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Jestr is led by founders Chase Bowman and Seth Johnson. Both grew up in Pennsylvania. Chase now lives in Prague, Seth in Los Angeles.

Neither founder has roots in the computer industry. They’re professional cinematographers. They met twenty years ago at film school and have been close friends and collaborators ever since. Over the years they’ve traveled and worked together on film projects in the US, Europe, and Asia. 

Seth and Chase began their careers just as digital cinema cameras and LED lights were transforming the film industry. They were eager early adopters of these new technologies. They were among the first to own a Red One digital camera, early users of camera drones, and they began experimenting with new ways to control and use LED lights that were rapidly becoming the standard on film sets. 

Chase is also a drummer and DJ. When the first HoloLens came out in 2016, he invented ways to control lights and trigger audio clips simultaneously while drumming. 

Adopting the HoloLens to filmmaking was the next logical step. In 2019 Seth began writing Unity code to develop a better way to control lights on set. Seth is also a gamer and recognized that the environments he and Chase were creating were more satisfying as immersive entertainment than what VR and AR had to offer. 

The excitement and promise of harnessing AR for controlling lights inspired these old friends to new heights. After twenty years of working together, they approach difficult design problems as “one brain.” New ideas flow easily and, even now, every time they get together they birth a new idea.




The set of principles Chase and Seth follow to guide the development of Jestr helps explain how they arrived at a new control paradigm for spatial computing. These principles grew out of their interests and experience, but also out of their frustrations with current controllers. 

They’re frustrated with the technical complexity of legacy control systems that hinder the flow of artistic expression. Spatial computing has the potential to open new worlds of creativity, but the potential can’t be realized so long as we’re stuck with the old interface metaphors—emulations of desktops and screens and hardware controllers—that persist on XR platforms. They also seek to develop applications that avoid the isolation and constraints of VR and the triviality of most AR apps.

Their answer to these frustrations is to invent their own interface.

The first principle of Jestr design is “clear view” — eliminating all virtual objects, menus, and simulated buttons, sliders and knobs floating in virtual space. This derives from their original design imperative for filmmakers who require an unobstructed view of the entire set as they adjust the lighting. 

The instant generation of commands from hand gestures originated with Chase’s need to execute commands while drumming—there’s no time to fumble with menu hierarchies or even point and click.

The insistence on fluid progression from gesture to gesture (“flow control”) can be traced to their desire to keep the user experience moving forward, as in video games, and from filmmaking where they learned the value of narrative for keeping the viewer immersed in the experience. It also comes from an appreciation of the flow arts—juggling, dancing, fire spinning, poi balls, hula hooping—where expressive movement and mastery are a source of joy. 


Beginning with the first experiments, Chase and Seth saw the HoloLens as a magical, high-tech way to have fun. They adopted a sorcery metaphor, and developed features to play at being wizards, casting spells, and wielding magical powers. The glowing, swirling holograms contribute to the magic and inspired the principle “pixies in the pixels” to honor holograms as magical helpmates. Another example is “conjure and cast,” which is the sequence for selecting and transmitting a color to lights, and is the basis of many Jestr command sequences.

Jestr proves that the sorcery metaphor can successfully replace the old desktop/screens metaphor. Spatial computing feels like magic, with its 3D layered realities, tight integration with external devices, and the way it responds instantly to human gestures. The Jestr interface puts the user into the center of the magic playing the wizard role. 

Exploiting the HoloLens as a toy was a detour from the original objective of creating a tool for filmmaking and stage lighting. But Chase and Seth quickly realized that by prioritizing the fun and magic they were, at the same time, inventing valuable tools suitable for professional applications. This “toy to tool” principle yielded results time after time. And, following the joy led them to discover ways for controlling smart devices that were not only practical, but were also fun and easy to use. 

Toy-to-tool is the source of the Jestr slogan “practical magic.”


In 2019 Chase and Seth hired the law firm DLA Piper to search the US patent landscape, expecting to discover other inventors working on the same concepts. To their surprise, the search came up empty. They collected everything they’d created to date and filed a patent application in 2020. The first patent was issued in 2023.

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