NR50: The Influencers to Watch in Augmented & Mixed Reality

The Influencers to Watch in Augmented & Mixed Reality

When building anything of a social nature, be it a local roller derby or softball team, a club dance night for chiptune, or building new technology markets, the community around those ideas are an important factor in helping these things not only come into existence but to grow into something that enlightens everyone involved. The community around an idea can actually make or break these new ventures — and this applies to augmented and mixed reality as well.

Community growth can come down to many factors. Evangelizing and marketing, while arguably different sides of the same coin, both help in making people outside a community aware of its existence. As people become familiar with these communities, making them easily accessible and welcoming are also very important to growth.

In the case of augmented and mixed reality, while made up of many smaller groups, the community as a whole has grown at a noticeably impressive rate in the last year. Here are a few of the many evangelist and enablers that are helping support our community. All of these names will appear next week in Next Reality's upcoming list of 50 People to Watch in Augmented and Mixed Reality.

Aileen McGraw

Having graduated Northwestern University with BA degrees in Creative Writing and Communication and Media Studies in 2015, McGraw is one of the youngest names you'll find on this list. A writer and content strategist, she began working with Microsoft in 2015 writing the copy for their Affordable Access Initiative.

Image via Aileen McGraw

A year later, she transitioned into the HoloLens Storyteller and Product Marketing Manager role and has not looked back. She has also written for some millennial favorite outlets, such as Chickpea Magazine and the Huffington Post.

Jesse McCulloch

Jesse McCulloch is the owner of a studio in Oregon called Roarke Software that is focused primarily on Windows Mixed Reality applications. He is also the creator of the highly popular, super active, and amazingly helpful HoloDevelopers server on Slack.

Image via Roarke Software

Since coming online in the summer of 2016, the HoloDevelopers server on Slack has become the primary place to get real-time feedback from fellow Windows Mixed Reality developers. As a result, the server has seen massive growth in its lifespan.

When Roarke Software is not busy with their many mixed reality projects, including medical education and space-based prototypes, McCulloch also directly mentors those who are looking to increase their knowledge base in what he calls "open office hours." He can also be found doing speaking engagements evangelizing for the technology and getting would-be developers started in the process.

Neal Stephenson

Chief Futurist of Magic Leap is non-other than popular New York Times best-selling American author and game designer Neal Stephenson. His speculative fiction is wide ranging in styles and genres, but he is most known for his cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk works like much lauded and highly influential Snow Crash, as well as its follow-up The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.

Image by Bob Lee/Flickr

Much like novelist and Stephenson'slong-time nemesis William Gibson, the influence of Stephenson's work in the tech world is hard to deny. A resounding use of the term Metaverse, a virtual environment setting from his book Snow Crash, has been noticeable in regards to augmented and mixed reality for some time now.

As a member of the Magic Leap team, Stephenson's role is primarily content development oriented. But that is really all that is known up to this point, even though he's been signed on since late-2014. Magic Leap is, up to this point, famous for being secretive, and it continues to show with Stephenson's work.

Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble received his BS in Journalism from San Jose State University, and is a well-known blogger and evangelist for post-reality technologies who recently added author to his repertoire with the release of his book The Fourth Transformation: How Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Will Change Everything (co-authored by Shel Israel).

Image by Heisenberg Media/Flickr

Scoble can be seen live-streaming from his Facebook page frequently, showing off the newest technology that comes his way. He also streams live group discussions with others from the field producing very lively and passionate debates about the transformation that is currently in process.

Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich is not only a fixture of the finance sector for the technology but also an active member of the augmented reality development community. As a financier, he is a partner and investor at Super Ventures, the first venture capital fund and incubator devoted to augmented reality. As a community builder, he has founded We Are Wearables and co-produces the Augmented World Expo (AWE).

Image via Tom Emrich

His influence is underscored by speaking engagements at major conferences and expert testimony in global media outlets. With his extensive résumé in technology, it may be ironic that Tom holds a BA degree in English Literature from the University of Waterloo.

Vanessa Arnauld

Vanessa Arnauld, who holds a Masters in Business and Marketing, joined the Microsoft team in 2008 as an Audience Marketing Manager out of Paris, France, until 2013 when she came to Redmond to become a Senior Marketing Manager for the Windows Store. In 2015, she added Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft HoloLens to her current position.

Image via Vanessa Arnauld

Developers are her focus, and Arnauld can often be found at events like the Game Developers Conference (GDC) spreading the word. She's also always on the HoloLens development forums finding answers to problems or finding the right person for the answer.

My main objective is all about developers and the community — your success is my success. I want to ensure you have the tools, the resources, the knowledge, the connections, the network, the skills, the passion, the vision — the path to be successful.

And success means different things to different people. Some are looking for the technical challenge, some are looking to learn and ramp up on new skills, some want to start a business, some want to sell their services (work for hire), some want to extend their portfolio, etc.

To do so, to me it's a two-way conversation — an ongoing two-way conversation. I listen, I learn from you, I observe. I take that feedback and input and act on it. I say "I" but I should say "we" — our team is constantly listening and learning from you all. You surprise us, you delight us, you challenge us, you push our boundaries. This constant listening is what drives our activities online and offline.

— Vanessa Arnauld in an interview with Next Reality

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Cover photo by Heisenberg Media/Flickr

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