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Nick Cherukuri of ThirdEye: “Build a global network”

Mixed reality smart glasses has the potential to change how people go about their daily lives as well as how employees work. About 80% of the global workforce need to use their hands while they work, but once mixed reality glasses become the norm, we expect that percentage to drop drastically. Construction workers can scan […]

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Mixed reality smart glasses has the potential to change how people go about their daily lives as well as how employees work. About 80% of the global workforce need to use their hands while they work, but once mixed reality glasses become the norm, we expect that percentage to drop drastically. Construction workers can scan their environment into a 3D CAD model with a single glance. Healthcare workers can detect high fevers and stay safe amid the pandemic. Automotive technicians can repair a vehicle with blueprints right in front of them. First responders can dial-in healthcare experts via telehealth and treat patients more effectively. The changes are already happening in a variety of industries, and once they become even smaller in size, people can start utilizing them in their day-to-day as well.


As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Cherukuri, Founder and CEO of ThirdEye, a leader in augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR) for the enterprise, providing an all-in-one (hardware and software) solution for all industries.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always had a strong interest in technology, and the idea that augmented reality can replace cell phones in just a few years had me hooked. I’ve been involved in the augmented and mixed reality space since college, where I co-founded the Virtual & Augmented Reality Club at the University of Pennsylvania, which quickly grew to several hundred members. After connecting with a group of talented engineers, I decided to take the leap in 2016 to create ThirdEye. Here, we’ve developed the lightest pair of MR glasses — X2 MR Glasses — on the market at just 300 grams.

There is so much potential for mixed reality in the enterprise, including industries such as field services, healthcare, education, construction and more. The fact that MR can change people’s lives, including those with Alzheimer’s and the visually impaired, motivates me and the ThirdEye team to continue innovating and advancing mixed and augmented reality technology.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

A highlight in my career was presenting in front of a few thousand people at CES 2019. This was a highly unique experience that I’ll always remember because it was my first experience introducing ThirdEye’s X2 MR Glasses and augmented reality software to a wider audience — many of whom had never seen or heard about AR smart glasses. During the demonstration, I showed the X2 MR Glasses and presented an example app on the glasses using voice commands. This really visualized AR’s impact to the audience. This was also at the beginning of my career, so it was important to see the reaction and learn what concepts we should use to illustrate AR to a general audience.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

ThirdEye’s X2 MR Glasses with ThirdEye Software platforms offer enterprises a more immersive and engaging work environment. Companies who have incorporated ThirdEye’s X2 MR Glasses have seen a massive impact on its organization’s performance and KPIs, such as enormous growth in first time-fix rates, an increase of product uptime, substantial drops in truck rolls, better time-to-resolution and superior overall customer experiences.

We have partnered with Verizon as well, making ThirdEye the first mixed reality glasses with built-in 5G mobile edge computing — essentially allowing for more data to be transferred at a much higher speed. Workers now can receive remote help from anywhere, including remote locations without Wi-Fi, and will stream live video or live 3D models and directly interact with surrounding objects or digital information placed in their field of view. This marks a major milestone for the enterprise as it improves hands-free interaction and communication for workers in all industries and remote areas.

In addition, we are working heavily in the healthcare industry to change people’s lives for the better. We developed a facial recognition program specifically for those with Alzheimer’s to help with remembering names. X2 MR Glasses also have telehealth, allowing EMS workers to transmit their live field of view to a remotely located doctor to provide expert, timely care. Our partnership with NuEyes also helps the visually impaired see by magnifying their field of view.

How do you think this might change the world?

Mixed reality smart glasses has the potential to change how people go about their daily lives as well as how employees work. About 80% of the global workforce need to use their hands while they work, but once mixed reality glasses become the norm, we expect that percentage to drop drastically. Construction workers can scan their environment into a 3D CAD model with a single glance. Healthcare workers can detect high fevers and stay safe amid the pandemic. Automotive technicians can repair a vehicle with blueprints right in front of them. First responders can dial-in healthcare experts via telehealth and treat patients more effectively. The changes are already happening in a variety of industries, and once they become even smaller in size, people can start utilizing them in their day-to-day as well.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Privacy is an issue that should be deeply considered, especially once augmented reality smart glasses become consumer facing and people wear them around daily. In particular, applications like facial recognition, recording and more will need to be regulated with laws to maintain people’s privacy while still enjoying the benefits of AR.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

After realizing the impact that augmented and mixed reality could have in many industries, I started looking at different enterprises and sought out to create a pair of MR smart glasses that would have a life-changing impact on the way workers go about their everyday tasks. I hired a team of augmented reality experts that also shared the same vision, combining more than 20 years of experience in developing AR technologies for the military. This experience has helped us develop the X2 MR Glasses, which are revolutionizing the way people work.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

For mass adoption, smart glasses in general need to be smaller in size and look more similar to a pair of eyeglasses. For instance, we’re looking for various ways to cut down on size without eliminating features and benefits.

In addition, developers need to make a large assortment of apps for smart glasses so that it’s populated with a variety of focuses, including industrial aspects, healthcare solutions, etc. Smart glasses also need 5G integrationso users can take and receive calls directly from the glasses instead of using their phone as a hotspot. This will be the last hurdle to overcome to allow AR glasses to replace smartphones and gain widespread adoption.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We have deployed our solution with major enterprise companies who are seeing the benefits of using augmented reality. Our team regularly distributes announcements and marketing campaigns on these partnerships to showcase the benefits of utilizing AR in the workplace and how it increases efficiency, worker engagement and cuts costs.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It is hard to pick out one individual, but learning from the vast expertise of our entire team, including hardware, software, audio and firmware engineers with 20+ years of experience in augmented reality, has made me appreciate how much work goes into developing an advanced product like smart glasses. Our strong technical team has invaluable expertise in augmented reality, which is very hard to find. With them, we are able to achieve things that not many have accomplished before, and I’m so grateful to work with them daily.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Our augmented and mixed reality solutions are designed to help bring goodness into this world — especially in the healthcare industry. Our work brings vision to the visually impaired, helps those suffering from Alzheimer’s and so much more. Our team continues to look for ways we can apply technology to help those in need.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. When facing technical obstacles, work hard to find a solution and not just the easy workaround. It’s easy to find a solution that doesn’t tackle the hardest problem. For example, in smart glasses, that’s putting everything in one as opposed to using a pack. A pack puts the processing power and battery together, which is easier to achieve from an engineering perspective and faster to market for the sales team, but doesn’t achieve the customer goal of being hands-free. Our team switched its approach and put everything in one pair of glasses to allow workers to be hands-free. Sometimes, it is better to hold off on releasing a product and take the harder engineering route to correctly address the customer needs.

2. Actively listen to customer feedback and don’t assume what users want.When creating smart glasses, technical engineers in particular feel like they know exactly how to design the product. We initially took this approach and used thicker optics than we should have and didn’t include some features that people ended up wanting.

3. Hire people motivated about this space as opposed to someone just based on experience. Some of our best hires have been people with no experience in augmented reality but are highly motivated. Don’t hire people who just have been in this space but aren’t as motivated.

4. Center company culture around one goal. For example, there are a lot of different teams (support, technical, marketing, etc.) whose goals may not all align with one singular focus. Making sure everyone is on the same page is critical.

5. Build a global network. You don’t want to have a specific type of person or geographic region covered by your team. Have as many different inputs and experiences as possible.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Using technology to better humanity. There are so many positive outcomes with using new technology, and the negatives shouldn’t outweigh the good tech can do.

For example, augmented reality can help aid people suffering from macular degeneration by maximizing what they are seeing, doing OCR (text to recognition), color changes and other fixes that help improve the daily lives of people suffering from vision loss. Unlike VR, which replaces the natural senses and can introduce vertigo and other nauseous symptoms, AR helps enhance the real world, which is the optimal solution for vision loss. In a study of patients with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease that results in poor vision, Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers found that adapted augmented reality glasses can improve patients’ mobility by 50% and grasp performance by 70%. Continuing to find new ways to better lives through technology is what we’re passionate about at ThirdEye.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Always Do Your Best. What You Plant Now, Will Harvest Later.” — Og Mandino

This is relevant as in business and in life we are sometimes impatient to see outcomes, but the best results come from nurturing an introduction over time.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Augmented reality is the future of technology as it allows people to be hands-free — a capability cell phones do not have. AR also has powerful healthcare applications from aiding the vision impaired, Alzheimer’s, telehealth, surgical aid and more. By integrating both the smart glasses and our own software, ThirdEye is seeing a lot of traction.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow me on Twitter at @nickcherukuri.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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