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http://www.metanomics.net/show/november_1_fashion_and_virtual_worlds_-_innovations_in_global_collaboration/

What does the future of distance collaboration look like? How can immersive technology help enterprise to prototype products and work across boundaries? In this episode of Metanomics, we’ll explore virtual fashion, its cross-over to ‘physical’ fashion, and look at how advances in technology and organizational design are changing the ways we work and collaborate.

View video at:
http://www.metanomics.net/show/november_1_fashion_and_virtual_worlds_-_innovations_in_global_collaboration/

What does the future of distance collaboration look like? How can immersive technology help enterprise to prototype products and work across boundaries? In this episode of Metanomics, we’ll explore virtual fashion, its cross-over to ‘physical’ fashion, and look at how advances in technology and organizational design are changing the ways we work and collaborate.

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Metanomics: Virtual Fashion and the Lessons for Global Collaboration

  1. 1. METANOMICS: VIRTUAL FASHION AND THE LESSONS FOR GLOBAL COLLABORATION NOVEMBER 1, 2010 Metanomics is a weekly broadcast on the serious uses of virtual worlds. Visit http://metanomics.net. Metanomics is owned and operated by Remedy Communications. ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hi. I'm Robert Bloomfield, professor at Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management. Today we continue exploring Virtual Worlds in the larger sphere of social media, culture, enterprise and policy. Naturally, our discussion about Virtual Worlds takes place in a Virtual World. So join us. This is Metanomics. ANNOUNCER: Metanomics is filmed today in front of a live audience at our studios in Second Life. We are pleased to broadcast weekly to our event partners and to welcome discussion. We use ChatBridge technology to allow viewers to comment during the show. Metanomics is sponsored by the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Welcome. This is Metanomics. DOUG THOMPSON: Welcome to Metanomics. I'm Dusan Writer, and I'm sitting in today for Robert Bloomfield. Our guest today is Shenlei Winkler, CEO of the Fashion Research Institute. When I think about Virtual Worlds and Second Life, one of the first things that jumps to mind is fashion. There are people working in Virtual Worlds, who make well into the six figures selling virtual shoes, dresses and avatar accessories. Real-life fashion designers have been known to cite Second Life as an inspiration for their couture. In fact, fashion may be one of the first industries that made the leap from the virtual to the physical. Today's guest, however, has taken virtual fashion beyond virtual shoes. She's using Virtual Worlds to set up new ways to collaborate globally. Welcome, Shenlei. SHENLEI WINKLER: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here. DOUG THOMPSON: So I think we'll be taking a tour of a couple of topics today. We'll talk
  2. 2. a little bit about fashion and a little bit about the types of technology you're using and some of the initiatives you're working on, but I'm curious to learn a little bit more about you, first of all. Tell us a little bit about your background. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, I have kind of a unique background, of course. For the last 30 years or so, I've been designing fashion in different ways. I started out doing couture, and couture is, it's kind of a rare bird out there these days. It truly is one-to-one where you have a client who comes to you, and you dress them in different ways. And, of course, a good couturier has the ability to make the [AUDIO GLITCH] in case of men, to make their legs longer or perhaps their shoulders look broader. And they do that all in different ways of fooling the eye. So that was the original background. I got a couple of design degrees. I took a little time off there in the middle of things, and I had an opportunity to work as the executive administrator for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Project when I was at the University of Chicago. And while I was there, it was actually kind of interesting because the web was really just getting going. That was back in '93, and we had the number-three website, and it was interesting and pivotal for me because I was really and truly at the birth of a new kind of technology, so I had a chance to see it through a user's eyes. And whenever I approach technology anyway, that early experience really forms my opinion, and it forms how I think about in how to use technology. Then I went back to school, and I got yet another design degree [AUDIO GLITCH] or something. And with that design degree, I went into mass-market fashion design, which is about as far away as you can get with couture as, say, the Sun from Pluto. They really are at opposite ends of the scale. With mass market, there's a lot of interesting things that you need to learn about, including supply-chain management, technical fashion design. We have to have a deep material science background so you know what materials to incorporate into your stuff. And you have to learn about things like size standards and grading standards and all of that other sort of glomeration of things that are necessary to get a product produced through the industrial space. As I was designing, sort of analogous and concurrent with that, a friend of mine told me about Second Life back in 2005 and said, "Oh, you've really got to go in." I'm not a gamer, and I've never really [AUDIO GLITCH] the [AUDIO GLITCH] that some people bring to things like World of Warcraft or some of the other traditional games. I don't like shooting
  3. 3. people, and I don't like going out clubbing Bambi and things like that. So I put him off for a while. He told me in 2004, and I just put him off and said, "No, no, no, no, no." But I finally went in, and, when I went in, I was entranced by the fact that Linden Lab had created something really wonderful. What they had created and which I don't think that they've ever been able to figure out or express what they've created is, they truly created a low-level mass market 3D CAD modeling tool. And I don't think that they were ever able to express that view of the product platform that they had created to people outside. But I got that right away because I was dealing with using things like Illustrator and PhotoShop and [Excel?] to create my fashion. That is something that is deeply rife with errors. You won't make any errors, of course, generate a lot of [physical ways?]. So when I came into Second Life, I realized that here's this low-level 3D modeling capability, and I got very, very interesting. That kind of started it all. DOUG THOMPSON: So kind of give me a 101 here on fashion. Somebody was commenting on my shirt before, which I'm not sure is the [AUDIO GLITCH], but whatever. So walk me through, I guess, the steps and how that shirt gets made and what are the technologies that have used in over the last let's say 20 or 30 years, what are some of the technology trends that have changed how this shirt gets made. And let's speak of physical shirts to start with. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, yes. There's almost next to nothing in common between virtual fashion and real-life fashion other than the fact that everyone's designing. [AUDIO GLITCH] real-life designer, of course, once you're done creating your design vision, then you have this whole team of people who pick up your product and help bring it to fruition. So the 64,000-foot view is something that I always like to tell people about their clothing, which a lot of people don't realize. Real-life people, meaning individuals, sit down at a single sewing machine, and they make your clothing. And that's something that drives everything about the apparel industry. We're not an automated industry. We don't have robots that sew your clothing, and we're not heavily automated because there's never been any reason for us to. We don't need
  4. 4. the CAD tool inputs, the CAD tool specs that are required for the automobile or the aerospace industry. So we've never had to connect up with things like the MAYAs or the Autodesks or some of the other big heavy-engineering CAD tools that are out there. We've been able to [AUDIO GLITCH] get along just perfectly happily using, in some cases, just pencil sketches or pen-and-ink sketches. Back in the '80s or so, Illustrator and PhotoShop start making their appearances, although not heavily. I mean that's actually, believe it or not, fairly recent in the '90s. Back in the '70s something really major happened. We moved away from developing our product domestically, and we started offshoring. When you start offshoring, you start introducing a realm of issues in actually producing your product. So there are some interesting things about apparel that are unique. We are the last $1.7 trillion industry out there that has not in fact been automated. And, of course, that fact and the fact that we understand how to go about doing it makes the industry very, very fascinating to all of the big companies out there, who could sell services and goods to the industry. Go ahead. DOUG THOMPSON: I was going to actually ask about the supply-chain side of it, which is, you talked before about materials and material sciences. And, again, this is an area I don't know a lot about, but when you think about where cloth gets made or how it gets made, the concept of micro mills or the concepts of smaller production runs, how has that part of the technology changed over the past couple decades? SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, obviously, we've moved most of our production overseas and, although there are a few mills still left in North America, they're primarily doing really short runs. When we moved everything overseas, we started looking at ways of developing big, sweeping, I guess I want to say, product development. For example, one of the clients I would design for heavily was Walmart, and Walmart is kind of interesting because they order in 100,000 to 1 million-unit orders. And, in order to deliver a product at that level, there's a lot of things that go into something like that. And now I'm losing my train of thought with that because I've never actually approached fashion from quite this way. So the supply chain is actually kind of interesting because we have a very flexible supply
  5. 5. chain. It really isn't like automobiles, it's not like aerospace, for one thing, because their factories have never been automated. You're dealing with a much more personal level so each one of the factories have their own unique set of machinery, and each one of the machines have their own unique set of operators who know how to run those machines. And you never know when you lose a factory and when you're going to have to get a new factory [to check in?]. With regards to textiles and material science, you have to know a lot about the materials that you're going to incorporate, and fashion designers, believe it or not, tend to be really pegged into things that people working in other industries might or might not be aware of. For example, something that we're constantly watching is the weather in countries where our fiber staples are being produced, like, for example, cotton. Cotton right now is very, very expensive because Pakistan has experienced a series of really very horrific weather conditions, and so the cotton crop has been greatly reduced, and, in some cases, entire fields have been wiped out, and that means that there's not going to be as much cotton around. That drives the cost of the raw cotton, which, in turn, drives the cost of everything else that goes into your final outfit. So what you can expect to see is that next year cotton shirts, cotton clothing are going to be (a) either more expensive, or it's going to be less of it. We'll opt to use some other fiber rather than cotton, perhaps linen or something. DOUG THOMPSON: So based on some of those things, you start to get a sense of the journey of the shirt and that there's actually a complex set of factors around the economics of making that shirt, where does it get made, how does it get shipped. That seems almost contradictory, in some ways, to working in virtual environments, although I could see how virtual environments might make sense around the design or branding side of things. Is that a fair characterization? Or how do you see Virtual Worlds being used to support the fashion industry? SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, we actually have two flagship applications that we've been working on for quite a while. Black Dress Design Studio is actually designed to encapsulate and enclose the designer in a Virtual World so that all of the design decisions get captured and so that ultimately she is able to create these relatively complex but easy to create 3D representations of the apparel or footwear accessories that she wants to
  6. 6. design. And from those 3D models, all of the information that's required to actually produce it is pulled out, and it's stored in our backend database. And then we create something called a factory-ready, technical manufacturing specification. So that's actually how we use Virtual Worlds, which is a little bit different from using it for a marketing and sales side. Now, on the other hand, we also have another application that we're in the process of launching, which is called Virtual Runway, and Virtual Runway is really cool. It's a rapid sketch-up tool for designers to get their concept on the runway and to be able to showcase it, do their [production?] routine and to anyone who they need to show. So they can start with, for example, people along their supply chain: their product manager, their design director, their art director, people within their sales organization, people in their marketing organization, their costers. Believe it or not, designers spend a lot of time talking to their costers because a penny one way or another on a yard good will have a rather deep effect on the rack cost of your product. So you can bring all those people in, and you can have product-centered conversations, in real time, with a global collaboration. And, of course, you can add the translators if you want because so many of our overseas manufacturers don't speak the same language as the designers, and you can discuss getting the design produced. Ultimately, with Virtual Runway, you can also use it as a sales and marketing tool. You can reach out to wholesale buyers and say, "This is what we're producing. How many of them do you want?" So you don't actually have to pull your physical samples, your physical run, until you've shown them what you're doing, and you can make changes to the product. And, of course, because there's no render time in Virtual Worlds, _____ OpenSim or Second Life, you can just get the product up and running, and you can make those changes while people are waiting. And then, of course, something that's really interesting is using it as a marketing tool. Developing a real-lifer on one show, here in New York last spring was about $500,000 to put one up in Lincoln Center. We're no longer in Bryant Park in the tents, we're actually in Lincoln Center these days. But $500,000 is a lot of money, and, if you're not a major brand, you're kind of prohibited from having a runway show; whereas, with something like Virtual Runway, you can. First of all, you can produce your own [AUDIO GLITCH] ever you want and can do it at a fraction of the cost.
  7. 7. You can spec your model however you want to. We have something like some insane, I think it's up to 1.2 trillion or something design options to customize your model. The model is fully scripted, and you don't need to schedule her, which has someone who's worked runway. I can tell you not having to deal with the model issues is a pretty amazing thing. And they can be AI-enabled so they can actually talk to people who are coming in and looking at the garments. And what I personally really like, they never fall off the catwalk, and you don't get the diva attitude. They just get on. They do their thing, exactly what you tell them to do. They do the poses the way you want, and you can showcase that, and you can use that in a variety of different market ways. You can bring in consumers, and you can have market research groups and decide whether or not you actually want to produce [AUDIO GLITCH] something, or maybe you want to make some changes. And the designers can be sitting there and be kind of tracking that back. Now, in general, designers aren't customarily exposed to the consumer, and there's a lot of different reasons for that. But, if need be, you could actually do this, using Virtual Runway. DOUG THOMPSON: So we should talk about who "we" is because you talked about "we have several initiatives." And I mentioned off the top of the show that you're the CEO of the Fashion Research Institute. Tell us a little bit about FRI. How did it come to be? Where is it? How many people is it? Just a little bit of history of the company. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, we've been around since 2007, and Fashion Research Institute, of course, is a "C" corporation incorporated in Delaware, and we incorporated the company as a direct result of the rather highly publicized research collaboration that we have with IBM Research. IBM, as it happens, will not engage with [AUDIO GLITCH] so we had to actually form a company to engage with them for the collaboration. In general, people don't come to me to name things, which is how we ended up with a company named Fashion Research Institute. It seemed like a great idea at the time. People are really mixed about the name. Some people really love it, some people not so much. I mean, at this point, it's my company. I've been living it passionately for a few years, and I'm pretty happy with the name of the company. I think it describes what we do. And since we're a C corporation, that means that we're a real-life company. We have lawyers, and
  8. 8. we have a board of director and all of the rest of that good stuff. And we work in a lot of different space. Obviously, we're developing applications for the apparel industry, but, in order to get to the point where we actually have that application, we've had to address a number of things and knock trees out of our way, including things like teaching [teaching?] people actually to use our space, so we've done [a lot of?] education, using Virtual Worlds, specifically, of course, for fashion design students. And we've had to learn how to orient non-technical users to learn how to use our preferred Virtual World, which is OpenSim, which uses a common viewer to Second Life. We've had to learn how to address things like asset management. We've had to address things like IP. We've had to look at things like copyright. We've had to deal with all of this just in order to get our application out there. And, of course, then there's our work with our preferred platform which is OpenSim. It was kind of a unique situation, but we got in there and we were able to really dig in and, I think, help move the OpenSim codebase forward in a way that was rather unique. DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah, I'd like to dig into some of those technology question for sure because you've got a number of applications, and I'm curious how they're being run. Kind of a curious question. You said earlier, you talked about virtual fashion which is different from real-life fashion or physical fashion, except that both are designed. Although I'm curious, we do building in Second Life, and it doesn't make us an architect, but it maybe opens up an appreciation for the discipline of architecture. When you look at folks who are doing virtual fashion, what do you think that they're learning that's a transferable skill to maybe the physical fashion industry? SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, to be very honest, other than having PhotoShop skills, virtual fashion designers are not going to be able to move over into the real-life design space. Real-life fashion designers, you know, it's a vocation, and we're actually very heavily [AUDIO GLITCH] in what we do, and we're actually taught how clothing gets constructed, and we are required to actually construct a lot of the things that we do, which is why Project Runway is so interesting. Now you actually have to watch people creating stuff. When you're learning how to do different kinds of PhotoShop or Illustrator things, those things are important, but you wouldn't ever go into a design house and ever suggest that you know how to actually be a fashion designer. You could go to work as a graphic
  9. 9. designer in the art department. But, at the moment, suggesting that virtual fashion folk could possibly come over and design for Walmart or Cole's or any of the other retailers that are out there, it's just not a possibility. And it's a little unfortunate. We get approached by virtual fashion folk all the time, who want to see their line produced. There's such a knowledge gap there [AUDIO GLITCH] one of the first things I ask folks are, "What does your budget look like?" Because I know that one of the first things that these sample houses and the pattern makers and all of the rest of the people in our supply chain are going to ask is, "Where is your Letter of Credit?" And, if you can't pony up the cash to produce a Letter of Credit, then we can't really go too much further. And you really don't need a Letter of Credit to be in virtual fashion. You don't actually need to know about how the supply chain works. You don't need to know about the calendar of production. In real-life fashion, for example, we have a huge calendar of production. And our product has a really short life cycle. In general, like when you're designing for one of the big boxes, what you'll find is that it will take you about 46 weeks from the time that you touch your pencil to the paper or Illustrator or your mouse or whatever, your Wacom tablet pen. From the point where you [AUDIO GLITCH] to the point where they're actually promoting it in the retail stores, about 46 weeks. And there's a lot of things that you need to know about along the way: stupid things like shipping, carton ships, carton containers. DOUG THOMPSON: So when we think of Virtual Worlds in our business, and we're also in a comparable sort of design business, we think of Virtual Worlds as being labs or places that you can prototype. I often call Second Life a prototype of the future, and what I mean by that is that, by being in a virtual world, you learn about new ways that people are communicating with each other, marketing to each other, creating marketplaces. I look at the virtual-goods marketplace and how people promote those marketplaces, create connections with each other and community. Are there things that you think that, if the fashion industry looked at Virtual Worlds, like Second Life and the types of things that are happening at OpenSim and the virtual fashion-goods industry, that there are lessons to be learned, if not necessarily transferable talents? SHENLEI WINKLER: I've actually had a couple of my own virtual fashion lines in Second Life, and, of course, we do a lot of content development in OpenSim for some of our collaborators and others who need high-quality premium content. And one of the things
  10. 10. that I found actually was that the discipline and the process methodology that I learned in real-life fashion carried over to virtual fashion. And what's interesting about that is that, as we were exploring Black Dress Design Studio, which, of course, is our application designed for helping people design and develop their product, we actually found that it would be entirely suitable for virtual-goods developers to be able to track the content and to register [AUDIO GLITCH] database and to actually produce the sort of paperwork that is necessary for producing a Certificate of Originality. Or alternately, something that we hear a lot when we're talking to lawyers: You could also use that paperwork to present to your legal counsel in the event that you're pursuing an infringement case, because that documentation will tell to a pretty nicety what kind of textures that you're using. It'll talk a little bit about the XML that's wrapped around a prim object, if you've got a prim object, and a number of other things that you can do. And at the end of it what you produce instead of the factory-ready technical manufacturing specification, you produce something like, for example, the documentation for your lawyer or you can produce documentation to go to the Library of Congress here in the U.S., if you want to file your formal copyright. Or you could product a Certification of Originality for your clients who are requesting that. So to that extent, we're kind of bringing some of the lessons that we've learned in real life and eventually will be making these available to some of the virtual-goods developers. DOUG THOMPSON: That's interesting. We have a question from the audience, actually from [LoudLaugher?] who asked the question, "Have you dealt with designing fashion for the quote/unquote "idealized" avatar shape versus real-life bodies? And that reminds me of architects who come into Second Life and bring their architecture skills and then realize that virtual architecture has its own language and its own constraints and limitations. Just kind of curious what some of those constraints are or differences are designing for virtual bodies versus physical ones. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, we could just start with the fact that, with regards to your avatar, they really do have bilateral symmetry. [AUDIO GLITCH] in the case of Second Life, below the neck they do. One is customarily not necessarily fitting things to one's nose so the fact that you can squint your nose on a Second Life avatar I think is less important. So you've got this bilateral symmetry, which, I've made clothing for a lot of people, and I have yet to run across anyone who has a quote/unquote "perfect" body. Their
  11. 11. measurements invariably do vary from quadrant to quadrant, and you have four sets of quadrants above the waistline and four sets below. And each one of those will have different measurements. It just depends on how you grow, whether or not you've got any sort of, well, I guess we'll just call them deformities for the sake of it. If, for example, you have something like Lordosis or Scoliosis where your spine is curved, and that will change how your clothing sits on you. [AUDIO GLITCH] It really is apples and oranges. We've been talking to a lot of different people about being able to develop avatars that actually do accurately and appropriately represent your human body. And there's a bunch of different scanning techniques and scanning methodologies that are going on out there, but, at this point, I'm not really seeing your closet scanner. Scanners are still running about $50,000, and you still have to have a standalone thing and hop in there. Then, from the imaging that you pull from your body, you can actually have patterns created for it. At this point, of course, it's not going all the way through where you can actually bring that body scan in and use it in Virtual Worlds, but, frankly, I see that coming in the future. It's a matter of time. DOUG THOMPSON: And one of the things that I'm quite fascinated with is 3D printing and the ability to fabricate. Instead of fabricating a run, you can actually fabricate just one item so the simplest versions of that are the websites where you can order a T-shirt printed with whatever you want on it. But you're increasingly seeing the ability to design, let's say, a table, upload the designs for that table, and that table gets assembled automatically in a distant plant and shipped to you. 3D printing takes that even further. Do you see a day where people will be able to design or modify designers' clothing and then be able to modify that using some kind of virtual interface, click a button and then that particular item is quote/unquote "printed" or created on a one-off basis? SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, this is where I get to get visionary here. Right? Because I have-- DOUG THOMPSON: You're on Metanomics so you have to be. SHENLEI WINKLER: Right. Well, your light's being [raised on?] because here we go. There's a number of different things about 3D printing. I keep running into people who are
  12. 12. printing different kinds of things and saying, "Well, you know this is fashion." There are some issues, and we talked a little bit about the fact that people are making your clothing, not machineries. They haven't actually been able to create a robot that works, first of all, for 39 cents an hour, which is what prison labor works for in China, so we're a little bit held back from that. And also, actually creating a robot that can create what we call "cut and sew" clothing is very difficult. Twenty-five percent of the joints and bones of your body are actually in your hands so each hand has 12-1/2 percent of your bones in your joints. So modeling that is very difficult, and developing the software that would have the ability to do that is very difficult, and, frankly, I think we're a long way away [AUDIO GLITCH] clothing. So what that means is that we have to actually really look at the problem in a very different way. This is where I get to wax poetic, but one of my favorite, favorite textiles out there, I don't know if you're familiar with Tyvek. Tyvek is the non-woven that's actually used to create FedEx packages. And, in architecture, they wrap it around the house to--I think it's used as a moisture-vapor barrier. It's actually a very, very interesting product. It doesn't accept dyes unless you dye it actually in the blend, and it's difficult to paint on unless you use a special thermoformable paint, thermo-applied paint. The really cool thing about Tyvek though is, it doesn't rip. It can be sewn. And the coolest, coolest, coolest thing of all is, you can wash it, and every time you wash it, the fiber releases and relaxes a little bit, and it becomes more and more wearable. Now what I'd like to see is my favorite miracle fiber, the non-woven Tyvek, get to the point where the engineers and the technologists and the researchers, who are out there working in OLEDs, could get to the point where they would give us some sort of an OLED dye that could actually be thermo-applied to my friend the Tyvek, and then one of these different kinds of circuit-printing inks, like there's the [Copper-T?] ink that's used in a lot of the Disney products, or I think Xerox just came out with a new silver ink, that could be used to actually print on the back of my friend Tyvek and use that to create the circuit. So then what you could do is, you could just actually print out your pattern onto this and have it self-assemble in some way, probably through thermo-application. Back in the 1910s, these copper forms, copper manikins they used to form corsets over, and so you get actually a form-fitting garment. So all right, you got your form-fitted garment, and then what I'd really like to see have happen, and I think that this would be so
  13. 13. cool is to enable couturiers to begin designing for images and even videos that could be played on that OLED screen. And we would enable people to look 20 pounds lighter. We would be able to make their legs look longer, and we would be able to make them look broader in the shoulder or have bigger busts or smaller butts. We can do all of that just by changing the placement of the seam. I mean obviously you're not going to be getting any fatter, thinner, bigger, longer, taller, whatever in real life, but we can fool the eye by changing the placement of the seams. And, if we got to the point where my Tyvek circuit [AUDIO GLITCH] OLED bandwidth to actually be [AUDIO GLITCH] then, of course, the remaining issue is figuring out the battery question. I keep hoping that the researchers and the scientists out there will actually really deliver on something that will enable me to just print a battery perhaps on the back of this thing. And then ultimately, of course, what that does enable is, it starts enabling some very interesting things to happen in the fashion arena. On the other hand, that's not soon. That is very visionary stuff, and it's where I see computation and technology could really take off and do some great things with fashion. DOUG THOMPSON: Well, you hear, and it seems to come in waves every, I don't know, three years, five years, I don't know what it is, maybe it's fashion cycles. But you hear about wearable computing. And wearable computing is meant to everything from having a Bluetooth cell-phone connection wired into your jacket, I guess. But what are the trends in fashion actually having computer technology embedded into the fashion itself? SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, there's a number of different things going on with that. Right now there's a company out there called Scott that's doing something called the Scottevest, which some people are very excited about: it has all the wires built into it, and you can dump all of your different kinds of small portable computing devices into it and plug it in and be able to move around in different ways. I just think that that's sort of a typical approach. Actually incorporating technology into apparel is kind of an interesting and prickly pathway. At one point I was requested to develop--and this was like the stupidest thing, I still can't believe I had to do this--a Bluetooth-enabled skiing glove. Now I don't know if you can see the many problems with a Bluetooth-enabled skiing glove. Would you like to take a stab at that? DOUG THOMPSON: Go ahead.
  14. 14. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, first of all, what are you doing when you're wearing performance gloves? You're either boarding or you're skiing, right? DOUG THOMPSON: Right. Right. SHENLEI WINKLER: So when you fall off your board or you wipe out on your skis or whatever, what is the first thing that hits the ground? DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah, your hands. SHENLEI WINKLER: Your hand. Yes, your hand. Okay, so you do that enough times, and how do you make sure that your circuitry stays intact? And even though we've got a lot of really high-tech materials that go into that performance glove, there can be anywhere from seven to twenty layers of stuff in that glove. I would guarantee that, sooner or later, the connections are going to weaken. There's no way really for you to wash that glove. And, depending on where you've placed the thing, if you put it on the back of your hand, the back of your hand [AUDIO GLITCH] lot of damage, and you know you can't put it on the palm of your hand because that's the functional surface of your hand. So it's like: a Bluetooth-enabled glove. All right. Great. It's really clever and witty and all of that, and you've responded to the quote/unquote "market demands”, but no one thought through the function of it. And that's actually kind of one of the issues that I have with a lot of the so-called wearable computing that's out there. No one thought through where the intersection is between things that look really cool and are really cool and things that are actually truly functional. DOUG THOMPSON: See, I think what you need is a Facebook shirt, and, if you poke the Facebook shirt, it sends a poke to your Facebook profile. SHENLEI WINKLER: I think I saw that. DOUG THOMPSON: Or jackets that when you walk in to somewhere, it four-squares it for
  15. 15. you instead of your phone. SHENLEI WINKLER: I've actually seen a couple of different things like that, and it's really funny because _____ new with the idea of doing QR tags. You know what QR tags are? DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah. SHENLEI WINKLER: You know those goofy little--yeah. So she actually tasks me with developing a QR design that we could put on handbags or something like that. On the one hand, yeah, okay, I mean I could certainly put together a design that was appropriately attractive, that people could go to and all of that, but, at the end of the day, that's not something that would ever be more than a fad. People have to do something. You have to download an application to their mobile device, and that was ultimately, of course, when somebody actually yanked me off that project, for which I'm grateful. DOUG THOMPSON: So I'm not going to have to worry about doing upgrades to my clothing and patches to my clothing digitally placed. SHENLEI WINKLER: Not for a while. Not for a while. I mean there's a lot of things that could be done, but we're not really there yet, like for example, I love working in the foundation [AUDIO GLITCH] because that's for women, which is 80 percent of the market. For women, having good foundation garments really determine how well their clothing fits. Something that I've kind of wandered around in my head about was this idea of being able to enable, for example, different kinds of transistors and saline pumps so that you could change your foundation garment to determine whether or not you wanted to have a little more back or a little bit more bust. And you could go to your website and determine what clothing items you purchase to wear with what settings in your foundation garment. Now I think that would be fabulous. DOUG THOMPSON: I'm trying to decide if there'd be a market for that for men as well, but I don't know if I'd be doing butt adjustments on my jeans, but maybe I'm wrong. SHENLEI WINKLER: Oh, wait, wait, wait. You might be feeling like pectoral adjustments
  16. 16. because guys always want to have broader shoulders. DOUG THOMPSON: There you go. Perfect. SHENLEI WINKLER: You know, it’s not so much abour your [AUDIO GLITCH] DOUG THOMPSON: Maybe we should leave that line alone for now. So one of the things you talked about actually was the low-wage labor that the fashion industry often accesses overseas, and I think there's often been ethical questions around that. But from a broader perspective, that's also, I think, an indication that fashion was probably one of the earlier industries to start collaborating globally. I'm curious, what are some of the tools or approaches that you see the fashion industry taking on to assist in global collaboration? I'm curious about that as well what tools you guys use to collaborate globally and how you see that applying more broadly to enterprise. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, it's actually funny to hear the industry referred to as collaborating globally. I wouldn't put it that way [AUDIO GLITCH] the trenches. I think it's more like armed warfare with thinly-veiled insults from time to time, like the smile that kind of hides the teeth as you're preparing to spring across the table and start screaming bloody murder because somebody screwed up your design. If we want to call that collaboration, okay. We can run with that. But realistically, what we use actually in FRI is, we eat our own dog food. We are a virtual company, and we spend a lot of time on Skype, and we have, of course, our own private development platform that is OpenSim-based. And we do a lot of collaboration and interchange about the different kinds of design that we're doing. For the industry as a whole, apparel is actually lagging, and it knows that it has to be make changes. We can be very wasteful. We can generate a lot of landfill around our physical sample costs and our physical sample waste, but, by and large, global collaboration hasn't been an opportunity. We've only recently gotten to a point where we're really dealing heavily with email, and we're excited when we can actually use websites that are set up to enable our overseas factories to pick up our [TEC-Pacs?] and to pick up our prints and things of that nature. But global collaboration within the apparel industry, other than the fact that we have overseas factories that we have to talk to, I think it kind of stops there at the moment.
  17. 17. DOUG THOMPSON: I mean another issue that's really of concern and of interest to enterprise generally are issues related to sustainability. I'm wondering if you've seen movements, initiatives, efforts or if you're doing any or what you're doing benefits, examining green/sustainability issues. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, Black Dress Design Studio in and of itself is actually a quote/unquote "greener" solution, and the reason for that is because the huge amounts of waste that we actually generate are generated in the design-phase cycle. And that comes in because, at the moment, the tools that we're given to develop our three-dimensional product are essentially 2D, they're offline, and they're asynchronous, and that leads to a rafter of problems, including the fact that you can't spell-check number measurements. I actually have a true story of a time when I did a typo and, instead of typing in two inches, I typed in one inch, and this was for one of the big-box retailers who I will not mention. This particular big-box retailer always insisted that we order nine physical samples of each style that we were supposed to produce. So of course, I typed in one inch instead of two inches, and it was a rush order so we paid for rush shipping and rush development and all of the rest of that, got it through Customs. Five days later the thing shows up, and we're diving into this enormous packing box. It was huge because they had wanted ten different versions so ten different versions times nine, there were 90 samples. So 90 pairs of gloves. And we're looking at this, and I pulled the thing out, and I looked at my design director and said, "This isn't right. This is ugly. It's just wrong." And she said, "Go pull the TEC-Pac," and so I did. And, as the technical fashion designer, people had gotten to the point where they trusted my work so they didn't--first of all, they didn't cover them as clearly as perhaps they could have been. They were kind of eyeballing and rubberstamping, but the other thing is, there's no way that my product team could have actually picked up the fact that I made a typo because it was the kind of thing where it wasn't a construction problem; it could have been a design decision. So I pulled out the TEC-Pac, and I said, "Oh, my god! I made a mistake. I typed a one instead of a two." My director looked at me and said, "Well, all right. It was a bad design decision. Fix it. Change it. And let's pull it back." All right. So what happened to that cubic yard of physical samples? They were wrong. They were ugly. No one in their right mind would buy those thing at a sample sale. Because I worked
  18. 18. in performance gloves, everything was a manmade material, which means that they'll be biodegrading about the time the human race is extinct. So what happens to that? It's all waste. Now if I had been working in Black Dress Design Studio, first of all, I would have just placed the element that I wanted to place, the design element, where I wanted it to be placed, and Black Dress itself would have picked up the measurements, and it would have [AUDIO GLITCH] correctly and [AUDIO GLITCH] have been no issue of Shenlei typoing. So to that extent greener solution, it would have cut out one entire sample cycle. And, by the way, the cost of those samples that I screwed up on, not that design makes a mistake, it was a design decision, $2,500, and that was just for one set of samples. DOUG THOMPSON: Now the good thing in a Virtual World is that one size fits all so you wouldn't have had that issue once the gloves fit-- SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, does it though? Does it? I mean I've seen some pretty rare, ugly things that haven't been properly adjusted. DOUG THOMPSON: Oh, that's, yeah. There you go. SHENLEI WINKLER: So not true. See, all right, the women are busting you on that one. DOUG THOMPSON: One of the things you talked about earlier was IP issues and some of these labor issues as well. Do you want to share a little bit about the Professional Virtual Designer Society and why that was set up and what its goals are? SHENLEI WINKLER: Oh, always. I mean that's actually in the area that we're [AUDIO GLITCH] right now [AUDIO GLITCH] as we're really kind of digging in and kind of knocking down some of the trees that we had to address, some of the issues, it really quickly came to us that there were these kind of interrelated issues of dealing with intellectual property, copyright, actually educating the content creators, the virtual goods designers. We worked a lot with emerging designers actually in Second Life, helping them move their product line forward and helping them developing marketing and actually just developing their line overall. And one of the things that really hit home was that a lot of these folks have absolutely no clue about what their rights are. They've read the blog posts and all of the sort of dramatic
  19. 19. arm-waving about how he said she said somebody stole my idea, and it was really clear at that point that there was definitely a need to educate. And something that the Institute [AUDIO GLITCH] do a lot of education. I teach at [AUDIO GLITCH], and I've got a textbook out there for content creators and things of this nature. So we're very concerned about the educational end, and, to that end, we formed the Professional Virtual Designer Society through our 501(c)3 Fashion Research Foundation, and again you'll note people do not ask me to name things. It's very smart. So we formed it through our 501(c)3, and we spent the last year putting together the mission and kind of defining what it needed to be. We signed a bunch of contracts that enable members to have different kinds of benefits, including retirement plans and major medical and disability and all of that other good stuff that people should have, and it's portable; as long as you stay a member of the Society, you have access to that. Another thing that we started working on was the concept of standards, quality standards that people could come look at, and we started looking at things like determining whether or not different kinds of platforms would be appropriate for content creators to go to. Not all platforms are created alike, and some of them have some very different viewpoints on IT that we at least don't always agree with. FRI is kind of an interesting company. We have more lawyers than we actually have employees. That's not usual and typical for most content-creation houses. So we've actually had a lot of lawyers looking at these sorts of different things, and we've talked to them about it. And ultimately, of course, what we came out with was the Designer Society, and we're starting to accept memberships for that, and we've got a couple of different class levels. DOUG THOMPSON: So is that just for fashion designers, or who is that open to? Who is the Society open to? SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, there's two levels. The first level is at the associate level because we had a lot of people coming to us and asking about [AUDIO GLITCH] machinimists, or they were working in different areas, like animations, different kinds of things like that. So it's certainly open to everyone at that level at the associate level. The professional level is limited to people who are actually creating virtual goods because, of course, what we really focus on are things like professional development, which wouldn't necessarily help the machinimists. I mean I wouldn't even know where to start with profession development for machinimists. And quality standards, I mean again, where
  20. 20. would one start with something that's so far away from one's basic domain expertise. The virtual designers, the virtual goods creators, we can certainly help them with that. We can define standards. We can help with professional development, all of these things that are important. So it goes well beyond fashion and into other areas of [AUDIO GLITCH] development. DOUG THOMPSON: So if there are folks working and making a living or trying to make a living creating virtual goods for Second Life or OpenSim or Blue Mars, all of them-- SHENLEI WINKLER: Or wherever. DOUG THOMPSON: --or wherever. And you have some events coming up, I think, that I'm curious to hear about some of the events that you've got planned for the new year. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, of course, we also have our weekly speaker thing. It's funny you mentioned Blue Mars. Richard Childers, who, I think he's the president these days, of Blue Mars, will be speaking on Friday, and Sandy has the details on that. But in January, we're really excited, we're going to have the 2011 Virtual Designers Conference, and we have a really, really wonderful gentleman coming to keynote on one of the days, Dr. Grady Booch who is an IBM Fellow and this totally visionary, exceptionally smart, and, by the way, really nice man. He'll be coming out and talking about the directions that he sees Virtual Worlds moving in, that, for example, content creators should be aware of. So it's a very exciting kind of a thing. We have a number of other different things. In fact, we're working with some of our collaborators, and we've got some different kinds of poster sessions that we're developing. One of the things that we're doing that for OpenSim followers should be very interesting is, we're actually in the process of defining a 3D representation of the OpenSim architecture in OpenSim. So follow that one fast really quickly. DOUG THOMPSON: That's one of those mind-pretzel ones. SHENLEI WINKLER: You know it's fractally.
  21. 21. DOUG THOMPSON: Right. I should actually touch on your work in OpenSim because you've had some interesting partnerships, and you've been doing some interesting work in OpenSim. Why don't you talk a little bit about why OpenSim instead of, say, Second Life? And what are some of the things that you're doing with the technology itself, that are only possible there? SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, OpenSim was actually brought to us in 2007 by one of our collaborators in IBM, Dave Levine also known as Zha Ewry. We were very concerned about the Linden Lab's stance on intellectual property. We would not be able to make changes to the backend server code so we were just looking around for something that was comparable. [Shawn Daque?], who was an IBMer, and Dave were talking, and they brought it to Dave's attention, and he brought it to my attention, and we went into an OpenSim instance for the first time in September of 2007. That was a wild experience because I'm not a developer, I'm not an engineer, I don't code things. And in general, people don't want me to name things either. But I went in, and it was really an interesting experience. I had the same feeling that I had when I saw our number three website [AUDIO GLITCH] really had something, something that could really go beyond itself. In those early days, of course, you went in as [Ruth on a dot?], and you really couldn't do a heck of a lot because the code biz itself was so tender and raw, but I started reaching out. I went into what was then the OS grid, and I think it was essentially right class, and I had a chance to meet a number of the core developers. And then, of course, we started our really exciting project, the first large-scale build that we started in, I want to say February of 2008, and that was something that was sponsored by IBM. We developed it on the IBM Yellow Zone machines, on one of their blade servers. And Dave was the adman on that, and we were actually able to use the codebase to create a 41,000 primitive-unit build, which, at the time, it was unheard of. They had said that 45,000 units on an OpenSim region was quote/unquote technically [impossible?] because it takes a lot of big hardware to support something like that. So that was pretty exciting. I built and built until I broke the thing. I broke it really good because it just choked on itself, and we were never able to revive it. And, at that point, I had some other calls on our time so we had to go focus on some other things. But in 2009, Justin Clark Casey, who was working with us at that point, was actually able to resuscitate Spirit, and Spirit was the basis of our research collaboration with Intel Labs, with whom we're still
  22. 22. collaborating. And we sent Spirit over to them, and it's being used in a variety of different ways behind our firewall, including with I believe [their retracing group?], to do some interesting work on different kinds of viewers and understand how things get dealt with in a scene like that because it's a very complicated scene. [AUDIO GLITCHA] that. Then Nick very graciously gave me, gave FRI, just an incredible amount of hardware and hosting, and we started with what we call the Salt Warehouse and [Shingle Art Chamomile?], and we grew it first to about 125,000 objects, and that was the build that was actually featured at Supercomputing '09, when we were invited to be onstage with Justin Rattner. DOUG THOMPSON: Fun? SHENLEI WINKLER: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. But then we even grew it further. Nick said it can take a million primitives, and we're like, "All right. Let's do it." So we went in and, you know, it's a challenge. DOUG THOMPSON: That's a lot of work. That's a lot of prim work. There you go. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, it's like people always say there's no limit, there's no limit. Actually, we always find a limit. DOUG THOMPSON: Right. SHENLEI WINKLER: So we went in, and we put in 260,000 primitives into Chamomile, at which point we discovered that the viewer was running out of memory. Technically, although OpenSim could theoretically, conceivably support a region with a million primitive objects in it, there's no viewer out there right now that could actually handle that. It actually starts choking at 260,000 primitives. Most of us can only stay in there for about five minutes before we crash really hard. So if there's any viewer coders in the audience, knock your socks off because I'd really like to be able to go back and build to the million objects.
  23. 23. DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah. So you found the flexibility and the ability to push some new limits with OpenSim, which is great. But I have one final question as we sort of wrap up I suppose, which is: Do you expect a day when the Lagerfeld's and Gucci's of the world are doing fashion shows in a Virtual World as much as they are in Bryant Park or the Lincoln Center? SHENLEI WINKLER: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, we're talking to a number of them right now. It makes sense to them. In their case, they're not going to be replacing their physical-world runway show, but what they can do is, they can do a lot of different ancillary and related sorts of things. And, with fashion, it really is all about maintaining the buzz and getting things out there, being able to engage back and forth with your audience because, of course, we actually want to create things that are new and fresh and interesting, to kind of keep our customer base coming back and purchasing. I'd like to say that we have a higher purpose, but really it is all about business at the end of the day. DOUG THOMPSON: Great. So the future has just begun. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, for some of us. DOUG THOMPSON: There you go. Listen, it's been great having you on today. I appreciate the insight, and I think there's some interesting lessons here more broadly for global collaboration and how people are using Virtual Worlds and what platforms they're using. I'm going to be looking up the Professional Virtual Designers Society and seeing if I should sign up. SHENLEI WINKLER: Yeah, definitely come over to visit. I mean Richard Childers is speaking this week, and I forget who we have next week. Sandy would know, and it would be on our website. But we had Rohan Freeman from Sinewave came and talked. He is such a smart man. He just has really got some interesting, interesting thoughts, and we were delighted to have him join us. DOUG THOMPSON: Good. Well, hopefully, we'll have you back soon, and we'll do a fashion update. And I'd like to thank everybody in our audience today at our event partners and watching online. I'm Dusan Writer, and this has been Metanomics. Thank you.
  24. 24. Document: cor1091.doc Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com

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