Ep. 39 – Metaverse Uses & Applications – Sairo
Mich chats with Matty Hall and James Ascroft of Sairo UK about potential metaverse applications, opportunities and challenges, and how we can remain grounded in reality in these new worlds.
Any resources referenced in the episode are listed below the transcript.
Creating Cadence Transcript – Ep. 39
For season 7 of the Creating Cadence podcast, we’re going back to the future, to explore current trends with emerging technology such as the metaverse and AI. I’m also talking to people doing fascinating things with these forward-thinking tools.
What implications do Metaverse spaces have for things like sustainable fashion, preserving history, and stock photography?
In this episode, we are exploring the opportunities and challenges of Metaverse technologies and the need for ethical responsibility and groundedness in how we approach them.
Hi, and welcome to Creating Cadence, a podcast for life and work in motion.
I’m your host, Mich Bondesio, a writer, speaker, coach, and consultant.
It’s my aim to help high achievers stuck on the treadmill of hustle culture to transform how they approach life, work, and business. To activate more of their potential and perform better in every part of their life at a cadence that’s more suitable to them. Despite this fast paced world we live in.
So this is episode 39, the fourth of season seven, published in October, 2022.
For this season, I’m considering emerging technology and its implications for our near future. My guests this season are helping us to learn more about this technology and to consider how we can use it to help us transition in our work and wellbeing, to establish new ways of doing business and leading our lives.
Episode 36 looked at some of the trends related to emerging tech. And I also introduced you briefly to my guests for season seven.
In episode 37, I chatted with Caitlin Krause about the Mindful Metaverse. And episode 38 was about community and connection in online spaces with Jerod Morris.
For this episode, my guests are Mattie Hall and James Ascroft, who are part of my local network in Lancashire, in the northwest of England.
Mattie and James are two of the three co-founders alongside William Sames of a creative agency called Sairo, who are focused on Metaverse development. They are also the hosts of a podcast called Grounded Reality, which is available on Spotify.
Sairo’s mission is to build bridges into Web 3 for their clients who currently range from luxury goods and fashion brands to collectibles, educators and curators of antiquities.
Just a note about this interview. Unfortunately, at one point we did experience an earpod malfunction and later a slight technical issue, but that’s just a reminder that while this tech is improving exponentially, tech issues can and will still occur.
(Editors note: this interview was also recorded in August 2022 and the context in which we talk about certain things has since changed. Things develop quickly in this a fast-paced environment.)
So if you’re ready, let’s dive into this conversation with James and Matty.
So welcome James and Matty. Thanks for coming on the show.
I’m looking forward to having this chat with you.
It’s good to be on.
Lovely it to be on.
So, Sairo, as far as I understand, is a small team, and it’s the two of you together with your co-founder, Will Sames. And you’ve been operating for a couple of years now. Is that correct?
Yeah, yeah. About a year.
Just probably, yeah, around that. Basically, yeah. We’re loose with the month that we started.
So you’re new kids on the block, but you’re diving straight in there from the look of your client list so far.
Okay. So you describe yourselves as a Metaverse development company and a creative agency that helps brands tell their story in a creative and immersive way.
And your clients include luxury goods, fashion brands, collectibles, and antiquities. To most of our audience, that won’t mean very much. So I’d really like you to explain in as many non-technical terms as possible what it is that you do.
So basically we’re focusing on 3D creative projects that can then be implemented into what we see is the metaverse or, um, metaverse ready applications such as augmented reality, virtual reality, um,
Yeah, web 3D stuff. And obviously, yeah, Metaverse being this future place where we can connect in these 3D virtual environments, where brands’ websites will be less scrolling and more um, yeah, less scrolling and more, immersing ourselves in these locations that they will have virtually.
That’s right. I’ve heard it described as a virtual space and a virtual place as opposed to this kind of 2D flat screen experience that many of us are having at the moment, which is really exciting. And it’s exciting to see what you are doing in it so far. I mean, I’ve seen from your website that your services include visualization strategy.
You’re also doing this photorealistic scanning, which is absolutely incredible, uh, what you’ve done so far. And, um, also development. So preparing brands for this future, as you say, and doing it in so many different ways. So I’m interested to know, why did you choose the name Sairo? It’s really unusual. Where did that originate or come from?
Well, uh, when me and Will initially came up with the concept, it sort of was based on this premise that you’ve got technologies like AR and VR developing. And, um, we sort of looked at it in the sense of that we could see that people were sort of getting onto it. And it was typically younger audience, but older audiences were looking at it with a sense of sort of fear, um, because it, it’s such a new technology.
So from the get go, we wanted to try and approach this in a sense of that it’s an inevitability that this technology arrives, but we wanted to approach it grounded, so we wanted the name to be something that’s new, something that is one worded, uh, and was grounded in its story.
So we set out looking, I think I came across a research paper with a list of words from ancient Celtic. And I sort of got drawn there because ancient Celtic is with one of the earliest known languages of the region of Europe and more specifically of the Northwest.
So we both ended up looking through it. I couldn’t find anything, and I was gonna move. And then Will came across the translation of “artist”, which ended up being Sairo. So we thought we’d go with that and we’ve given it the look and the branding of something that is a modern company. You know, we are approaching this in a way that we’re young. We wanted to bring that culture there, but we also wanted to have that sort of grounded background to it as well. So that’s how we got to it.
That’s fantastic. What a lovely story. I thought it had more of an Asian origin, but the Celtic connection is really interesting, especially for the Northwest where we’re all based at the moment, so that’s so interesting.
Yeah, and you never know where you’re gonna get to, so it was nice, you know, Well its thing down five years down the line, you dunno where you’re gonna be. So, um, it was the idea that we could sort of take ‘home’ with us wherever we went.
Nice. Very cool. And the great thing about having a, running a business nowadays is that it doesn’t really matter where you are based because your clients literally are around the world.
Okay, so I want to step back a little bit into your backgrounds. I want to know how you ended up getting into using Web three technologies.
Is this something that you specifically studied for? Did you kind of fall into it accidentally?
And then part of the reason I’m asking is that, you know, a lot of people are in a position where. They’re either the jobs are either being becoming obsolete because the technology is changing so much that their roles aren’t required anymore, and so they’re looking to transfer their skills. Or people entering university or leaving university to enter the job market are looking at what it is they could potentially do.
So how did you get into this and what do you think are the key skills and maybe the key training that people should look at getting into.
So it kind of started from a graphic design background. Me and James both graduated graphic design, um, and yeah, exploring what what’s next. And I think definitely through Covid it was this understanding that everything’s gonna change, yeah, a big social issue changes everything down the line. And how this is gonna evolve our futures as creatives. And definitely with this kind of, the emergence of NFTs earlier in Covid, and then coming out of Covid, this announcement of Meta by Facebook, it all kind of, just everything slotted correctly in, in the row. Yeah, all the ducks aligned sort of thing.
Yeah, I think we then just kinda, uh, launched into it. It all started off with just exploring photogrammetry. Mm-hmm. and kind of scaled and scaled to the point where we’re like, Right. Actually no, we, we have to be metaverse now that everyone is understanding what this word, um, means and where, where it’s taken us.
Well, that’s really forward thinking. I think diving straight into that, you know. But I think part of what stands you in good stead is that perhaps being a young company and starting fresh with this, you’re starting for right from the beginning rather than feeling like you’re being forced into doing something like this from a traditional background.
Yeah, I think everyone else is in the same boat as well. Mm-hmm. Everyone else is exploring with us. We may be young, but um, we’ve got fresh ideas that unlike some of the older people within the, the space that we’re seeing who are kind of getting very, um, rooted in singular technologies, um, and not seeing the kind of bigger picture, broader picture of a few years down the line.
I agree. Our thinking can become a lot more rigid when we’ve been working in a specific way for a very long time. So that I think is really exciting for you. Now, how are you specifically, we’ve touched on it a little bit, but how are you specifically using your VR, AR, XR, your photogrammetry, your lidar, et cetera, to create, to help your clients?
You know, what exactly is it that you’re, you are doing for them.
So I think there’s, there’s two good, really good case studies that we could kinda push forward there. One being, um, we’re currently working with a large educator, who has a private museum. So they’ve, they’ve come to a little problem and we’re kind of working with a strategy with them, um, to basically come up with a solution for their museum.
They’re currently in the, the space where their museum is looking to be split between another school. And for them our service basically helps save the museum for the museum curator, um. She gets to keep it.
There’s a lot of environmental impact from trying to move these pieces. There’s a lot of insurance impact trying to move these pieces and actually building this digital infrastructure for them, um, is helping them to give access to their students around, around the world, but also give access to a wider demographic as well. And looking to expand that education service.
So that’s, that’s one example, and with that, we’ll be looking to scan objects and then build infrastructure there. So then they can then share and educate around them, whether that be in AR, VR, or just over the web for now.
Right. So if I understand correctly, it’s a digital archive of all of the artifacts and relics that they currently host in their museum that other people will be able to access and see in both 2D and 3D.
For a start, but also develop into kind of education systems as well, um, to kind of gamify it a little bit and making a bit more interesting and fun for students to learn.
Mm, that’s fantastic. All right, and what about your second case study?
So the second, I’ll let James explore this one a little bit, but looking at kind of fashion and how it’s helping fashion companies.
Okay. So as you sort of mentioned initially, we’ve got a broad range of sort of services. With our main fashion client, we haven’t actually touched, um, scanning yet. There are scanning projects in pipeline, but for the meantime, we’ve for the meantime been helping them basically bring their, uh, high quality digital garments that they’ve produced in specialist software onto Metaverse platforms.
So the biggest name project we did with them was for Metaverse Fashion Week. So the first ever one, which was hosted by Decentraland. We had, there was a slew of really big brands on there. I think Matt can probably riff off that. Um, who was, who was on there Matty?
Selfridges did quite a bit. Um, Didn’t Hugo boss do quite a bit as well.
Well, so, that sort of follows on into a different discussion afterwards. Um, but we basically, we brought some of their garments into the space, which enabled players of the space to wear them, purchase them, et cetera. It meant that people could trade a digital copy of some of the physical suits that we had then processed through and made a version in Decentraland.
Um, we’ve got other projects with the same fashion company taking it into Snapchat which sort of arcs it back to Matty’s point before about sort of the climate impact.
Um, so, we’re having a lot of discussions at the moment about, uh, fast fashion. So how you’ve got the likes of Asos, Boohoo, et cetera, who, you know, they’ll produce a set of 200 garments. They’re all different, and they’ll make 10 of each, and they’ll send, uh, whatever the maths is on that, all of those garments out to different influencers, you know, the delivery, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. They wear them. They’ll then see how well that does online through analytics, and then they’ll basically respond to that and make huge quantities of them.
The process with, uh, augmented reality means that you can create a digital garment that looks like the physical version without ever having to go anywhere near any physical fabric or anything. That can then be put through an Instagram, Snapchat, et cetera, whatever filter, um, with augmented reality. And an influencer can then wear that, take photographs and make it appear in real time that they are wearing that piece, and then they can essentially carry on the process from there.
So, see the analytics, see what people are responding to, and then at that point they can then physically make it. So it cuts out this huge chunk and it means you can have rapid creative. Sort of processes on it. That’s something that’s really taken off in the space. And that’s where we’ve been working most recently with our fashion company we’ve been working with.
That’s really fantastic. I had not considered the sustainability aspect of things like fashion online, you know, in a 3D space and that that really helps to deal with that, because it’s a major issue, isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s kinda crazy. You hadn’t really thought that initially, but it makes sense doesn’t it.
Definitely. All right. So, in terms of yourselves, how do you use Web 3 and emerging technologies to support either or your creativity, your productivity, and your wellbeing and your business?
So aside from the fact that you are doing this as a business for other people, how are you using it to support yourselves in the way that you work and you live?
Well, Okay. Uh, I’ll bounce into, we’ve, we’ve all got VR headsets. Mm-hmm. . Um, so that’s, you know, I’d, I’d say in the grand scheme things, it’s one of the, it’s still in early stages really. Obviously it is maturing, but it, I think it’s still early. So, you know, the software on there is still limited, but it’s incredibly powerful. So, for example, we have used something called Spatial.io to basically, essentially have meetings albeit we haven’t had a lot, but we’ve sort of experimented in that space.
From a wellness point of view, from a personal point of view, there’s a brilliant application called Puzzling Places, that uh, essentially takes the same process that we have using 3D scanning and it turns models of any size. Such as a building, a place, an object, uh, and the team who make, they split these models up into different puzzling pieces. And it basically means you can make a 3D puzzle in VR. And that’s quite therapeutic. Um, there’s no other way of doing that. So it means you can sort of play around with different pieces, all this sort of stuff.
So from a personal point of view, I love that.
And ping pong,
Oh, and ping, ping pong. Yeah, so that is an incredible so, ping pong real time. Table tennis around the world with anybody, uh,
The, the physics are really good. So you can actually like, sort of play with the ball on, on your back and all this sort stuff in real time. That’s always good fun. Yeah. And you get a good workout, I’m not gonna lie.
Just to bounce off the back of it as well. Um, obviously at the moment, me, James and Will are, are still quite local to each other, but I think as our team expands and we move into other areas of the world, I think, yeah, VR is gonna become a main source of communication for us and, and being able to kind of interact with each other a little bit more physically in a digital way.
And I’d, I’d bounce off that and say sort of goal of my initial point saying that VR is in an early space. I think it will be in maturity once AR really takes off. Uh, and what essentially is then beyond that, which is mixed reality.
Mixed reality when presenting that to, you know, various people, various clients, even just having just, you know, general discussions with people.
All age ranges seem to accept the idea of that more than VR. I think VR, the idea of it putting something in front of your eyes, uh, and if it switches off you can’t see anything. Um, I think that’s, I think that’s quite scaryfor some people.
and Claustrophobic as well.
Claustrophobic. Yeah. Claustrophobic. I think for both of us, like Matthew was saying, when, you know, as you mentioned at the start, you can work from anywhere. Um, we might be all around the world. We’ll have a team that’s all around the world potentially. And if we can sit in our own, you know, office and see our own office physically, but also see Mattie sat next to me who’s halfway around the world, that is much more appealling than, to me anyway, than going into like the Amazon Rainforest digitally and sitting there. So, yeah.
Exciting times. Definitely.
My next question is around, obviously you’re at the forefront of this fast- evolving technology. How do you think that this tech might hinder our creativity, wellbeing, or productivity at this point in time? What are things we maybe need to be aware of, or that we need to work around? What are the challenges?
Well, I’ve just been playing with Dall-e 2 um
Oh, fantastic. I’m very keen to give it a go.
Yeah, it’s, it’s really quite interesting, and quite scary for creatives. Obviously creativity is, um, down to the users’ kind of imagination to come up with. But using words and language to create kind of makes anyone be able to create anything. And every time it’s unique because of the nature of the AI.
I think obviously, and James will back this up, but, um, this kind of text to image generation stuff, um, I mean, stock imagery is out the window. Once it’s at it is peak, you’ll just be able to get anything you want off the internet and royalty free.
Yeah. The role of the creator is becoming more of a creative director within these kinda this space.
Yeah, I agree with you. I’ve heard a few discussions about that where it’s how we work, learn to work with this technology that will be our saving grace and will help us to continue being relevant and pertinent in, in these industries.
We, we should see it as an extension of ourselves, not as a replacement.
Yeah, I think for a lot of creatives and a lot of creatives stuck in their own ways, um, it, it is gonna take them by surprise, I think.
Yeah, I would bounce off that and say, I mean, I would be more direct to say that it will cause a lot of problems.
And you know, it isn’t just the creative industry. It is all industries that will be affected by machine learning. So, as we sort of mentioned, it is the case of adapting to it. There’s some brilliant examples online. I mean, a case study recently I saw was an individual who, he used Dall-e to basically type up and say, Give me loads of like old Romanesque coins.
And with that he got all these different outputs and then he made, uh, a collection of sort of ancient looking coins that were completely from nothing. But obviously the effect of that and the way that he reused that in the process means that those coins can then go in a game and, you know, can act as a currency and whatnot.
Really interesting ways of using it. There’s been some recent cases that literally came out in the past few days related to fashion, where, uh, they’re using it to create sort of like ‘mood board-esque’, but photorealistic sort of variations of clothing on people really quickly. I think it initially in, for the first year, two years, that’s what it’ll be used for. You know, producing those quick concepts.
I think it, it’ll get, worse for creators once you get into the realm of more complex tasks. So, for example, 3D. 3D is still quite, it is a bar of entry. You have to get skill up to it, because the software is so dense. Um, but I think it will blitz past that. Will machine learning.
I don’t really know else what else to say about it. It is concerning, uh, and it sort of is a, it will be a very big challenge for lots of people.
I’ve just made a lovely collection of HR Geiger inspired ships that do not exist in the world. .
They do now with you. That’s fantastic.
But, thinking outside of machine learning to VR and AR, it’ll be interesting to see how the younger generations adapt to that. I mean, there’s obviously a lot of discussion, with parents nowadays that they don’t like their kids, you know, going on games too much or playing on their Nintendos or their iPads or their iPhones and, you know, their eyes are always on the screen. They’re never doing anything outside or anything like this. Yeah, that would be interesting.
You know, parents are already concerned about that and then you go, well, you Apple’s gonna bring out an AR headset. It’s like, that’s the next level up. And uh, alarm bells, you know? I’m honestly not sure how to deal with that.
This is part of the groundedness of our company, is that we want to approach it with that in mind. Mm-hmm. Um, but we don’t have all the answers. I think it is about a positive approach towards it.
Yeah. I mean, I’ve had discussions with, most recently with somebody who works for a Holocaust, Holocaust museum.
Uh, and she was, I think, working with some individuals who were interested in using machine learning and VR to reconstruct Holocaust survivors. So that an individual could go into VR, sit opposite a Holocaust survivor, and ask them questions that the machine learning would’ve imagined up from interviews and video footage of that individual.
And she was talking about the ethical approach to that. I think that’s something that’s gonna come up a lot more, but obviously it’d be a case by case basis. Um, from a cultural point of view, how that affects people will be interesting. You know, deep fakes, uh, any form of machine learning from, you know, video photo manipulation. It can have massive impact. Um, but it, it just will be a case by case basis.
Yeah, I agree. I mean, privacy is a big issue and as you say, we all need to be approaching this with approach every step with ethics in mind, you know, questioning at each step as well as being curious.
So the final question that I have for you is, where do you see this all going? What do you think are the opportunities that we need to be looking out for?
I think currently, especially with Apple’s vision of where they’re taking their business, it’s AR. They’re making big waves with like development within AR applications and implementing AR within their phones already kind of all moving towards this, their final vision of their AR glasses, I think.
Currently it’s, it’s how do we optimize and capitalize on utilizing 3D and all that space to kinda work towards that. I think next after that will be looking towards proper metaverse stuff. I think what we see now and, and the kind of NFT space, the metaverse space is a very, very small snippet of what is going to be. And what is going to be, will not look anything like what we currently have. And that’s exciting cuz for us, exploring now it’s very, very early, very primitive stuff within the space and we’re here to evolve with it.
Good point. I agree. And anything that you want to add, James?
I mean, as Matty mentioned at the start Apple. The impression I get from Apple is that they’re trying to approach this with wisdom. I think Meta is, is trying to approach it with speed. Um, speed and greed maybe. Yes. Well, I’ve no doubt that Apple’s probably doing that as well. Uh, but I think they’re they’re a bit more ethical.
Yeah, so I think AR will come in. I think the AR device that Apple will make, will be the next version of the iPhone. It will overtake it, uh, I think it will take time. But I can imagine there being a large, a large amount of people who have them in 10 years. And it will just be normal and they will, they will look as normal as glasses do now. Cuz I think it will just get compact, you know, technology wise, more and more.
I think with regards to the metaverse, I keep talking about this, but uh, I follow various individuals on Twitter, sort of big in the tech sphere of things. Uh, and they’re sort of, I describe it as ghost mentors, because they don’t actually have any contact with ’em. I just follow them. Um, and there’s an individual on there called Shaan Puri , and he, he suggested that the Metaverse isn’t a place. It’s, it’s a period in time. And that period in time comes when people start valuing their digital lives more than their physical lives. I think I agree with that.
We were recently on a call with a client, um, a fashion client, and the person on the call was giving an example about how his daughter had recently purchased a top on a, like a 2D ‘hand drawn sort of esque’ style game. Uh, and he sort of suggested to her, him being in the fashion industry going, How would you feel if you bought that digital t-shirt and you got the physical replica of that delivered to you?
And she basically replied with saying, I don’t care. Uh, I just care about the digital version. And he just couldn’t get that, because he would be excited about wearing the physical version as well as like his character wearing the digital version. So I think the younger generations are there, but I think it will take time for the older generations to get it.
Maybe they don’t, maybe they won’t get it and maybe it will just be these younger generations and all the ones below them that get it. I think it will take time. Um, but I think that will be the point of when the Metaverse is here, because 2D is not gonna go away. You know, photography didn’t go away when video cam came, and print didn’t go away when photos came.
So I think they’ll be a sort of, they’ll, they’ll find a space. I think it’ll take time. Probably 10, 15 years maybe.
Yeah. Very interesting. As someone who was around, what was someone who was around before internet was invented, Um, you know, I’ve seen how things have changed and now I’m around for the next change, and I agree with you.
It kind of becomes a hybrid thing where you’re straddling the before, and the being in it, and then the after. And then you’ve got the younger generations who are total digital natives who don’t know what a rotary phone is, don’t know what life was like before the internet, you know, or before we had things called smartphones.
So I’m so interested to see what’s happening and um, just in terms of future opportunities as well. I was listening to one of your episodes of your Grounded Reality podcast and you were talking about global currencies, which in the future could be used for interplanetary transactions. And that just blew my mind and I got so excited cuz I kind of thought actually, yes, this is potentially possible in our lifetimes and it’s something that we can look forward to. And you know, how exciting is that?
Yeah, bringing it into space. Space is exciting. Uh, yeah, I can, I think that’s perfectly plausible. I know that, uh, I think the UK hosted the G seven and part of part of their finance strategy was sort of trying to introduce this idea of a global digital currency, um, which was backed by blockchain.
Um, and I think, you know, we’ve talked about it before, Mattie, I think you talked about on the podcast about the UK Treasury sort of talking about blockchain. Well, I mean, there’ll be a lag time between Mars and Earth. Uh, but it yeah, it’ll still be pretty quick in consideration of, uh, moving a bit of gold from one planet to another.
So.Yeah, it’s exciting. Yeah,
It is. Well, great. Thank you so much guys. Where can people find you online?
So we’re on Instagram and LinkedIn under sairo.uk and we’re on the worldwide web as well at www.sairo.uk.
And then our podcast is on Spotify, under ‘Grounded Reality’. And YouTube. On YouTube
Excellent. Well, thanks James and Mattie. I really appreciate your time. This has been such a fascinating discussion.
Thank you very much.
If you have any thoughts about this episode, please drop me a line with your questions or comments. You can write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sairo UK – More Info
Grounded Reality Podcast (Spotify)
Grounded Reality Podcast (YouTube)
Resources & References
- Spatial.io for meetings and events
- Photogrammetry Definition – Science Direct
- What is Photogrammetry – Artec3D
- Decentraland Marketplace & Builder Platform
- Metaverse Fashion Week
- Dall-E 2 on OpenAI
- PingPong in VR – Oculus and Google Play
- Shaan Puri on TwitterPuzzling Places – 3D VR Puzzle Games