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Traveling FromCalifornia, USA
Russell Ladson is an Oakland-based creative technologist. His work investigates the use of emerging technologies to heighten the human-to-human experience through experimental concepts around information discovery in a post-smartphone world.
Currently, Russell is the CEO of Drop Software Inc (“Drop”).
At Drop, he leads a team of designers, human-computer interaction researchers, and engineers who are obsessed with the future of spatial computing. The team at Drop is investigating the following question, “as our iPhones become ineffective for information discovery and we move into a post-smartphone world, how will we navigate the immersive web?”
Today, Drop provides an immersive internet searching and browsing experience designed for virtual reality users. It is one of the most popular and top downloaded VR titles on the HTC Vive – the leading virtual reality headset. It is commonly referred to as the “Google Chrome for VR.” Drop is venture backed by HTC, one of the world’s leading consumer technology companies, MACRO, Autochrome Ventures, Backstage Capital, and Matter Ventures.
He has been mentioned and featured in several publications such as the New York Times, Black Enterprise, and Entrepreneur. He was most recently included in Entrepreneur as one of the “50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs in 2018.”
He has been recognized by Google as a 2019 Google Next Gen Policy Leader. Google Next Gen Policy Leaders are at the forefront of tech and racial justice, and have distinguished themselves in business, public service, content creation, education, and activism. Next Gens connect the dots between tech policy and the opportunity and justice issues that drive today’s leaders.
Before creating Drop, he spent his early career as an investment banking analyst at two leading Wall Street firms. After a close call with mortality in a near-fatal accident, he decided to revisit his interests in design, art, and technology.
Russell lives and works in Oakland, California. Most of his free time is spent hiking, practicing vinyasa yoga, or playing chess.
He graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A. in Economics.
Post-Smartphone World: Our Lives in Virtual and Augmented Reality (XR)
From virtual reality to smartphones with augmented reality capabilities, we are gradually moving into the post-smartphone world. Facebook has Oculus. Amazon now provides e-commerce AR. Apple has a new development platform for AR experiences called ARKit.
This session provides an overview of virtual reality and augmented reality, verticals where AR/VR (XR) are being used daily, and future capabilities of the technology in our everyday lives. This session is geared towards people and organizations who have no familiarity or limited experience with XR. Russell will also provide an introduction to the work that he has done at Drop and Drop’s vision of building a virtual wearable for the post-smartphone world.
The Next Index Finger: Fundamentals of Human-Computer Interaction in AR/VR (XR)
A little over 10 years ago, Steve Jobs gave the world a new computing device to interact with the world – the iPhone. The iPhone was the catalyst for the massive consumer adoption of smartphones and ushered in the era of mobile computing. Along with this mass adoption of iPhones came the power of the index finger to take us anywhere in the world at a moment notices – whether that is ordering a car to pick you up or finding out the latest news in your app.
As we move into a post-smartphone world, what areas of human-computer interaction do we need to consider for spatial interface design? This session will provide an introduction to the fundamentals of human-computer interaction in spatial computing including but not limited to gestural technology, brain-computer interfaces, and spatial cognition.
Personal Unicorn: Being Black and Queer in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley has recently been under close scrutiny for its lack of diversity and inclusion practices. As black, queer technologist living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Russell will discuss his personal experience in Silicon Valley and how he’s used his perceived differences as a competitive advantage, possible solutions for promoting equity and belonging for underrepresented individuals in tech, and how we can avoid these issues in the next generation of startups.
Protesting and Silicon Valley: Using Emerging Tech to Combat Social Injustices
In the last few years, Silicon Valley has played an active role in democracy with uproars across jolted social movements from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo, influencing a presidential election, and improperly handled user data of millions across the globe.
As a Google NextGen Policy leader, Russell will provide background context for the role tech policy influences social injustice movements. This session explores how we can use emerging technologies (XR, blockchain, AI) to course correct the failed practices of previous technology companies and more importantly how we can use these emerging technologies to build awareness and solidarity around social injustices.
Check In With Yourself: Your Startup is a Reflection of Your Well-Being
For most founders, running a startup is probably one of the most exhilarating yet daunting experiences. Whether you are a first-time founder or a venture-backed founder, the concerns about your company never cease especially in a culture of “hustle and grind.”
In this session, we will discuss steps founders should take to ensure their well being while running a startup, how the company culture can be influenced by your life outside of your startup, and creating a well-being practice for yourself.