September 14, 2021
For people like Shai Ghelberg, Technical Product Manager at Resonai, AR represents the future of how we will move through the world. Shai is passionate about imbuing physical spaces with computing power and bridging the online and built worlds to create more human experiences.
We spoke to Shai about his role at Resonai, the challenges and possibilities of AR experiences, and his favorite aspects of being part of the team so far.
There’s a huge gap between the internet and the physical world, at a high level. Anything built and existing in the physical world has limitations, but on the internet, I can find people that share my interests anywhere in the world. We’re not sharing the same physical experience, but we can connect on an abstract level about text and images. It’s exciting to look at enabling people to coexist in a space while also using the power of technology to customize the experience based on that individual or even something as specific as the time of day. That makes the building come alive so people can interact with it in much more meaningful ways. It’s finding a bridge between the internet and the physical world.
We have a very diverse team from different backgrounds and with different interests. Everyone is super nice and very fun to work with. A lot of the things we’re doing would take years to create if we were a big bureaucratic corporation. But we’re very agile, and everything is done very quickly because we really love to collaborate. We’re all in this together, and we want to achieve the same goal. We understand that no one task is more important than the general success of the team’s effort.
Also, everyone could work from home even before COVID. We were always a hybrid organization on some level, which eliminates a lot of tension. If you don’t want to come into the office you can work from home, or if you have kids you can preserve that work/life balance.
Generally, I see myself as a problem solver. If anyone needs a deeper understanding of what we’re doing or why we’re doing it, I’m there to help them. I bridge the gap between customers, end users, and engineering, trying to facilitate that understanding. A big part of the job is reverse engineering how humans perceive a building to imagine new applications and look for the kind of information I might want the building to give back to me. I’m taking the customer’s overall vision into account and defining the tasks on the engineering side that will incrementally improve or enhance the end user experience.
When a customer is trying to define the specifics of their implementation, I analyze their needs, figure out their intended outcomes, and then craft a solution. My background is mostly in front-end development, so I have a broad context of what’s possible, what we’ve done in the past, and what elements succeeded or failed in any specific implementation. Bringing that information helps me guide customers toward the best way to approach their project. Then we define a scope of work that is realistic and, at the same time, pushes the boundary of the services we provide and what’s possible in the space for the end user.
Our developers are constantly working on applications that will be experienced by end users, but one of the biggest challenges is that we have a huge variety of end users. It can be anyone visiting, living in, or working in any type of building. The idea of a building is also very broad; it can be a museum, school, university, office, train station… So we work closely with our customers to define the applications and the stories that will reflect the needs and wants of all of the different types of occupants they see in the buildings where they operate.
We’re creating a lot of definitions because it’s an entirely new way to interact with your environment. But in some ways, it’s already second nature. When we’re navigating outdoors, we have tools like Waze and Google Maps that help us get where we’re going without even thinking about it. People don’t remember the route to their own apartment because they’re so used to interacting with technology for directions. That’s very positive and valuable for humankind. We’re trying to bring that element of familiarity, while also being open-minded about what we can create.
Indoor navigation comes up a lot because a lot of what you spend your day doing is looking for stuff. If you know where the object is and you know the path to get there, great. But there’s a lot of friction when you’re a visitor with a lot of ground to cover, or a technician maintaining a huge area. You automatically look at your phone to ask how to get somewhere. So bringing those interactions to indoor spaces means we can enable much deeper and more immersive interactions.
A very exciting project that I got to work on recently is a long term collaboration with a big construction company we’re working with. It’s somewhat an old fashioned domain, but this particular company is very advanced and forward thinking. So it’s a great opportunity to explore high impact business solutions. Unfortunately, since COVID hit, we were unable to travel abroad and test the on-site user experience. For this account it was my first time in many months getting to walk in the user’s shoes and experiencing the product first hand, as well as to do user testing with actual users. This is a long term project, and we’re making amazing advancements, so I’m very happy to have this moment to sit back and look at what we achieved since the beginning of this project.
We also collaborated with a big train museum in Japan recently. That was a really good opportunity to experience a different culture and enable a high-end experience in the short amount of time people spend walking through the museum. One of the fun parts about this project was that it was a very short-term project; start to finish, it took less than 2 months. We did a lot of iterations working really closely with the customer, and it was super exciting to see 300 or 400 people use the application during the first couple of days. That was immediate satisfaction.
We have a very technical team full of people with PhDs and high-tech backgrounds, but we’re also very much a product-oriented company. So product people, front-end developers, and game designers all have a lot to contribute to Resonai, for example. We’re all about enabling computers to understand the physical world, which is very visual and tactile. It’s not just people with PhDs in mathematics; we’re also looking for people that love interactive content and people that love people.
Thanks so much to Shai for talking to us about his experience! Are you interested in joining the Resonai team? Check out our open positions and apply today.
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