Leveraging technology and different perspectives to solve complex problems at Sphere Las Vegas | MIT News

Since July, a new, giant, round thing has been dominating the Las Vegas skyline: the Sphere.

After debuting this summer, the state-of-the-art entertainment venue became instantly recognizable thanks to pictures and videos on social media and Reddit. Some of the most popular posts depict the 580,000-square-foot, fully programmable LED Exosphere projecting a giant yellow emoji smiling, sleeping, and following a plane flying overhead with an expression of wonder.

According to Jared Miller ’98, MBA ’03, SM ’03, the Sphere’s growing popularity preceded its official opening last September (when Irish rock band U2 began a months-long residency), proving that It took a lot of work from the creative team to make it happen.

“The team we’ve assembled reflects in many ways my experience at MIT,” said Miller, executive vice president and chief information officer of Sphere Entertainment.

“We have a deep bench of technologists, engineers, scientists, artists, creative technologists and people who have worked in many different industries who have come together to embrace this vision,” Miller added. “The diversity of the people around you. …..brings a different perspective [and an] Enthusiastically come together and collaborate on solutions. That’s what’s really special about Sphere, and it applies to MIT as well. “

Embrace the pivot

As an undergraduate, Miller majored in chemical engineering and interned in the oil and gas industry before deciding to pursue another career path. This got me a job at Intel in the race to build the first microprocessor capable of 1 GHz.

Miller learned a lot about himself and his career interests during the experience, and he’s hungry for more. “I wanted to learn more about the business side; moving from being an engineer into a broader management and strategic role,” he said.

He applied for what was then called Leaders in Manufacturing (LFM) and enrolled in 2001. The project’s focus at the time was “Big M Manufacturing,” but as Miller recalls, LFM continued to grow and evolve, eventually changing its name to Global Operations Leader (a local government organization). As a result, student experience extends well beyond manufacturing to other disciplines.

For Miller, that means the aviation industry. “The intersection of technology and guest experience is taking hold in the industry because it requires a pretty rapid shift in the way airports and airlines think about…how they move people through their journeys,” he said.

LGO students participate in six-month internships at LGO partner companies as the basis for their thesis projects. Miller interned at Continental Airlines, where he studied the use of self-service check-in kiosks and its impact on the passenger experience.

After graduation, he worked for Continental Airlines (which merged with United Airlines in 2010) for nearly ten years until he transitioned to designing and building new venues for the sports and entertainment industry.

“MIT continues to encourage and challenge us to think openly about future opportunities. To me, these pivots between different engineering fields and industries don’t seem strange or awkward. It’s just another step in the journey,” Miller explain. “The intersection of technology and guest experience is at the core of what I do.”

Combine inventions with different perspectives

Before the venue officially opened, the public’s knowledge of the Sphere was limited to what they saw on its massive Exosphere. Audiences can watch U2 play the first of 40 shows and premiere filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s Postcards from Earth as part of The Sphere Experience Watch what Miller and his team have been producing.

These include fully immersive display planes with a resolution of 16k x 16k, 4D technologies such as haptic systems and atmospheric effects that influence how guests truly feel, the world’s largest beamforming audio system and more.

“Much of what we do at Sphere has to do with invention,” Miller said.

By “invention,” Miller means identifying potential experiences for an audience and working back from that point in developing the necessary technology. But he’s quick to explain that technology isn’t always the solution to a problem, but just one of many tools that can be used.

“A lot of this is through process improvements,” Miller explains. “You have to analyze what’s not working, use a lot of data to go back and say, ‘You know what? This is what needs to change. This is why this approach isn’t working. And then immediately get back up and find another one.’ ways to solve problems.”

From using systems thinking and data analysis to solve complex problems, such as how to ensure that 18,000 people in a spherical structure have the same experience, to building teams that work well together to produce possible solutions, Miller credits many of the tools at his disposal from what he learned at MIT.

He learned how to think more broadly about complex problems and how to think collaboratively with others from different backgrounds—like the team at Sphere.

“At LGO, we discuss and work on solving unsolved problems. We need a diverse group of people to come together and use all their experience and expertise to create this solution,” Miller said. “It brings different groups of people together to work together and ultimately find a good solution.”

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