The women who have made innovations in Virtual Reality
Article by: Stephen McQuaide
When we think of people in the immersive tech industry, who comes to mind? It’s easy to look at the people endorsing the product, the people companies use to help market the product, but often times, we don’t think about the individuals who are innovating the immersive landscape, those working first-hand on the technology that makes this possible. It is important to spotlight these people, to bring attention to them, their hard work and accomplishments. To celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s look at four female figures who have set new standards for the industry through new technological developments as well as finding new and creative ways to implement VR in other settings.
To start with, there is Liv Erickson, who is currently a Senior Manager at Mozilla. She has extensive experience in software development for XR, 3D and metaverse technologies that contribute to the evolution of graphics and cloud computing. On top of that, she also has experience in management, strategic planning and collaborating with various teams.
Throughout her 12-year career, she has also worked for Microsoft and Amazon to develop and manage developments of various projects. In that timeframe, she has created several open-source VR and AR applications, a site that visualises Excel charts in 3D, co-developed the Digital Afterlife Project which addresses the challenges involving user data after the user themselves pass away and much more. She is currently working on Mozilla Hubs, a 3D collaboration platform inside a customisable space which works on desktop, mobile, VR and even on a browser.
Check out her other accomplishments through her LinkedIn.
Nicole Lazzaro founded XEODesign, Inc., a firm that consults with clients on how to increase engagement with play. They identify ways to improve engagement in gaming and develop an understanding of players and what motivates them in order to improve the experience. She has almost 30 years of experience in designing the player experience and virtual reality is no exception.
She has developed an XR experience called Follow the White Rabbit, a mind-bending VR puzzle adventure immersing the user into a magical spectacle. She also developed the first iPhone game to utilise the accelerometer that measures the acceleration of motion, which would pave the way for games like Doodle Jump. Other efforts include creating the 4 Keys to Fun, a model that insights on the important elements required to make a game fun and interesting and consulting with the Obama White House and the US State Department on how to use games to improve the state of our world.
Check out her other accomplishments through her LinkedIn.
Rosie Summers is a 3D animator at XR Games. Despite her career only being active in the last 5 years, she has made strides as an animator for VR projects. These include helping to bring worlds to life with titles such as Angry Birds Movie 2 VR: Under Pressure and Zombieland VR and most notably, carving out her own niche as a Virtual Reality Artist.
What comes with creating art in VR is the performance. She essentially draws an image while in the digital world through the use of motion controls, allowing her dynamic hand movements to paint the picture. As she paints, the development of the painting is shown to the audience on a screen, so they can see how it is being made in real-time. Because of this, her paintings translate into a live spectacle. These live paintings have been showcased for clients such as Facebook, National Football Museum, the BBC and Riot Games. She has attended a variety of festivals and workshops throughout the UK to spread the power of this medium to the wider audience.
Check out her own website to get an improved look at her skills and portfolio.
Yuka Kojima is the CEO and co-founder of FOVE, who made the first eye tracking VR headset. This means that the technology is able to capture the user’s eye movement in an accurate way, with one site even stating it as ‘Iron Man meets Oculus’. It will undoubtedly pioneer the technology and create the potential for even more immersive experiences.
In 2017, she made it into the top 100 list of most powerful women according to Forbes Japan and even made the front cover of the magazine. Before her success, she had set up a Kickstarter Campaign back in 2014 for the headset. She also previously worked at Sony Computer Entertainment Japan before leaving to branch out into VR.
Check out the FOVE website to discover more about her company.
Mersus Technologies have been producing VR experiences for the past 5 years, and are currently further developing our Avatar Academy platform. Several aspects of Avatar Academy require serious research and development of new systems, and our female staff members are integral to this.
Women are represented at every level of the Mersus team. We have female immersive developers, creative developers, concept designers, middle and senior management.
Mersus Technologies strives to create an environment in which all members of our community should expect to be able to thrive, be respected, and have a real opportunity to participate in and contribute to the company’s activities so that they can achieve their fullest potential. We are always seeking to increase the diversity of our team.
We understand that embracing diversity makes our workforce more innovative, resilient, and high-performing. We truly believe that teams that are as diverse as possible make better apps, and women play a crucial role in what is a traditionally male-dominated technology sector.
On International Women’s Day 2022, we look forward to a future where women are better represented across all technological fields. We in Mersus are doing our part.
Through Avatar Academy the women on our team play an integral role in setting new standards for the Immersive industry. The woman to keep an eye on for 2022 in the Immersive space are Palak, Fiona Moran, Polly Wong, and Brenda Mannion.