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AHIC Talks Episode 5: Neil Patel & future of the Metaverse

In this episode of AHIC talks, Jonathan Worsley speaks with Neil Patel, whose team is creating something remarkable with his company Kabuni. They use exponential technology to make all these immersive experiences in this digital twin of the planet called the metaverse. It sounds really cool - they've built this world that you can explore with their tech - but what is it for?

It turns out there are lots of opportunities for something like the metaverse! For example, you could take kids on safari tours in Africa to applications in health such as immersive embodied therapies. The possibilities are endless!

So if you want to see where our future could go, we suggest listening to this episode.



You are now listening to AHIC Talks Episode five.

[Intro Music]

Jonathan Worsley: Welcome to another episode of a AHIC Talks, the podcast for the Arabian and Africa Hospitality Investment Conference. I'm here today with Neil Patel who is the founder and CEO of Kabuni.

Welcome Neil.

Neil Patel: Hi, Jonathan. Thanks for having me on.

Jonathan Worsley: Yeah, great to have you. And looking forward to having you speak at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, where we've attached Africa to it, as we're combining all our events into Dubai at the Madinat Jumeirah from the 20th to the 22nd of September. Now, Neil, tell us a little bit about yourself because you're in the whole world of the next evolution, really, which is all about as you call it intelligence. Tell us a little bit about your story and how you got to where you are today.

Neil Patel: Quickly a snapshot of me, 46, married four kids. Been an entrepreneur all my life, past school. I’ll dive into kind of the story of Kabuni launching, what I describe a metalife in a metaverse. It was 2017 and at the conference in San Francisco where Peter Diamandis was keynoting. And he talked about this fourth industrial revolution around exponential technology, AI, robotics, 3D printing, blockchain, synthetics, IOT, quantum, and described it as something we would look back on this decade and look at the internet as being a tiny blip on the map and disruption, this decade, which is 2020 to 2030, is going to be tenfold. I left that conference and I wrote down on a yellow, sticky note a few weeks after with my mentor and executives “unlock the design potential in every human being”, stuck it on the end of my laptop with a bit of yellow sticky tape.

And that five-year journey of exploring all of the exponential technologies and a few like 3D printing and immersive, I went much deeper in. We are launching a digital twin of the planet as what we describe or many are describing as the next frontier, which is the metaverse.

Jonathan Worsley: Right. Yeah. Cause I noticed on your website, you do have unlock that design potential and every human being and elevate life. I mean, that's a lovely line, but what does it mean?

Neil Patel: The first 12, 18 months, it was a embarrassing smile when I opened my laptop and somebody read it out. But today that yellow sticky note is driving thousands of people around the world towards building a platform where we will leave our user in a net positive place with every single interaction they have with the platform and consuming the content that we develop.

Every day I ask the team, how are we accelerating unlocking the design potential in every human being and innovate life? And the elevate life has to thread back to scientifically proving the if someone activated the application, used it for one minute or 20 minutes. At the end of that experience, we're leaving them in a net positive place through science and data. Not from a philanthropist perspective, but literally from an embodied better experience for them. Ultimately, I simplified that to put a smile on their face.

Jonathan Worsley: How are we going from that physical world to that virtual world? Or is it a combination of both?

Neil Patel: I think we should really talk about the journey in the past twenty-five years, Jonathan. And so I'll kind of talk us through that so listeners can get a better grasp of what we're talking about. So 1995 was the moment that most described the internet moment where we had 16 million users online across a 7 billion population. So really tiny fraction. And, you know, we went from life being consumed around physical and then content consumed through print, radio TV. And then 95, we started to see a shift of this thing called new media, which is now the internet.

So we're already virtual in a 2D environment. So we went from a full 360 real life experience, pre 95 for nearly everything in life to now this screen that me and you are having this zoom call on and today 4.7 billion people are online for one reason or another. And by the end of this decade, we will see humanity using a smart device for one reason or another.

What I described today as the new 1995, or the new Kodak moment is the convergence of exponential technology specifically. The speed of chips, AI, and the emergence now of 5g. We're at a place where the natural evolution from physical to 2D digital virtual is 3D virtual. And that's what the metaverse is.

It's about consuming content in a digital world. Not on a flat screen, in full 360 immersed content. And you can do that through what we described mixed reality. Augmented reality is digital content displayed in the physical world. And the virtual reality is where you're completely immersed in a 3D virtual world of a digital twin or a fantasy place that could be created.

So Kabuni is launching a metaverse for a metalife. And ultimately we're at a place now where technology has matured from the hype cycle, that many platforms will emerge in the metaverse where you can visually from an audio perspective, experience content a thousand times better emotionally than me and you can on zoom, Jonathan. But it again, will never replace the real thing. But it's taken us back to pre-1995, where we going to start consuming content during the next decade more in tune with how we used to pre-internet and 2D.

Jonathan Worsley: Understood. So which sector of the economy industries is this going to disrupt the most and the quickest?

Neil Patel: Every single one, ultimately. I think COVID has been an accelerator for many brands and organizations of all size and shape to realize that content consumption in 3D is not just scalable, it's sustainable. And it's also a better experience than a 2D experience that people are having on a computer system.

An example, I would give you the NHS for the past 15 months have been doing embodied therapies through zoom. They're not as efficient as the real thing. Obviously with COVID they were limited. But think of doing embodied therapies like music therapy, drama therapy, art therapy, and movement therapy in a full 360 immersive environment with environment and the sound that you pick one-to-one, one-to-many with a headset on.

So now you're talking remote therapy or inpatient outpatient care at a much deeper experience and more like the real thing than what they'd be trying to cope with in a 2D environment.

Jonathan Worsley: On the educational side. I understand about this, the 3D experience. But give us an example, how that's going to really change the way we educate our children tomorrow.

Neil Patel: Big topic for us. So one of our six content pillars is education. We're launching a headset for eight- to 16-year-olds. And we're working with Jim Hill from Harvard. And we have learned over the last 18 minutes that our current children go to school, private or public, they retain less than 15% of learning at the end of a 24-hour cycle.

When you think of children taking a field trip that is complimentary to their curriculum subject that they are learning. A child can retain 95%. So, the outputs of that is a child is learning faster, more happier in their learning environment. So, a natural output of that is a happier child, more engaged in their education and ultimately getting faster to their objectives of whatever subject matter they are.

The future of education, both from a better model of learning for children, which we all know, even more so since COVID, that the challenge we have with education, if there was ever a situation that we're all going through now in the pandemic has to improve. And ultimately for hundreds of years, the education process hasn't really changed.

So immersive technology is what I describe as a field trip towards your subject matter. We can teleport you anywhere in the world to learn that subject matter in a creative way to help you retain more and learn your subject matter faster and accomplish your milestones better. It will level the playing field for education in emerging markets, in mature markets and give children access to experiences that are really for the few select today.

Jonathan Worsley: Give us an example of the type of experience you would have through this process.

Neil Patel: Yeah. So one that always comes to mind for me is imagine a classroom putting a headset on and taking a safari at the Shamwari in South Africa with a live 360 camera and the ranger taking you through a safari and you're seeing all of the animals. So you're learning subject matters at school may be in geography, maybe in history, maybe even in science and you're teleporting the beautiful young minds to really be that present for 30 minutes. That is way better than a teacher sitting in a classroom trying to try to describe geography of South Africa. You know, the history of animals they're preserving sustainability. This all happens in an immersive environment in live 360 with the actual ranger and the child's experience is they are there.

Jonathan Worsley: The live experience of the ranger, that could also be robotic, I assume.

Neil Patel: Yes, we're exploring remote experiences with companies like Boston Robotics. So imagining taking a robot through your headset for a walk. You know, one of their robots is called spot, which is in the shape of a dog, and it's got a 360 camera and you can remotely with your headset, control it and go on a personal walk around a safari range park and experience a safari for yourself, or do it as a collective.

Jonathan Worsley: If one has these types of experiences as a child going on these safaris where it's this immersive virtual experience, surely the interest is going to be there for that child to go actually on a physical safari down the road. Because they're going to be just so much more engaged or would you argue actually, perhaps not, because they've got all that experience through this metaverse environment that they actually won't need to travel in the future.

Neil Patel: No. I think when you think of an, these numbers might be wrong. I think less than 10% of humanity. When I say wrong, I might be slightly off here. Less than 10% of humanity have got the privilege to get on a plane and travel somewhere. I mean, the safari numbers are going to be a fraction of that.

I'll give you some examples. 1995, the internet came, streaming came along. Sports brands, cinemas all feared that the internet would effectively drive their businesses into a negative environment. Football stadiums are still packed. Cinemas, and this is all pre COVID obviously, were all packed. The metaverse I would say is what you said originally, Jonathan, it's going to motivate that nine-year-old child who had that experience in the metaverse and saw the beauty and the wonders of wildlife to one day take that trip and experience it him or herself with their family. And I think it has a positive impact for travel and tourism, through giving access to ability to unimaginable experiences in the metaverse to a larger audience.

And, you know, we're working with the UNDP and Rwanda to bring an immersive campus there for it, for children that barely you have shoes to walk to school with. And the number one goal there is to inspire them to have a better life. And so even the same experience, you know, a young child in Rwanda, going into an immersive counter experience for 45 minutes, the wonders of the world, that imagination of that young child is untapped. And what possibilities that could bring to that human being to better their life or better the planet I think is unimaginable or measured today.

Jonathan Worsley: What's an example of this at the moment. What is out there that is being used? I mean, I know Oculus..

Neil Patel: We're back to 1995 numbers again. Less than 10 million immersive users. Price Waterhouse Cooper are projecting industry to go from pretty much zero to 1.5 trillion by the end of this decade, accelerated by COVID. The number one platform for the metaverse to date is Oculus. Heavily focused on gaming and, and some what we described Metalife experiences. And then, there is half a dozen enterprise applications - HTC, Pico, players predominantly heavily subscribed in China today. Oculus is, is what I describe as a number one player. But like 1995, the internet era, you're going to see an explosion of meta-worlds that will be interoperable in the metaverse no different from one website to another. But there is so much yet to be figured out. But most who know about it and who have experienced what even today's technology can do. And if they can even imagine a one-fold improvement or a twofold improvement know that just like the internet in 95, that the new frontier is the metaverse, 3D spatial content consumption.

Jonathan Worsley: Yeah, because, I mean, certainly it's very popular, isn’t it, at the moment for gaming, but it hasn't stretched beyond that too much.

Neil Patel: No, it hasn't. It's in its infancy. And where we are specifically focused on with our use cases is not non-gaming. We will never be a gaming platform or any gaming applications. They're all lifestyle metalife driven, coaching, training, education, health.

Jonathan Worsley: You mentioned health there. How is this going to impact health going forward?

Neil Patel: It's a great question, Jonathan. I'm a father of four kids and I already think we have unchecked boxes for our consumption of content today, immersed in digital worlds, the many negatives of COVID - one is we're doing more zoom calls, kids have been forced to do education on screens. And it's well documented that the next challenge humanity faces is mental health issues.

You know, do we need another digital platform or another experience to already an emerging challenge that we're facing? I don't have a strong, you know, a clear cut answer for you. But one thing that I will push very hard is when we say unlock the design potential in every human being and elevate life, all of our experiences are about giving.

It's a human being, a digital experience to be more present in the physical world. Everything is less than 30 minutes. It's not about sitting there and consuming, entertaining yourself, taking selfies and pretending to create this lucid life that you have, that you don't have. It's all about connecting to the planet in a better way.

Learning, being healthier, being more adventurous, creating inclusivity and accessibility, but I do worry that we have to start seriously looking at how do we create checks and balances for all human beings to not lose physical connectivity or connections because you have to live between both worlds?

I ultimately also believe, in summary that, as we merge, you know, the bus has left the station, as we merge more into the metaverse, we should be using the metaverse for a higher level of connectivity to experiences versus what we've been consuming most of the internet for. We don't have a better option than 2D today.

But if you look at the exponential curve of innovation, I think anybody can say that this digital experience isn't going to stand still. So this next wave, which we now call in the metaverse is just given, taken us closer back to what the real experience is, but never going to replace the reality of, of taking that flight signal on the plan and getting somewhere. But it will have a positive impact or many brands and many, and all users connected in the right way. You can abuse the 2D world and it can't, it won't, it's not good for you. So again, that is going to be checks and balances for the metaverse I think for companies and brands to be ethically sound.

Jonathan Worsley: Well thank you, Neil, for giving us an eloquent overview to the metaverse and I'm sure the listeners will appreciate your strong values and your vision to leave the world in a net positive place through this for 360 immersive experience. Neil, we look forward to having you speak at a AHIC in September where we can learn more about your plans for converting and the metaverse and also the Kabuni coin. So thank you Neil, and thank you for joining us today on a AHIC talks.

Neil Patel: A real pleasure, Jonathan, and looking forward to speaking to people at the AHIC conference.

Jonathan Worsley: Excellent. Thank you so much, Neil.

[Outro Music]

Published 07 June 2021

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