The Future of Holographic Computing with Joe Ward from IKIN

The largest frontier of computer technology has always been the interactivity. When Apple introduced the mouse and GUI, it turned an esoteric business machine into a common home appliance.

Now VR headsets are turning computers into fully immersive experiences. What’s next? If you ask Joe Ward, co-founder and CEO of IKIN, it’s holograms. IKIN is developing the first 3D smartphone with a limitless range of personal and business applications.

In this edition of UpTech Report, Joe discusses the origins of this technology and the many places they’re taking it.

More information:

Joe Ward is an accomplished, self-directed executive with an uninterrupted record of success in developing and leading high performance organizations. Proficient in corporate strategy with a focus on creating winning cultures and driving both top and bottom-line results.

With a reputation as a forward thinker, Joe has been on the front edge of numerous technologies such as VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and is now positioning IKIN as the first company to bring holographic technology and applications to the personal use market.

As an executive, Joe has assisted in the growth and ultimate sale of multiple public companies resulting in significant increase in shareholder value. Joe currently resides in Austin, Tx, with his wife Sandie, and has 3 sons. He is a big University of Georgia Bulldog fan.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Joe Ward 0:00
We believe that by creating software which we are in the process of doing that, that is going to allow everybody who has a cell phone who’s using the rise device to translate their photos, their videos, their experiences into a holographic experience. There’s our content.

Alexander Ferguson 0:23
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our apply tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Today, I’m joined by my guest, Joe Ward. He’s based in Austin, Texas. He’s the CEO and co-founder at IKIN. Welcome, Joe, good to have you on.

Joe Ward 0:40
Thanks, a pleasure to be here.

Alexander Ferguson 0:42
Now IKIN is providing holographic technology. Now this is something out of the out of movie science fiction, but not really help me understand where are you guys focus? Why holographic technology? Now?

Joe Ward 0:56
That’s a great question. We ask ourselves that quite often. You know, there’s holograms have been around for centuries, quite frankly, in various forms. Really, visual technology comes in a number of different categories. And as we looked at at an opportunity, based on some technology that my co founder and partner Taylor, Scott had created, he had created a process by which holograms could exist in ambient light with any with any goggles. So, you know, as well as I do, the amount of money being poured into VR and AR technology. And they’re very, very robust and immersive experiences. But I think it’s safe to say they haven’t really caught on the way we thought they would. And there’s a number of issues, whether it’s health related or the isolated experience that occurs when you have goggles on. So with our technology, which is which, which is enabling us to create holograms in ambient light with no goggles. It’s it’s a less immersive experience, but it’s a much more enjoyable experience. It’s a shared experience. So then what do you do with it, right? And that’s where the journey begins. It’s like, there’s so many different applications for our technology, as a startup and as a new business, you have to be very disciplined about how you bring it to market. But to answer your question, specifically, we felt as if that there was a there was a desire out there for a new visual technology that’s never been done before. And then if we built it the right way, it would find, you know, various applications. Along the way,

Alexander Ferguson 2:44
futuristic sci fi technology seems to be coming to reality left and right these days, and there’s almost an assumption Well, okay, why doesn’t it already exist. And I love when we can hear about new technologies that bringing that to reality. We’ll dig into more specifically your technology and how it works in a little bit. But I’d like to take a step back and hear a bit more about your journey. Joe. I mean, your background, I believe is in the telecom. How did you come from that to holographic technology? Yeah,

Joe Ward 3:13
sheer luck. I think that, you know, as you noted, I’ve a pretty lengthy background in the telecom industry. I lived in Southern California for some time and had recently moved to Austin about four years ago. And my phone rang. And it was a good friend of mine, who told me about this very bright young man who was looking to break off from his family business, and start a company but he knew he didn’t want to run it. Would I be interested in meeting him and eventually becoming CEO of this new entity? No, was the short answer. But but it was it was interest. I still had three boys back in Southern California, a lot of friends. I told my wife Listen, I’ll fly back to Southern Cal and meet this young man obligatory lunch and, and then go see the kids. Well, I met Taylor and that that quick lunch turned into a seven hour meeting.

Alexander Ferguson 4:11
hour it just like hit right off.

Joe Ward 4:13
It did it. I mean, the full gamut from from, you know, background, you know, goals, aspirations, personalities. I mean, we technology, we just really clicked and it wasn’t really about holograms. At that point. It was just about he was a very bright young man who, who had a lot of ideas. And and he proved he was clearly very special. I mean, he plays 13 instruments speaks the better part of seven languages. never finished school. He’s kind of that guy. Right. And, and, and I, you know, to make the story kind of short, I flew back to Austin, I told my wife, I was going to resign from my corporate position. To start IKIN, she said, Wow, that’s great. You know, CEO of you know, how much does it And I quickly said, well, there’s there’s no pay. But But trust me on this. So that’s how the journey started was was Taylor and I sitting down, really hitting it off and and really that began the journey. And that was about four and a half years ago. Well, it’s coming up but four years this summer,

Alexander Ferguson 5:17
four years. So you must have seen the vision the opportunity of where was going, did you have the idea was the holographic you said there’s a lot of ideas that Taylor had. But was that on that table at that point? Or when did it really start to dig into where you are now?

Joe Ward 5:33
Yeah, that was the that was one of the topics and probably the forefront of the conversation. And then as we over this number of months after that meeting, he and I met and continued to talk about the go to market strategy, you know, how we would create, you know, a company and, you know, my background lends itself to technology. I’ve run large chunks of businesses, publicly traded companies. And what’s interesting, although it’s a telecom background, as well, we’ll continue to talk through some of the some of the some of the benefits of my background and how it lends to our strategy around Dyken. But at the time, he had explained this technology to me, and I immediately did it, he wanted to play games in a hologram. I mean, that’s really what he created this technology for. But I quickly went to my b2b background and said, well, that’s, that’s cool, we’ll do games. But creating a platform as a service environment, where you had the opportunity for various vertical markets, and and through an open source toolkit for developers to create content to live in our ecosystem. That’s really exciting to me. And I think from a business standpoint, that’s the journey where the journey began. And we started to map out how that would would translate into a business model.

Alexander Ferguson 6:54
So you didn’t really want to say, let’s bring a new piece of flashy hardware to the market and start selling direct to consumers. That was that was never part of the plan.

Joe Ward 7:05
It was always a discussion point. But on the b2b guys, so early on, it was really, let’s focus focus on b2b. You know, there’s a whole lot of reasons, they’re stickier relationships, they’re a little bit more forgiving. In any technologies, infancy, you can make some mistakes along the way, and the b2b side that you really can’t afford to make on the consumer journey. So really felt it was in our best interest to really create the technology. And then, like I said, because we were an open source, and we didn’t want to be proprietary platform, my vision was always to allow the market IE developers to use our SDK and to create content and, and really, for us to leverage that ecosystem. And it served us well.

Alexander Ferguson 7:49
Whenever you develop a new technology, either you have to to develop the entire thing end to end or be able to make it easy for people to access it and create their own experiences or elements to it. Has that road been easy to open it up and create a open source version option versus keeping it closed and developing everything yourself?

Joe Ward 8:11
Yeah. So it’s a great question. And it goes back to my telecom background, I was fortunate to join a number of smaller telecom companies. And I’m an old guy, right? So I’m talking back in the 90s. And, you know, if you kind of put yourself back in that environment, you had the big the big cup of Northern Telecom, Avaya, large, large platforms, phone platforms that were proprietary nature, computer telephony integration was just starting to come along in the 90s. So the ability to to integrate with with your your network was was new. It’s commonplace. Now the internet didn’t exist, right. So so but what we what was interesting about my career then was we were an open platform, we were the first open CTI platform that allowed for third parties to develop applications. So I brought that experience to Ikan. And I said, Let’s, let’s recreate history. Let’s go back and do that again. So there’s a number of people in visual technology, whether it’s magically or Oculus, or others who went a different route and found that content was not only expensive to make, but very cumbersome, right, so we really didn’t want to make that same mistake. So it was really pretty easy, Taylor’s quite bright. So we mapped out to strategy using c++ and C sharp, and allowing the toolkit to be built around there. In addition to that early on in our journey, we targeted unity as a partner, and we are embedded in unities code as we speak. So that’s been a great partnership for us and one that we’re just now beginning to leverage in our journey as we speak.

Alexander Ferguson 9:54
So those whether building in unity or just be able to program themselves, they can integrate into this type of technology.

Joe Ward 10:01
We recently were at it Expo. And we had our first icon University rollout, it was heavily attended, there was over 50 people, developers that showed up a majority of them b2b. Because they’re looking for ways to monetize on our technology. And we’re really excited about the the impact that we’re having on the b2b side. And it’s, again, it’s a very recent development, you have to appreciate that, for about the last three years, we’ve been very much behind closed doors, we haven’t really been telling anybody what we’ve been doing by design, as we worked on our patent strategy and our technology. So these last six months, going back to well, eight months, going back to CES, where we won best at show at CES, and kind of began starting to tell the world what we’re doing. And this is part of that. So thank you for the opportunity.

Alexander Ferguson 10:54
Being able to hear new tech is is very exciting. It’s but helping a come to reality bring into reality, it takes that time, it sounds like you’re going both routes at the simultaneously of trying to get developers to build experiences on it and be able to use it and getting the partnerships with the actual rollout of devices, because you guys aren’t actually developing the hardware. Is that correct? You’re actually embedding the technology or providing the licensing the technology.

Joe Ward 11:24
Alright, so let me see if I can unravel that. Yeah, for you. Okay, because I know where you’re going on. So early on, we started to patent the technology to actually do exactly what I said it’s it’s the has to do with chemistry and polymers and, and being able to produce a hologram and ambient light, then how do you deliver that to the market, right. And so there does require a device, but we’re really not linked to any specific form factor, we could go very small, we can go very large stage shows, etc. But there’s complexities to doing larger devices in terms of that ecosystem. So as we began our journey, we realized that we wanted to run a b2b play, but we also wanted to run a consumer play. So we were able to through some, some strategic partnerships, we were able to connect with a number of b2b opportunities. One is with the military. And it has to do with 5g. So although we don’t require 5g for our solution, it is very much enhanced by 5g. And so if you know anything about that, and I’m sure you do, and your audience does it, there’s a lot of buzz around it. It’s bigger, it’s faster, stronger, but But what do you do with it? Right. And so we were approached with an opportunity to create a, a warehousing application for the Marine Corps. To solve a problem, they were having a tremendous amount of problem with lost inventory, trainings, difficult legacy systems throughout their warehousing ecosystem, a lot of paperwork, so they were looking for a way to leverage 5g to keep up again, there’s a huge government Push To Deploy 5g throughout the ecosystem to keep up with the rest of the world, particularly China. So they were looking for applications to really leverage 5g in a warehousing. So we created kind of a locator solution, ar solution, you scan the barcode, you maneuver through the warehouse, you get to the item, you scan a barcode on the box, and then you enter, integrate with that inventory. We call it x ray vision, but it’s actually integration with the inventory software, pulling up that item and seeing it in the hologram over your mobile device. And so then you can, you can then, you know, share that information with management with with the system, not only locally, but globally as well in terms of managing inventory. So So that’s, that’s a b2b application, right? Now, what’s interesting about that, when you think about that technology that has vast amount of inflow of possibilities across other verticals, think about cruise ships, think about amusement parks, think about anything that you’re trying to find something quickly, without training located and see it. Right. So another scenario is we were approached by a global cosmetics company. So when COVID hit, they could no longer do clinical trials of their creams and of their products in person. We created a software that allows scanning technology for a person to use their phone, scan their face, daily, weekly, monthly. And then we take that data and we do we use a lot of artificial intelligence to enhance that data. And then we actually have a record of at a cellular level level, a poor level of what’s going on, on your on your face as it relates to that product. So no longer do they have to go in and see a lab technician, they can send that data in, and they can monitor it on that. So again, that’s scanning technology. If you can scan a face, then you can scan anything. So the government’s talking to us about scanning turbine engines, every time a jet takeoff and land, they do a visual scan, or a visual inspection of that turbine engine. Right. So here you have a locator solution, here you have a scanning solution, in and of itself, very powerful for what I just said. But then you can expand those uses out across other verticals, whether it’s scanning drill bits in an oil field or wound care out in the field. So again, I hope I’m not getting too wordy here. But I just wanted you to know that because we’re able to produce this technology, it then expands and goes wider over time. That makes

Alexander Ferguson 16:00
it sounds like there’s there’s ancillary technology connected to it that you’re exploring the in this part of it’s not

Joe Ward 16:06
ancillary technology, per se, but It’s you It’s use cases for our technology, right. So people might say to me, Joe, you seem like what what actually are you into? Are you into cosmetics? Are you into warehousing? Are you? Well? Yes, but I’m really into scanning technology and locator technology. Mm hmm. And that, that can spread across any number of verticals, which we can then monetize on.

Alexander Ferguson 16:32
Right? The the, if we just focus on for a moment on the location, technology, locator technology, that type of experience, does it require a unique device that creates that AR experience? Is it like a custom built hardware device that you’ve you’ve developed? How does that work?

Joe Ward 16:54
Yeah. So we have produced we are in the process of producing a mobile device. Benchmark Electronics is our is our partnership on that development, and our contract manufacturer. So we’re producing a device that connects to your cell phone, has a number of different components has an extended battery, has a device called the rise or yz, which connects to that device. And then that deploys the holographic experience. So it’s, it’s a device that connects to your mobile phone. And then you use that for both the scanning technology as well as the locator technology.

Alexander Ferguson 17:33
Gotcha. And and if I understood correctly, I’m looking at your website rise, this is the what you’ve productize are named your holographic technology, is that correct?

Joe Ward 17:44
It’s it’s the device that we are producing to deploy our holographic technology on a mobile device. That said, we also have a device that’s developed under development called the ark. Again, as I said earlier, we’re not tied to a particular form factor. So we’ve created a 32 inch console device. That also takes advantage of our holographic polymers and allows for people to sit in the console and see a much larger image of what you’re looking at. So and the two don’t necessarily have to work in concert. But they can imagine scanning information out in the field and sending that data back to a a person who’s at an arc who’s seeing that data and analyzing that data in a larger experience. So the

Alexander Ferguson 18:34
scanning mentale, or connection to this piece is getting holographic data back to to viewer because obviously 3d data is required. If you have a 2d image and being able to show that a holographic it’s actually much more interesting. If it’s three dimensional, if it has a depth and in my understanding correctly,

Joe Ward 18:51
yes, partially. So just to be clear, you do have the holographic experience on the mobile device on the rise on your phone. It’s just smaller, right? We then send that data back to an arc and you can see that same information in a larger form

Alexander Ferguson 19:06
factor. Okay, okay. What there are multiple holographic technologies that you know, different things people try, how is IKIN unique and different. Your approach?

Joe Ward 19:20
Well, I’m probably I’m definitely not going to do as good a job as Taylor would. So I’d encourage you to maybe follow up with him. But But really, what are some fundamental decisions we made early on I think are going to serve us well. One was not to create are an entirely new ecosystem and new operating system. So we really act as a sub operating system on your mobile device. So the computing power that we need is far less than other people that are trying to do similar things in this market. So it’s mobile, it’s inexpensive, and it’s and it’s a sub app. operating system on your existing device. And again, it doesn’t require any goggles.

Alexander Ferguson 20:05
That’s probably the two big things is either you have a whole headset, or it’s a whole nother standalone, big piece that you just provide it, you’re what you’re trying to create is this this technology that hooks into your existing smartphone, smartphone, or other technology. It’s

Joe Ward 20:22
interesting. It’s one of the things, one of the reasons why we decided to really go mobile early, even though mobile, quite frankly, is the most difficult device for us to work on. I mean, there’s some real challenges there. And along the journey, we kept challenging ourselves, I can remember Taylor and I saying, you know, we just we need to go, we need to go laptop, we need to go. Tablet, we need to go bigger. And quite frankly, we just kind of kept coming back to mobile, because we just thought it was really cool. And the other thing it allows us to do is it allows us to ingratiate ourselves with the market with a device that everybody has. And so then the next the next question when you have a visual technology is where do you get the content? Right? And so we believe that by creating software, which we are in the process of doing that, that is going to allow everybody who has a cell phone who’s using the rise device to translate their photos, their videos, their experiences into a holographic experience, there’s our content, we don’t have to worry about third party relationships, although we will do that. How cool is it going to be for you or any of us to be able to watch old family videos, photographs, to go in and scan a piece of art at an art museum and share it with one of your friends and family members? I mean, you can just start to see where this goes, as you tend to push the technology out. And so yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s small. But we have a really robust plan against mobile, then tablet then laptop then ultimately leading to the first full holographic PC, which is its own operating system, right. But for those people out there, who are the business runners of their of their journey, that’s really expensive and takes a lot of money and a lot of time. So we wanted to kind of walk before we dove into that that what we call healios. I feel like

Alexander Ferguson 22:20
everyone, again, you’ve seen enough enough science fiction movies were first one I think I remember his like minority reports, where he’s just interacting with the screen. And he’s looking at things and he’s doing it and we’re all imagine Okay, why did why do we not have that yet? Why can I interact with my screens even more or be able to see things? What do you see as the major roadblocks or the hurdles to get to this this future where we’re going to be able to interact with more and have more holographic

Joe Ward 22:45
it’s, it’s up until this point, it’s it’s been it’s been technology, it’s been bandwidth, it’s been speed, right? Our device, by the way, will have touch capabilities. So you’ll be able you can and we’re in alpha right now, you can manipulate the hologram by touch in on the mobile device. So you can move things from your phone up into the holographic experience, you can rotate them you can move on. And so Minority Report in and of itself, and then the arc, you’ll be able to do the same thing, you can use your hands tracking and you can manipulate items in the arc. As we go to 5g it’s going to become even more prevalent that you’ll be able to do a lot more with it. So and we have patents around starting to remove the device. But again, it’s very much technology driven. So there is you were fat and very quickly approaching a world in which the headsets go away the devices go away. And you’ll be able to have that true Minority Report experience. And we’re on the forefront of that. It’s it’s a lot sooner than you would think.

Alexander Ferguson 23:54
Your business model, is it a is a hardware. Is it licensing is a SAS what’s what’s your your

Joe Ward 24:01
Yes. Yes, it’s all? It’s a great question. You know, listen, um, as a business, we all know that hardware is not the most attractive thing in terms of its comp, it’s complicated. It doesn’t drive your valuations up. Software as a Service is really where the valuations are in money. All of those things are true, we get that. However, we believe that because we’re the first to really do this type of technology, it was really important for us to control our own destiny as it related to hardware. So we are producing the hardware, but at the same time, we’re producing the software, the SDK and the software to drive content. So as we move forward, you know, again, from the business side of it, I know a lot of your questions when we were talking earlier, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs who are starting business on the business side of it, you have to be very careful, you can’t do too much too soon. You can’t go You can’t be all things to all people coming out of the gate. time, money, effort, all of those things. So my chief marketing officer, Michael, Dr. Mineo reminds me all the time that listen, as we move forward, we have to start small. And then we can go larger and larger. And that’s a function of revenue. That’s a function of, of acceptance in the market. So, yes, we are producing hardware, we are using that hardware for both b2b and consumer launch, which we really haven’t talked about yet. But we certainly can. But we’re using that rise device for multiple b2b opportunities. At the same time, we have a robust plan to do a consumer launch in q2 of next year. And then, behind that, we’re also working on software at the same time. Now, eventually, eventually, we will, our revenue will derive from recurring revenue streams with vertical markets that are in our app store, using our device and have created applications that the general public and or businesses will use. And we’ll do a revenue share model with that, as well as advertising Of course,

Alexander Ferguson 26:07
in particularly in the b2b space, getting adoption of new technology. Because there’s always fear there’s always uncertainty that people just don’t like change. How do you accelerate the adoption? What do you what do you what is your perspective? And what are you working on to get that increased adoption? Hey, you should try this out.

Joe Ward 26:30
On the b2b side, you have to solve a problem. I mean, there’s no doubt. I mean, you the technology can be very cool. But at the same time, you have to solve a problem now, because we’re a holographic experience that’s never been done before. That in and of itself, the response we’re getting, we did two days worth of, of showing at at Arlington, Virginia for the Marine Corps demo, it was a whole 5g ecosystem today presentation. And we had people literally a couple of 100 people come in over that two day period. And try our warehousing app as well as see some demos of our rise device. The reaction we’re getting is amazing. And and as you know, the government has spent an awful lot of money with HoloLens. And so a lot of that the people that came were very familiar with that experience. And although again, it does have value, they were really drawn to us because of the lack of headgear needed, and the fact that it could be a social shared experience. So on the b2b side, as long as we’re solving a problem, which we are, and we’re affordable, there’s no doubt that we’re on the right track.

Alexander Ferguson 27:45
I appreciate the content, what are some technologies, you have to see it? And I feel like with particularly immersive realities, VR, AR, you can tell it, but once you actually put it on and experience it, then it’s something completely different. I feel like maybe holographic technology is similar, that once people are actually there and see it working, it’s different than trying to describe it. Is that true?

Joe Ward 28:09
I think so. It’s It’s It’s very new to all of us, right? It’s interesting, we do a lot of and Michael, our CFO just did a number of, of research test groups, right? in New York. And what’s interesting about our device, when you ask somebody to to look at an item and and to perceive it in volume, they do all kinds of crazy things. They do this, you know, and I always just say, look, look, look at it, like you’re looking around a tree and when you look around a tree, then then guess what? It all it all moves. So it You’re right, and that whenever there’s a new technology, and it’s being experienced for the first time, it does take a little bit of time to do that. But we found the adoption of our technology to be very quick,

Alexander Ferguson 28:56
very quick. For for you again, in your in your background Telecom. Do you see integration with with cell phones and being able to like what’s what’s the future? Do you see it coming up?

Joe Ward 29:09
Well, yeah, so we fully integrate with cell phone. Our launch is going to be with Android. and, and and then subsequent you know, we are patented for iOS. So we do see an iPhone rollout at some point, although we haven’t started those conversations yet. But yeah, there’s our hope is that everybody that has a cell phone, we want to take advantage of our not only our hardware, but our software called socialize. We do have a plan around launching a consumer device, the rise along with a software that we call socialize. Imagine the first holographic social media platform.

Alexander Ferguson 29:50
Okay, okay. is just like you’re interacting with others. Are we talking about live? Is that what you’re referring to

Joe Ward 29:58
you’ll be able to do live interaction in a holographic experience, zoom calls etc. You’ll be able to share volumetric content. It’ll be a community type of environment where you’ll be able to based on your particular you know, interest whether it’s art or sports or architecture or shopping or real estate or whatever it may be, you’ll be able to share in that community experience in a way that’s never been done before. I mean, I hate to go straight to kind of the the tagline but think Tick Tick Tock on steroids, because now it’s a holographic environment. Do you

Alexander Ferguson 30:37
Is this what you’re referring to next year, the consumer launch what’s what’s next in in q2 that’s

Joe Ward 30:43
currently parked in q2 of next year. And again, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that our plan is to kind of start to start small, very boutique ish, and then expand over time. You know, early adopters, we did the research group in New York and early adopters are very much enamored with our technology. And we see, you know, the early adopters jumping on and then going broader over time,

Alexander Ferguson 31:10
during a very different market. But the Tesla Model creating very high end Roadsters, it gets people interested in excited and then eventually roll it out to more economical solutions that everyone wants to get to it, or you’re going to try to go economical right at the beginning, the early adopters will want to get in on

Joe Ward 31:29
Well, I think it’s our solution is very economical. I mean, it’s it’s a, it’s sub $500, it’s going to have, you know, an extended battery, you know, everybody likes more more battery on their cell phone, but they hate that long cord, right? So ours doesn’t have that long cord. So there’s just uses in and of itself, socialized by the way is a software that’s going to run without the rise. So if you’re a non rise user, you’ll still be able to take advantage of socialized but more in an AR environment, on your existing device. And then we believe there’s value in upgrading to a rise device, but that’s the strategy. So we’ll be able to go a little bit broader with the software as people start to, to to adapt to our hardware.

Alexander Ferguson 32:15
I’m trying to like visualize it in my in my head. That is a compact like for as far as like a consumer grade is it like a another piece of like clear glass or something on that you’re connecting to your phone, like, Can you describe just how that how that looks on that how that experience is.

Joe Ward 32:33
So there’s three main components, there’s a small mounting plate that attaches to the back of your phone, and or your case, and then that creates the mount for a battery. So very small, rectangular battery, that gives you about 20 hours of extended use, if you’re not using the rise device. And then the rise device is a it creates a screen about double the size of your phone. So take a Samsung 20 it’s about a 50 millimeter screen, and it attaches onto that battery, and then deploys in kind of a triangular device that then creates the holographic experience. So it’s very compact, it’s portable, you can leave it on or you can you can leave the battery on certainly take the rise off and put it in a briefcase or purse or backpack and take it on and off as you use it. Or if you’re just sitting at your desk, it kind of props up on your phone. And you can have that holographic experience. In addition to that, about nine to 12 months after consumer launch, we’ll be launching a clip on device that will allow you to take that rise upper portion of the phone that creates hologram and connect it to your tablet and or laptop.

Alexander Ferguson 33:49
Hmm, interesting. Okay, so be able to convert it and be able to use that.

Joe Ward 33:52
And then and then following that there’ll be a specific tablet and a specific laptop model as well.

Alexander Ferguson 33:58
For in order to make this happen, obviously, the team behind it you already started mentioned different people how big is the team today for IKIN.

Joe Ward 34:06
So I answered a couple of ways badged employees were at about 18. Then we have a number of of what we call independent contractors, summer business development, the summer technology, there’s so all in all, kind of the normal is about 25. But then we expand with that, because we have outsourced partners like at benchmark we have at any given time about, you know, 16 people or so that are working on our hardware project. And so there’s there’s quite a number of people working with with ICANN right now,

Alexander Ferguson 34:39
for you as a leader I mean, what some some lessons I will always curious from the background of where you come from and now coming to this team to to launch a new product. Is there been any lessons learned so far that you can share as leading this team and also taking from your previous experience?

Joe Ward 34:56
Yeah, yeah, it’s great question. So I would, I would suggest that at least what worked for us is early on, we made a conscious decision to outsource virtually everything. And for about two and a half years, three years, we ran on an outsourced model. So we outsourced our software and our hardware development. And we ran a very lean executive staff. Right. And, you know, by and large, we were raising capital to fund the business. And we we continue to do that about three years in or about, about eight months ago, we just, I knew that it was time to pivot toward bringing in more badged employees. You know, nobody cares as much. Nobody cares as much as a badged employee. Outsourcing really enables you to turn on and off the spicket from a finance standpoint. But there’s just so many benefits to having badged employees and that’s really starting to serve us well.

Alexander Ferguson 35:59
Yeah, that’s that’s always I think a lot of questions for a lot of leaders and entrepreneurs that are trying to grow is like when you make that decision, to to invest in that versus contractors. Was there any one thing is gay ready for the launch of the product? All right, now we need to turn it up, I’m just always curious for

Joe Ward 36:18
it was a combination of timing. Also, capital, we had a very significant success in a period of time leading up to my decision, where I saw that we had enough runway based on our, you know, our cash balance that we could really make that leap. But it really, it really had a lot to do with culture. And the fact that I believe that was in our best interest to bring really talented people on, that were, you know, sharing the same journey that Taylor and my other partners had shared for a number of years. And, and really, we’ve been very, very fortunate in that we’ve been able to bring on what I would say the best of the best SEAL Team Six, if you want to use a military term. Everybody that works at ICANN is has a lot of choices on where they went, where they where they, where they work, and we’re really pleased and honored that they chose to join the ICANN team. And it’s been a great, great, great new, the last eight last, you know, six months or so have been really, I think the best we’ve had.

Alexander Ferguson 37:22
But I’m intrigued to see where where you guys go next, and be able to roll out both the b2b side but also the consumer side for next year, and the progress of what comes next. Thank you so much for sharing your time. For those listening that want to learn more, you can go to that’s and be able to a nice little video on the homepage of you guys talking about where you guys are headed. And thank you again, Joe, for for joining us.

Joe Ward 37:51
Now a shout out to everybody that’s listening, please go to our website, log on as somebody who’s interested in keeping in touch with us. I know we’re going to be rolling out beta on the rise device in September, October. And we’re looking for people to actively be involved in that. So really appreciate your time. Thank you for having me it it went by really quick. And I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks so much.

Alexander Ferguson 38:15
And we’ll see you all on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live work and do business? Go to UpTech and let us know


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