“Flying into the Metaverse Through Books and Culture” is honored to interview today Tom Furness, Professor (Emeritus), University of Washington, Founder of Virtual World Society, “Granfather of Virtual Reality”.

Tom Furness is a “milestone” for all the people who work in the XR World.
I had the pleasure and the luck to meet him during the last AWE USA which was held in California in June 2023.
Tom as well as being a great professional, he is a great person also on a human level.
He is always smiling and available to answer anyone he meets. Around him there were always groups of people eager to know and learn. He reminds me of the great sages sitting around the fire who tell the younger generation about their life experiences, teaching them how to move forward.
Many thanks to Tom for taking the time to do this interview (and also for leaving the last part of the video with the “OFF AIR”!)
This interview was recorded during AWE USA at the California Convention Center in Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, in June 2023.

You can found below the key points:
0:00:00 – Opening Theme
0:00:07 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Opening the interview”
0:00:15 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Welcome Tom Furness”
0:00:18 – TOM FURNESS: “Hi, my name is Tom Furness”
0:00:21 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Tom, you have a very high competence and professionalism. No introduction needed, just say your name TOM FURNESS and everyone knows who you are. You are the “GRANFATHER OF VR”. But what I want to know in a simple way is: Who is really Tom Furness?”
0:00:47 – TOM FURNESS: Answer
0:02:06 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Many people who love Virtual Reality and the XR world are very young. How do you feel about being the Grandfather of VR?”
0:02:16 – TOM FURNESS: Answer
0:03:59 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “How can we help our children grow up well with new technologies?”

0:04:04 – TOM FURNESS: Answer
0:08:07– CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “What should schools do to improve our children’s education using new technologies?”
0:08:15 – TOM FURNESS: Answer
0:10:50 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “How could we increase the use of new technologies in the main stream?”
0:10:56 – TOM FURNESS: Answer
0:13:54 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “What do you think about Artificial Intelligence?”
0:13:57 – TOM FURNESS: Answer
0:17:45 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Tell me about your plans for the future… I want to know all the secrets you haven’t told anyone yet!”

0:17:53 – TOM FURNESS:
0:20:37 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Thank you Tom!”
0:20:38 – TOM FURNESS: “Thank you!”
0:20:40 – The “FIRST ITALIAN HUG”
0:20:52 – ///Program Interruption///
0:20:54 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: This interview was recorded during AWE USA at the California Convention Center in Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, in June 2023.
0:21:07 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Who I am?”
0:21:29 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Thank you Tom for this interview and Thank you all!”
0:21:39 – ///OFF AIR///

0:21:40 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Thank you Tom!”
0:21:42 – TOM FURNESS: “Take care, safe travel to Florence!”
– CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Little spot on Florence”
0:21:59 – TOM FURNESS: “I love Europe, I love Italy!”
0:22:05 – TOM FURNESS: “I’ll tell you a story about my trip to Italy”
0:25:40 – TOM FURNESS: “Say hi to Terence for me”
0:25:42 – CECILIA LASCIALFARI: “Terence is all time in the AWE Playground!!!”
0:25:47 – The “SECOND ITALIAN HUG”

0:26:00 The whole truth about this interview in one phrase by Tom Furness – Music “La porti un bacione a Firenze” (You bring a big kiss to Florence) by Odoardo Spadaro
– Closing Theme – Become sponsor of the “Flying Into The Metaverse Through Books & Culture”


For 57 years Tom Furness has been building interfaces between humans and machines that unlock human intelligence and link minds. This has led to the invention and development of what we know today as virtual and augmented reality.
Along with a few dozen inventions, his students and colleagues have spun off more than 25 companies working in the VR/AR space. Tom has also been fascinated with the interaction of light and matter and the whole subject of how we can use light, not only to communicate information to our senses, but also to probe the inner reaches of our bodies to assess health and well-being. During his journey he have worked with many wonderful people, students and colleagues, who have become good friends. Tom is excited about life and the future and want to help turn the hearts of the children into making the world a better place.


BUILDING BETTER REALITIES. TOGETHER. The Virtual World Society draws upon the extensive knowledge of their global members to act as a force multiplier that ensures social-good organizations succeed in the adoption and deployment of XR and emergent technologies. Their mission is to inspire, guide, and enable humanity to thrive and create a positive impact through emerging reality technologies. When you become a VWS community member, you gain access to news, events, and collaboration opportunities. They partner with organizations and events that are dedicated to bringing awareness to the humanitarian applications of emerging technology. The VWS help students, communities, and families.
The mission is to inspire, guide, and enable humanity to thrive and create a positive impact through emerging reality technologies.
This is the website: https://www.virtualworldsociety.org/
Here you can see the Virtual World Society TEAM

On June 1, 2023, the Virtual World Society convened a pioneering assembly of AR, VR, Web 3, AI, and XR experts at the AWE USA event to discuss the future trajectory of the XR industry. The key topic of discussion revolved around the industry’s path towards achieving “escape velocity” – an aspiration for AI-fueled spatial computing to reach the ubiquity of mobile phones and computing. These amazing people contributed: Alvin Graylin (VWS, HTC), Angelina Dayton (VWS), Avi Bar Zeev (RealityPrime), Damon Hernandez (Mixx Reality, XR Guild), Hugo Swart (Qualcomm), Jenna Seiden (Niantic), Jeri Ellsworth (Tilt 5), Leslie Shannon (Nokia), Linda Ricci (VWS), Nathan Pettyjohn (VRARA), Neil Trevett (Khronos Group, NVidia), Ori Inbar of (AWE), Philip Rosedale (High Fidelity, Second Life), Sophia Moshasha (VRARA), Tom Furness (VWS), Tony Parisi (Lamina 1), Dr. Yu Yuan (IEEE) 

The following Conclusions arose from this meeting:
XR technology holds immense potential for enhancing user experiences and solving real-world problems. Educating stakeholders, emphasizing the creator economy, and addressing public concerns regarding the transaction layer of the metaverse (NFTs, blockchain) is pivotal for the metaverse’s success. Integrating AI into the metaverse offers synergistic benefits, with humans retaining their unique value and evolving alongside AI. By adopting a human-centric approach and prioritizing ethics, we can harness the transformative power of XR, the metaverse, and AI to enrich and elevate our human experience.

You can read the document here: Read AWE ’23 Round Table Report

Virtual Word Society link: PodcastTwitter/X | LinkedIn | YouTube


The books and publications on XR World, written by Tom Furness there are so many…
You can find a list of titles of his books and publications at this link: Scholar Google Tom Furness

You can find more here: IEE Explore Tom Furness
Thanks Tom for all of this!

AWE USA 2023 – Spatial Computing for All: A Fireside Chat with the Virtual World Society

Here you can see Tom Furness’ talk during AWE USA 2023:

Being able to show the whole journey and the talks that Tom has done is almost impossible, but here you can see below some videos from Tom Furness’ past, always very current!

2016 – Proto Founders Award

2015 – 50 years of VR with Tom Furness: The Super Cockpit, Virtual Retinal Display, HIT Lab, & Virtual Word Society

2015 – AUGMENTED WORLD EXPO – Talk: Being the Future


(it does not end here…)

Contact Tom Furness

LinkedIn Profile: Tom Furness
Twitter: Tom Furness
Virtual World Society: Tom Furness

Cecilia Lascialfari
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