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Technology That Heals


Roger Holzberg

In this episode, creative technologist Roger Holzberg recounts his personal career journey from the Imagineering studio at the Walt Disney Company, where he devised and built original theme park rides, to his second career as where he applies immersive technology to health care and healing, first at the National Cancer Institute and now as a med tech innovator at Reimagine Well. Roger explains the subtle art of balancing new technologies with real world events and the ever-evolving customer experience. Discussion topics include: designing deep futures, the use case for virtual reality and augmented reality, dealing with animated dolphins, lessons from Walt Disney’s Imagineering, visualization tech in cancer treatment and research, the use of distraction therapy, healthcare by design, teaching the art of world building, turning students in Imagineers, environmental sustainability.   https://reimaginewell.com/

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[Music] this week on the futurist Roger holtzberg
you know it's always about the storytelling and the experience design and and to some degree never about the
technology [Music]
welcome back to the futurists I'm Rob turcic with my co-host Brett King hey
Rob yeah glad things I'm glad you're back I'm happy to be back join me back in the hosting chair not that Brian
isn't a great co-host but um you know it's it's it's uh it's you you're the
partner in crimes how was the trip it was a fantastic trip I was on the east coast and I had um I visited South
Carolina and then I was in New Mexico which is a state I'm really growing fond of visiting and while I was in South
Carolina I had a chance to go to the AR Meetup in Charleston Charleston is quite
a tech Hub these days yeah it's growing real quick there's a there's a booming Tech scene there they've got um you know
they've got three tier one research universities in the state of South Carolina and then the College of
Charleston which is a liberal arts school that's Reinventing itself uh with an engineering and computer science
department that is very Cutting Edge and the cool thing there at all the schools I visited uh is that they're
focused on practical education so the students are also working with local industry
um but along that line I went to a meet up there uh AR and VR Meetup in in Charleston which is quite good and um
they demoed the new uh metaquest Pro headset and so I thought I'd start the show with a little bit of news from the
future [Music] uh about very near future topics since
the metaquest pro headset came out last fall um and the news story there is actually quite interesting you know uh for a lot
of folks the last time they tuned into VR was before the pandemic yes around 2018 there was a Mini Boom in VR here in
Los Angeles where I'm based there were several VR Studios uh and there was a big push towards immersive arcades you
know so a destination and shopping mall that you would go to and of course the pandemic put an end to most of that
activity and quite a few of the studios went away so as a result a lot of people have kind of a negative uh feeling about
VR kind of lingering doubts uh pessimism about that field and and that's understandable because people have been
grinding away at VR for a long time uh so I was curious to see this new headset
after you know Zuckerberg has invested tens of billions of dollars into uh what
used to be Oculus and now is called The Meta Meta Quest the quest is the headset before the pandemic that Quest 2 came
out and at the time it was the best VR headset on the market but that was quite a few years ago that was 2018 and so now
here we are back uh it's a 2022s just last fall a new version came out it's the metaquest uh Pro
and it retails at a whopping fifteen hundred dollars it's a lot of money it's three times the price of the quest too
and so so curious to try it on and see what's different and here's the interesting thing it's pretty good
uh personally I'm not gonna pray for me that's a big deal man I know exactly that's it you're a bit of a skeptic on
this stuff I'm a tire kicker um but I want to see I want it to work right so I approach it all with a little bit of um
skepticism but also I'm kind of excited to try it on so uh the the headset is
much lighter the headset has um a new pancake lens it's 40 thinner than the
previous lens uh which makes the front of it less heavy if you remember the old VR headsets the battery in the back
right yeah that's exactly right there's a battery in the back and then there's lighter lens in the front and what that
means is you barely notice you're wearing it so one of the complaints people often had about VR headsets is
that they were too heavy and you kind of noticed it when you're wearing it I did not notice this thing at all because the battery tucks in right underneath at the
back of your head it's curved and you barely notice it at all uh so the weight and the the distribution of weight is
good that the straps on the headset that was the other big issue with the previous headsets they would have an
ugly strap that went across the top of your head a lot of people didn't like that if they had a hairstyle
um and so the new straps are on the side and they're quite firm and they sort of snap in they hold it snug into your head I found that was great as well
um The lenses themselves are about almost 40 percent more pixels so they're they're quite a bit better resolution
wow and they have this new thing which is great you can uh dial if you've ever used binoculars where you can adjust uh
the resolution so yeah because I was stunned at how sharp the resolution was and that was always my issue in the past
with VR it was always a little fuzzy for me and I never felt like I was gonna like watch a movie in it it would be a
substandard experience so the minute I put on the metaquest pro I was stunned because the resolution was quite good
but one of the things I noticed is that because I could adjust that little knob which brings the lenses either closer or
farther from your face for what they call interpupillary distance that's the
space between your eyes uh what that does is that has the effect of making it sharper and and um man it was really
quite a good image now this new headset is designed for um work that's what it's
intended for hence the term Pro uh and they had all these work functions that were really kind of trippy so you
know you probably remember when Mark Zuckerberg a couple years ago was getting very excited about co-working in
VR and at the time yeah people are like come on Mark
Zuckerberg is just hyping it up here what's Facebook's play in in work it just seemed preposterous
but I'll tell you what's quite interesting is um I created three virtual screens like a virtual desktop
and it was pretty good I don't know if it's good enough to replace my desktop screen but the idea that's the
trajectory right that's where we're going with this and and this is you know this is Apple's argument as well as it
for the new uh AR glasses or well it looks like now um you know getting to the news
um that uh and when you know by the time this show comes out actually we may have the news but um they're talking about
releasing this um mixed reality headset yeah um and holding off on the AR glasses that's
right yeah I think they canceled the AR for now but Apple will have a toggle switch that allows you to go back and
forth between AR and VR um think of that as like the digital crown on your Apple watch
so like one tap and you can switch from one mode to the other um both of them the Apple headset
according to rumors and uh then the metaquest pro uh can track facial gestures and your eyes and thereby
render your avatar with an expression that's similar to your face and so and
that sounds really goofy I can't believe I just said that sentence but actually in practice this works intuitively and
it works quite well the other interesting thing is uh you don't necessarily need to use controllers you
know if you use a VR unit now you have to wear these little controllers on your hands um the metaquest pro is able to track
your hands and you can and and you can be like Controller free and again that's that's such a big
change it was sort of a surprise and the last thing I'll share with you is pass through passthrough is how you can do
mixed reality right um so you can see things on your desk for instance your real desk even as
you're working at a virtual desk and I got to tell you this is trippy um it was super fun to experience it's
really weird because you have to there's a little bit of like uh cultural adjustment necessary to work in a mixed
virtual and real space man I got to tell you I had a blast I don't think I'm going to spend 1500 bucks to buy one just yet but there is a
rumor that there's a new version of the quest the regular you know consumer Quest coming but that's it I mean as
this Tech gets better it's going to get cheaper it's going to get more accessible I mean you know look at how many people could afford the first
iPhone or the first Xbox or the first laptop computers you know so you know every pundit has a habit of comparing
this to the battle for the iPhone and if you remember there were a lot of terrible smartphones in the mid 2000s I
mean they were super expensive clunky like a brick they didn't really do much they didn't have color screens but the
real Clincher for the iPhone wasn't the actual first iPhone it was the App Store and the developer program and that's
where the battle is going to shift really soon now Facebook is pretty terrible it's not just the App Store but
it's the OS as well it comes with it right because you know like the two are tied together quite closely and then
it's the increasingly it's going to be the wallet ecosystem that sits in there as well and you know some of those
supporting mechanisms because you know your ability to make a payment in VR seamlessly and things like that there's
a lot of stuff that needs to be integrated um in there as well as yeah and you'll hear that from people who've
been Road testing the metaquest pro uh they complain because a lot of apps aren't yet developed for the haptic
interface so that the hands-free interface and so they're having a tough time logging into the apps that they use
on their computer for instance uh so the Battleground is going to shift from Hardware pretty quickly to developer
program and available availability of apps and you know Apple famously has a couple million apps in the App Store and
a huge vibrant ecosystem of developers so all eyes are now on Apple's upcoming
worldwide developer conference which is where they expect to be making the big announcements but this battle of
ecosystems will be quite interesting because I think Facebook is going to be in a tough spot there they have never
been kind to their Developers and while everybody in the world complains about that 30 toll that Apple
charges uh on iPhone right develop uh it turns out that Facebook is going to
charge or meta will charge it's like saying who's going to win you know at iOS or Android I I don't think and I
think there's room for a few different players in there for sure yeah yeah unfortunately the way the news works
these days everything's like a sports event you know somebody has to win and somebody has to lose I think you're right there's room for multiple wins and
but on that note it's worth noting that there's a couple of other headsets that are notable um bite dance which is the company that
owns Tick Tock and has been inflicting incredible pain on Facebook for the past two years they recently bought a company
called Pico and they have a headset that's comparable hey he was talking about this the other day in the other show right that's right exactly and then
of course HTC which is one of the first companies come out of the VR headset uh in November they launched uh XR Elites
so they have a new update to the Vive headset and that has comparable specs and it's only a thousand dollars so it's
it's the cheapest of the bunch I haven't checked those out yet um but I bring all this up because I thought it'd be a nice way to start our
conversation today with our guests Roger holtzberg is someone I've known for a long time we were introduced ages ago by
my friend Jay Schenker who sends his regards and um Roger was at Disney
imagineering at the time he's a director of Disney imagineering now Brett for our listeners who might not know Disney
imagineering is really like the department of the future it's where Disney invents the future so we'll have to ask Roger about that but since that
time he's had a big life change and an epiphany and he's moved on to some other things so we'll talk a bit more about
what he's doing at reimagine well and my bridge for Life Roger welcome to the show it's great to have you here thanks
Bob it's great to be here um you know it's funny all the conversation about
VR headsets which back in the day at imagineering were hmds and the first VR
attraction we worked on was back in the 1990s well you know at Disney Quest
um where the Marvel Comics villains were able to be babbled with lightsabers in a VR attraction
um that required lowering the headsets on cables because they were so heavy and
the person playing the game leaning against a bench because the equilibrium
loss was so crazy while you were standing with the VR headset and a lightsaber in your hand that people were
falling over so we needed to clip them into benches but yeah it's you know it's interesting to watch the technology
develop um and interesting to see the latest rev and it'll be interesting to see if it
truly takes off because I have developer kits in my garage back from the 1990s
it's true there's a big question about that with VR it's sort of what's the use case uh you know and how often will we
use it apparently the current generation of hmds they're used about two times a
month on average which is not very exciting um what we've learned in the clinical
setting particularly with pediatric patients is about a third of the time they don't want to put one on
so unless a unless a VR headset is required when we do our medical
applications we have them available on a computer screen as well as on the VR
headset because about a third of the patients will put the VR headset on and say nope I don't want to do it yeah and
you know and in the clinical setting you don't want to deny a patient the ability to uh you know do a a clinical
experience just because they don't want to put a headset on no I agree Roger but I think that you know a lot of that is
US learning about how to build these units so they're comfortable and
accessible for everybody you know there was reports early on about um people getting nauseous using via headsets and
so forth you know a lot of that is about GPU processing speeds and it's about the
quality of the screens right and and each of those are improving exponentially over time so I assure
assume that we're going to address those things I also think that you know I mean it I was having this debate the other
day with one of my my crypto D5 friends here in in Bangkok and he was saying
really do you think people are going to wear augmented reality glasses and I said well you you have to look at like
this is the futurist angle right thinking like a futurist is if you look at the development of computing over the
last 60 years you know computers were extreme well 80 years
extremely sophisticated pieces of equipment that are required you know High degrees of engineering capability
just to utilize in the old days we did Punch Cards to program you know computers and then we got a keyboard but
we had a printer you know no screens and there were green screens and there was guise and so forth but you know if you
follow that trajectory of computing then Computing Computing is getting more powerful it much much easier to use but
the ultimate ease of use is computing that is just embedded in the world around you and that's clearly where
Technologies like augmented reality and voice-based smart speakers and things like that you know self-driving cars is
taking us in this world of you know where we're immersed in in Computing and so I think
um you know it's not a question of um if like I don't think there's a scenario where AR just doesn't happen
you know I mean as a futurist I think it's just a matter of when we get the
tech so it's compelling for people to use it may be in the car as a heads-up display yeah it's also a question of
what the application is that requires the technology so you know in from my
experience at imagineering and from my point of view in my teaching at Cal Arch you know with students who are looking
at the the class is called designing deep futures um it's the use case that needs to
re-exist before the technology is appropriate period I mean I you know I
can I can date myself and tell you that you know one of my my very first come to
Jesus technology moments was the 1964 World's Fair seeing what I believed at
that moment as an eight-year-old kid Abraham Lincoln come back to life and talk to me from a stage in Great Moments
with Mr Lincoln at that World's Fair the technology was as rudimentary and clunky
and horrible right as you can imagine for audio animatronics in that time
um but the story and the use of that technology was so emotionally
captivating that it drove the audio animatronic you know future for the next 40 Years of the Walt Disney Company
that's a really good point it's uh if the story is good enough we get immersed in it and we almost
persuade ourselves you know we'll suspend disbelief long enough to get into the narrative and the imagination fills in the gaps it does and the
technology grows along the way you know about the time we met I was piloting an
attraction and imagineering with a free swimming animatronic dolphin that was
Circa 1999 with Edge Innovations using the technology some of the technology
they had developed for films like Free Willy and flipper and the abyss and we
won't realize that attraction with the version 3.0 version of animatronic
swimming creatures until 2025. um you know part of what I really focus
on in my teaching as well is is really walking students how to keep their
vision and their passion for that Vision alive right because you know we've Bob
we you've been around long enough to know a vision of the future doesn't materialize tomorrow
yeah that's true and you've got to sustain it and you might have the vision but the but you may not be able to
realize the vision right that's the challenge you gotta you gotta keep that flame alive exactly you've got to
um and you know and so you know it's it's been interesting you know the edge Innovations project with this dolphin
which um which laid dormant for a decade and a half you know um came back to life just
before pandemic but won't be real it won't be real we finally have a contract with a city in the United States of
America right to do a an animatronic free swimming attraction there
um for their City Centennial Centennial in 2025 but the goal of that project you
know and the passion of that project comes from wanting to be able to save species on the planet as they begin to
get you know and to change the Dynamics of the Marine Park industry to enable it
to be success successful and profitable again now Roger you have so many experiences that we want to go through
in a sequence so our audience can follow and you know you've been a director you've designed theme park rides you
were at Disney imagineering then you launched this business reimagine well where you're working in a healthcare
setting but in a way kindling the imagination of course now you're a teacher also at calarts before we go
into your whole chronology and all the lessons you've learned we would be very interested to hear all that but we're
going to go to a break in a moment and before we do we have this thing we like to do on the show where we ask you a series of quick questions so here's just
a quick response about the things that inspired you to think about the future that's one of the things we like to do
on this show is help our audience understand ways to think about the future and so your Inspirations are going to inspire other people and this
is the part that Brett likes to do so Brett are you ready for the rapid fire question is the quick fire lightning round
Roger what was the first science fiction you remember being exposed to TV books
movies 2001 the original movie in the theater
I just watched that again it's just a masterpiece of filmmaking really Planet of the Apes somewhere around the
same time very cool um what technology do you think has most
changed Humanity the printing press that's a good one yep
um name a futurist or an entrepreneur that has personally influenced you
Francis Arnold who I've not heard of Francis Arnold uh
yeah she's French she is a head of bioengineering at Caltech
um she's a recipient of the Draper award and wow and a recent uh Nobel recipient
wow I should have heard of it we'll have to find her and get her on the show actually you know on the biotech stuff
I'd love to have um Hugh her on as well you know the MIT Harvard roboticist that
built himself new legs that would be great um what is Roger what's the best prediction
that you've heard of futurist or an entrepreneur make
Andrew Hessel is a pretty close friend and uh the idea that
synthetic biology will enable us to approach cleaning the environment uh in
ways we'd never before considered makes me feel hopeful he's a good friend of
mine and we had him on the show uh and one of our very first episodes uh because we think synthetic biology is
super important for the future it touches so many parts of uh the economy and Society uh so I share that
uh okay um so we'll we'll be back in just a moment you're listening to the futurists
with me Rob turcic and my co-host Brett King and this week Our Guest is Roger holtzberg who's going to share with us a
whole bunch about Disney imagineering and the application of what he learned there to the healthcare field so stay tuned we'll be right back in a minute
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welcome back to the futurists I'm your host Brett King with my good pal Rob
turczak this week's guest Roger holzberg is joining us he has some really
interesting history from the days at Disney imagineering actually maybe to
kick this segment off Roger um you know can you talk about anything you worked on at imagineering in the
early days that is now reality that you're really proud of oh yeah absolutely
um you know prior to going to Disney I had done some IMAX movies the living sea
would probably be the one I'm most proud of and and I went to Disney and one of
the first projects I had the opportunity to work on was Soarin Over California so I know we all like to talk about VR
um it at imagineering virtual reality is not limited to a head
Mount display and a high def screen strapped to your face in Soarin Over
California we boom 187 people up into an inverted Omnimax Dome with you know with
full surround sound smell uh you know motion bass and everything else and
that's about as immersive an experience as is possible I believe
um and it also delivers on the Disney imagineering promise to develop
experiences for guests from the age of five to a hundred and five a
five-year-old can ride that ride with 105 year old right next to them and have
extraordinary experiences so you know in terms of immersion I think that's uh an
attraction I had the opportunity to work on that is the most immersive the one uh
one of the attractions well the uh the Millennium celebration I was one of the
creative directors on at Walt Disney World back when we believed Y2K was going to end the world and airplanes
were going to fall out of the sky um the the interesting the the most
inspiring thing I think I ever got to do with the Walt Disney Company was working on Millennium Village which was a
prototypical World Without Borders pre-911 we never could have done that today right
um pre-911 we had Israel and Saudi Arabia next to one another as countries
in Millennium village with young people from their countries sharing their gifts
to the world um and there was the the technology which was utilized in the storytelling
and the experience was extraordinary across the Pavilion so that was that was
one um but the one that you know I want to touch on because it was a part of my
transition into Health Care was in a attraction I got to work on called Turtle talk with Crush
um the uh there was a desire to do something new and different at the
living Seas Pavilion at Epcot uh Disney was in the beginning of you know what
became the acquisition of Pixar Finding Nemo had come out and was a huge hit and
turning crushed the turtle into a real into a factor um that could be animated in real time
uh with guests was the the first real uh
real time use of Vector Technology um you know with guests in a high-def
fully realized Pixar quality animation world
um you're telling us a little bit about uh your experiences making different
attractions and what I'm hearing you say is that there's a methodology at Disney imagineering which is like an r d lab
and that retinology combines two things it takes advantage of technologies that are coming to fruition you sort of have
to time it just right so that the technology is ready for the mass scale for the mass for the public but at the
same time you also take into account real world events uh you mentioned for instance reference to
um reference to 911 and how that might change the expectation of the audience but you also mentioned for instance Finding Nemo so you know a big Disney
feature film that's coming that will also change or recalibrate user experience or expectation so it's this
combination of like the technology that's ready and then also the real world and what that's doing to people's
experience and expectation is is that how it works there you know it's always about the storytelling and the
experience design and and to some degree never about the technology right Disney
always wants to be at the bleeding edge of Technology but as you know by the
time you develop and launch an attraction that technology is probably 18 months old right so you know when you
think of a ride like Soarin Over California the concept prototype for that ride was actually built out of an
Erector Set On You know on the ride designers dining room table and brought
into imagineering and demoed you know with booming arms that were you know Twisted together out of an erector set
um the the turtle talk with Crush technology that that fueled the
attraction was an adaptation of the Waldo animator animators tools that were
used at Pixar um I I think you know I think it is the
and I find that what I do now with reimagine well we never think about
inventing a technology but we absolutely are utilizing existing Technologies to
create patient experiences that are healing in a clinical sense right yeah I
mean you talked about the iPhone a minute ago in an iPhone 1.0
there wasn't a lot of new technology yeah you know there was there was the
right package for the right technology with the right model right and you know
for me and in terms of my thinking about the future it's not about inventing technology it's about inventing the
right experience for the Right audience at the right time now you've made reference to um to healthcare a couple of times so
why don't you tell us a little bit about reimagine well and your journey from Disney to the healthcare field I will
you know so I got diagnosed with cancer in 2004. um and the uh and I'm not at all shy
about it it uh was thyroid cancer it was a big wake-up call on the eve of my 50th
birthday um the probably the greatest gift the Walt Disney Company ever gave to me was
the senior executive physical program which I could go into you know and say
something's off I don't know what it is but uh my mom died of cancer and my
cousin died when we were teenagers of cancer and I'm pretty freaked out and uh
let's keep looking until we find it and that program enabled my physician to
order a full body MRI and early detection is a great tool right
um my family was my my family was in the we're all doctors my dad wanted me to go
to med school my Fu in the late 1960s was no I'm going to Art School right after that diagnosis he came back and
said well maybe you ought to rethink that how about some volunteer work so for the next four years I pulled
together a group of imagineering colleagues and we did a lot of volunteer
work and one of the things we did was take the turtle talk with Crush attraction right and do a scaled down
version of it and brought it to Children's Hospital of Orange County um the uh so suddenly Turtle suddenly
crushed the turtle was no longer this goofball Surfer Dude right
um who was doing bits and talking a little bit about planetary protection and marine animals at Epcot
suddenly crushed the turtle was a comfort trend for Pediatric patients and
I learned what a child life specialist was that there was a job where people's
careers were spent normalizing children's lives when they were in treatment I learned what distraction
therapy was that there was a that there had been studies done on what is called
distraction therapy for decades and that there were real clinical results to it it was it was an aha moment right
um I then did some volunteer work again with my you know I kind of thought of them as my uh imagineering cancer hit
squad right we we redid the lobby at Children's Hospital Los Angeles again a
whole different wave of uh how to do experience design in a hospital and then
we did a support platform for livestrong.org and I ended up doing the
media for the launch of livestrong.com all of that got bubbled up to a level to
get me recruited to be the first creative director at the National Cancer Institute
um yeah so you know is that right for me to say Roger that you took your experience
at Disney and you found a way to maybe redirect it um to help people who are going through
traumatic Healthcare challenges and in a way kind of comfort them or even Inspire them
um and give them hope is is that what is that the story is that your trajectory that's where it started and that's and
that's very accurate and uh you know I can tell you when I was in treatment I watched paint peel off of walls you know
in a hospital that was built Circa 1980 I also was a little bit crazy in my own
personal health plan and decided I would start doing triathlons a year out of cancer treatment maybe my yeah anyway
um and I was swimming off of the coast of Malibu you know at one point thinking
about the fact that I was watching paint peel off of walls and for me growing up in South Florida in on the water being
in the ocean is my Healing Place and being around you know and I was swimming with a buddy and a female dolphin and a
pup popped up about 10 feet away from us and I went this is the most healing experience I can imagine why wasn't I
here when I was in you know when I was in treatment for cancer and the light bulb went off wait a minute
you actually could have been here you used to make rides for Disney right um there's no reason you couldn't have
been here in every way but physically and that's where the concept of an
infusionarium was born right so um so I you know I'll I'll I'll bring
you up to speed a little bit um the uh attraction Turtle talk with
Crush was done at Children's Hospital of Orange County I by this time was working at the National Cancer Institute redoing
the Pediatric and Adolescent parts of cancer.gov our our federal cancer
website and taking the Institute into New Media and social media and the
Clinical Director for Children's Hospital of Orange County came to me and said do you does your company only do
work for the government or do you work do you work with hospitals as well and Leonard Center is my co-founder of
reimagine well and I said why are you asking he said I've got a problem that I'd like you to try and help solve
and I said great I love problem solving you know let's do can I bring a few of
my former imagineering colleagues down to Children's Hospital of Orange County and we'll meet with some of your clinical teams and your oncology social
workers and Child Life Specialists and let's do an imaginary style brainstorm and we did and the problem we were
looking at was Pediatric and Adolescent young adult segment of cancer is the the Aya segment
is a really challenging segment it's 15 to 39 year olds um
he said you know Pediatric and those patients they get diagnosed they get depressed they get anxious they they
Retreat from their community and that depression in combination with
chemotherapy just doesn't mix well how can we change the chemotherapy infusion
experience and the concept we came up with with an imagineering style brainstorm where there is no such thing
as a bad idea was the infusionarium where patients direct their own healing
experience so you know this is some of my former Disney colleagues say
it must be what's the tech behind the infusionarium because you can Define that yeah good question it's it's video
it's it's video and wrap around screens um so you know that I mean there's been
um some really good work done with uh PTSD treatment in Via you know and so um
it'd be interesting you know to see I mean that you know pain management as well they they say
that um you know if people are in VR and they're experiencing pain that they can
get relief relief from pain and things like that I think there's a lot of potential for for the tech just coming
back to did you ever hear the theory that crush the turtle is uh is high
right and the jellyfish they don't hurt the sea turtles but it intoxicates them so you know when he's totally dude you
know crushes there you know there's a theory that crushes like a real surfer dude you know like yes
um I do I do want to get into some of the like in terms of the process for imagineering you you talked about crust
the turtle how it's uh helped in uh in um you know the the process with the the
healing but in terms of that um forecasting element
um you said you know Disney doesn't invent Tech but what they do do is they utilize a lot of that Tech so
um you know in in the imaginary process it sounds like you guys are mapping out stuff you want to do and execute on but
you're waiting for the tech to catch up sometimes is that sort of an accurate way of describing the way that sort of
forecasting internally goes on sure I think it's accurate in the
healthcare World there are some pretty extraordinary restrictions sometimes for
the tech so you know we considered with our initial infusionarium builds whether
it would make sense to use a head Mount display as a part of it and infection control right becomes a massive part of
the equation particularly with patients who are immunocompromised because they're on chemotherapy just the act of
taking a headset off of one person and putting it on another person could literally kill them right so you know so
it's a there's a number of other different kinds of considerations that
go into the requirements for a project but you know so we so for the
infusionarium experience it was screen based but there were other healing
modalities that we developed and work in that where we do use head Mount displays
and VR and one of them one of them in particular requires it super fascinating
you know and the study is going on a project that we developed again in a
similar way and we always do the imagineering brainstorm we reimagine well we never say that it's
our job to say to patients what will be healing for them our job is to listen to them and give them what they believe
will be healing on a patient level so Roger you've talked about this brainstorming approach a few times now
how does it differ from other organizations that you've worked with what makes the brainstorming Approach at
imagineering unique is it the people is it the is there a methodology to it how
does it differentiate you know in the in the simplest way it's from the bottom up
um as opposed to from the top down um you talked in your opening you know
about out some technologies that are coming out you know from some other
companies some VR Technologies if the I would say it comes from the
bottom up when I first went to the National Cancer Institute I went to the fellow who was my boss at the time and
we're still great friends and I said I want to do an institute-wide creative
pitch in where every single person at this institute can literally pitch an
idea on a single piece of paper for three minutes and as to how cancer.gov as the gold
standard of cancer treatment and research on planet Earth could better achieve its Mission and he said it'll
never work they'll never do it it'll never happen I can tell you some of the best ideas came out of a health care
worker in the cafeteria at you know at the one of the National Institutes of
Health campuses right some of the most important ideas came out of you know one
of the drivers right who said the people in the front line are the ones who really know what the what the customer
is dealing with you know Roger let's talk a little bit about your work with Cal Arts because now at this stage in
your life you're transmitting what you know to a new generation which is very hopeful and positive thing
what are the lessons you're teaching calhart students about World building and why is that so important
well it's important because if there is a future the young minds of today are
going to invent it right they get to clean up the mess we're leaving behind right yeah and Cal Arch gave me an
incredible opportunity to essentially use my classes as Studios so in so I
teach two classes there um in the healthcare by design class we partner with a hospital and I have the
class work as the Blue Sky lab to develop a pilot to solve a real world
problem in a hospital and we've wound up with three different programs that have
been implemented into Hospital networks out of that lab want the most fun one is
an AR app designed to get patients out of bed and ambul ambulatory post-op as
soon as possible it is in the Pediatric world again right
um but yeah it it it worked incredibly well and multiple couple times calarts
has then given a grant to take the pilot and turn it into the product for the
hospital so that's happened twice um but so your students in a way are
your own imagineering Force you're turning the students into imagineers I yes my dream is that over and the the
reason I want to teach is to empower and educate younger Minds to take over the
vision of uh the vision that that I have uh empowered them to become passionate
about um you know the most exciting thing is when my students graduate from Cal arts
and about six times now I've gotten to hire them to work on projects because you know they are thinking about they've
either been a part of developing the concept and then it makes sense to bring them on to help do the implementation I
learned early on that if you give young minds the tools to build with they'll
come up with solutions that you never thought were that you never imagined okay that's a good jumping Point jumping
off point for us because in the show one of the things we'd love to close with is a vision of the future the far future you know and now I want you to put on
your futurist thing cap if you will um give us a scenario
give us a scenario for 20 years out uh 30 years out what do you think the students that you're teaching today what
what do you envision that they'll be implementing in a quarter of a century
boy I I I'm gonna quote directly from some of the finals that were delivered
just a couple of months ago and they might they're very different than what
we might have expected um one of them was about
well one of them very clearly was about a green food project right that that
that that essentially takes a permaculture approach you know to food
production and re-engineers the agriculture systems of the world back to
a localized permaculture approach right um another one though was
was a a hysterical campaign called Traitor
Joe's which yes which began with a uh with a
social media campaign showing Trader Joe's that they weren't living up to
their environmental commitments or responsibilities and embarrassing them to do the right thing
um another one which I which I fell in love with and it was inspired by so
Andrew was a guest speaker Andrew Hessel at my last designing deep Futures class
um was how um clothing and utilization of synthetic
biology would be would would be would scale to
[Music] um cleansing you know to reducing global warming right through everything from
eradication of plastics to um changing the composition of the air
so I mean those are some of the far distant you know thoughts so they all have in common this notion of uh
preserving the environment maybe being more efficient with the environment or more efficient with what we're growing that's quite interesting so
sustainability is clearly a big theme among your students the cliff that what yes it's very interesting
um the I I brought in you know a longevity specialist in my first class
and learned that at least the young student minds of today actually don't want to hear from the uh immortality
folks right that is not where that's not the cliff that they're looking at the
cliff that they're looking at is the end of the environment and the environmental Holocaust and that seems to be where
they're focusing and they're focusing on it from yeah from from a food sustainability and from an environmental
sustainability utilizing everything from synthetic biology to holding corporations
accountable for their pleasures very cool well this has been a very fun
and interesting conversation and I'd certainly love to continue talking to you about inventing deep Futures that
seems like an inspirational project what words of advice do you have for folks who are listening if you're if you're
able to give them any advice about how to think better about the future what would you encourage them to do I would encourage them to begin by
looking back at the AHA moments they had as young people
making notes about those documenting why they are incredibly passionate about
those things because that passion and that commitment and that emotional
connection to what you believe important is important as a young person is what
sustains you to be able to achieve those things when you have the ability to do
it right on well Roger it's been a great pleasure to reconnect with you on the show thanks
for joining us here on the futurists interesting to hear your trajectory from Disney into the healthcare world and now
as an educator as well at Keller it's our guest this week has been Roger Holtzman uh really very fun to have you
back with us and thanks for sharing those insights about Disney imagineering and that process where can people find
out more information about the the work you're doing Roger well the Wikipedia page is actually
fairly good um you know um I'd say it's uh yeah so there's a Wikipedia page Roger holzberg
um and the reimagine well website um is has got our full product Suite
both uh our infusionarium immersive products as well as our VR based
clinical products on it right on well thanks for joining us and folks you've been listening to the futurists
um with myself and Brett King as our co-hosts and uh our engineer we want to
thank Kevin hershern our producer Elizabeth Severance and the whole crew at provoke media they've been very
helpful in getting the show going and thanks to everybody who's listening who's sent in suggestions questions advice ideas opinions people who
disagree we love the dialogue it's been a lively chat and we welcome it and thank you all for those who have been
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do stop and give us a five star review whether that's on Apple or Spotify or any other podcast service and so for all
the folks here at provoke we want to thank you for listening thank you Roger for joining us and we will see you in
the future future [Music] well that's it for the futurists this
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