Starting his career in virtual reality over two decades ago, Alvin Wang Graylin has fast become one of the go-to experts in the immersive industry. As HTC’s China President, Alvin will be deep-diving into his career with hosts Daniel Colaianni and Nick Rosa, exploring what it means to be part of this industry, early wins, and his ambitions for the future.
Alvin Wang Graylin From MIT to President of HTC China.
Teaming up with Accenture XR to bring you a series of eye-opening podcasts on the current state of XR and the future it holds, we take you on a journey of discovery and innovation. Through the eyes of our special guests, Field of View explores the wonderful world of immersive technology.
In the third episode of Field of View we take a deep dive into what made Alvin Wang Graylin the XR leader he is today. Our hosts explores Alvin’s story as an innovator, what made Alvin into the current China President of HTC, now with over 28 years of business management experience in the tech industry and his 20 years in Greater China. The episode expands into his ambitions for the future of VR/XR and his outlook on the tech world.
Born in the cultural revolution in China and son to two flourishing artists, Alvin Wang Graylin talks about his childhood and the move to the US in the 1980’s at the age of 8.
Nick: What’s the origin story of Alvin Graylin Wang?
Alvin: My background is a little bit unusual for that generation. My dad is chinese and my mom is half american and half chinese. And I was born during the cultural revolution in China actually on a re-education farm. It’s a pretty rare combination, especially having a mom that is Eurasian whilst living in China. So they’re both artists. My father was an Art Professor who was teaching western art, technique and art history for 20 years at Guangdong Art Academy and my mom was a Ballerina for the Beijing Ballet Troupe and she was also one of the founders of the Shanghai and the Guangzhou Ballet School.
I have very artistic parents but I cannot dance and I’m not a very good painter.
Daniel: [Laughs] I was wondering whether any of the artistic talents rubbed off on you.
Alvin: [Laughs] Unfortunately no. But my brother got some of it, he plays the guitar, the piano and he’s a pretty good dancer so I think it skipped me.
Alvin: So we did immigrate from China to the US in the 1980’s, so right when China opened up post-cultural revolution. My parents was able to become the first group of people who were allowed to leave the country. So this is what started me on my path towards what I’m doing today. I really have to thank my parents for giving us the opportunity to have US education and to be able to be exposed to all the technology that I otherwise would not have seen.
Alvin: My dad always told us that if you guys aren’t talented enough artistically then you should start making a contribution to society and that is what started getting me involved with technology in general. About a year or two after I got to the States, my brother and I took our paper route money that we made to go the buy a computer, we bought an IBM XT with a green screen and we started programming and building our own computers. We really started to find the passion for the ability to create something with technology.
Through hard-work and self-earned scholarships, Alvin received an MS in computer science from MIT, MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and BS in electrical engineering from the University of Washington. It is apparent that he had many ambitions for a world that will one day utilise technology to its highest potential and provide society with the help it needs such as VR supported education.
Alvin is known as a serial entrepreneur with a particular flair and passion for technology innovation with a special focus in the application of XR and VR outside of the gaming space. There was a particular figure in HTC of whom Alvin met back in 2015 that really resounded with him in terms of ambitions, not only did they align in future goals but they shared a particular passion for technology, building upon HTC’s own VR businesses and growing the ecosystem itself. Here’s what Alvin said about Cher Wang, the winner of last year’s Accenture VR Lifetime Achievement Award.
I met with Cher back in 2015, we really shared a common goal of how to apply XR technology and VR technology beyond gaming. She really has a deep yearning to see the technology being applied to help society as whole and that was something that I had dreamed about back in the 90’s when I first studied VR. We really aligned in that long-term goal and particularly in the area of helping to apply VR to education.
In this particular episode we took a deep dive into VR at HTC and XR potentials and how long Alvin believes it would take for the dream of the mass adoption of XR to be possible. Also find out how it felt to launch HTC Vive and just what Yao Ming thought of the very first headset. Explore episode 3 and tune into our XR special with Alvin Wang Graylin.
What is Field of View?
The world of immersive technology is always in a constant state of flux, continuously advancing with the rule book being written by the second. We’ve teamed up with Accenture XR to explore this wonderful world, with specialists from across the world providing their insight and view on where we are heading next.