After completing the Master of Design programme at Media Design School, I joined a creative tech start-up as one of the first employees. I’m a Senior XR Developer for their two companies: Virtually There Training and Cloned Reality. One is Australian based and the other based in New Zealand, each working within slightly different areas of XR (AR/VR), the Metaverse, NFTs and AI. Currently, one of my main projects is producing a series of VR training modules for a large Australian organisation, teaching new staff how to perform a variety of electrical maintenance tasks safely and efficiently in VR. My favourite one involves using a thermal imager to check for potential heat issues. We also have several VR, AR, and Metaverse projects coming up, that I can’t talk about just yet, but will be very cool!
I’m quite introverted (believe it or not) and lack confidence with my work, but one of the things that helped me a lot was pushing myself to go to events and network online and in person and have the confidence to share my work. This led to my current position and has also helped to bring in some work to our start-up. Even in the age of the metaverse and social media, I would absolutely recommend people to push themselves to network in person and build connections, especially within New Zealand and Australia. You never know where it will lead. And studying the Master of Design or postgraduate courses will help your confidence.
I couldn’t have completed the Masters without the excellent lecturers (and support from my fellow students). They were so knowledgeable and open about a range of technologies and themes. I thought I knew a lot about emerging tech and social issues until I started this course! I’ve been used to having my more outlandish ideas squashed, but with my lecturers at Media Design School, they didn’t reject them, but instead pushed me further, with each project becoming more creative and bolder than the last (if it was backed up with sound research of course). It honestly felt like they helped unlock my creativity that had long been repressed. I found the rapid succession of projects very useful, forcing me to act quickly and my skills with 3D, coding and XR improved dramatically as a result. I knew little about UX before the course, and the focus on it I found particularly useful, and something I found was lacking in XR. Bringing this UX methodology to my current role has been very beneficial.
Some of my memories of projects that stand out were an early interest in multisensory design with XR, which was encouraged. I wanted to push the format of a ‘presentations’ and started to make them multisensory, using ambient audio and aroma to set the tone. Finding slideshows limiting, I ended up creating my own interactive 3D presentation tool in Unity, with the presentations becoming more like a performance by the end. I developed the ‘VR Accessibility Kit’, a series of tools that provided low vision and blind accessibility for VR, choosing a multisensory dating VR app as the showcase for these tools! And the controversial ‘Smart Womb’, a speculative design piece satirically interrogating gender bias in design, genetic engineering and the ubiquity of 'smart' devices. As part of the final presentation, I created a wearable ‘smart womb’ prop, to be worn whilst using the VR app. It had a transparent front with LEDs, a baby doll inside and had realistic weight! It was fascinating to see how this changed a user’s movement and posture.