The Women of AR+VR: Ones to Watch

8 women you should be following in augmented and virtual reality

By Emily Friedman

For the final week of Women’s History Month and last installment of AWE’s 4-part Women in AR+VR blog series, we introduce you to 8 women who are shaping the future of the XR industry as designers, writers, consultants, producers and entrepreneurs. As we transition into April, we should continue to celebrate women’s contributions to history, culture and society but also act to ensure more women are encouraged and empowered to contribute to the future. In the years to come, may the pioneers, community builders and influencers, founders, and rising stars we have featured over the past 30 days on the AWE Blog – along with the many others who deserved to be on here – be themselves celebrated for changing history!

Daniela Paredes Fuentes is an innovation designer-entrepreneur and the Co-founder and Director of Gravity Sketch, a 3D drawing tool that makes product design easier and quicker. Originally from Mexico, Daniela graduated from the Royal College of Art, where the idea for Gravity Sketch was formed. The solution enables designers to sketch 3D models in the air using augmented and virtual reality, which is not only cool but also cuts down on the time it takes to experiment and create. Given her passion for creating experiences that seamlessly and interestingly marry the physical and digital worlds, Daniela is likely to keep developing innovative software drawing on science, engineering and design.

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A longtime XR evangelist and speaker, Amy Peck’s personal mission is to see augmented and virtual reality improve every aspect of our lives (#VRARForAll). As Founder and CEO of EndeavorVR, Amy works with enterprise, commercial and educational organizations to leverage VR/AR along with mentoring startups and developers in the space. She holds several advisory roles, is Co-Chair of the VRARA Enterprise Committee, and is an active member of Women in Tech, Women in AR/VR and Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn Circles. Before founding her own global strategy and consulting firm, Amy ran the enterprise division at Leap Motion. She is definitely one to watch in the enterprise XR space!

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Sara Lisa Vogl is the Co-founder and CTO of XRBASE, a VR/AR incubator space with hubs in Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris that empowers creators working at the intersection of art and technology to push the boundaries of XR experiences. Ever since the Oculus Rift DK1, Sara has been fascinated by XR. While part of the Hamburg-based VR Nerds collective, she made her debut as the first VR Shaman when she guided an HTC Vive user through a 48-hour virtual trip she had curated. Sara teaches at Design Factory International in Hamburg and is active in the independent VR gaming scene. She set up her own XR space to inspire and help other visionaries bring their alternate reality projects to life.

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An entrepreneurial product marketer and early VR evangelist, Helen Situ was one of the first employees at NextVR. For three years, she traveled the world giving business leaders their first virtual reality experiences. She led the first team to use VR cameras to livestream the NBA and helped grow NextVR into the leading live VR entertainment company. Today, Helen is the Founder and Editor of Virtual Reality Pop, a fast-growing virtual reality and immersive technology publication. She has spoken at popular conferences like Comic-Con and Game Developer Conference, has been featured in USA Today and Yahoo Tech, and sits on the SXSW Accelerator Advisory Board. Helen makes our list for her continued exploration of untapped opportunities in the VR industry.

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Irena Cronin is the President and CEO of augmented and virtual reality consulting company Spout Reality and the Head of Research and Innovation at Transformation Group, which helps brands understand and use AR. In addition to researching and meeting with VR/AR companies and investors, Irena is the creator and administrator of the largest private VR group on Facebook, a frequent keynote speaker, a mentor for both Prez and the WXR Venture Fund, and a master of languages (she’s nearly fluent in Mandarin). As a consultant and educator, Irena is guiding and shaping the future of the XR industry.

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Rachel Metz has worked as a technology journalist for over a decade. She was a technology writer for The Associated Press, a crime and tech freelancer for The New York Times, and even freelanced for Wired. She is now the Senior Editor for Mobile at MIT Technology Review, where her beat includes startups and research projects that are defining new technologies and innovating with existing tech. Rachel is often first to cover breaking news, pick up on new technology trends, and discover up-and-coming startups. As a writer she serves as a voice for the VR/AR industry, spreading the work of innovators and raising heavy but important topics like what it means to live in an increasingly connected world.

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With two decades of experience in business, media, production, creative direction and photography in the fashion and beauty industries as well as for women’s causes around the globe, Sybil Steele was already accomplished before entering the world of XR. Noticing a lack of inspiring and positive female-focused content, she founded Temme Media in 2016. Temme, which Sybil runs as Creative Director from NEW INC (New Museum’s NYC incubator), is an immersive media studio dedicated to informing and inspiring women through VR/AR. With Temme (a play on the words tech and femme), Sybil is helping to create a female voice within the XR space. The studio’s first VR film, “Mothers of the Atlas,” documents the decline of material and infant mortality rates with the introduction of mobile ultrasounds in rural Morocco. The film premiered at the U.N. and Social Good Summit in New York in Fall 2016.

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Emily Olman is the Founder and CEO of Hopscotch Interactive, a company that creates immersive 3D content for property marketing. She makes our list for hitting the ground running in a hot market for virtual and augmented reality: Real Estate. In addition to being a VR/AR evangelist and consultant, Emily is a real estate and 3D/VR photographer and regular expert speaker on VR/AR in Real Estate. She is the Co-president of the VR/AR Association San Francisco Chapter; member of the VRARA’s Real Estate Committee that works to set standards and best-practices worldwide; and moderator of the Official Matterport User, AR/VR Women and Allies, and Real Estate VR/AR News groups on Facebook.