A Work Week in XR

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May 3, 2024
A week in XR

A Work Week in XR

We sat down with UI/UX Designer Chris Hurley to talk about his interest in Spatial Computing and where he sees the industry moving forward.

For the purpose of this interview we will be using the term XR (Extended Reality) to encompass Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Spatial Computing.

When did you start to become interested in XR?

When I first moved to California in 2016, I attended an event at USC (University of Southern California) that was heavily focused on VR gaming. At that event, I knew this technology would have the potential to make lasting impacts on users.

What headsets have you used/owned? Which headset has been your favorite?

I have been lucky enough to attend a number of events in Los Angeles that have allowed me to use a variety of headsets. Personally my first headset I bought was the Playstation VR back in 2016. I grew up gaming so it felt like a natural fit to buy Sony’s first headset. Since then I have bought a Playstation VR2 (PS VR2), Meta Quest 2 which I bought for my father-in-law but kept for a long time for extensive “testing”, and most recently I bought myself a Meta Quest 3. 

From a pure product form product and technical standpoint I really enjoy the PS VR2. There is something truly amazing about the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers in the PS VR2 in the sense controllers and headset. The level of immersion the haptics create is something I haven’t experienced in other headsets. The foveated rendering abilities within the PS VR2 are also extraordinary made possible by the internal eye tracking. If you are unfamiliar with foveated rendering, it renders what the user is focused on at the highest level of graphic fidelity while rendering what the user is not focusing at a lower fidelity. This increases the stability and performance of the app. What is amazing about it is, it happens so quickly that you don’t notice it happening as a user.

Since getting it a few weeks ago I have been using my Meta Quest 3 almost daily for a variety of tasks and entertainment. I would say the Meta Quest 3 has quickly become my go to headset since it is an untethered stand alone product.

What are some of your favorite XR apps?

I have been using the immersed spatial computing app almost daily in my work. Having the ability to have multiple monitors at various different sizes anywhere has been liberating for me as a remote worker. I no longer feel constrained to my home studio where I have a multiple monitor setup since I am able to create my setup anywhere. For example, the other day a friend, who lives across town, and I had dinner. To beat the notorious Los Angeles traffic, I left my house at lunch and finished my work day at his place. Using this app has provided me with even more freedom to work physically and virtually anywhere.

From a more casual fun side, I have really been enjoying Walkabout Mini Golf VR. The game is incredibly fun and the courses are so fantastical and creative. A few of my family members and friends who live in different parts of the country own headsets now and it’s been a fantastic game to play together and have time to connect.

What are you most excited about with XR?

So far, a lot of the conversations around XR have been framed around gaming and entertainment. While I love gaming, I am most excited about the applications of XR outside of entertainment specifically in the education and training spaces. The most effective way to learn and retain something new is to do it. I think creating educational experiences where the user has the ability to virtually try to do a task opens a whole new world of possibilities where we will see students more engaged in learning. Creating educational applications in XR also can remove barriers to learning as well. For example the app PianoVision teaches you how to play the piano without needing to own or have access to a piano. Of course, I don’t think this will replace the need of a physical piano or piano teacher to get to a higher level, but for someone who just wants to explore learning the piano I think it’s a great first step.

What are some challenges that you see with XR?

Even though there has been mainstream consumer facing technology for a few years now, it feels like we are still in the early stages of XR. We as Designers and Developers are still working through the best ways to create for this platform. It feels a little bit like the wild west of technology right now, which is equally exciting and challenging.

What are your thoughts on the Apple VisionPro coming out next month?

I am so excited for the Apple VisionPro! I haven’t had a chance to try it myself just yet but I have been consuming any and all content available around it. Apple has always had such care for the design of their hardware and software that I think is going to reflect in the VisionPro. It seems like Meta and Apple seem to be going for different strategies. Meta appears to be more consumer friendly for wider adoption at its price point in comparison to the Apple VisionPro which feels like it is going to be a more premium product. Regardless, I think having both of these titans in tech in the XR space will only benefit XR as a whole. I think they are both going to feed off one another creating more optimal experiences for users.

Who are some people you follow in the XR community?

There are a number of great people I follow in the XR space. I really enjoy everything from Michelle Cortese. Michelle is a Design Lead Manager at Meta as well as an Adjunct Professor at NYU specializing in VR Design. I really appreciate her academic approach in not just making for VR but studying best practices and how users interact and engage in the space as well. I highly recommend watching her 2023 Config Conference talk, Designing next-gen user interfaces.

Andrew Bosworth who is the Chief Technology Officer at Meta is another great person to follow. Andrew has a fantastic podcast Boz To The Future which has some great guests on it as well as regularly hosts AMAs (Ask Me Anything) on his Instagram.

The YouTube channel Matteo311 is great to follow for the latest VR news too.

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