Like, which one wants to go to Tajikistan
The average human may not be able to tell the difference between twins Chris and David Hobbs, but their new virtual receptionist, Amanda AI, can. TTT Studios’ facial recognition technology promises 99.8-percent accuracy. Amanda AI is an app that signs in, notifies and keeps a record of anyone who comes through an office front door.
The Vancouver-based company specializes in technologies that include augmented and virtual reality, Internet of things, security and encryption, artificial intelligence and blockchain, providing custom software for more than 200 companies worldwide. On Canada Day, it will exhibit its facial recognition technology throughout the Innovation Zone at Canada Place.
Founded nine years ago, TTT Studios was originally called Two Tall Totems. Height is an inexplicable but recurring theme with the Hobbs brothers. Even though they aren’t particularly tall, they were known as the Twin Towers on the South Delta Secondary School basketball team in Tsawwassen, where they grew up and first became interested in technology.
“I remember being super excited to visit our grandmother on Vancouver Island, where David and I would jump on her Tandy TRS-80 computer and program in the game Lemonade Stand from a magazine she had,” Chris recalls. “This was in the very early ’80s. There was no way to save the game, so we spent all afternoon debugging to play the game just in time to go home—and do this all again the next visit.”
But tech isn’t the only interest they share.
What’s your favourite spot in B.C.?
Chris: My parents live on Salt Spring. It is a magical place full of interesting people and amazing nature. Even better, I get to hang with two of the coolest people I know (a.k.a. Mom and Dad).
David: Whistler. It has so much to offer for all seasons.
Where did you go on your last vacation?
David: Las Vegas for the Amazon re:MARS conference. Amazon really knows how to put on an inspirational show. MARS stands for MachineLearning Automation Robotics and Space. First conference I needed to be looking down or I would trip over a robot walking by.
Chris: Recently I took the family to New Zealand for two weeks. Our plane was boarding when the news broke about the Christchurch massacre taking place. This black mark touched every corner of New Zealand, but I was lucky to have witnessed how the Kiwis met this with love and compassion that I hope the rest of the world can follow. The people were fantastic, the countryside beautiful, and the week we spent in a camper van was shockingly comfortable—and I hate camping.
What’s your most memorable recent podcast, film or book?
Chris: I love Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. The guy is a genius who can talk about a topic for literally six hours while maintaining that he isn’t a historian, just a fan of history. His “History Under the Influence” episode is one of my favourites where he discusses how the leaders from the major powers during WWII were highly addicted to alcohol and/or drugs (Stalin and Churchill were drunks, Hitler had a speed addiction, and Roosevelt was supposedly on cocaine and painkillers to deal with his paralysis). Imagine the amount of lives that may have been spared if they were clean and sober with their decisions.
David: Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell. The episode titled “The Big Man Can’t Shoot” from Season 1 sticks out. Malcolm makes the argument that people will choose looking good over success. Apparently doing a “granny shot” is mechanically more proficient for free throws, but no one will do it as they look like a sissy. Give it a listen.
David: Las Margaritas in Kits. It is definitely more Tex than Mex, but there is something comforting there.
Chris: I grew up in Tsawwassen, where I often ate at Alfa’s [Alfa Greco Roman Cuisine]. Every time I am returning to Vancouver via ferry, I get my vegetarian baked tortellini with side of Greek potatoes. Tastes the same as it did when I was eight. Heaven.
What is your morning routine?
Chris: I am a morning person full of energy. This is a good thing because both of my kids play hockey and often I am driving them to practice well before the sun gets up. When not chauffeuring, I am making breakfast for my family and taking the dog out before heading to the office.
David: I wake up between 5:30 and 6 and catch up on things on my iPad. Then I get things done at the house so I can get out the door by 7. Arrive at the office downtown before 8, then fight to not have my Starbucks hot chocolate. Then get things done until meetings start around 9:30.
David: Travelling. It is a passion. I have a long way to go to catch up to Chris and his family, though.
Chris: Travelling is definitely a hobby, but I am running out of new places to see. My kids are 11 and 13 and have already visited over 75 countries. I am closer to 125 myself. In fact, Mrs. Hobbs and I were discussing the next place to visit, which is a toss-up between Western Africa and Tajikistan.
Chris: Going with The Great One (99): “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
David: “Have fun storming the castle.” You can’t go wrong with The Princess Bride.
Best advice ever received?
David: Many people are two paycheques away from living on the street. That was from my mom. She taught me consideration and respectfulness.
Chris: Funny. I just read what David wrote, and it is what I wanted to share: “Most people are two paycheques away from living on the street.” My mom taught us a lot in terms of humility, empathy and respect.
Your worst job ever?
Chris: I have been very lucky to have loved the majority of my jobs. When I was in high school, I worked at a nursery (the plant type) and had a boss who thought it was fine to make us wash his boat or car for free on our days off. Not really a fan of that situation, but a lesson here: if you aren’t happy, look for change. I decided the nursery wasn’t for me and jumped straight to a job at Splashdown Waterpark as a lifeguard, which I continued to do for the next seven summers and made some of the best friends ever.
David: I have never had a bad job.
If you could be an animal, what would you be?
David: A dog, without question. I can’t think of a happier creature.
Chris: I want to be my parents’ dog. He has a pretty comfortable life.