In honor of International Women’s Day, we would like to highlight a few of the women making strides in the world of augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The New School is known for being pioneers in new technology and these women are at the cusp of these explorations and innovations.
Dr. Helen Papagiannis is a leading expert in the field of augmented reality. She has been recognized for her work in this field for several years and was featured on 2011 Tedx Top 10 talks on AR and Gamified Life.
In an interview with Toronto Life, Papagiannis responded to a question about the future of AR saying, “I often compare augmented reality to the emergence of cinema. At first, people marveled at the technology and content was secondary. We’re still in the early days of augmented reality, still defining the conventions, and it’s wide open right now. There are so many opportunities for AR to be built into our daily lives. It’s an excellent time right now for storytellers, engineers and artists to develop ways to use this technology. I’m excited to see how these tools can expand our human capacity and change our lives.”
Tricia Clarke-Stone is the CEO and co-founder of Narrative, a creative, tech and innovation agency that works with brands like UnderArmour, JCPenney and Universal Pictures. Clarke-Stone is featured in a Girls in Tech article highlighting the top women to watch in VR. With a focus on branding and marketing she says, “VR allows you to truly create an immersive experience that can dimensionalize a story. Imagine, just a few years ago, we only had a few platforms to tell stories: radio, TV, digital. But today, technology is redefining how brands find, use, and bring their voice to life.”
Debra Anderson is an Arts, Media, and Technology Adjunct Faculty at Parsons and Co-founder of Datavized, a WebVR software company building a data-driven publishing platform for the 3D web. WebVR is an API that provides access to VR in web browsers and allows for Datavized to create a more “nuanced data storytelling.” Debra currently teaches a course called “Digital Dev: Web VR.” This class explains the building blocks of the VR web while exploring the fundamentals, motivations, and technical components of the Immersive Web.
Colleen Macklin is a game designer and an Arts, Media, and Technology at Parsons Associate Professor of Media Design. She is also the founder and co-director of PETLab (Prototyping Education and Technology Lab) here at the New School. In the recent Immersive Storytelling Symposium, Macklin, who usually focuses her gaming on reality instead of virtual reality, asks the question, “…could VR enable us to surpass the rigidity of our own bodies and identities?” Pulling from the words of Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto, can we fulfill “the utopian dream of the hope for a monstrous world without gender?” Macklin is currently teaching a class at the New School called “Gaming the System: The Political Potential of Play.” She uses play as a way to re-imagine the world and focuses on game creation to do so. It will be interesting to see how the future of VR will affect this course.
With AR/VR still in its early stage, women are making this field one of the most diverse sectors of the male-dominated tech space as Dayna Evans says in a recent New York magazine article. It will be great to continue to see how women shape the world of AR/VR.