Professional Development Plan @ Industrial Design, 8 March 2021

This Professional Development Plan is made entirely in 3d, because who needs boring, two-dimensional (accessible?) documents?

Let’s go back to text, I have a lot of deadlines to work towards and this takes a bit too much time 🙂

Intuitive spatial design tools suck too, but we can change that

In order to design these spatial interfaces, intuitive 3d design tools need to be readily available. I have been setting up incredibly complex workflows in Blender to facilitate augmented reality design, but these are simply not enjoyable and cumbersome to use. The alternative is to use tools like Reality Composer, which allow you to place objects directly in AR, but this app too is incredibly frustrating and limiting to use.  

That is why I am currently working on a little start-up called shapeAR. The goal is to create an augmented reality 3d design app for iOS devices that actually works. It works solely in augmented reality, with the advent of Apple creating increasingly capable devices that provide consistent tracking. This allows for incredibly intuitive AR-native tools, which allow the user to design anything in AR. 

I envision shapeAR to go beyond the current iOS lineup when Apple decides to create their AR glasses and my goal is to have a capable application that can simply be ported to that new device. After I develop an initial prototype together with my team I want to get investors on board on this vision and see how far I can take it with more specialised talent. 

Making myself useful in the meantime

Because I can’t just start working on an app for an entire year without doing anything else, I also have a client that I do work for in the form of projects. I am currently doing Project Smart Base AR and Technology Center Land AR / VR visualisatie at Ministerie van Defensie Nederland. The goal is to help them visualise their project towards stakeholders to get an idea of what it is going to look like and to facilitate discussions. I do this through the use of augmented reality and virtual reality (surprise 😉 ). 

Project III Research at Industrial Design

And last but not least, Project III Research is the third thing I am currently working on together with other students. In this, we want to research how in the future people will dress and present themselves when spatial computing ( surprise, again 😉 )has become a part of our everyday lives. We also want to research the impact of this on mental health, social connection, segmentation, inclusion and other to be discussed things. 

Planning

Having these different projects at the same time forces me to plan carefully how much time I spend in each project and has already taught me a lot in terms of load balancing and clearly communicating to others and myself when I am working on a certain project. 

And what do I learn from all of this?

I never want to learn for the sake of learning, and my current activities are a result of that. I want to think and design for the future and I see incredible potential in augmented reality. I am not afraid that I am specialising too much in one direction, because the skills I am currently learning are far more valuable and go way beyond the technology I am using. I am learning how to cooperate with team members, structure work weeks, work on projects with stakeholders and real consequences and work on products I actually believe in. I couldn’t care less about ticking off the box “Business and Entrepreneurship”, but now that I am actually doing it, I find it incredibly motivating and interesting to learn about. The same goes for the other expertise areas. 

Values next to work

I also love creating 3d art and beautifully weird 3d environments. Next to a designer I would also classify myself as an artist, even though because of the design projects I have less time to spend on creating art. I love composing and improvising on piano as well, because music is an amazing creative outlet. Lastly, I climb, walk, run, do work-outs and listen to podcasts to unwind. (I also tend to spend a bit too much time on the internet — YouTube and Hackernews)

Future

In the near future, I want to be designing spatial interfaces and applications at either a start-up or one of the “Big Five” in the bay area. An internship or entry level position as an XR-designer would be amazing. For that purpose I am currently trying to build up a portfolio. That will be my main priority this academic year and next year. I think my start-up, combined with the projects at Mindef will help get me towards this goal. After having finished the Mindef projects I will focus more on — e.g. do a full nose dive into — creating interesting XR interaction concepts using VFX, Hololens things and VR. 

After that, I don’t really know. Maybe I want to be an independent artist, filmmaker, or musician. Maybe I will go into politics or urban design. I also have always wanted to be an architect, so that would be amazing as well. Anyway, those are things I want to explore once I have experienced proper financial stability. 

At the TU/e I have also been inspired by being a researcher. I can most definitely also see myself churning out papers about spatial computing, the impact that would have on our social relations and wellbeing, as well as more technical foundational work. I don’t know, maybe someday. 

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