Photo by Brandon Alms
Mention virtual or augmented reality in southwest Missouri, and the conversation eventually leads to Tyler Drenon. He returned to Springfield after living in Atlanta, got involved in the local tech startup scene and began spreading the gospel of immersive technology. When it comes it VR and AR, Drenon, 35, sees business applications like employee training (the idea behind Tacit, which he co-founded). Drenon is working on a project with several others that could make Springfield a national leader.
“The internet revolution. Everybody’s familiar with that. All the information in the world is available at your fingertips. But the next is a spatial revolution, where the internet comes into 3D, and information is integrated into the space around us. I’ve helped put together a roundtable of Springfield institutions. We’ve been talking about different ways we can integrate emerging technologies, so not just immersive tech like AR but spatial, audio and geolocation. It’s taking shape as a project that will potentially be an app. It’ll be focused on content that accentuates the great things about our city.
“I think Springfield has the opportunity if we nail this—We could have, for example, GPS-enabled push notifications. Like if you’re walking past a trail, you could receive a push notification that would say, ‘Hey, there’s a podcast for this trail system.’ Or ‘There’s an augmented reality mural on the side of this building.’ Unique projects like that are ways for us to stand out and hopefully [be] a catalyst for some other endeavors. We can make this a technological destination, I think, if we invest.”
Big Picture: Drenon envisions a future in which Springfield is one of the first—and best—smart cities in the entire country.