I have been fascinated by the promise of the immersive world of virtual reality (VR). Witnessing an application that makes you feel like you’re inside the experience is stunning to say the least. From painting and education to games and entertainment, the possibilities of VR applications go beyond creation to consumption. The American company continues to move forward in fulfilling the promise of VR to usher in what I call the true his third dimension of consumer user experience. As we have seen, Mark Zuckerberg took the bold step of renaming Facebook and repositioning it as a meta, thereby sparking market momentum into what he calls the Metaverse. This builds on Mark’s 2014 acquisition of Oculus. Apple has announced a mixed reality headset called Vision Pro that fuses augmented reality and introduces spatial computing.
The potential is enormous because VR merges visual and physiological sensations. But despite the billions of dollars pouring into the VR market, we haven’t seen meaningful adoption for current headsets. A significant reason that is always pointed out is the lack of engaging content. To find out what kind of content we can build for the VR market, I asked film media and entertainment expert Dr. AR Rahman about his vision for the field and when every home on the planet will be hooked. I asked if it would be possible to Dr. Rahman is a legendary international music composer and film producer. He has won two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, one British Academy Award, one Golden Globe Award and six Indian National Film Awards. He is a well-known name in India, but abroad he is famous for his Jai Ho song from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. He won two Oscars for the film, Best Original Score and Best Original Song.
Dr. Rahman’s Childhood
When I started talking to Dr. Rahman, I asked him how he got into the world of technology. I feel like the world only knows his compositional side and not so much about his technical prowess. Dr. Rahman laughs as he remembers the instrument as a childhood toy. He credits his father with teaching him technology at an early age. His father was one of India’s first synthesizer buyers in 1974. Unfortunately, his father passed away when he was nine years old, but he left behind a legacy of technological equipment for music creation.
AR got its first music computer in December 1984. It came from Singapore and changed his life. As an introvert, he was embarrassed to let others judge his songs. But the computer became his judge and solved the problem. Thanks to technological equipment for music production, Dr. Rahman has been freed from judging any compositions.
his take on technology
Dr. Rahman said technology simplifies things for creators. Technology allows you to be in your zone and be yourself. Technology takes care of a lot so that creators can focus on content creation and creativity. So, he said, technology is what enables creators.
AR elaborates that technology shouldn’t be intrusive. He made a great deal of emphasis on how technology should take the complexity out of the product. He wants more technology to be as smart as his AI, yet smooth and one-click for the end user. This “Applesque” way of thinking about technology and his frustration with some of the technology out there is what sets AR apart from other musical figures. This is why AR seems to be a techie at heart, not just a filmmaker or music guru. It also gives us the sense that he’s envisioning beyond the current curve of technologies like generative AI that already fantasize about the world.
He estimates his own technology curve and talks about how strongly he believes in the Metaverse. He isn’t concerned about the slow consumer adoption of VR headsets. He believes that great VR content can revitalize a market that needs it. He explained that once he started making VR content, people would come to him. He explained that that was how he got started in the music world as well.
AR’s comments on the Metaverse were a great clue as to why he created a VR movie called Le Musk. He said he wants to usher in a new era of content and knows that the Metaverse can’t be a reality without compelling content created for consumers. Second, he also wants to push himself out of his comfort zone of Indian music composition and push the boundaries of his creative horizons. I think “Le Musk” is also a showcase movie for him to lead the Metaverse era.
We also discussed the role of ethical AI in the visual and performing arts. He stressed the need to create responsible technology when it comes to AI and the Metaverse. He said both technologies have great potential if used responsibly. For example, he outlined that facial images of women and children cannot be freely manipulated. As such, he feels that an ethically developed AI must play a core role in the development of the Metaverse, ensuring that the Metaverse is created for the betterment of society.
We asked Dr. Rahman about his motivation for launching Catral. I was surprised to hear that he was inspired by his Web3-based decentralization. He explained that traditionally, it took millions of dollars to develop the technical architecture that creates content trust. Credibility and trust are the cornerstones of his content business, so he felt Web3 was perfect for creating trust in the content business. He also hopes to provide Catral as a platform for up-and-coming artists to make art their primary profession and to break down the Indian society’s disparaging attitudes towards art as a mainstream profession. Furthermore, he feels that India operates like an isolated island with rich music and art content, passed down from generation to generation. He explained how this traditional content is becoming stagnant in India because the newest generation is less interested in music. He wants to preserve this precious content and give composers, artists and content developers a chance to showcase their talents. He is concerned that content could be lost if it doesn’t provide a platform to showcase it. Finally, he realizes that he can drive the X Impact himself, but that if he wants to drive the 100X Impact, he must be accompanied by an army of artists.
India for the world
After winning an Oscar for composing the world-famous Jai Ho song for the movie Slumdog Millionaire, he began spending more time in Los Angeles. He met with some of the top directors and producers in Hollywood. It was at this time that he came up with the idea of creating stories from India to the world. He also draws inspiration from his longtime friend and famous director of Elizabeth, Shekhar Kapoor. AR felt that if Indians can direct mainstream Hollywood films made for global audiences, why can’t more Indians produce content for the global era? It reminds me of the current wave in the tech startup space, where Indian startups are pioneering products made for the Western world, especially software areas such as his AI.
If the Metaverse needs to become a mass communication reality, thought leaders and content legends like Dr. Rahman need to spearhead it. Companies like Meta and Apple can build technology platforms, but killer apps have to be produced by content he creators. This is similar to the success story of the iPhone, where Apple released its own device with a handful of apps. Developers and content creators have started leveraging the iOS platform to create content and apps that enhance the appeal of various devices. But today’s standard developer needs to level up his thinking and add his third dimension (literally and figuratively) to the app.
My conversation with Dr. Rahman was electrifying and lightning-fast on so many levels. His childlike love for technology is evident, and it feels like it dominates everything he does in the fields of filmmaking and music composition. It’s fascinating and inspiring to see his confidence in creating and ushering in a new era of the metaverse via VR content like Le Musk and his ushering in a new era of Web3 via the Katraar platform. . Despite being in the visual arts and theater industry for over 30 years, he feels he is just getting started. His journey of fusing and developing new technologies is entering a whole new level. Let’s see what happens to these areas through his pioneering efforts, not just him.