You don’t know all the answers, accept help when offered — everyday we are learning new information, new ways to better ourselves and communicate. If someone is offering you a helping hand, it may be a good idea to take them up. Two hands are always better than one
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Travers, Chief Executive Officer and President of Vuzix.
Paul Travers is the founder of Vuzix and has served as Vuzix’s President and Chief Executive Officer since 1997. He is also as a member of the board of directors since November 1997. Prior to the formation of Vuzix, Mr. Travers founded both e-Tek Labs, Inc. and Forte Technologies Inc. He has been a driving force behind the development of our products. With more than 30 years’ experience in the consumer electronics field, and 25 years’ experience in the virtual reality and virtual display fields, he is a nationally recognized industry expert. He holds an Associate degree in engineering science from Canton, ATC and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering from Clarkson University.
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 passion for technology and the endless possibilities it has to offer. I have more than 30 years of experience in the enterprise and consumer electronics market and technology for the defense industry and gaming industry. In particular, within virtual and augmented reality and virtual display fields. My first company, called Forte Technologies at the time, was the first company to produce a virtual reality head managed display system for gaming purposes. After working on this endeavor and realizing what augmented reality has to offer, I never looked back.
Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, we are delivering some of the best wearable display technology, augmented reality, optics and display engines worldwide. We have a reputation across the smart glasses industry for creating market-leading technology and high-quality products that are protected by over 179 patents and patents pending. We have been committed to extensive research, design, and development since inception. Our light thin and ergonomic Waveguide designs coupled with our innovative optics for display engines create some of the most desirable and adaptable products.
Since the global pandemic, we have also been able to tap into newly formed partnerships that are helping change the way frontline workers, first responders, surgeons as well as students, companies, warehouse workers, field service workers, etc. stay connected safe and hands-free. Users are able to remotely communicate to the next level through teleconferencing with hands-on demonstrations, real-time visual instructions, team collaboration and more with common tools available through our app store such as Cisco Webex Teams, Skype and Zoom.
How do you think this might change the world?
Our technology is revolutionizing the way we connect with one another. Not only consumers but businesses and their daily operations. Businesses no longer need to travel, they have access to on demand support, real-time solutions, save time and costs. Connecting with experts remotely has never been easier and our solutions allows workers to collaborate, receive real-time assistance, immediate expert insight for issue resolution, lower down times and hands-free working make repairs easier. People can be contacted based on their expertise rather than location, allowing for a smoother repair, maintenance, or upgrade process.
Remote experts and field service enable remote communities to receive expert help from across the world even with only one person in attendance. Additionally, AR smart glasses ease some of the pressure on the manufacturing industry, including in training and continued staff development. In the manufacturing process, high accuracy is achieved through checklists and displayed instructions.
Lastly, leveraging medical expertise is a world problem, especially during these current times we have been faced with due to COVID-19. Our smart glasses are uniquely helpful for tele-medicine use-cases in that onsite care practitioners, front line workers and first responders can receive live expert interactive medical feedback while simultaneously acting on the feedback with their hands.
Paramedic can now stream directly to a hospital-based doctor without pausing care to the patient. This collaboration can save lives. Not to mention, Verizon’s 5G lab, which aims to optimize every aspect of the Emergency Response field by helping develop products that use 5G technology is utilizing our AR products to better inform first responders and link EMTs to doctors to ensure they receive help and their patients get the care they need.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
Great question. There is a never ending need for efficiency in all industries across the globe. If you think about it, robotics and mobile technologies have helped speed up business operations and improve quality, consistency and efficiency. Vuzix’s augmented reality solutions are here to do the same and provide you with the same features and capabilities of your smartphone, the difference is you have the ability to be hands-free.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
I have always been intrigued by technology and the possibilities for our technology is constantly growing and evolving with the changing demands of industry. We are constantly innovating and adapting to create the best product for consumers and enterprise using our optics and Waveguide technologies. Our solutions are highly sought after by other manufacturers due to our combination of expertise and experience.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
Vuzix’s technology has been adopted by a wide range of industries from field service, warehousing, manufacturing and healthcare institutions to name a few. As we continue to develop and make our AR solutions available world wide, we continue to strive in research and development and are always working towards the future.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We have been hosting educational and informational webinars highlighting how Vuzix’s smart glasses can help you keep your business, classes, and more going. We have also had some of our partners join us in webinars such as a surgical smart glasses program webinar, usage in retail stores, healthcare, field service, remote support, work instructions, telehealth, telemedicine, tele-teaching and more.
Additionally, Vuzix is constantly sharing our news and content through our social media platforms.
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?
There are so many folks that have been instrumental in my success and I hate to leave important people out of this. But if I had to pick just one — I need to pick two. First my parents (ok that is a second two for one). I grew up in the woods in northern NY and my parents were adamant with me that I could do anything in the world I wanted too. They drilled this into me. Despite some of the negativity and resignation that came from others. For them, NOTHING would or could stop me. Their pushing and belief in me (and my brother and sister) was in the face of a small town mentality that, well, had a hard time dreaming quite so big. Second, Grant Russell the CFO of Vuzix has been a long business partner of mine and he has been a believer in what we are doing from the outset. He has shown me more about real business and how to navigate choppy waters than I believe you could find in any book or class room.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Definitely. We are constantly researching and developing ways to help consumers and companies stay connected hands-free, help business operations run smoothly, less downtime, receive real-time feedback and expert commentary. We want people to stay connected wherever they go. Due to current restrictions, it is hard to meet in person and that is why we made sure to add remote support solutions such as Zoom and Skype to our app store. You can start or join a meeting with face-to-face or see-what-I-see video, screen sharing, video conferencing, online meetings and many other features.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- You don’t know all the answers, accept help when offered — everyday we are learning new information, new ways to better ourselves and communicate. If someone is offering you a helping hand, it may be a good idea to take them up. Two hands are always better than one
- Don’t aim to only be liked — as a leader your goal is to make your employees succeed and your employees will look up to you for that. Always remember to stay true to your values and goals.
- Develop goals with your team — share the company’s goals with the team, learn their goals and let them know what you care about. This will also help create a more realistic expectation of what can be achieved.
- Remember everyone is different, so you can’t approach everyone the same way — it takes time to understand your employees different learning habits and motivation. Everyone likes to be recognized for their work in different ways. If you can show that you know these individual items, this will motivate them to work even harder.
- Always innovating and reinvesting in research and development. Technologies are evolving and it is up to companies like Vuzix to evolve alongside newfound strides in our business. By innovating and placing capital in R&D, you end up having the bandwidth to create the next big thing in tech.
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We hope to see the consumer and enterprise markets adopt the widespread use of augmented reality technology, not only does it allow us to be hands-free but it allows you to immerse yourself in the digital world. You can navigate the world freely but with an extra element of engagement. Our technology is growing rapidly, with many apps making the leap from your smartphone to the lens right in front of your eyes. Using maps and annotations via glasses is a more intuitive way to use apps.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Ok now this is just for fun, right? “Never Give Up, Never Surrender!” for those Galaxy Quest fans. I can promise you for any entrepreneur out there this would be meaningful.
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 🙂
Imagine being able to immerse yourself hands-free into the digital world while still connected to what is right in front of you? Vuzix has developed AR technology solutions that are being adopted worldwide by consumers and many renowned companies and institutions such as Verizon, UCLA Medical School and John Hopkins, to name a few, in medical learning settings, used by first responders as well as successfully used during orthopedic surgery for knee replacement. Consumers can connect to AccuWeather, stream Netflix, Spotify, talk to Amazon Alexa for day-to-day- commands and use maps. The features and functions of our smart glasses are constantly evolving and we are providing the perfect balance between performance and comfort.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.