Be Curious with Chuck Olsen

Creativity Week is an annual tradition at Karwoski & Courage. We devote a week to daily activities to reinvigorate our creative juices by inviting expert speakers, visiting inspiring institutions, and participating in hands-on workshops.

This year, we invited Visual’s Chuck Olsen to discuss augmented and virtual reality to kick off Creativity Week.

Chuck has been a fixture in the Twin Cities video scene for decades. As Minnesota’s first video blogger, he produced a documentary about blogging, co-founded the citizen journalism outlet, The UpTake, and is now pioneering virtual reality with his company Visual, Inc.


Chuck Olsen, godfather of vlogging, talks VR at today’s lunch and learn.

(Apologies for the shaky video in the beginning. Lynn finally gets the tripod situated around the 4 minute mark.)


Posted by Karwoski & Courage on Monday, June 19, 2017

I have been fascinated with virtual reality since reading the stories of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. Philip K. Dick’s work has been translated into many popular films that deal with alternate digital realities, including Total Recall and The Adjustment Bureau.

William Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome” and popularized the concept in his novel Neuromancer. His work often deals with the overlap of real life with digital worlds. He has been quoted as saying, “The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.” The quote fairly accurately describes the current state of virtual reality.

I first tried virtual reality in the early 90s at the Mall of America. The technology was clunky and primitive, but nevertheless captivating.

With its line graphics, it felt like being inside the movie Tron (the first one).

Still, it was an immersive experience, and you could see the possibilities of where the technology was going. If Moore’s Law and technology trends held true, the technology itself would shrink, become faster, and the visuals would become more realistic.

Fast-forward about a decade, and virtual worlds come to the web in the form of Second Life, a persistent online three-dimensional environment.

Fast-forward to today and we see an inexorable progression toward ever more immersive experiences.

James Cameron’s 3D film Avatar is a box office smash.

Cameras are getting small enough to literally take flight on the wings of eagles.

The New York Times is reporting in three hundred sixty degrees.

The science fiction dream of holograms is now a reality and reality is being augmented with digital information.

The future for brands is immersive. Yet gamers have understood the appeal of immersive storytelling for some time.

Imagine a VR app that allows you to test drive your favorite cars on a virtual spin through your own city.

Imagine being able to buy a ticket to a virtual Vikings game where it is you, rather than Sam Bradford, taking the snap from the center.

Imagine virtual reality stories about a day in the life of a customer to help employees better understand and empathize with a company’s target audience.

Virtual reality technology still needs to come down in price and solve that pesky motion sickness problem before it will truly go mainstream, but we are on the verge of being able to truly blow people’s minds with immersive storytelling.


Paul Bence

David Erickson

VP, Online Marketing

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