same time, then a person watching can choose between which one to watch?
Lemmey: All kinds of things can happen. We really tried to look at how people are in real life. In real life, people argue over the channel changer, so in Spin life that happens too. I mean, for us, whatever you would normally do is how we like to think about it. So we frequently will pull in a fire at the end of a day, start to have a—a little bit different kind of an experience. Hang on. Let me get back.
Kirkpatrick: Is that Kennedy who asked that question?
Lemmey: It was, indeed.
Kirkpatrick: Our 14-year-old speaker for—is it tomorrow or the next day? Anyway, Kennedy is going to be telling us about some interesting technologies herself in a couple of days.
Tara, thank you so much. I think we have to wrap and continue on. That was really interesting.
Lemmey: Bye, guys.
Kirkpatrick: That’s what makes this technology unusual. I really do think it’s something fairly new.
Lemmey: Bye, Hee-Yoon. Thanks for coming. I’m just pulling myself out and we’re gone. Thanks.