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Metanomics: Virtual Fashion and the Lessons for Global Collaboration

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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, 2010Metanomics is a weekly broadcast on the serious uses of virtual worlds. Visithttp://metanomics.net. Metanomics is owned and operated by Remedy Communications.ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Hi. Im Robert Bloomfield, professor at Cornell UniversitysJohnson Graduate School of Management. Today we continue exploring Virtual Worlds inthe larger sphere of social media, culture, enterprise and policy. Naturally, our discussionabout 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 inSecond Life. We are pleased to broadcast weekly to our event partners and to welcomediscussion. We use ChatBridge technology to allow viewers to comment during the show.Metanomics is sponsored by the Johnson Graduate School of Management at CornellUniversity. Welcome. This is Metanomics.DOUG THOMPSON: Welcome to Metanomics. Im Dusan Writer, and Im sitting in todayfor Robert Bloomfield. Our guest today is Shenlei Winkler, CEO of the Fashion ResearchInstitute. When I think about Virtual Worlds and Second Life, one of the first things thatjumps to mind is fashion. There are people working in Virtual Worlds, who make well intothe six figures selling virtual shoes, dresses and avatar accessories. Real-life fashiondesigners 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 thephysical.Todays guest, however, has taken virtual fashion beyond virtual shoes. Shes usingVirtual Worlds to set up new ways to collaborate globally. Welcome, Shenlei.SHENLEI WINKLER: Thank you. Im delighted to be here.DOUG THOMPSON: So I think well be taking a tour of a couple of topics today. Well talk
  2. 2. a little bit about fashion and a little bit about the types of technology youre using and someof the initiatives youre working on, but Im curious to learn a little bit more about you, firstof all. Tell us a little bit about your background.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, I have kind of a unique background, of course. For the last30 years or so, Ive been designing fashion in different ways. I started out doing couture,and couture is, its kind of a rare bird out there these days. It truly is one-to-one where youhave a client who comes to you, and you dress them in different ways. And, of course, agood couturier has the ability to make the [AUDIO GLITCH] in case of men, to make theirlegs longer or perhaps their shoulders look broader. And they do that all in different waysof 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 Ihad an opportunity to work as the executive administrator for the Sloan Digital Sky SurveyProject when I was at the University of Chicago. And while I was there, it was actually kindof interesting because the web was really just getting going. That was back in 93, and wehad the number-three website, and it was interesting and pivotal for me because I wasreally and truly at the birth of a new kind of technology, so I had a chance to see it througha users eyes. And whenever I approach technology anyway, that early experience reallyforms 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] orsomething. And with that design degree, I went into mass-market fashion design, which isabout as far away as you can get with couture as, say, the Sun from Pluto. They really areat opposite ends of the scale. With mass market, theres a lot of interesting things that youneed to learn about, including supply-chain management, technical fashion design. Wehave to have a deep material science background so you know what materials toincorporate into your stuff. And you have to learn about things like size standards andgrading standards and all of that other sort of glomeration of things that are necessary toget a product produced through the industrial space.As I was designing, sort of analogous and concurrent with that, a friend of mine told meabout Second Life back in 2005 and said, "Oh, youve really got to go in." Im not a gamer,and Ive never really [AUDIO GLITCH] the [AUDIO GLITCH] that some people bring tothings like World of Warcraft or some of the other traditional games. I dont like shooting
  3. 3. people, and I dont like going out clubbing Bambi and things like that. So I put him off for awhile. He told me in 2004, and I just put him off and said, "No, no, no, no, no." But I finallywent in, and, when I went in, I was entranced by the fact that Linden Lab had createdsomething really wonderful.What they had created and which I dont think that theyve ever been able to figure out orexpress what theyve created is, they truly created a low-level mass market 3D CADmodeling tool. And I dont think that they were ever able to express that view of theproduct platform that they had created to people outside. But I got that right away becauseI was dealing with using things like Illustrator and PhotoShop and [Excel?] to create myfashion. That is something that is deeply rife with errors. You wont make any errors, ofcourse, generate a lot of [physical ways?].So when I came into Second Life, I realized that heres this low-level 3D modelingcapability, 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 wascommenting on my shirt before, which Im 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 thetechnologies that have used in over the last lets say 20 or 30 years, what are some of thetechnology trends that have changed how this shirt gets made. And lets speak of physicalshirts to start with.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, yes. Theres almost next to nothing in common betweenvirtual fashion and real-life fashion other than the fact that everyones designing. [AUDIOGLITCH] real-life designer, of course, once youre done creating your design vision, thenyou 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 dont realize.Real-life people, meaning individuals, sit down at a single sewing machine, and they makeyour clothing. And thats something that drives everything about the apparel industry.Were not an automated industry. We dont have robots that sew your clothing, and werenot heavily automated because theres never been any reason for us to. We dont need
  4. 4. the CAD tool inputs, the CAD tool specs that are required for the automobile or theaerospace industry. So weve never had to connect up with things like the MAYAs or theAutodesks or some of the other big heavy-engineering CAD tools that are out there.Weve been able to [AUDIO GLITCH] get along just perfectly happily using, in somecases, just pencil sketches or pen-and-ink sketches. Back in the 80s or so, Illustrator andPhotoShop start making their appearances, although not heavily. I mean thats actually,believe it or not, fairly recent in the 90s. Back in the 70s something really majorhappened. We moved away from developing our product domestically, and we startedoffshoring. When you start offshoring, you start introducing a realm of issues in actuallyproducing your product. So there are some interesting things about apparel that areunique.We are the last $1.7 trillion industry out there that has not in fact been automated. And, ofcourse, that fact and the fact that we understand how to go about doing it makes theindustry very, very fascinating to all of the big companies out there, who could sell servicesand goods to the industry. Go ahead.DOUG THOMPSON: I was going to actually ask about the supply-chain side of it, whichis, you talked before about materials and material sciences. And, again, this is an area Idont know a lot about, but when you think about where cloth gets made or how it getsmade, the concept of micro mills or the concepts of smaller production runs, how has thatpart of the technology changed over the past couple decades?SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, obviously, weve moved most of our production overseas and,although there are a few mills still left in North America, theyre primarily doing really shortruns. 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 Iwould design for heavily was Walmart, and Walmart is kind of interesting because theyorder in 100,000 to 1 million-unit orders. And, in order to deliver a product at that level,theres a lot of things that go into something like that. And now Im losing my train ofthought with that because Ive 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 isnt like automobiles, its not like aerospace, for one thing, because theirfactories have never been automated. Youre dealing with a much more personal level soeach one of the factories have their own unique set of machinery, and each one of themachines 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 youre going to have to get a newfactory [to check in?].With regards to textiles and material science, you have to know a lot about the materialsthat youre going to incorporate, and fashion designers, believe it or not, tend to be reallypegged into things that people working in other industries might or might not be aware of.For example, something that were constantly watching is the weather in countries whereour fiber staples are being produced, like, for example, cotton.Cotton right now is very, very expensive because Pakistan has experienced a series ofreally 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 theres notgoing 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 tosee is that next year cotton shirts, cotton clothing are going to be (a) either moreexpensive, or its going to be less of it. Well 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 thejourney of the shirt and that theres actually a complex set of factors around the economicsof making that shirt, where does it get made, how does it get shipped. That seems almostcontradictory, in some ways, to working in virtual environments, although I could see howvirtual environments might make sense around the design or branding side of things. Isthat a fair characterization? Or how do you see Virtual Worlds being used to support thefashion industry?SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, we actually have two flagship applications that weve beenworking on for quite a while. Black Dress Design Studio is actually designed toencapsulate and enclose the designer in a Virtual World so that all of the design decisionsget captured and so that ultimately she is able to create these relatively complex but easyto 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 thats required to actuallyproduce it is pulled out, and its stored in our backend database. And then we createsomething called a factory-ready, technical manufacturing specification. So thats actuallyhow we use Virtual Worlds, which is a little bit different from using it for a marketing andsales side.Now, on the other hand, we also have another application that were in the process oflaunching, which is called Virtual Runway, and Virtual Runway is really cool. Its a rapidsketch-up tool for designers to get their concept on the runway and to be able to showcaseit, do their [production?] routine and to anyone who they need to show. So they can startwith, for example, people along their supply chain: their product manager, their designdirector, their art director, people within their sales organization, people in their marketingorganization, their costers. Believe it or not, designers spend a lot of time talking to theircosters because a penny one way or another on a yard good will have a rather deep effecton the rack cost of your product.So you can bring all those people in, and you can have product-centered conversations, inreal time, with a global collaboration. And, of course, you can add the translators if youwant because so many of our overseas manufacturers dont speak the same language asthe designers, and you can discuss getting the design produced. Ultimately, with VirtualRunway, you can also use it as a sales and marketing tool. You can reach out towholesale buyers and say, "This is what were producing. How many of them do youwant?" So you dont actually have to pull your physical samples, your physical run, untilyouve shown them what youre doing, and you can make changes to the product. And, ofcourse, because theres 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 whilepeople are waiting.And then, of course, something thats 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 toput one up in Lincoln Center. Were no longer in Bryant Park in the tents, were actually inLincoln Center these days. But $500,000 is a lot of money, and, if youre not a majorbrand, youre kind of prohibited from having a runway show; whereas, with something likeVirtual Runway, you can. First of all, you can produce your own [AUDIO GLITCH] ever youwant 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, Ithink its up to 1.2 trillion or something design options to customize your model. The modelis fully scripted, and you dont need to schedule her, which has someone whos workedrunway. 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 andlooking at the garments. And what I personally really like, they never fall off the catwalk,and you dont get the diva attitude. They just get on. They do their thing, exactly what youtell them to do. They do the poses the way you want, and you can showcase that, and youcan use that in a variety of different market ways.You can bring in consumers, and you can have market research groups and decidewhether or not you actually want to produce [AUDIO GLITCH] something, or maybe youwant to make some changes. And the designers can be sitting there and be kind oftracking that back. Now, in general, designers arent customarily exposed to theconsumer, and theres a lot of different reasons for that. But, if need be, you could actuallydo this, using Virtual Runway.DOUG THOMPSON: So we should talk about who "we" is because you talked about "wehave several initiatives." And I mentioned off the top of the show that youre the CEO ofthe Fashion Research Institute. Tell us a little bit about FRI. How did it come to be? Whereis it? How many people is it? Just a little bit of history of the company.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, weve been around since 2007, and Fashion ResearchInstitute, of course, is a "C" corporation incorporated in Delaware, and we incorporated thecompany as a direct result of the rather highly publicized research collaboration that wehave with IBM Research. IBM, as it happens, will not engage with [AUDIO GLITCH] so wehad to actually form a company to engage with them for the collaboration. In general,people dont come to me to name things, which is how we ended up with a companynamed Fashion Research Institute. It seemed like a great idea at the time. People arereally mixed about the name. Some people really love it, some people not so much.I mean, at this point, its my company. Ive been living it passionately for a few years, andIm pretty happy with the name of the company. I think it describes what we do. And sincewere a C corporation, that means that were 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 ofdifferent space. Obviously, were developing applications for the apparel industry, but, inorder to get to the point where we actually have that application, weve had to address anumber of things and knock trees out of our way, including things like teaching [teaching?]people actually to use our space, so weve done [a lot of?] education, using Virtual Worlds,specifically, of course, for fashion design students.And weve had to learn how to orient non-technical users to learn how to use our preferredVirtual World, which is OpenSim, which uses a common viewer to Second Life. Weve hadto learn how to address things like asset management. Weve had to address things likeIP. Weve had to look at things like copyright. Weve had to deal with all of this just in orderto get our application out there. And, of course, then theres our work with our preferredplatform which is OpenSim. It was kind of a unique situation, but we got in there and wewere able to really dig in and, I think, help move the OpenSim codebase forward in a waythat was rather unique.DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah, Id like to dig into some of those technology question for surebecause youve got a number of applications, and Im curious how theyre being run. Kindof a curious question. You said earlier, you talked about virtual fashion which is differentfrom real-life fashion or physical fashion, except that both are designed. Although Imcurious, we do building in Second Life, and it doesnt make us an architect, but it maybeopens up an appreciation for the discipline of architecture. When you look at folks who aredoing virtual fashion, what do you think that theyre learning thats a transferable skill tomaybe the physical fashion industry?SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, to be very honest, other than having PhotoShop skills, virtualfashion designers are not going to be able to move over into the real-life design space.Real-life fashion designers, you know, its a vocation, and were actually very heavily[AUDIO GLITCH] in what we do, and were actually taught how clothing gets constructed,and we are required to actually construct a lot of the things that we do, which is whyProject Runway is so interesting. Now you actually have to watch people creating stuff.When youre learning how to do different kinds of PhotoShop or Illustrator things, thosethings are important, but you wouldnt ever go into a design house and ever suggest thatyou 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 folkcould possibly come over and design for Walmart or Coles or any of the other retailersthat are out there, its just not a possibility. And its a little unfortunate.We get approached by virtual fashion folk all the time, who want to see their line produced.Theres such a knowledge gap there [AUDIO GLITCH] one of the first things I ask folksare, "What does your budget look like?" Because I know that one of the first things thatthese sample houses and the pattern makers and all of the rest of the people in our supplychain are going to ask is, "Where is your Letter of Credit?" And, if you cant pony up thecash to produce a Letter of Credit, then we cant really go too much further. And you reallydont need a Letter of Credit to be in virtual fashion. You dont actually need to know abouthow the supply chain works. You dont need to know about the calendar of production.In real-life fashion, for example, we have a huge calendar of production. And our producthas a really short life cycle. In general, like when youre designing for one of the big boxes,what youll find is that it will take you about 46 weeks from the time that you touch yourpencil to the paper or Illustrator or your mouse or whatever, your Wacom tablet pen. Fromthe point where you [AUDIO GLITCH] to the point where theyre actually promoting it in theretail stores, about 46 weeks. And theres a lot of things that you need to know aboutalong the way: stupid things like shipping, carton ships, carton containers.DOUG THOMPSON: So when we think of Virtual Worlds in our business, and were alsoin a comparable sort of design business, we think of Virtual Worlds as being labs or placesthat you can prototype. I often call Second Life a prototype of the future, and what I meanby that is that, by being in a virtual world, you learn about new ways that people arecommunicating with each other, marketing to each other, creating marketplaces. I look atthe virtual-goods marketplace and how people promote those marketplaces, createconnections with each other and community. Are there things that you think that, if thefashion industry looked at Virtual Worlds, like Second Life and the types of things that arehappening at OpenSim and the virtual fashion-goods industry, that there are lessons to belearned, if not necessarily transferable talents?SHENLEI WINKLER: Ive actually had a couple of my own virtual fashion lines in SecondLife, and, of course, we do a lot of content development in OpenSim for some of ourcollaborators 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 inreal-life fashion carried over to virtual fashion. And whats interesting about that is that, aswe were exploring Black Dress Design Studio, which, of course, is our applicationdesigned for helping people design and develop their product, we actually found that itwould be entirely suitable for virtual-goods developers to be able to track the content andto register [AUDIO GLITCH] database and to actually produce the sort of paperwork that isnecessary for producing a Certificate of Originality.Or alternately, something that we hear a lot when were talking to lawyers: You could alsouse that paperwork to present to your legal counsel in the event that youre pursuing aninfringement case, because that documentation will tell to a pretty nicety what kind oftextures that youre using. Itll talk a little bit about the XML thats wrapped around a primobject, if youve got a prim object, and a number of other things that you can do. And atthe end of it what you produce instead of the factory-ready technical manufacturingspecification, you produce something like, for example, the documentation for your lawyeror you can produce documentation to go to the Library of Congress here in the U.S., if youwant to file your formal copyright. Or you could product a Certification of Originality foryour clients who are requesting that. So to that extent, were kind of bringing some of thelessons that weve learned in real life and eventually will be making these available tosome of the virtual-goods developers.DOUG THOMPSON: Thats interesting. We have a question from the audience, actuallyfrom [LoudLaugher?] who asked the question, "Have you dealt with designing fashion forthe quote/unquote "idealized" avatar shape versus real-life bodies? And that reminds meof architects who come into Second Life and bring their architecture skills and then realizethat virtual architecture has its own language and its own constraints and limitations. Justkind of curious what some of those constraints are or differences are designing for virtualbodies versus physical ones.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, we could just start with the fact that, with regards to youravatar, they really do have bilateral symmetry. [AUDIO GLITCH] in the case of SecondLife, below the neck they do. One is customarily not necessarily fitting things to ones noseso the fact that you can squint your nose on a Second Life avatar I think is less important.So youve got this bilateral symmetry, which, Ive made clothing for a lot of people, and Ihave 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 ofquadrants above the waistline and four sets below. And each one of those will havedifferent measurements. It just depends on how you grow, whether or not youve got anysort of, well, I guess well just call them deformities for the sake of it. If, for example, youhave something like Lordosis or Scoliosis where your spine is curved, and that will changehow your clothing sits on you. [AUDIO GLITCH] It really is apples and oranges.Weve been talking to a lot of different people about being able to develop avatars thatactually do accurately and appropriately represent your human body. And theres a bunchof different scanning techniques and scanning methodologies that are going on out there,but, at this point, Im 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 theimaging that you pull from your body, you can actually have patterns created for it. At thispoint, of course, its not going all the way through where you can actually bring that bodyscan in and use it in Virtual Worlds, but, frankly, I see that coming in the future. Its amatter of time.DOUG THOMPSON: And one of the things that Im quite fascinated with is 3D printingand the ability to fabricate. Instead of fabricating a run, you can actually fabricate just oneitem so the simplest versions of that are the websites where you can order a T-shirtprinted with whatever you want on it. But youre increasingly seeing the ability to design,lets say, a table, upload the designs for that table, and that table gets assembledautomatically in a distant plant and shipped to you. 3D printing takes that even further. Doyou see a day where people will be able to design or modify designers clothing and thenbe able to modify that using some kind of virtual interface, click a button and then thatparticular 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 Ihave--DOUG THOMPSON: Youre on Metanomics so you have to be.SHENLEI WINKLER: Right. Well, your lights being [raised on?] because here we go.Theres 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 aresome issues, and we talked a little bit about the fact that people are making your clothing,not machineries. They havent 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 were a little bit heldback from that.And also, actually creating a robot that can create what we call "cut and sew" clothing isvery difficult. Twenty-five percent of the joints and bones of your body are actually in yourhands so each hand has 12-1/2 percent of your bones in your joints. So modeling that isvery difficult, and developing the software that would have the ability to do that is verydifficult, and, frankly, I think were a long way away [AUDIO GLITCH] clothing. So whatthat 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 dontknow if youre familiar with Tyvek. Tyvek is the non-woven thats actually used to createFedEx packages. And, in architecture, they wrap it around the house to--I think its used asa moisture-vapor barrier. Its actually a very, very interesting product. It doesnt acceptdyes unless you dye it actually in the blend, and its difficult to paint on unless you use aspecial thermoformable paint, thermo-applied paint.The really cool thing about Tyvek though is, it doesnt 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 fiberreleases and relaxes a little bit, and it becomes more and more wearable. Now what Idlike to see is my favorite miracle fiber, the non-woven Tyvek, get to the point where theengineers and the technologists and the researchers, who are out there working inOLEDs, could get to the point where they would give us some sort of an OLED dye thatcould actually be thermo-applied to my friend the Tyvek, and then one of these differentkinds of circuit-printing inks, like theres the [Copper-T?] ink thats used in a lot of theDisney products, or I think Xerox just came out with a new silver ink, that could be used toactually print on the back of my friend Tyvek and use that to create the circuit. So thenwhat you could do is, you could just actually print out your pattern onto this and have itself-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-fittedgarment, and then what Id 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 beplayed on that OLED screen. And we would enable people to look 20 pounds lighter. Wewould be able to make their legs look longer, and we would be able to make them lookbroader in the shoulder or have bigger busts or smaller butts. We can do all of that just bychanging the placement of the seam. I mean obviously youre not going to be getting anyfatter, thinner, bigger, longer, taller, whatever in real life, but we can fool the eye bychanging the placement of the seams.And, if we got to the point where my Tyvek circuit [AUDIO GLITCH] OLED bandwidth toactually be [AUDIO GLITCH] then, of course, the remaining issue is figuring out the batteryquestion. I keep hoping that the researchers and the scientists out there will actually reallydeliver on something that will enable me to just print a battery perhaps on the back of thisthing. And then ultimately, of course, what that does enable is, it starts enabling some veryinteresting things to happen in the fashion arena. On the other hand, thats not soon. Thatis very visionary stuff, and its where I see computation and technology could really takeoff and do some great things with fashion.DOUG THOMPSON: Well, you hear, and it seems to come in waves every, I dont know,three years, five years, I dont know what it is, maybe its fashion cycles. But you hearabout wearable computing. And wearable computing is meant to everything from having aBluetooth cell-phone connection wired into your jacket, I guess. But what are the trends infashion actually having computer technology embedded into the fashion itself?SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, theres a number of different things going on with that. Rightnow theres a company out there called Scott thats doing something called the Scottevest,which some people are very excited about: it has all the wires built into it, and you candump all of your different kinds of small portable computing devices into it and plug it inand be able to move around in different ways. I just think that thats sort of a typicalapproach. Actually incorporating technology into apparel is kind of an interesting andprickly pathway. At one point I was requested to develop--and this was like the stupidestthing, I still cant believe I had to do this--a Bluetooth-enabled skiing glove. Now I dontknow if you can see the many problems with a Bluetooth-enabled skiing glove. Would youlike to take a stab at that?DOUG THOMPSON: Go ahead.
  14. 14. SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, first of all, what are you doing when youre wearingperformance gloves? Youre either boarding or youre skiing, right?DOUG THOMPSON: Right. Right.SHENLEI WINKLER: So when you fall off your board or you wipe out on your skis orwhatever, 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, andhow do you make sure that your circuitry stays intact? And even though weve got a lot ofreally high-tech materials that go into that performance glove, there can be anywhere fromseven to twenty layers of stuff in that glove. I would guarantee that, sooner or later, theconnections are going to weaken. Theres no way really for you to wash that glove. And,depending on where youve placed the thing, if you put it on the back of your hand, theback of your hand [AUDIO GLITCH] lot of damage, and you know you cant put it on thepalm of your hand because thats the functional surface of your hand. So its like: aBluetooth-enabled glove. All right. Great. Its really clever and witty and all of that, andyouve responded to the quote/unquote "market demands”, but no one thought through thefunction of it.And thats actually kind of one of the issues that I have with a lot of the so-called wearablecomputing thats out there. No one thought through where the intersection is betweenthings 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 theFacebook 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: Ive actually seen a couple of different things like that, and its reallyfunny 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 withdeveloping a QR design that we could put on handbags or something like that. On the onehand, yeah, okay, I mean I could certainly put together a design that was appropriatelyattractive, that people could go to and all of that, but, at the end of the day, thats notsomething that would ever be more than a fad. People have to do something. You have todownload an application to their mobile device, and that was ultimately, of course, whensomebody actually yanked me off that project, for which Im grateful.DOUG THOMPSON: So Im not going to have to worry about doing upgrades to myclothing and patches to my clothing digitally placed.SHENLEI WINKLER: Not for a while. Not for a while. I mean theres a lot of things thatcould be done, but were not really there yet, like for example, I love working in thefoundation [AUDIO GLITCH] because thats for women, which is 80 percent of the market.For women, having good foundation garments really determine how well their clothing fits.Something that Ive kind of wandered around in my head about was this idea of being ableto enable, for example, different kinds of transistors and saline pumps so that you couldchange your foundation garment to determine whether or not you wanted to have a littlemore back or a little bit more bust. And you could go to your website and determine whatclothing items you purchase to wear with what settings in your foundation garment. Now Ithink that would be fabulous.DOUG THOMPSON: Im trying to decide if thered be a market for that for men as well,but I dont know if Id be doing butt adjustments on my jeans, but maybe Im 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 thingsyou talked about actually was the low-wage labor that the fashion industry often accessesoverseas, and I think theres often been ethical questions around that. But from a broaderperspective, thats also, I think, an indication that fashion was probably one of the earlierindustries to start collaborating globally. Im curious, what are some of the tools orapproaches that you see the fashion industry taking on to assist in global collaboration?Im curious about that as well what tools you guys use to collaborate globally and how yousee that applying more broadly to enterprise.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, its actually funny to hear the industry referred to ascollaborating globally. I wouldnt put it that way [AUDIO GLITCH] the trenches. I think itsmore like armed warfare with thinly-veiled insults from time to time, like the smile that kindof hides the teeth as youre preparing to spring across the table and start screamingbloody murder because somebody screwed up your design. If we want to call thatcollaboration, 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 thatwere doing.For the industry as a whole, apparel is actually lagging, and it knows that it has to be makechanges. We can be very wasteful. We can generate a lot of landfill around our physicalsample costs and our physical sample waste, but, by and large, global collaboration hasntbeen an opportunity. Weve only recently gotten to a point where were really dealingheavily with email, and were excited when we can actually use websites that are set up toenable our overseas factories to pick up our [TEC-Pacs?] and to pick up our prints andthings of that nature. But global collaboration within the apparel industry, other than thefact that we have overseas factories that we have to talk to, I think it kind of stops there atthe moment.
  17. 17. DOUG THOMPSON: I mean another issue thats really of concern and of interest toenterprise generally are issues related to sustainability. Im wondering if youve seenmovements, initiatives, efforts or if youre doing any or what youre doing benefits,examining green/sustainability issues.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, Black Dress Design Studio in and of itself is actually aquote/unquote "greener" solution, and the reason for that is because the huge amounts ofwaste that we actually generate are generated in the design-phase cycle. And that comesin because, at the moment, the tools that were given to develop our three-dimensionalproduct are essentially 2D, theyre offline, and theyre asynchronous, and that leads to arafter of problems, including the fact that you cant spell-check number measurements. Iactually have a true story of a time when I did a typo and, instead of typing in two inches, Ityped in one inch, and this was for one of the big-box retailers who I will not mention. Thisparticular big-box retailer always insisted that we order nine physical samples of each stylethat 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 paidfor rush shipping and rush development and all of the rest of that, got it through Customs.Five days later the thing shows up, and were diving into this enormous packing box. Itwas huge because they had wanted ten different versions so ten different versions timesnine, there were 90 samples. So 90 pairs of gloves. And were looking at this, and I pulledthe thing out, and I looked at my design director and said, "This isnt right. This is ugly. Itsjust wrong." And she said, "Go pull the TEC-Pac," and so I did. And, as the technicalfashion designer, people had gotten to the point where they trusted my work so theydidnt--first of all, they didnt cover them as clearly as perhaps they could have been. Theywere kind of eyeballing and rubberstamping, but the other thing is, theres no way that myproduct team could have actually picked up the fact that I made a typo because it was thekind of thing where it wasnt 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 oneinstead of a two." My director looked at me and said, "Well, all right. It was a bad designdecision. Fix it. Change it. And lets pull it back." All right.So what happened to that cubic yard of physical samples? They were wrong. They wereugly. 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 theyll bebiodegrading about the time the human race is extinct. So what happens to that? Its allwaste. Now if I had been working in Black Dress Design Studio, first of all, I would havejust placed the element that I wanted to place, the design element, where I wanted it to beplaced, 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, bythe 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 youwouldnt have had that issue once the gloves fit--SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, does it though? Does it? I mean Ive seen some pretty rare,ugly things that havent been properly adjusted.DOUG THOMPSON: Oh, thats, 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 someof these labor issues as well. Do you want to share a little bit about the Professional VirtualDesigner Society and why that was set up and what its goals are?SHENLEI WINKLER: Oh, always. I mean thats actually in the area that were [AUDIOGLITCH] right now [AUDIO GLITCH] as were really kind of digging in and kind of knockingdown some of the trees that we had to address, some of the issues, it really quickly cameto 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 workeda lot with emerging designers actually in Second Life, helping them move their product lineforward and helping them developing marketing and actually just developing their lineoverall.And one of the things that really hit home was that a lot of these folks have absolutely noclue about what their rights are. Theyve 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 atthat 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 Ive got atextbook out there for content creators and things of this nature.So were very concerned about the educational end, and, to that end, we formed theProfessional Virtual Designer Society through our 501(c)3 Fashion Research Foundation,and again youll note people do not ask me to name things. Its very smart. So we formed itthrough our 501(c)3, and we spent the last year putting together the mission and kind ofdefining what it needed to be. We signed a bunch of contracts that enable members tohave different kinds of benefits, including retirement plans and major medical and disabilityand all of that other good stuff that people should have, and its portable; as long as youstay a member of the Society, you have access to that.Another thing that we started working on was the concept of standards, quality standardsthat people could come look at, and we started looking at things like determining whetheror not different kinds of platforms would be appropriate for content creators to go to. Not allplatforms are created alike, and some of them have some very different viewpoints onIT that we at least dont always agree with. FRI is kind of an interesting company. We havemore lawyers than we actually have employees. Thats not usual and typical for mostcontent-creation houses. So weve actually had a lot of lawyers looking at these sorts ofdifferent things, and weve talked to them about it. And ultimately, of course, what wecame out with was the Designer Society, and were starting to accept memberships forthat, and weve got a couple of different class levels.DOUG THOMPSON: So is that just for fashion designers, or who is that open to? Who isthe Society open to?SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, theres two levels. The first level is at the associate levelbecause 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 ofthings like that. So its certainly open to everyone at that level at the associate level. Theprofessional level is limited to people who are actually creating virtual goods because, ofcourse, what we really focus on are things like professional development, which wouldntnecessarily help the machinimists. I mean I wouldnt even know where to start withprofession development for machinimists. And quality standards, I mean again, where
  20. 20. would one start with something thats so far away from ones basic domain expertise. Thevirtual designers, the virtual goods creators, we can certainly help them with that. We candefine standards. We can help with professional development, all of these things that areimportant. 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 aliving 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, thatIm curious to hear about some of the events that youve got planned for the new year.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, of course, we also have our weekly speaker thing. Its funnyyou mentioned Blue Mars. Richard Childers, who, I think hes the president these days, ofBlue Mars, will be speaking on Friday, and Sandy has the details on that. But in January,were really excited, were going to have the 2011 Virtual Designers Conference, and wehave 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. Hell be coming out and talking about the directions that hesees Virtual Worlds moving in, that, for example, content creators should be aware of. Soits a very exciting kind of a thing.We have a number of other different things. In fact, were working with some of ourcollaborators, and weve got some different kinds of poster sessions that were developing.One of the things that were doing that for OpenSim followers should be very interesting is,were actually in the process of defining a 3D representation of the OpenSim architecturein OpenSim. So follow that one fast really quickly.DOUG THOMPSON: Thats one of those mind-pretzel ones.SHENLEI WINKLER: You know its fractally.
  21. 21. DOUG THOMPSON: Right. I should actually touch on your work in OpenSim becauseyouve had some interesting partnerships, and youve been doing some interesting work inOpenSim. Why dont you talk a little bit about why OpenSim instead of, say, Second Life?And what are some of the things that youre doing with the technology itself, that are onlypossible there?SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, OpenSim was actually brought to us in 2007 by one of ourcollaborators in IBM, Dave Levine also known as Zha Ewry. We were very concernedabout the Linden Labs stance on intellectual property. We would not be able to makechanges to the backend server code so we were just looking around for something thatwas comparable. [Shawn Daque?], who was an IBMer, and Dave were talking, and theybrought it to Daves attention, and he brought it to my attention, and we went into anOpenSim instance for the first time in September of 2007. That was a wild experiencebecause Im not a developer, Im not an engineer, I dont code things. And in general,people dont want me to name things either. But I went in, and it was really an interestingexperience. 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 couldnt doa heck of a lot because the code biz itself was so tender and raw, but I started reachingout. I went into what was then the OS grid, and I think it was essentially right class, and Ihad a chance to meet a number of the core developers. And then, of course, we startedour really exciting project, the first large-scale build that we started in, I want to sayFebruary of 2008, and that was something that was sponsored by IBM. We developed iton 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 tocreate a 41,000 primitive-unit build, which, at the time, it was unheard of. They had saidthat 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 prettyexciting. I built and built until I broke the thing. I broke it really good because it just chokedon itself, and we were never able to revive it. And, at that point, I had some other calls onour 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 Spiritwas the basis of our research collaboration with Intel Labs, with whom were still
  22. 22. collaborating. And we sent Spirit over to them, and its being used in a variety of differentways behind our firewall, including with I believe [their retracing group?], to do someinteresting work on different kinds of viewers and understand how things get dealt with in ascene like that because its a very complicated scene. [AUDIO GLITCHA] that.Then Nick very graciously gave me, gave FRI, just an incredible amount of hardware andhosting, and we started with what we call the Salt Warehouse and [Shingle ArtChamomile?], and we grew it first to about 125,000 objects, and that was the build thatwas actually featured at Supercomputing 09, when we were invited to be onstage withJustin Rattner.DOUG THOMPSON: Fun?SHENLEI WINKLER: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. But then we even grew it further. Nick saidit can take a million primitives, and were like, "All right. Lets do it." So we went in and, youknow, its a challenge.DOUG THOMPSON: Thats a lot of work. Thats a lot of prim work. There you go.SHENLEI WINKLER: Well, its like people always say theres no limit, theres 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, atwhich point we discovered that the viewer was running out of memory. Technically,although OpenSim could theoretically, conceivably support a region with a million primitiveobjects in it, theres no viewer out there right now that could actually handle that. It actuallystarts choking at 260,000 primitives. Most of us can only stay in there for about fiveminutes before we crash really hard. So if theres any viewer coders in the audience,knock your socks off because Id really like to be able to go back and build to the millionobjects.
  23. 23. DOUG THOMPSON: Yeah. So you found the flexibility and the ability to push some newlimits with OpenSim, which is great. But I have one final question as we sort of wrap up Isuppose, which is: Do you expect a day when the Lagerfelds and Guccis of the world aredoing fashion shows in a Virtual World as much as they are in Bryant Park or the LincolnCenter?SHENLEI WINKLER: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, were talking to a number of them rightnow. It makes sense to them. In their case, theyre not going to be replacing theirphysical-world runway show, but what they can do is, they can do a lot of different ancillaryand related sorts of things. And, with fashion, it really is all about maintaining the buzz andgetting 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 kindof keep our customer base coming back and purchasing. Id like to say that we have ahigher 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, its been great having you on today. Iappreciate the insight, and I think theres some interesting lessons here more broadly forglobal collaboration and how people are using Virtual Worlds and what platforms theyreusing. Im going to be looking up the Professional Virtual Designers Society and seeing if Ishould sign up.SHENLEI WINKLER: Yeah, definitely come over to visit. I mean Richard Childers isspeaking this week, and I forget who we have next week. Sandy would know, and it wouldbe on our website. But we had Rohan Freeman from Sinewave came and talked. He issuch a smart man. He just has really got some interesting, interesting thoughts, and wewere delighted to have him join us.DOUG THOMPSON: Good. Well, hopefully, well have you back soon, and well do afashion update. And Id like to thank everybody in our audience today at our event partnersand watching online. Im Dusan Writer, and this has been Metanomics. Thank you.
  24. 24. Document: cor1091.docTranscribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com

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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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