Eastside Leadership Conference at Microsoft focuses on technology of the future

Technology was the name of the game at this year's Eastside Leadership Conference.

Technology was the name of the game at this year’s Eastside Leadership Conference.

The event, organized by the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, was held on June 24 at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond and featured speakers from various companies.

Speakers touched on various topics, including virtual reality and augmented reality.

On virtual reality, speakers discussed the implications it could have in various industries such as art.

“You can paint in three dimensions,” said Robert Scoble, “which you can’t do in real life.”

Scoble is an entrepreneur in residence at UploadVR, an organization whose mission focuses on three pillars: connection, experience and inspiration. According to its website, UploadVR exists to “accelerate the success of the consumer virtual reality industry.”

The real estate industry is another area in which conference speakers predicted virtual reality will grow.

Scoble said virtual reality could be used to allow home buyers to take virtual tours of homes without the realtor needing to drive them all over town. In addition, home buyers can also use virtual reality to design their homes before they are built. Scoble noted that the newly opened Shanghai Disney Resort in China was designed and built this way.

“We’re changing the world and new businesses are popping up,” he said.

In addition to real estate, another industry conference speakers predicted virtual reality to thrive in is the entertainment industry.

From theme parks rides to video games, Mary Jesse, chief strategy officer of VRstudios in Bellevue, said the tech industry is in the middle of a big change. She predicts that the projections experts are making regarding the impact of virtual reality are underestimating what will actually happen, noting that the same thing happened when mobile phones first became popular.

“You will see virtual reality everywhere,” she said.

Another technology speakers discussed at last Friday’s conference was augmented reality, specifically Microsoft’s HoloLens — a head-mounted device that allows users to see the real world as well as holograms projected in front of them.

LaSean Smith, senior director of product strategy for Windows Experience at Microsoft, spoke about how the company’s technology could be used in a number of ways to help businesses. During his presentation, he showed videos featuring the HoloLens being used in a couple of settings, including the medical school classroom to teach aspiring doctors about anatomy.

The conference also featured a number of startup companies whose founders shared a bit about their respective tech businesses — which focused on various industries, including travel, phone app development, information and knowledge sharing and data exchange.

There was also a panel on 3-D printing and the implications of that field.

From medical devices such as hearing aids, to airplane parts, the speakers discussed how 3-D printing can lead to cheaper production costs and shifting business models to adjust.

And while the bulk of last week’s conference focused on how businesses can benefit from emerging technology, Dick Lake, director of global security for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed cyber security, telling the crowd that more money is made from cyber crime than illegal drugs worldwide.

“Cyber security impacts the bottom line,” he said. “This is the epitome of low-risk, high-return crime.”

Lake added that cyber security takes place in cyberspace, an ungoverned space and ungoverned spaces have problems.

“The Internet was never designed with security in mind,” he said.

During his talk, Lake offered tips on what businesses can do to protect themselves.

He said businesses should have a plan in place for what to do if they are targeted by cyber criminals: who in their company to involve when dealing with the crime; how they will stop the financial bleeding; how they will collect and report facts to law enforcement and customers and when to bring outside parties to help with investigating.