151: ‘The Zoo That’s in the Room’, with Roderick Bates and Kam Star

A conversation with Roderick Bates and Kam Star.

151: ‘The Zoo That’s in the Room’, with Roderick Bates and Kam Star

Roderick Bates and Kam Star join the podcast to talk about the integration of AI and real-time data into architectural design processes. In this episode we explore how these technologies can enhance workflows, beyond just visualization tools, for informed decision-making on energy use and building performance. They also discuss their new partnership with the Illuminating Engineering Society (aka IES), an organization specializing in all-things lighting, to enhance their tool’s capabilities and steer it in a new direction.

About Roderick Bates:

Roderick Bates is the Director of Corporate Development at Chaos. Throughout his career, Roderick sought out and developed solutions to environmental challenges related to the design, construction, and operations of buildings. At Chaos, his responsibilities include tracking industry and market trends, strategic partnerships, and M&A, with the global objective of empowering Chaos customers.

About Kam Star:

Kam Star is the Chief Product Officer at Chaos, overseeing product strategy and direction. He is a trained architect and holds a PhD in computer science and psychology. He has a long track record of successfully leveraging artificial intelligence and simulations in AEC, M&E and Fintech. Before joining Chaos, Kam was Vice President of Product Portfolio at SS&C Blue Prism, a global leader in automation software, Chief Product Officer of PlayGen, Head of Visualisation at international architecture firm RMJM, and Graphics supervisor at the BBC. He is a visionary product-focused leader with over 25-years of experience in growing businesses from startups to global enterprises.

Connect with Evan:

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151: ‘The Zoo That’s in the Room’, with Roderick Bates and Kam Star
Roderick Bates and Kam Star join the podcast to talk about the integration of AI and real-time data into architectural design processes. In this episode we e…

Episode Transcript:

151: ‘The Zoo That’s in the Room’, with Roderick Bates and Kam Star

Evan Troxel: [00:00:00] Welcome to the TRXL podcast. I'm Evan Troxel. If you are a regular listener and are enjoying these episodes, please subscribe both on YouTube and in your preferred podcast app, to let me know that you're a fan of the show, being a subscriber, which is completely free directly influences my ability to attract sponsors that help keep this show going.

And my ability to attract the guests that you want to hear from.

My goal is to deliver quality episodes that provide value to you and our industry. So if you haven't subscribed, I encourage you to do so. As I mentioned, it's free. And it's a great way to support TRXL and for those of you who are in a position to support my work directly, you can become a member.

To learn more about the perks of membership and to join simply click on the join us button at [00:01:00] trxl.co.

Your support is incredibly valuable for the sustainability of this show. And I deeply appreciate it. In this episode, I welcome Roderick Bates back to the podcast for the third time. And this time we are joined by his colleague Kam Star Roderick is the Director of Corporate Development and Kam is the Chief Product Officer at Chaos. In this episode, we have a casual and candid conversation about what's going on in the visualization space in AEC. How AI and spatial computing is and will be affecting the profession, and what's on the horizon at Chaos Enscape

We also explore how real time technologies can enhance workflows beyond just visualization tools for informed decision-making on energy use and building performance. We also discuss their new partnership with the illuminating Engineering Society also known as IES to enhance their tool's capabilities, and steer it in a new [00:02:00] direction.

This was a fantastic conversation with Roderick and Kam and I hope you'll not only find value in it for yourself, but that you'll help add value to the profession at large, by sharing it with your network. So without further ado, I bring you my conversation with Roderick Bates and Kam Star

Kam Star: honestly, I, I don't, I don't understand how people say it goes faster as you get older because that, that is not my experience. Like, oh boy, the things, like, it's not that the days are long, but there's a lot going on.

And even if I was to summarize like, what, what happened in the last four weeks, it feels like it's a whole year's worth of work stuff.

So, yeah, I don't,

Roderick Bates: Oh,

Kam Star: maybe, maybe it's because, I don't know, maybe people say it goes faster when you, you know, oh, you know, the days go slow, the years go fast. No, everything goes really slowly. [00:03:00] Whatcha talking about, you know, it's just, I don't know.

Evan Troxel: What what made sense to me was when I heard it explained like this, it was, uh, okay, so when you're, when you're 16, right? A year is a 16th of your life. And now I'm 49, so a year is a 49th, right? And so, and so just that compression right there is what Why it feels like it goes so fast because

the older you get,

it's a smaller

Kam Star: like a good, that sounds like a good story, Evan, but I'm sorry. There's absolutely no truth in it whatsoever.

I think what you'll find is it depends on how much you learn and what new experiences you have, because, you know, at your age, you could spend this year. Traveling the world and seeing a different city every single day,

or you could be 16 and be stuck in a, in a

in, you know, in a, in somewhere experiencing the same thing. You cannot tell me that, oh, that felt like a much longer time. No, it's the number of new experiences that you have, uh, on a kind [00:04:00] of a, you know, in, in one year, how much, how many new experiences do you have?

How many new things do you learn? How many new th things do you think about or do you see if those are reduced? And when you are 16, there's an awful lot out there in the world which you haven't heard or seen, and everything seems

new. And so your experience of the world is that, oh my god, so much happened. And maybe, you know, maybe you, you know, if you're my age 49, about to be 50, like, uh, it could feel like, well. I didn't learn anything last year. Now that's definitely not true for me, uh, because, you know, I'm, I'm ferocious when it comes to, to, to, to reading and picking up new things and whether it's a language or a topic or whatever. Um, and actually as I get older, I do that even more and more and more. I read, I've read more books every year than I'd done the previous year. It's like, it's, you know, not quite hitting the exponential 'cause it's not possible humanly.

Um, but, you know, I think, I think that's what it comes down to. It's, it's, it's not the number, and I know, [00:05:00] I know exactly what you're saying, but it's not that, it's how many new experiences did you have?

And certainly at 16 you are bound to have many more experiences. For the first time, uh, whereas it's kind of hard to get to our age and have a brand new, like, uh, you know, eating food that you'd never had before or come across a new, you know, scientific or political, historic, cultural, some new idea that you'd never heard of before. So it becomes harder to live that kind of a life of new insights and untrodden paths.

Roderick Bates: What I think is unique about you though Kam, is that for most people, they get into that sort of that repetitious groove. Then there's the reduced anticipation of what's next or the uncertainty. And so that's part of where you're like, oh, that year went by in a blink because of, of what exactly what you're describing.

Whereas when you're young and and foolish and whatnot, everything is these experiences that, that seem to be so massively consuming and [00:06:00] emotionally consuming as well. You know, you get to my age or our age and, and things are kind of like, eh, you know, the emotional ups and downs really start to compress to some degree.

And I think that's part of like with my kids, like say, when's Christmas coming? It is truly anticipated for months. Whereas for me, the Christmas anticipation is,


Evan Troxel: Right?

Roderick Bates: it's pretty modest. And so as a result, you know, it's like, because you don't, you don't have all that thinking about it, it seems to go by faster, but you, it's the opposite effect, which I think is, is quite interesting that for you, like, you know, the more you have going on, at least on your end, regardless of anticipation or not, it makes it feel longer.

Whereas for me, the busyness and all of that, in fact would make it feel faster. Like my weeks go by short because I can't complete everything

Evan Troxel: Right yeah. It's like when you're young, you have your whole life ahead of you. My, my, my youngest is 17 and he's constantly kicking the can down the road for ev It doesn't matter what it is. It could be putting the plate [00:07:00] into the dishwasher, or it could be a, a bigger, like getting a driver's license.

Roderick Bates: So you're telling me I got 10 more years of, of this to look forward to, huh?

Evan Troxel: Yeah. So, so he's always like, yeah, I got plenty of time to do that. And now look at us. We're like, we we're out of time. We, we I

gotta cram it all in. I gotta live five lives at the same time because I gotta, I want to do it all.


Roderick Bates: yeah, you gotta learn fly fishing. You gotta do the road trip.

You know, you, you, gotta master the next, uh, task or read the next book.

Evan Troxel: All right. Right. Yeah, I, I think that there's something to all of this, that, that is playing into it.

Well, maybe we can just kick this off and I can

welcome you

both to the show. It's great to see you again, Roderick. This is, third time around the, the TRXL,

Roderick Bates: people are gonna start getting bored of me.

Evan Troxel: solar system.

Never. Never. And, and Kam, welcome to the podcast for the first time.

It's great to have you both here today.

Kam Star: Great.

Evan Troxel: So,

Kam Star: here.

Evan Troxel: we got to catch up a little bit at Autodesk University at the Chaos Enscape booth, and you were both gracious to kind of share [00:08:00] things that are going on in, in the world of architectural visualization. There's a lot.

going on at, at Chaos. I recently spoke with Petr Mitev, uh, who you both know well and obviously have had some nice conversations with, with Dan Monaghan as well, and this is just a little, another opportunity to share what's going on. Before we go there, because I'm really interested in what you guys are seeing. You're, you're super tied into. A cross section of a EC that I think is a lot of people are interested in hearing about. We're seeing so much happen right now, uh, especially in the AI side of things, but the visualization landscape is changing. Right. And, uh, I'm, I'm interested to talk about that, but before we do, and, and maybe Kam will kick off with you, just give us an idea of where you've been, what you're working on, what [00:09:00] makes this problem interesting to you. Why, why are you operating in this space?

Kam Star: Mm-Hmm. Sure. Um, you know, I started early, uh, I've been into 3D since before 3D. That's how it feels. I was playing around, kicking around, making, uh, little 3D simulations on a graphic scalor in the eighties. Uh, you know, and then in the nineties, uh, even late eighties, getting into the Omega a and, and, and playing around with that.

And, um, for my sins, I studied architecture, which, uh, you know, is the kind of, uh, forces you to think about space, forces you to think about design the intersection, and how to, how to really effectively communicate it. Not to just your, you know, end client, but to everyone else who's, who's engaged in that process and how to better help folks understand what your intention is, what the outcome would be. Um, [00:10:00] I, um, I only remembered this just a very short while ago that actually my master thesis in, in, in the mid nineties and that's the 1990s, uh, was, uh, the title of my thesis was Artificial Intelligence in the Built Environment.

Um, and, and I went and dug it up. It's still, you know, printed in, uh, Sheffield University and, and, and it was just like, oh my God, I really thought we would have AI in the built environment in the nineties. Wow. Where is the AI in the built environment? Um, and, uh, of course the last few years it's been a huge ex explore explosion of that. But, you know, my journey was, um, through architecture, then architectural visualization, uh, and really where I was face to face with people who were drawing perspectives and coloring it in with watercolors. And I sat with some of them and they would kind of [00:11:00] look and go, oh, this computer stuff, no one's, you know, it is never gonna be as, as interesting as what we do. Um, but actually that, that beKame one of the most effective ways to, uh, and, and I don't mean to belittle this because it's a really important thing to sell buildings, to sell them to customers, to sell them, to planning people, to sell them, to potential, uh, folks who would, who would have to live with it. Um, after quite a few years of that, about four years of that, i, I, I just. Felt there's gotta be more. And I wanted to start to apply gaming technology into this space. So I ended up late twenties setting up a company, uh, uh, that was focused on the use of gaming technology outside of pure entertainment. So actually the very first project that we did was a, was a large scale visualization of a very large, um, I wanna say very large.

It was a very large site of 2000 buildings. Uh, and, and we [00:12:00] used gaming technology to not just visualize it, but to, to let you drive around it in a kind of a GTA style with a little map. So you could kind of go around and, and have little missions to find various buildings on this enormous site, which has normally about 120,000 people on it.

But you can imagine it's just


Evan Troxel: Yeah.

Kam Star: Um, that kind of got. Into this whole idea of gaming and gaming tech used for communicating concepts, ideas, whether they are about history or whether they're about science or they're about health, or they're about finance or politics, really applying this kind of simulation thinking, but then always coming back to gaming technology.

And why gaming technology? Well, frankly, for up until quite recently, that's where you found the best realtime 3D.

That's where you found, you know, [00:13:00] the, the, uh, and the, the, the mechanisms of gaming, uh, lend themselves well. They kind of require, not lend themselves well, but they require like the best, the highest fidelity the technology can kind of bring to bear and on a, on a, on a consumer level, accessible level. Um, so I've got, I, I'll go completely enthralled into that and um, Over the years that kind of grew into, Ooh. What about ai? Um, now I've always had a real keen interest on people, um, from a behavioral perspective. I'm a kind of an armchair behavioral economic economist. Um, I ended up doing a PhD around, um, competition, collaboration and, and groups of people, teams up with people working together and personalities and, and how you could best use things like gamification or framing to get people to work really well together. Um, and that kind of led into [00:14:00] the, this space of affective ai. And can, can computers decide, give you a better understanding of, um, how you are feeling than maybe an expert? it turns out really surprisingly, computers can be trained or a computer model can be trained to. Recognize emotion better than any other human can. Why? Because that computer model can contain tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of hours of training, whereas the human would only have a lifetime

of training. Um, and that was really fascinating. It's really interesting in how you bring that to life, how you visualize that. And then life took a little bit of a change and I faceted a little bit of a change.

So I helped grow an automation company, um, for a few years. And, and after that, actually chaos Kame along, but I had got a knock on the door, [00:15:00] said, Hey, you know, we're doing 3D. I said, well, what kind of 3D Yeah, architectural visualization I kinda looked at and went, oh, that's what I was doing 20 years ago. Um, it's, uh, what's happening in this space. And the more I looked, um, the more it was clear that this space is going through probably one of the biggest revolutions that it has done since it started. Uh, from using computers to visualize. And the reason, and I don't say that lightly, um, the, the, the really step change in software like scape, and of course Vera has been around for, what, 25 years now. Uh, but you know, something like scape comes along and it, and it democratizes visualization. and, and and I, again, that's not said lightly. This is the idea of something that was really specialist. You really had to have, go and trained, understood, learn the software, figure out how, you know, to light things, how to apply materials, how to set all of that. [00:16:00] And suddenly, hey, I'm, I've just, I'm just doing my design in SketchUp, or I'm just doing my design in, in, in Revit or, or what have you. And I can get something that is good enough that looks pretty damn good.

This, this stuff looks really good

and, and, and that

Roderick Bates: Nevermind the, the technical side of even setting up the deployments to render

Kam Star: Right.

Roderick Bates: a good V-Ray scene.

Evan Troxel: right?

Kam Star: Real time, right? 60 frames a second. Um, and of course in the last two years finally AI is getting some airtime. Um, for those who've been very close to it for very many years, we've been kind of watching it and maybe involved in some ways, but it's that kind of a nature of the exponential. You know, two years ago we get the first inklings of GPT and people are like, ah, that's never gonna replace somebody who can write a good sentence. You sure? I think, do you know, do you know how exponential works? 'cause [00:17:00] that looked like 5%. But that'll be another 10 years before it's any good. Yeah. But you don't understand this is not a linear progression.

This is exponential. And, and, and we we're starting to see that. Even more and more so with, with the rise of the la large language models, but then applying that in the, and, and seeing that in the visualization domain. It's, it's getting to the point where anybody should be able to visualize whatever they've got in their head. Um, and that's the kind of expectation, but that's also the challenge of what was in your head, because is what you're seeing on the screen Kame out of a latent space of, uh, a stability or a mid journey? Is that what you really had in mind? Or is that just what you're seeing out of, end of a prompt and you kind of

say to yourself, yeah, yeah, that's what I had in mind. And I think that's, that's,

that's that's the real challenge, right?

Evan Troxel: Yeah.

Roderick Bates: But that's the challenge for us too, right? It's, it's threading that needle between those two pieces. How do [00:18:00] we as a company ride that exponential curve, uh, or exponential growth and or alternatively, how do we avoid becoming cast to the wayside and becoming like the, the telephone switchboard operators of your right?

I mean, that's the, the challenge that we have. And I think what's great about having someone like him here who's been tracking this industry for so long is that it puts us in a position to sort of ride the lightning, so to speak here as opposed to, uh, becoming a, a dinosaur. And it's really put us into a much more proactive position, thank goodness, because it frankly will be an industry that will be fundamentally different in a few years.

Kam Star: We, we, we


Evan Troxel: to think about how fast this has come on, and I mean. Real-time rendering isn't that old, and you're already talking about it, like it could be thrown to the wayside. And because new technologies have come along and that, that timeframe just keeps getting shorter and shorter and shorter of what is the, the, the next wave, [00:19:00] uh, that, that's coming.

That's, it's very interesting to see that happen at play out during our lifetimes

Roderick Bates: And I, I think that's the question too. Like I say, is it cast to the wayside or has this become a combination of the two?

Right. Sort of this, this Borg, if you will, half human, uh, half AI type

interface. And I think from our perspective, that gets to what Kam was talking about, where there's the real opportunity there is like, is this exactly what you intended?

You know, there's no way that a machine can infer intent necessarily, right? It's just, you know, that's, that's in the mind of the designer. But at the same time, there's so many things that we're seeing that AI does faster,

just faster, um, and it has all that experience. So how do you combine those two pieces effectively?

To help our users get to where they want their visualization, they want as faster or as quickly as possible. And I think that's really the angle that that we're taking with this, is that it's the combination of those two forces that has the best opportunity for success as opposed to [00:20:00] complete supplanting.

Although I do think there will be a lot of, of replacement of things that are, say very low quality or tools that are very crude and things like that. And then why not just go for a full AI

solution if it's better?

Evan Troxel: mm-Hmm.

Kam Star: And the expectation keeps rising, you know, the expectation of variety, the exp expectation of, of insight. Um, one of the things that we saw pretty much out of the gate where instability and, and, and, and, uh, mid journey were in the early phases, and I don't think they're in their late phases, by the way. I we're still in the relative early phases, but, you know, a year ago, the, the, those who were, uh, blazing a trail in this space were already using these tools for ideation. They were already using them to generate. A whole variety of very interesting looking things, some of which you definitely would never be able or maybe never would want to build.

Uh, but you know, [00:21:00] they would defy gravity, uh, or, you know, just the, the pure laws of physics or usability. Um, and, and, and as we, we are seeing more and more focused effort in this space from the use of generalized tools to more specifically, specifically trained tools that, you know, you, you could take a, a, a latent space, an image generation, and then train it on a particular, um, artist or a particular architect or a particular designer's works. Um, and if, depending on how deep you go, you could get to the point where you could then say, okay, now apply it to this shape. Now apply it to this design where this kind of a design style transfer. And we we're starting to see that, um. I, I was playing today, uh, with a, with a video video remix that is open source, that's just been released. It's on hugging face. You can kind of play [00:22:00] with it, uh, where you can put in an input video. Um, and that could be anything that you like. And then you can put in a prompt, um, and it will take that video and it will then reimagine that video with your prompt. So I took, uh, the, the, one of the, um, samples that it has is a wolf that's kind of looking, it's a real wolf out in the wilderness that's looking around, and you can just put in a prawn sheep and it turns the wolf into a sheep, but the sheep is still outside.

It's still in the same environment, it has the same lighting, the sheep is looking around. So you just replace the subject. Um, I think that's it. This, this creates an enormous opportunity for even further democratization. It's then, and I don't mean just for the users that we have today, but for great many new people to be able to experiment. Um, not just with visuals, [00:23:00] but you know, crossing this chasm that we have right now, we've, we've got words that can be wordsmith. We've got images that can be image smith, I dunno if that's a word, but, you know, generated images. We've got video being generated. There are a few startups and few, you know, on the, on the very edges who are now creating 3D. Because when it comes down to, and that's, that's again, that's all okay. Um, in terms of something that's beautiful to look at. But if you are a designer and you, you work with the real world. with real physics and real materials that need to be joined together and things that actually need to work there, there is something more than just the pure latent space. The generative space. Something more that needs to be added into these models. It's not that it's not coming, it's not that people haven't thought it. Um, it's certainly on, you know, the, the, the, the sharpest minds who [00:24:00] are working in this space are fully aware that the models to come will not only be able to generate images for you, but they'll also have a deep understanding of the physical world and how things work in the physical world and how reality actually operates. Um,



Roderick Bates: doesn't have to be complicated, right? I mean, we're talking about things like water management in the case of buildings, right? You know, ,

um, structural loads. I mean, these are things that they're not, at least in the context of buildings, terribly complicated.

I mean, there's a limited number of parameters that have to be taken into consideration.


Evan Troxel: And those have been solved time and time again. Right? Like the, the engineering side of it that you're referencing there, it, it has a set of rules. And I think that was something in architecture that we were always kind of aware of tangentially, which was, you know, that Kam, to go back to one of your points earlier, it's like, this is never gonna take over the, the job of a creative.

Right. And now, like the things that we're seeing come out of it are absolutely creative in ways that we didn't expect. [00:25:00] and and I think, you know, one of the, one of the big I don't wanna call it a lie, but one of the things that we believed was like the engineering problems were solvable by automation. A lot more so than the creative problems being solved through systems like this.

I mean, AI is not automation, but it's, it's also not too far divorce from automation. Like, you can, you can tie those things together. I think it's really interesting to see this come and you chaos. Inscape is concerned about its future, uh, developing products that are used by people. professionals are too, right?

Like we're, we're, we're also concerned about it uprooting what we do, what we deliver. I think one of the things that, I had a long conversation yesterday about the new era of spatial computing that is, you know, uh, branded

by Apple and.

and it's now landing and the the headsets are, are going to become a lot more, I don't know, there's just gonna be a lot more of them out there. [00:26:00] The way that people are going to spend more time in these environments and creating these digital environments is going to then inform the physical world once again. Right? People are gonna come out of these headsets and absolutely be disappointed in the office that they are sitting in, right? They, they are.

I've, I've already experienced that many years ago, being inside of my designs in a VR headset and then coming back out into my office and it's like, well, it was better in there and it wasn't perfect. It wasn't even photorealistic, but it was good enough to really make me feel like I was there and, and that is going to inform the physical world in substantial ways.

I think. Like we're going to go into these environments that are going to be created and they're gonna be augmented with tools and AI and all of these things. Like maybe we define the base and then it fills in details and we're gonna come back out and be like. I wanna do something like that here, because it's just like what Covid did to the office.

Like, I don't have [00:27:00] a gym in my house. It was at the office. Now I want a gym in my house, right? Because this is where I'm spending my time. I don't think it's gonna be unlike that with the influence that it's gonna have and the impact it's gonna have back on the physical world. And, and so to see this technology develop and especially at the pace that it's developing, I think it's going to start, it's, it's gonna create new opportunities that have never existed.

We, we will be spending more time designing digital environments just for digital environment's sake, just to go there, call it escapism, call it the design


Roderick Bates: you're saying that, um, rumors of the Metaverse demise were greatly exaggerated

Evan Troxel: I

Kam Star: We can see it, you can

see it in,

Evan Troxel: I think you could speak to that

Kam Star: We could see it in the way our kids, um, you know, um, and if you have kids of a certain age, they are probably really engaged with Minecraft

or with one of the other world building

things, and they invite their

Roderick Bates: And they're playing with people. Like for my kids, they have, uh, [00:28:00] family members, you know, all over the place

and they play with them. I think roadblocks is sort of their preferred platform mostly. 'cause it's the easiest one to collaborate with, although it's not necessarily their preferred platform to play in.

Uh, but it's easiest one to play together and, and

Evan Troxel: Mm mm-Hmm.

Roderick Bates: sort of like their, the neighborhood sandbox,

so to speak, which is pretty wild Fortnite as they get older. Um, similar functionality. So what is it for the office?

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Roderick Bates: I mean, if the kids can spend hours in Fortnite, I'm assuming there's an office that I wouldn't mind spending hours and,

Evan Troxel: Yeah.

And I

Kam Star: do you think,

do you think in 10 years time we will, we won't be asked to prepare a PowerPoint presentation or that we won't be asking somebody to, to put together a set of slides? I really hope. I really hope


Evan Troxel: hope so. Yeah.

Roderick Bates: Well, it's,

Kam Star: nothing against

Roderick Bates: with our customers though,

Kam Star: presentation, but it's just like, come on, there's gotta be a better

Roderick Bates: We have, uh, we have a customer. It's a fairly large construction firm, and I was talking to them about how they use our software just to get a better sense of how that [00:29:00] particular market segment, um, utilizes visualization and you knows a lot of the things you'd expect. Um, you know, they have a little bit of a, a business that actually designs buildings, so they have to respond, but they also do logistics and testing.

Can we drive trucks around or fit behind certain equipment? But the one that really caught my attention is they actually used, uh, the scape software to visualize data. So if they had an RFP response and it was like a, a really boring graph or something like that, or some type of like a, a Gantt chart or something, instead of just putting it in the RFP, they would have a link.

The person would scan it and then they would go to an immersive view of the data. And they said, it really doesn't help the data communication all that much. It's the same data, but we found that people actually looked at it once we did this. Whereas before, they'd just be like, eh,

you know, next

Evan Troxel: of the same. Yeah. Yeah.

Because it's not the same. And I, I, I find that being, that's a really intriguing thing that's, that's happening. One of the, the things that I was reading about, uh, just, just yesterday, I think, is [00:30:00] that on the, on the Apple Vision Pro, there's a Disney Plus app, and the Disney Plus app lets you watch a Star Wars movie. In a Star Wars setting, so you can actually be sitting in Luke's land speeder and watching Star Wars and, and it's like, I've seen that move before. Right? I, I've, I've watched it many times, but I've never watched it like that. And I, I feel like there's going to be a lot of, and people might say, well, you know, it's just novelty.

It's like, well, and that's okay. Right. I, I feel


this is

Roderick Bates: has value. I mean, people go to a bar

to watch the game.

Evan Troxel: Right,

Roderick Bates: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: right. It's, it's gonna be a thing where there's gonna be new layers of fun. You know? It won't be a dirty word. It'll be like, no, it's, that's, that's why I go, that's why I participate. That's why I'm here is 'cause I wanna have fun doing it.

Because you've found a creative way to communicate these ideas. To me, I think that there is, there's so much untapped potential

Roderick Bates: Well, I guess the gamification you're talking about, Kam, you know, can we make all of this more [00:31:00] engaging,

Evan Troxel: Mm.

Roderick Bates: not

Kam Star: much, how much engagement is too much engagement though, because, uh,

you know, as, as, as, uh, at some point engagement becomes passe because, and I'm starting to see that a little bit just in the AI news space, you know, like, Hey look, we can do this. And literally five minutes later, ah, yeah, we can do that. Uh, what else have you got?

You know? And then a day later we can do this. Yeah, I was, I was, this week on Monday, I was talking to, um, our head of ai, uh, Jan Ring, who's just an awesome guy. And, you know, we were, we were having a bit of a debate, not too dissimilar to right now, we were talking about the, the, we were talking about the vision of five-year vision and the kind of, where is this space going?

Especially well in that conversation it was about, about VFX space and and making movies. And, and I was saying to Dan, you know, there's, there's this trajectory [00:32:00] that that basically means that most of what we consider is, is a workflow Right now. It's kind of, oh wow, you're still doing it like that you know, kind of, that's, wow. Do you really have to put ink in your, you know, in your quill pen to, to write? That's, um, that's interesting.

Um, because, you know,

Evan Troxel: say that. I, this is not an ad, but yeah, I've, I've got my bottle of ink right here

Kam Star: there you go. there you go. And

Roderick Bates: Only for the best ideas.

Kam Star: for the best.

Evan Troxel: that's

a bottle of ideas right there. Yeah.

Kam Star: Amazing. I like that. That's good. That's, that's spot on. And, and lo and behold, we were having this debate around control. 'cause one of the things that a lot of our customers tell us is, I want to have control. I want to be able to specify

exactly the thing that I want.

And just for, for the machine. For my copilot to not just take the plane and take it to some [00:33:00] place I didn't want to go to just take care of the boring bits

the bits that it's kind of going a bit flat or I'm just gonna get tired and, you know, and, and, and I don't even necessarily want it to take me to a land I'd never known before. I kind of want to go where I want to go and I want my copilot to be there to help me.

And, and we were having this debate about a, a a a startup that's kind of doing ideas to video and Oh, well, yes, temporarily, not entirely as consistent it should be. You know, and that's by, by that I mean, you know, over a period of 15 seconds, the character can change a little bit.

The background can change a little bit. It's a bit different. Um, and, and, and I, I don't really have control on which direction this thing is going 'cause it's just generating something and, uh. Quite literally the next day. So this had that conversation on the Monday, on Tuesday, there was a announcement by this particular company saying, now you can control like how things are moving. Like, [00:34:00] and, and you can control these things and decide what the trajectory within on, you know, on screen is. And I'm sending this to Dan and saying, Dan, you know, the thing that we talked about on Monday looks like they've solved it. And literally today we were having a conversation. Is it, is, it is. No.

Yesterday we were having a conversation, so like a day after. And it, for both of us, it's, it's already like, yeah, we can do that now, but yeah. But what we really need, right? And,

Roderick Bates: Yeah. That goalpost keeps moving,

Kam Star: it?

keeps moving. But what seems, what, what, what, what you gotta remember when you look at this space is whatever it is that you think it's not doing, don't say it can't do it, it just can't do


Evan Troxel: it's


Kam Star: And there's someone working on it right now so

that it can. And it, and it will because there's no, there's no magic in being able to represent thinking, okay, maybe. Maybe that's a big thing. I'm not talking about consciousness here. I'm think I'm [00:35:00] talking about kind of focused thinking around something, the kind of cogni cog cognition. So I'll leave consciousness to philosophers, just cognition, just thinking about something. There's no magic anymore in being able to systematize that because at the end of the day, what is our cognitive process? Our cognitive process is, is, can be described. It's not that dissimilar to what happens, you know, in the, in, in a, in the brains of a, um, a creature that lived several hundred million years ago.


our brain physiology is still pretty much the same as the squid, you know, and, and, and it's not that different, of course, it's far more complex and it has many other aspects playing into it. Um, you know, one of the interesting things that I, I believe will probably, uh, win the Nobel Prize, hopefully I'll see it in my life, uh, is a, is an incredible piece of research, [00:36:00] um, that has, has been carried out for, for, for a number of decades, which was just published last year at the end of last year in, in nature, where these researchers were very keen to understand the human brain and the nature of neurons. And many of us who are not in biology, including me. we kind of think, well, yeah, neurons, you know, these things that, synapses and connections and that's what it is.

Um, well it turns out the human brain has, and this is what the research had published, they wanted to know how many different types of neuron are there in the human brain. And if you'd asked me before this, I would've gone, what do you mean it's just a neuron, right? It turns out

that, you know, the average human brain has 3000 different kinds of neurons, and we don't actually know what,

what, why are they different and how they all do. But we have 3000 different kinds of neurons that operate differently. Um, and it's almost like these neurons, you [00:37:00] could kind of think of them as different appendages. Like we thought we had five fingers. It turns out we have 3000 different fingers. Um, and and not only that, what was really interesting about that was that the, um, the portion of the types of neurons that you have. Are as unique to you as your face and your fingerprint.

So maybe I have 2% more of this kind of neuron and you know, one, 2% less than that. And this, these will have any huge impact on the way that we think and we feel and we experience the world, what we take in, what we can then produce. Um, and I'm sure that that at some point our systems and our mechanisms can be sophisticated enough to start to really model even some of those nuances of how these neurons can work.

And again, this is not science fiction. There is some, some [00:38:00] work in this space. New ways to think about neural networks, um, and new topologies. Get, get us close to this horrible feeling that the machine is alive. And you know, we, we are now in the domain of the conscious machines, uh,

Roderick Bates: But maybe short of just being alive, that brings up some, one of the aspects of a lot of the AI tools that are out there is that they're, they're one flavor. They're one . Set of neuron types or maybe one proportion of neurons, and that's it. And it's like, you know, you don't get your version of these. And it gets to that idea of the training set.

People want to be able to get the machine to think the way they want it to think in some way, shape, or form, right? They want to train it so that sort of, it's in their image maybe, or what have you.

Uh, and it seems like that's a, a pretty fertile ground. And we actually got a lot of comments along those lines.

Kam, at Autodesk University, we presented some of our concepts. People like, we like this, but we wanna [00:39:00] make it ours.

Um, and frankly, we get to some degree, the same feedback on our easier to use software scape. So people say, you know, like, great visualizations, but if I go into an interview and the last firm used scape and I'm using scape, sometimes people say, Hey, I, I saw that person before.

Or, you know, the, the way it looks, the style, the sort of. It's similar.

Um, and, and the mind picks that up and they wanna make, create something that's their own. So even though they're using a tool, they still want the individuality out of it.

Evan Troxel: Well, I mean that is the final of democratized tools is that everybody has the same tools and therefore


Roderick Bates: Next thing you know, we're all wearing overalls and

eating the same food. Yeah.

Evan Troxel: we're all, we're all wearing black Nikes and

Roderick Bates: Yeah,

Evan Troxel: we're

Roderick Bates: that's right. Drinking Kool-Aid.

Evan Troxel: Well, Roderick, you, you mentioned, you brought it up, uh, we maybe, uh, prematurely announced the death of the Metaverse before it was time. Uh, where, [00:40:00] where, are we with that? Because the last time that you and I talked on the podcast, it was really about tools, workflows, putting things into the metaverse, and, and now again, a new hardware is coming out where the interaction with digital space is, is going to change. And it's not like Apple's the first one there. Obviously there's been a lot going on there, but I do think that they're gonna, uh, they're going to present it very differently to people and it's gonna

Roderick Bates: And they're not gonna call it the metaverse,

Evan Troxel: They,

they haven't yet. Right. Uh, and, and so and so where, where are we with, with that?

I'm sure that you're still tracking that with your, your background

Roderick Bates: For sure I'm tracking it and it's also still contentious. I know that Kam and I have different opinions on this, which is good, right. You know, you want to have some of that productive friction around it. But when I look at the, the larger industry, I mean, there's one thing that's obvious is no one's saying metaverse anymore.

It's become a dirty word. Uh, if you look at the price of like a plot of land and, um, to central land, I think it's gone from like 9,000 down to a couple [00:41:00] hundred dollars or something like that for a plot of land. Like, you know, if it was peaked down. So, um, clearly the, the people I've spoken the technical problems though, that I, I felt at the time were inhibiting some of the aspects of the metaverse was still there.

You know, it still takes a lot of computational power to. Support an environment like that. Um, and that hasn't changed. And so what do you have in a metaverse? Well, you, you have a place of, visually speaking just isn't as compelling as it should be.

You know, compared to a video game environment, it's pretty flat.

Um, well, who wants to spend time there? Right. You know, it's like going into an office with fluorescent lights in a, a stained drop ceiling. I mean, it's just no fun at all. So there's that aspect of it that I think still hasn't changed. But what we are seeing though is places that maybe aren't metaverse by name but are metaverse by experience are continuing to grow.

Uh, one of them is, um, I. As I mentioned earlier, Roblox, it's seen actually pretty tremendous growth. Um, you know, we're talking, I think it's something like 70 million users, active [00:42:00] users or something like that. I mean, it's pretty phenomenal when you think about it, but it, what has it done? Well, it's, it's captured a particular segment of the market, you know, kids, um, it's made a very safe place for them to play.

Um, allows for interaction and it's. Appropriately dynamic, which I think for a lot of people is exactly what they want. So that one, I'd say, yeah, it's, it's still functioning and functioning really well and it, it's vital. Um, but we're also seeing something else and it's, I wouldn't say it's a strong trend at this point, but we're starting to see more and more, um, sort of immersive shopping type experiences that are coming up.

Um, something that we saw recently, a Crate and Barrel has a immersive store. Macy's has one. So maybe a little bit more of like a video game. And we've talked to a lot of companies in this space and some that are in 3D commerce, and they're saying, they're hearing from, a lot of people are asking about, Hey, how can I get an immersive store?

So it's not just scanning a grid of products, but it's something that's more interactive in the sense that perhaps, um, you're actually [00:43:00] going into it. And what's interesting about that is that so far it's not necessarily a, a. Big money making commerce play. It's almost more of a marketing play. It's a little bit of a, of a unique opportunity.

But just like you were saying with Vision Pro, a lot of people are saying, you know, is that gonna be the technology that proves the catalyst? You know, is it gonna be kind of like that iPhone moment that takes smartphones from something that's kind of neat? Um, and maybe some people have palm pilots and things like that, or you know, handheld devices to something that's truly ubiquitous.

Maybe, maybe not. But um, I think for a lot of people they say, well, will commerce be exactly the same in the sense that we're going through those grids of products five years from now? Most people say probably not. No. They're gonna have something that's more dynamic. That's an increased conversion rates.

Evan Troxel: I think the, the

Kam Star: you say, I think maybe you and I are. Not entirely on the same page, because I heard all of this 15 years ago on second [00:44:00] Life I saw all of these same stories. I heard them all exactly almost verbatim. Like, you know, hey, this, this company McKinsey's got a thing and BA's got a thing and Nike's got a store and you know, McDonald's has got a store and you can go.

And the the reality of it is, nah. And I don't think that what we've got right now is it either. And the the, and the reason you you mentioned is, is computation is true, but the, the, as long as I have to wear something that's like heavier than these glasses, more intrusive, like literally this is probably the, the, the limit or maybe a little bit thicker than this, but that's about it. Uh, and, and do not remove me from reality, you know, so, and right now we're not there yet. Even the latest Apple headset is this giant thing that I have to stick on my head,

Roderick Bates: Oh, it's still big man.

So that's the question. Do you think it's the technology or concept, right, that's holding it back? I mean, if it's the concept, right, that's never gonna change. Um, [00:45:00] but on the flip side, if it's the technology. . Then obviously people are pushing in that direction. Is it here today? No.

Would it be here in several years? Well, honestly, that's, it's a little bit like fusion, right? You know that really lightweight wearables, immersive tech is always, uh, the next thing.

Kam Star: It's making it easier and easier. I mean, honestly I can see, and I dunno, maybe of, some of the views and listeners have, have seen the rabbit one, that the launch of this new way to be able to interact with software and with interfaces and the idea of going from a large language model to a large action model where you can ask it to do stuff for you. And, and I watched the whole um, rabbit one presentation and the entire time I was thinking Why can't just, that can't, why can't that just be an app on my phone? Like, you know,

why do I need to have a device come on, I can just have my phone be that, that I can just, just converse with it in a natural language, [00:46:00] in a conversation, um, and get what I want.

And, and I think that is, that is a much 'cause for me, maybe I'm a dinosaur, but, uh, you know, for every time the VR thing is comes up and it's just like the world is going to be in virtual reality. Hell, it was 1997 and I was working on VR ML and uh, you'd have to be probably as old as me or maybe older to

remember VR

Evan Troxel: I'm raise my hand, I know exactly what you're talking about.

Kam Star: And vr. RML in 1997 was supposed to trans transform

the shopping experience into a web front end where you entered the shop and you went around and you could see the stuff. It looked crap compared to what we've got today. We were to do it today, it would look so much better. But I still feel that, think there's something there around in terms of is it a technology thing?

I think it's, it is partially a technology thing, but in the same, in the same way as [00:47:00] when information and access to these things to music beKame so be ubiquitous that you could just download any MP three or you could just pay a subscription to Spotify or iTunes and just listen to absolutely any artist pretty much within limits, right? Whenever you want. The thing that was then valuable is actually going to the concert. It's the real physical experience of actually experiencing it. That's what beKame valuable

in music. Right. You know, that, that the phys Yeah, exactly.

The physicality beKame

valuable. And I, and I wonder if in if in this space we are still, we, we, we need to be thinking about this too. You know, I'm, I'm amazed that the bookshops in Central London, that, you know, one of the highest, at least in Europe, I don't know about the US or Japan, but in terms of, uh, per square foot, um, rent, these, these numbers are eye watering, right? They're just like, [00:48:00] what you pay,

how much for rent? That's how much, you know, whole house costs, um, you know, per, per square foot. Uh, but these bookshops are filled with people. People want to go to the bookshop. Yeah, of course they can go to Amazon. Of course they've got that Kindle. Of course, they can consume media, uh, in a, in whilst they're laying on their bed, right. But they don't, they they go and walk into the bookshop 'cause they want to be there.

They wanna pick up the book physically and amazingly physical books sold more, at least in the UK last year than have ever before in the history of selling books in this country.

Evan Troxel: But are they just, but are they just a showroom for Amazon? Right.

Kam Star: well, yeah, yeah, of course there is that you, you always

Evan Troxel: stores are,

Kam Star: kind of going, oh, I can buy it for 50 p cheaper here. So

Evan Troxel: well, yeah.

Everything's getting more


Roderick Bates: things to unpack there though. Um, you know, one I think is people's desire to have the, the physical, right? I mean, at the end of the end of the day, we are living in the real world and people, I think there is a. A desire for that authentic [00:49:00] interaction. Fundamentally, like it is, it is more desirable.

It's like telling someone you went on vacation and it turned out that you, you bought a, um, a slide tour to go to the Azores just isn't gonna be the same as actually going there. So there's no doubt about it, right? There's a value in that authenticity, smelling things, you know, feeling them and, and maybe the ups and downs that go along with those sort of things as well.

But the other side of it too is it's not just about, uh, some of the technologies actually are really, are well developed. Um, like it doesn't have to be a VR experience, you know, people aren't playing Fortnite or entering robots

and, um,

Evan Troxel: In vr.

Roderick Bates: in vr, right?

It's a traditional screen experience. So in some ways, you know, maybe the technology's it's there, um, and what we're seeing is what we're seeing.

And maybe a improvement in immersion isn't gonna move the needle in any way. I.

Kam Star: I wonder

Evan Troxel: I think it,

Kam Star: sorry. Go ahead.

Evan Troxel: I was just gonna say at some level I think you get to walk away from that screen. Right. I, you would walk away [00:50:00] from a headset too. But, but I think there is kind of like a, a nice, it's like a compartment of my life. It isn't my life and I like to turn it on when I want to feel that and I can turn it off when I need to do something else. I think that there's, there's something else there that's not just about experiencing something all the time.

Roderick Bates: I agree with that, although you always hear about phone addiction and things like that, that people have. So, um, and I guess in those, an addiction obviously implies that people would rather turn it off if they had

Evan Troxel: Yeah.

I, I,

I kind of see the opposite. yeah.

Just to go back to something you said earlier, Kam, one of the reasons that, that the R one, the rabbit R one, can't be an app is because that's a gatekeeper for them. I mean, you basically have to ask for, for permission to make something cool from the two big gatekeepers on the planet.

Right. And, and for you to only be able to deliver what they want to deliver. They're at, they, they're under the thumb of somebody else. And that, that's just something that I heard the founders say. It's like, I, I, I'm swinging for the fences because [00:51:00] I can, in this way. I can't if I do it through them.

Kam Star: Uh, no, I, yeah, I, I can completely understand that by the, and, you know, I'm, that I, I saw it. I thought that, but I also thought, well, Samsung is gonna be doing this,

There's gonna be devices if, you know, LG is gonna be doing this, all those guys. I wanna go back to the question of authenticity, because I think it, um, it, for me, when I think about the future of designers and the future of creators, um, there is something, and I know it's not, it's not directly related to the, the space of vr, but for me, this is something about design, communicating, design, understanding design, being able to create something that your customer, your client, really wants. And, and I'm, whilst it's feasible. Somebody could automate the entire process of maybe designing a building. Um, I, I'm really doubtful whether that would ever come to fruition [00:52:00] in the way that people pretend that it would.


Evan Troxel: Hmm.

Kam Star: because there's something more just giving somebody the ability to write a prompt and have the full set of drawings, uh, and, and the, you know, the building schedule or if it's a, if it's a product, you know, all of the kind of specifications are ready to go and to be printed and and assembled. Um, there's something here about the role of the designer is as, as, not just a conductor, but, I'm struggling to find the right word, but the person, the individual who navigates the design space for you at or with you to arrive at the thing that you actually really want. To tease out and think about it in the process of designing a house for someone. Sure. Maybe at some point I could ask a prompt and say, I've got a land that is this meter or, or here's a aerial photograph. [00:53:00] Create me something. But I, I can't see that being, and maybe, again, I'm showing my age right now. I can't imagine why that would be better than sitting with an architect or sitting with a designer explaining to them the feeling that I want, explaining to them what the things that are really important to me. I. Going through a process, and maybe that process is augmented with ai, and certainly this is some of the tools that we're creating, right, to help you get there faster as a co-pilot. But for the role of the designer, for the creator, they are the conduit. Um, and perhaps they're not always necessarily the original originator, but they're the ones who make sense of what it is the customer wants, the client wants and helps to, to then bring that to bear, um, in, in a design, you know, of course with assistance, which to me is a, again, goes back to this idea of authenticity. Um, like, um, the, another way that I've thought about it is, [00:54:00] um, any fool can, can go and buy a load of clothes and, and stick it on someone, but, you know, not everyone can, can, can actually put together a really good outfit, you know, and, and, and that

Roderick Bates: A really good outfit is one that maybe breaks the rules a little bit too.

Kam Star: right.

Roderick Bates: Um,

I think part of what

Evan Troxel: a lot of architecture is breaking the rules. Right. Like that that's the whole, the, the, the, the building code is something that we are constantly navigating and finding workarounds

Roderick Bates: one ever takes a sitting down. Um, in

the, in the design process. Everything's, everything's negotiated.

And I think what you're describing is almost a bit of a therapist Kam. Right. You know, they're, they're listening to, they're interpreting. Right. And then they're also helping you navigate what are gonna be inherently a series of compromises.

You know, everyone goes in with a BMW, uh, aspiration and a and a Pontiac budget. It's just, there's always an, a mismatch between the

two. And your job is to help them [00:55:00] navigate those. But the other thing that I always thought of when I was in, in practice is that people really should enjoy this process.

'cause the, this might be the most money they'll ever spend on anything,

ever. And, well, yeah, they should have fun. This shouldn't be like pulling teeth or going to the dentist or something like that. This should be something where in fact, they, they enjoy this process 'cause they were paying a lot of money for it.

Evan Troxel: Absolutely. I, I, I agree with, with what you're talking about here because, and I, I guess my question for you both is, do you see a point in time, maybe the near future, uh, where there's a huge backlash against a lot of this AI generated stuff, and, and it's like there's gonna be a push back to authenticity or a stamp or something that says like, this is a hundred percent organic

Roderick Bates: That's what I was saying. It sounds like USDA organic

and you know, I think that there would be, right. I think there's some value in craft. It's like you can buy a knife that's probably just as well [00:56:00] made out of a factory as one that's made by hand. But people are absolutely willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a handmade knife.

Evan Troxel: That's funny that you say that. I just watched a, a YouTube video of a, of a guy who makes $200 knives basically by hand, and, and he's, he blacksmiths it from the beginning to the end, and it's like, yeah, you can buy the $20 one on Amazon. Absolutely you can. It won't fit your hand like this one fits your hand.

It won't, it won't go into the sheath the way this one snaps into the sheath. It won't, it won't hold its edge as long as this one will hold its edge. And there's so many little decisions that were made along the way that were gained through wisdom and experience and, and application of technique over years and years of craft to establish the outcome of this process like there is in a The $20 version on Amazon, and, and it's like once somebody buys that knife, they're never gonna want to use another [00:57:00] kind of knife again.

Roderick Bates: But what

Evan Troxel: not to say that people will want to build another building and work with

an architect again. I

Roderick Bates: that's right for some people once is enough.

But what about when it's indistinguishable? I think that's a little bit of the

challenge too. Uh, when, and I think I still feel like there's an inherent value in craft. I mean, you can buy,

get a print of all sorts of paintings, but there's a, people absolutely value the original.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Roderick Bates: Um, it's the same thing with cars. You know, you can get a reproduction Cobra, um, Shelby Cobra, and it's gonna be worth a heck of a lot less than the real deal.

Evan Troxel: Yeah. Yeah.

Roderick Bates: And in fact, it might be better than the original.

Evan Troxel: I, I just see that the, there's going to be a kind of an organization of, or a bifurcation of spaces online and in the real world where it's like. Only organic. Right. It's, it's just, this is done by hand. This is, these are things that have been thought of by people. They're not. It's, it's interesting, right?

Because you, you can see communities like the Amish community is an example of this. Not that they totally shun [00:58:00] technology. They, but they study it intensely and then

they only accept technologies that reinforce their values and don't, don't break up the values that they've established as a community.

Those are the ones that stick. Right? And I could see that similarly happening in this space where it's like we, and I think it's really gonna ha show up a lot this year because of the, you know, the elections are coming, we're, we're seeing so much generated content, right. That it's just gonna be like, what's real?

I can't even tell anymore. It's so good. I can't tell if somebody really

Roderick Bates: Yeah. That's, that's terrifying in some ways, right. You know? And so what is your, your best option in that case? I mean, think of, you know, fraud and whatnot as well. Um, it is, it's needless to say, absolutely disconcerting, but I still also think you can't turn your back on on these tools. I mean, they're, they're gonna be there no matter what.

Um, and what we're trying to do is, is, like I was saying before, we're trying to thread that needle and say, okay, how do we take these [00:59:00] tools to help you? become better, a better artist. You know, it's like, okay, we're not trying to replace the crafts of making the knife, we're just trying to help give them, like, say, um, a fan that automatically blows on the, on the, uh, the coals.

You know? So replacing say hand, hand blown bellows or something like that, you know, it's, that's that sort of thing where that's

what we think is Yeah, exactly. crank it in a way. Right?

It's, and if we can do that, then we think that's the ideal compromise. That's the balance that we want to achieve. 'cause then you get the human creativity and maybe the human flaws.

You get the, uh, the nuance of the artist. You get all of that intent and that inspiration, but you get it, um, in a way that people aren't having to waste that inspiration doing things that can be automated. And I

think that's what can happen right now.

Kam Star: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: let's talk about this. Maybe this is the third act of our conversation, which is what, what in which ways is that, do you have a vision for that manifesting? And [01:00:00] I'd love for you guys to talk about whatever you're willing to talk about when it comes to products or ideas or explorations or research, but, but what are those, in those co-piloting kind of things that you're looking at that make sense in expanding or, you know, really diving deeper into the visualization space?

Kam Star: we've, um, tried to, to put at a high level, kind of define three main domains that we're focusing on. And I know three sounded like a lot, but then again, there's a lot of things you could do. Um, the. And these in, in no particular order. But, you know, the first one we're gonna talk about is, is around assets and assets.

You know, creating assets and capturing assets. takes a long time to create an a, a, a very unique asset that be that a, a material or be that a, a particular chair or a table or a, [01:01:00] some kind of a scene or something like that, that you want to, you wanna generate, um, you know, modeling that takes a lot of effort. Creating a material that looks really realistic, that looks as realistic as the real thing. This is what, you know, some of our software is best known for. You use V Rave because you want to have photorealism,

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Kam Star: guess what? You, you, you can't just, just, just, start rendering because, well, what about the material? You know? And, and,

Roderick Bates: and there's a ton of materials

Kam Star: a ton of materials but you know, the, the, the, complexity of a material take what looks like a, oh, that's just wood. Oh, that's just a flaw. That's just a, you know, parquet floor. Well, if you were gonna create that so it looks photorealistic, you might have 20 or 30 layers. It's not just a texture. It's the ity, it's the bums, it's the interplay of all the different things. It's the idiosyncrasies of the, the, the, the tiling. It's the fact that you,

Roderick Bates: Yeah. How it go butts up against [01:02:00] the edge of the wall properly, so it looks natural. Yeah, it's.

Kam Star: absolutely all of that. Um, and that takes a huge amount of effort where really, as a designer, I just wanted a really good looking wood in the way that, that I was thinking. I don't wanna spend two or three or four hours even as a professional having to create this, 'cause this is just the floor. And of course it needs to look right. But I wanted to focus on the space. Um. So some of the work that we are doing is, is actually very much aligned and we've got a project which is, should be launched this year, um, which is around giving you that ability to be able to create materials just through conversation. But the outcome is not, is not a, is not an image, uh, it's not a black box. You actually get the full material with all its layers, with all its settings. So if you want it a little bit browner, a little bit darker here, a little bit

more, you know,

Evan Troxel: Yeah.

Roderick Bates: Yeah.[01:03:00]

Kam Star: can tweak it. You can

tweak it to get it exactly where you want, but it'll do 90% of the heavy lifting for you.

Roderick Bates: Yeah, I mean, it's indistinguishable from material that you could have created manually,

if you will, taken hours

Evan Troxel: I was thinking Roderick, when you said there's, there's so many materials. I'm like, yeah. And none of them are right. Right.

Roderick Bates: Yeah. Well, and that's

the part of

where you think of, you know, the conversation, right? And that's the idea. It's like, no, just just a little bit this, a little bit that, and all of a sudden you, it, you're iteration loop is near instantaneous.

Evan Troxel: right?

Kam Star: So that's, that's, that's one of the, one of the spaces. And of course there are others who are working at kind of creating 3D models and things like that. And I think, I think that's also quite interesting. But for us, the thing that our customers were asking for is, can you please cut down the amount of time it takes us to create the material that I want?

To your

point, because the library, Yeah. I don't want that.


Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Kam Star: you could start with that and I can then explain

how I want that changed [01:04:00] and evolved. Which is the, you know, the, the, the, the next, the next iteration of this project is you don't even have to start from scratch. You start from something and then you converse to refine it.

and, and augment it. And then you still get back something that you can still control and, and, you know, very fine tune, um, accurately control, um, the, the, and that's, there's, there's a, there's a whole bunch of things in there, but that's, that's one that we, we will be, uh, releasing this year. Another one that we are working on, or rather another space that we're working on generally is what we called, um, intelligent scene or intelligent scene understanding or being able to understand scenes.

Basically providing the use software that can understand the scene that you're creating. Now, why would we wanna do that? Well. [01:05:00] There's quite a few things. If the machine could understand what it is that you're trying to do, or at least you could say to it, Hey, um, this is, this is a kitchen, right? Um, lay out the furniture for me. So it could, it could then in a, you know, kind of a smart way populate the scene for you. And that may come from a set of, um, assets you already have. Or you may, it may be generated, but it, you know, in the first instance we're going with the assets that we there is in the library. So if you wanna set up the kitchen, um, well I've designed the kitchen, but it's gonna put a table in there. It's gonna put a bowl on the table, it's gonna put fruit, you know, in, in the bowl it's gonna put cups and things, it's gonna make it look lived in. And so all of that set dressing, all of that designed to Help you breathe life into that space is done for you. But again, it's, that's not an image. [01:06:00] It's the 3D content.

So then if, you know, the chair's not quite where I want it to be

or this is not exactly where I want, but it, it does all of that heavy lifting of, here we go, we've set it up for you. Do you want this setup or this setup? Okay, I'll start with this setup and then I tweak it. So, and, and that's kinda one application which we're working on in that space though, if once the system can understand, or at least your intent, well, with intelligence and understanding, you could do lighting. Um, create a particular mood. Hey, it takes, you know, you have to be, people go to university and spend years trying to figure out exactly what the perfect lighting is. And I don't mean just for rendering. I mean, back in the real world, you know, lighting design is a, is a thing. It takes a lot of


Roderick Bates: Yeah.

Evan Troxel: Yeah.

Kam Star: why why couldn't I say, Hey, I want this kind of a mood and, and for it to, to create me a whole set of different potential options for [01:07:00] me to choose from. Um, and, and then to refine. So again, the outcome is, the outcome is not just a picture on the screen, but actually is your lighting setup. Uh, and now I can refine it. Um.

Roderick Bates: And there's a lot of interest within that of saying, well, can I replicate a particular style of a visual artist or a particular firm that has great renderings and

things like that? So there's an interesting angle that that can go. I mean, there's no one perfect lighting solution, but I think there's a really great way of, in that case, maybe not just, um, improving workflows, making it e um, faster for someone to get to the conclusion, but also even giving someone who, as Kam was saying, it takes a, has a real mastery and actually making that mastery accessible to people that, that simply just wouldn't know how to manipulate the.

Absolute myriad of options that you have, and a pretty sophisticated piece of visualization software like Vray to achieve those, you know, perfect levels of lighting.

Evan Troxel: Mm-Hmm.

Kam Star: And you could [01:08:00] also apply it on something that it, we all need to do. And yet, you know, I kind of, it's, it's a, it's fear. Like, you know, hey, anyone can hold Kamera, but can anyone frame a shot? Just the, you know, just having that composition, having the eye to be able to create that composition is what we have.

Professional photographers who spend years experimenting with the perfect framing, with the perfect moment at the perfect angle to capture the, the essence of what it is that they're trying to communicate. And somehow we just expect people to be able to go, yeah, you just put a Kamera in the scene and you just point it at what you want. Um, why, why is that the best outcome? And, and actually I would argue unless the person is, is, is, has some level of skill in being able to pick the right depth of field, pick the right app, you know, not, not the right aperture, but the right lens size, the right. You, you, it's gonna be hit and miss, but why can't that be [01:09:00] something that could be supported and which is another, another project that we're working on to just help you set up Kameras and set up shots in a way that, that deliver interesting composition, um, and Again, make it easier for you to communicate just what you can see. 'cause we can all see, and we can all go, well, that, that looks like a good shot. But really, you know, it takes a real, real specialist

Evan Troxel: Yeah.

Kam Star: Yeah, so, so that there's a whole load in there terms

of projects and ideas and things that we're working on. And the third kind of category for us is, and this kind of goes a little bit back to the rabbit one, um, you know, internally we, we, it's for us is intuitive interfaces or intuitive collaborative interfaces. What do we mean by intuitive? I mean, I don't have to remember which screen I have to go to and [01:10:00] which option I have to pick in order to do the thing that I want. I should just be able to intuitively say, uh, I wanna modify this thing or help me do this thing. And there, there, there is an expectation, and this is generally the trajectory is you'll be able to talk to your software in a way that is much more intuitive than navigating a, a, a, a, a very complex menu system. Um, even if it's a simple menu system in order to do something, sometimes we underestimate how much time you're spending just clicking to get to the right thing so that you can then, oh, you know, play with it in order to, you know, that there's a huge amount of time that that takes

and, and an intuitive interface should allow you to just say, Hey, I'm trying to do this. And either it just brings up this, the, the right screen, or ideally it kind of does it for you and just [01:11:00] brings you up the, the only points of control

that, that you need. Um,

Evan Troxel: it's contextual.

in that way. Yeah. It's like recommending, uh, or, or even learning from how things you've done in the past and saying, okay, I've seen this pattern before. Here's probably what's coming next, kind of a thing.

Kam Star: That, That, that, that, is, that would be absolutely amazing to, to, for, to, to, to have the kind of, the history of the way that you interact and to be able to preempt you in a way that doesn't feel, um, intrusive, actually feels quite helpful.

Um, and, and that's, you know, again, we see some of that in the way that maybe if you use the Google Gmail suite is now kind of predicting the next few words that you're gonna say.

So you can just press

tab. Right.

Um, or, or if you tend to respond in the same way. I. And a message comes through, one of the options is the way you talk. Um, but apply that into the, the kind of, into, into the [01:12:00] software, into the interface. And of course that's, those are kind of more application oriented. Um, and that's not to say just using machine learning to improve the visual fidelity, the, the level of noise that you might have in a, on a thing or, you know, and everything around it. Um, we continuously go back to our roots, which is to focus on the workflow. To focus on the workflow. I identified, identified bottlenecks, identify friction points, things that are the works of a specialist. And you know, this year we'll be doing some, we'll bring out some amazing capabilities that allow you to visualize what. Your building does in the real world when it comes to energy use, um, and, and comfort and lighting and all of those [01:13:00] factors at design time in real time. How much carbon is my building using as I'm designing it in real time?

Evan Troxel: Right.


Kam Star: and, and, and these, these are, again, go back to kind of the workflow and the way that, that, what happens today, it's laborious. You design something as an architect, you have to then give it to somebody else to go and analyze it for you. And maybe they'll come back to you two weeks later and give you a number and you have to guess how I'm gonna be able to improve that number. You have no dial that, that, that you can see in real time. If I just turn this building a little bit more or extend this, sunshade it a little bit more, or, or angle this or shorten this, this is the impact I'm gonna have immediate

Roderick Bates: Yeah, I, nevermind communicating that data to those that aren't trained in the field, you know, how do you show a person a, like, I don't know, a chart that represents this energy performance data, and they're saying, I've never seen this before. What does it mean? You know? So

Evan Troxel: I mean, and that kind of information is [01:14:00] so useful. Uh, I mean, it seems like a lot of these things that you're talking about, Kam and, and Roderick go back to helping me as a designer sell design. And there's some designers who are allergic to that concept of, of framing, but at the same, that's what it actually is, right?

And to link data to decisions that were made during the design process because, uh, everybody's been through a really bad VE process. right? It's like, let's delete those sunshades off the building because they're expensive. And it's like, well, actually they're linked to the energy model and the way that the building performs is only possible because of those.

So that's off the table. Right?

And for me


be able

Roderick Bates: need all these pieces at once though, right? You

know, you need how it looks. Um, and you need to know the, the impact on glare and can I actually

experience the glare? 'cause if I show someone sort of a rainbow projection, they'll be like, well, I don't really know. But if you put 'em, say like they look at a view and they can see that every computer's completely washed out and no one's gonna be able to see [01:15:00] anything from eight to 1130 in the morning, then that's a very different deal.

And you can also bring into that a, um, energy intensity and a comfort analysis that's spatially relevant and viewable within a rendering. You know, you have a pretty powerful argument there

Evan Troxel: You do. And, and when that client or that contractor or whoever it is who's questioning says, wow, you thought about that? Like, yep.

That's what we do. That's why you paid us to do this, because we thought about all of that stuff. And if I have a, a copilot helping me along the way that is kind of tallying these things and giving me feedback, like I'm watching the RPM gauge and the speedometer and the oil pressure and when I'm driving, like that

to me is


super valuable.

I think that that's a, it's, it sounds incredible

Roderick Bates: Oh, I we're really excited about this one, honestly. And, uh, it's something that one of the challenges that just like with visualization is that you need to have real quality to it. For it to have value. [01:16:00]

You just can't have telling someone, this is what your energy performance is. That's not backed up by

Uh, a very powerful analysis engine. The proper inputs and things like that, it's meaningless. So one of the things that we're particularly excited about is for that initiative that we partner with an outside entity called IES outta Scotland, and they have a great reputation in the industry. And so we're able to really combine sort of two cla best in class technologies, us and the visualization side.

Um, and then their, them with the, um, the building performance side and then bringing 'em together in a way that maintains our ease of use, um, and our mechanisms for visual communication with sort of their, their computational power when it comes to the building performance analysis. It's a really nice combination.

Evan Troxel: when I saw you demo that. or I don't, I don't know how it's gonna work its way into one when it finally gets released, but when, when I saw that I am particularly interested in it, in the same way that I was interested in what [01:17:00] real-time rendering did to, I. Give designers the ability to use a tool, a new tool to make decisions in their already normal process.

Right? Because if I have the visual fidelity, I understand light and shade and shadow in real time as I'm modeling and making

decisions about heights of walls, locations of things, how big is the aperture for the window to go outside? And I can see the impact of that and, and use that as a tool rather than at the end of a process, which you and I have talked about before,

Roderick, right? Which is, this was a deliverable at the end of a process. Now it's actually front loaded and I'm using it to help me make decisions. The energy part of that is, this is a big deal, right? To be able to use that tool in real time as I'm designing to give me feedback

when it, when it comes to understanding, building performance. And I never thought that would come through a visualization tool, but it makes total sense because that's how, that's the language I speak [01:18:00] is very visual, right?

Roderick Bates: what we figured, right? It's, it's the same language. People speak. Well, I will say that most, we actually went to a lot of different potential technology partners and, and asked them about potentially partner on this. And we were told by all of 'em until we got to is, uh, that this wasn't possible.

Um, so that's how you know you're onto something good when it comes to innovation.

Uh, that's when people say, nah, I can't be done. Sorry. Um, too hard. And so I think what's fun about this one is that, um, we are aligning sort of philosophically with . Um, the, our intent as a software, you know, maintaining that ease of use and what that does all of a sudden is it greatly expands the accessibility of, of the energy performance.

So Kam said, you know, maybe wait two weeks to get back your building performance model. As I can assure you, it's a heck of a lot longer than that usually. And that's the, the beauty of something like this is now we're making it just like with rendering, where you used to have to send it out to potentially a outside specialist firm.



maybe it was just so complicated. You only did it once for a phase, [01:19:00] you know, for like sort of the, the big thing to get the donors on board, if you will, for the project or something like that. You know, now you can do it iteratively and all of a sudden that changes, right? It changes the nature of what visualization means in design is that it's actually a tool for all the little decisions you have to make as opposed to just sort of a, a big fade of complete.

And same thing with building performance, you know, now it's not just like, well, that's where we landed.

Tough deal.

Evan Troxel: now, let's justify it.

Roderick Bates: Yeah, exactly

Evan Troxel: Pros, justification.

I, I mean, I, and really it takes, it takes tools like this. I think there would be people who will be nervous about this because, um, it, it, to our point earlier about it, democratizing it and it just becomes table stakes. Everybody's gotta do this in this regard.

That's, this is a really huge benefit for the entire industry to get tools like this informing the design as they go along. I don't have to send it out. I don't have to wait two weeks. I get the feedback immediately. I know if that decision is good or bad immediately, and we can move forward [01:20:00] and use that tool to make our buildings better immediately.

I think that that is the kind of thing that, that . Shouldn't scare anybody. And the democratization of tools like this is really gonna help the industry move forward in meaningful ways very quickly.

Roderick Bates: But we don't want to. Just like with ai, right? We don't want to take away people's jobs, um, here, right? We wanna preserve certain knowledge that aspects of the industry have. Um, and engineers in particular, you know, they're incredibly knowledgeable. The great thing about partnering with IES is that they have an outstanding engineering grade analysis tool.

And so we use the same engine

as they use in their tool. Um, and we also use the same inputs. We just happen to package them up into template files that are sort of presorted, if you will, um, with . A more limited array of manipulation for a particular context. But what's really fascinating is it opens up a particularly unique workflow where an [01:21:00] engineer that's using the IES sort of professional grade software, the I-E-S-V-E software, can actually create one of these template files for the project that they're doing for their sort of certification level analysis.

And they can actually share that with the architect as an input for the analysis that they're performing in real time and scape. And so all of a sudden now it opens up an opportunity where your building performance analysis and scape can happen in real time at the same fidelity and using the same assumptions and inputs and things like that as the engineering level model, which that's never happened before.


I think what's great about that is it preserves the expertise of the engineer, um, but brings that same level of quality of real time to the architect.

Evan Troxel: And it, and

it gives that engineer when it ends up back on their desk later, some assurance that it's gonna be

Roderick Bates: Well, it's more than some assurance, right? You know, it's


Evan Troxel: [01:22:00] right? Exactly.

Roderick Bates: Yeah.

Kam Star: And this is, this is, this is so, um, it, it may, maybe it's implied in our conversation. Uh, but this is so much more than just justifying our design. This is our imperative to make sure that we build

a world that uses less energy. That, that

we, we address the, the, the real, uh, it's more than an elephant, right?

It's the entire zoo that's in the room, which is, which is climate change and the, the, the impact of, of the, uh, greenhouse gases that, that are having on our planet and will continue to do so, certainly for the remainder of my life. Um, and, and whatever it is that we can do to address this in, in, in, as, as in as many ways as possible. Um, and having tools like this will are certainly going to have a huge impact on being able to Make better decisions,

not just for the, not just for the, design, for the, for the architect, but for the planet. And I know that

sounds really [01:23:00] grandiose, but really that is what it is, right?

And, and it

Evan Troxel: Making better decisions sooner only helps the process. Like making a great decision late in the game that has to undo or redo a bunch of stuff is not, it's cost a lot of money to do that,

right? And so,

Roderick Bates: but the, but how do you make those decisions, right? It's not just the data, it's how that data is presented, how that story is told. And what's great is that scape is already used to tell that visual story and that we're one of the key components we'll be launching with is that visual story. One of those visual stories you can tell now is not just how it looks in a purely aesthetic term, but within that same environment, how it performs.

Uh, so you can see in a building, you know, the same rendered view, say, you know, where are your energy hotspots?

You know, where are my problem areas? Where are things great? Where are people comfortable? Where are they uncomfortable? Um, it makes it a much easier to essentially sell, because at the end of the day, someone's writing a check for all of this

Evan Troxel: right.

Roderick Bates: and Right.

And if they don't understand the data, they don't understand the story that you're telling [01:24:00] them. Then how are you gonna get them to, to go along with a certain decision that you're trying to advocate?

Evan Troxel: Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you brought that up about that because the, the, the data presentation is one thing, but the, the way it's, it can be communicated and, and ultimately understood

is where the rubber meets the road, right? Because if, if you can't build it, it doesn't count, right? , it's

just paper architecture. And, and the point here is to build better buildings. And so

I, I'm surprised to see tools like this coming from a visualization company and, and, uh, I shouldn't be surprised because of the people I'm talking to because you, you're thinking much bigger about the problem and the challenges than, than we've ever experienced before.

I know that there's, there's a lot of people in our industry who are wicked smart and, and doing the, the same caliber type of thing that you're doing. I'm, I'm really excited to see that coming from you and I,

it's coming from an unexpected place, but I'm, I'm happy that it's coming at all.

Roderick Bates: I think it's coming from the place that had the hardest problem to solve. , which was that visual side, you know, how do you tell the [01:25:00] story with this data? Um, there's a lot of, of, there's a lot of different tools out there and, and energy analysis. And the biggest difference among them is sort of a, the, the, well it's the calculation engine, obviously, but it's also, um, how complex or like what kind of user interface you might have.

I mean, some of them are just spreadsheets, right. you

know, some of them are,

Evan Troxel: It's like flying at 7 47. Yeah.

Roderick Bates: exactly. So I think that what we are, what, why it's coming from a company like us and why I think it had to is that we just brought this imperative of ease of use and visual communication

that you just wouldn't see from sort of a, um, an engineering, um, energy model first company.

Kam Star: And, you know, our, our, our, driving force is, you know, to, to really focus on workflow and, and to democratize, you know, make things that are for specialist as easy to use for designers so that, so that they can really [01:26:00] leverage it in their decision making process and, and to focus on the workflow. And this is this, of course, it's, it's easy to say, well now we know, of course it's obvious, but this is, this is the approach.

Look at the workflow. And identify elements of friction, identify pieces where you think, oh, well that's a real specialist. To Rod's earlier point, I have to send this off for someone to do the visualization.

I have to send it off to someone to calculate this piece

I have to send.

Evan Troxel: talk about loss of

Kam Star: that,

Evan Troxel: right?

Kam Star: every time we hear that and we see that the kind of ears prick up, hang on a minute, can this be made so that you can, you can flex it as a part of your design experience.

I mean, you know, and it's, um, maybe this is, maybe this is, this is because, and I, and I know, I mean, mean the company of friends, but you know, maybe this is the architect in me, uh, kind of looking at our profession over the last [01:27:00] decades and, and, and maybe longer. And seeing how it went from the architect who Um, had complete control over that ev every component, the, the structure, the design, the, the every piece to it becoming compartmentalized into a series of very narrowly defined disciplines. So the architect is now no longer in charge of the structure, in charge of the services, in charge of the lighting, in charge of the material?

No, no. It's just no longer, you know, it's kind of, and then, and then they're looking back at technology and going, hang on, can we just bring some of this back into the design so that we can really flex what a building looks like, feels like? Um, and, and perhaps even how it's built as we're designing, as we're thinking about the design itself. Um, that that'll be an awesome outcome. Just, just then, you know, uh, I'm, I, I'm not making [01:28:00] apologies, but that would be a great thing as an architect, seeing tools that really help somebody make better decisions from the multifaceted angle that we have historically have meant to have,

and, you know, uh,


Evan Troxel: it's a cohesive solution,

right? It's not just Yeah. A a a bunch of parts that have been stuck together because, so, I mean, if, if you have that, you know, we, we've used the term all over, you know, for decades and decades about the master builder, but this idea of somebody who is the orchestrator. And that could be a team of a small team of people, or it could be a person, but it's, it's that kind of thinking to bring the level of craft of really making sure all those puzzle pieces fit together. Exactly like how

they, they intend.

Roderick Bates: And maybe to bring it down to the sad reality too, of calling back some fee because that's the other side of it that's, that's, that's been hurting, uh,

Evan Troxel: worth something. Right, right. Well, gentlemen, I appreciate you sharing these visions with [01:29:00] us and sharing a bit of the roadmap of, of things that are to come and maybe some unexpected things that are, that are gonna be coming. Uh, I, I appreciate you taking that time to spend with and, and elaborate on the things that we were talking about at Autodesk University with the audience here, because we didn't get to record that one.

So that's the whole point of, of doing this is to, to bring it to a wider audience. And, and it's been fantastic hanging out with you guys today. I, I'm gonna provide links to everywhere that people can find you, so they can connect with you online, uh, on LinkedIn to your website, places like that, where they can find out more

Roderick Bates: And chaos. Next of course, um, is chaos.com/next is the particular website where you'll find a lot of our AI initiatives.

Evan Troxel: Nice. Nice. All right. Well that'll go in the show notes as well. So Kim and Roderick, thank you so much for spending time with me today. It's been great.

Kam Star: So much.

Roderick Bates: Oh, our pleasure.