The young minds represent an important part of the future. They have a new vision that veterans often do not see. That is why they are so necessary for development. And sometimes, we are surprised by the age at which these entrepreneurs make their ideas known. Today we bring an exclusive interview with Sabarish Gnanamoorthy, who with only 14 years (currently 15) is already one of the most important minds of virtual reality. Join us to discover everything it has to offer at the Web Summit.
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Sabarish Gnanamoorthy – A young prodigy that changes the world
Let’s talk a little about the prodigy. Sabarish Gnanamoorthy is the youngest virtual reality and augmented reality developer in the world. He has managed to be hired and sponsored by Microsoft at the young age of 14 to be part of the development of the HoloLens. In addition, he is the founder of an initiative and company called WaypointAR; an augmented reality platform designed for navigation in different places such as universities, airports, shopping centers or conference rooms. The young Canadian also has an Udacity scholarship for their VR development program. The Web Summit represents one of the best points to present its current work.
With nothing more to add, we present the interview.
XiaomiToday team: Welcome to XiaomiToday. It is a pleasure to have this interview today Sabarish.
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: Nice to meet you, happy to be with you today.
XiaomiToday team: Let’s start with the interview then. We wanted to start by asking you, being such a young boy, what was the cause that motivated you to dedicate your life so early to the field of VR and RA?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: Well, you see, in Toronto we have a program called “Knowledge Society“, which was founded about 2 years ago and is basically a human acceleration program for high school students. In it, they present different technologies such as VR, AR, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and other revolutionary inventions. When looking at these inventions, a passion for them arose in me, especially in a session we had of these digital technologies. After what I saw that day, I began to be interested in the impact that could be generated with them. I wanted to start developing similar technology as soon as possible, so I contacted Microsoft, and they agreed to sponsor me for the development of their HoloLens.
Those were the main reasons that led me to be interested in this field. Since then I am always looking for new things to do, with a view that in the future, I will not only create applications but something bigger that has a great impact on the world.
XiaomiToday team: Very interesting. A curiosity; when you started working with Microsoft and got into their workflow, how did you handle the fact that maybe you were a little younger than the rest of your colleagues?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: Yes, it was a very interesting experience at Microsoft. I voluntarily interned with them during the summer and it was quite curious to be among people older than me who have been working with technology for much longer. However, everyone supported me and helped me feel good about my surroundings. My presence also helped to give a new value to the research, since, being younger, I have a fresher vision about these emerging technologies, which will only create an impact on our generation and the following ones. That was really the reason why I could adapt to a work environment as big as Microsoft‘s.
XiaomiToday team: in relation to the VR and the AR, is it possible to give us an example of how these technologies can solve global problems such as global warming?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: Well, when we talk about global warming we are referring to a rather complex problem, but I think an example would be through education, and in the example of how VR can help decentralize the education of universities and High schools. It could allow providing education that had been restrictive for some populations, all accessing the same knowledge. Low-income people would only need a VR device to access education.
I think that when you are able to solve problems such as poverty or the great distances in communication, you can have an impact on the world, and you could solve problems such as global warming. However, I think that, at present, VR does not have a direct relationship with global warming.
XiaomiToday team: When do you think that the VR as a concept and the HoloLens will be adopted in a massive way?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: I think that all those technologies such as the VR, the AR or the HoloLens, will be adopted massively by around 2021 or 2025. At this moment, we are in the stage of producing said technology and of reducing it. The companies still do not know exactly what the consumer wants or how to build the VR or AR towards them. We still have to understand a lot, as well as develop a lot, so I think that will be the period necessary to do it.
At the moment we are only developing games, entertainment, and marketing products, so I do not consider that we are developing real products for people to use them on a daily basis. When we manage to create these products, we will be able to take them to the masses.
XiaomiToday team: Can you tell us something about your company? What do they do? What kind of people and clients comes to it?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: As you know, my company is WaypointAR. We focus on an indoor navigation platform using augmented reality and computer vision. Using both, we create a more intuitive navigation experience. Map companies like Google or Apple have been focused on external navigation technologies, but their main focus has always been on pedestrians, vehicles and public transport, and I do not really think they have advanced much the opposite way. That’s why I wanted to take this project with my own hands, to do something with that missing part of the navigation. During the last months, I have been working together with the FEEL Foundation, who have given me their support and sponsorship to carry out this project. Soon I will work with McKinsey with this project.
XiaomiToday team: Within your company, how do you see that this technology will be developed in the future and where do you see yourself when it becomes something for every day?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: Yes, well, like many artists, this is just my beginning through a process to create a product, to sell it, make it grow and learn all that marketing process that is required for augmented reality. After that, as I mentioned previously, I want to do something bigger. One of the ideas that I mentioned is to create alternative realities, which is basically the creation of a world within the virtual reality that is totally parallel to ours, some application as big and ambitious as that, which would impact billions of people in the world and not just a small market. You can say that trying to do something big is my biggest goal, in addition to meeting as many people as possible within the industry to understand all the details of it.
XiaomiToday team: Let’s talk about a more specific case. India How do you see the implementation of these technologies there? As we know, India is an emerging market; do you see any scenario where it becomes even greater than the European one?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: With regard to India, I do not have much to contribute because, being Canadian, I do not know part of their situation. However, I believe that as we are able to create greater equality of opportunities between people with VR and AR, we will be able to greatly improve the possibilities of access to services for all populations. I see that India has great potential because although they do not have the same purchasing power as other countries, they have a considerable population that could benefit from equal education, having a positive impact and turning them into a totally independent country.
XiaomiToday team: Taking advantage of the occasion at the Web Summit, what interesting things have you seen in the exhibition? What do you like most about it?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: I think this experience is a marvel in itself. I had never been to such a large conference; it is totally different what it feels to be among so many people. Usually, my conferences are in Canada and the United States, but this is the first time I have come to this international character with so many different languages and people from all over the world. Knowing them all is really an experience and a great opportunity. Having the opportunity to see celebrities such as the UN General Secretary and the Microsoft President, all these great people, I have managed to talk to them on a large scale. A unique opportunity
XiaomiToday team: What message would you like to give to people, young and not so young, who wish to enter the world of virtual and augmented reality to provide their grain of salt in this emerging technology?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: I think it is a message that should not only focus on VR and AR but on all technologies. At present, we have this wide resource called the Internet, where we can learn anything from any location, we can find what we want and get the answer in a matter of seconds. I think that this has made education much easier. It literally took me a few seconds to get everything from Google, it was so accessible. Many careers and courses are available online, such as artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles or the Blockchain. Everything is easily accessible, so I invite children who, if they want to learn about something, do so, so that they can create something important and useful.
XiaomiToday team: One last question, we would like to know, how would you define your life´s philosophy? Could you summarize it in one sentence?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: Definitely that is a difficult question. In one sentence … yes, I’m just thinking about that. I think my philosophy basically focuses on how we can create a perfect future, a better future. We could be using digital utopias where everything is perfect and each person has the possibility to shape their future. It would be to give the opportunity to each individual to create who wants to be without feeling limited by what is current social condition is, without worrying about its environment. I see that virtual reality is a solution for this.
XiaomiToday team: To conclude, and as a curiosity, have you ever been to Italy?
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy: I would love to be invited if there are no problems. Thank you very much for this opportunity, I want to end by saying that we have a bright future ahead, and I have a long way to go as the artist of that future.
XiaomiToday team: Thank you very much for giving us your time. It has been a pleasure for us.
In this eloquent way, we ended the interview with what is a young promise of technology that seeks to create a better tomorrow little by little, but whose plans will scale to a worldwide level.
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