Day 2: Extended Reality
1 - Introduction
Meet Abi J and Mo, our hosts for the day, who will introduce you to the world of Extended Reality with our team of experts from BT and UrbanXR:
2 - Extended Reality with Adam, Alex, Anasol, Ozkan, Tiago & Roly
Key qualifications: GCSEs. A-Levels in Maths, Psychology, Physics and Economics. BSc in Digital and Technology Solutions.
What does your job involve? I look at how we can use/develop new technologies to benefit BT. I am always learning new things which I really enjoy and the best thing I have done as part of my job so far was travelling to Valencia to present some work at an international conference.
How did you get into your current role? Studied my A-levels at Northgate Sixth Form and then applied for the apprenticeship scheme as an alternative way to get a degree. For the first 2 years I did 6 month rotations in different teams and having now finished the apprenticeship scheme I am staying in the team that I spent the second two years of my apprenticeship working in.
What did you want to be when you were younger? When I was really young I wanted to be a fireman, but as I got older I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I just kept doing things which interested me and which I thought would give me a diverse skillset so I would have the freedom to choose later on.
What do you do outside work? I love playing sport, my favourite ones being basketball, tennis and swimming. I also love driving and in 2019 I did a road trip around Europe where I visited 7 different countries and travelled over 2000 miles in 2 weeks!
Key qualifications: BSc Games programming
What does your job involve? I do research and development into interactive and immersive related applications - how they can be used to enhance future experiences around a whole range of areas. Currently trying to understand and work on the Metaverse as we know it. My main role is that of a Games Engine developer to produce demos and proof of concepts with particular focus on AR and VR applications. I support various other software related development and customer demonstrations too.
How did you get into your current role? Between my 2nd and 3rd years of University, I did a summer internship with BT where I spent around 3 months working in my current team in a similar role. I was then invited to join BT as part of the 2-year Graduate Scheme once I had finished University with a position being available to join back into this team again.
What did you want to be when you were younger? Something around either a technical developer or engineer.
What do you do outside work? I am an avid gamer. Working on developing and leading a small indie games company. I have released and published a game and looking to develop more.
Key qualifications: BEng, MSc, PhD, Senior Member of the IEEE
What does your job involve? My role in Applied Research involves looking at innovative technologies such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), wearables and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help transform BT's operations. I'm interested in emerging technology and how it can shape our future and provide opportunities for people.
How did you get into your current role? After getting my bachelor's degree, I worked in different roles in the e-banking sector. However, those positions didn't fulfil my desire to create and innovate, so I decided to study for a master's degree and later a PhD in Computer Science, where I had the freedom to research and learn new things. Once I finished, I led a Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP), a government-led programme to transfer knowledge from universities to industry. This programme led to my current position in Applied Research, where I can do exciting stuff with innovative technology applied to real-world problems.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I became interested in technology when I got my first computer as a kid and started playing computer games. I had to learn many commands to load the games, and I was intrigued about how the computer could understand that gibberish. That's when I decided I needed to know how computers work, and I chose to study computer science when I grew up.
What do you do outside work? Outside of work, I like doing sports and non-computer-related activities. I'm the person who will explore new hobbies until I find something I like. That allows me to disconnect from work and take inspiration from different fields. For example, I was part of a classical choir and sang twice with the Royal Choir Society at the "Classical Spectacular" in the Royal Albert Hall. I was part of a five-a-side amateur football team and a public speaking club competing locally with other teams/clubs in the area. I love dancing, and I'm currently learning 1930-40s American swing dance styles.
Key qualifications: BSc, MSc
What does your job involve? My research looks at how we can use AI and Immersive technologies to provide better tools to our employees such as field engineers. I love building prototypes for emerging technologies such as AR, VR & MR.
How did you get into your current role? I applied for my current role after completing a degree in Computer Science.
What did you want to be when you were younger? Archaeologist, I was always fascinated by lost civilisations and history.
What do you do outside work? I love baking and cooking. I recently got a puppy so I spend most of my time training him.
Key qualifications: Computer Science BSc, Software Engineering MSc
What does your job involve? I build Virtual Reality (VR) systems and apply them to cybersecurity. I've always been driven by immersive technologies and believe it will become the tool of the future. I focus on inventing new ways of augmenting the power of data scientists for better knowledge retention and to be able to protect our network.
How did you get into your current role? I joined BT as a Researcher to apply my VR and game dev knowledge and create new exciting VR projects in the cybersecurity area. I've enjoyed this challenge so much that I've now been working for BT almost 5 years.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I always had a fascination with the Seventh Art and wanted to be a Movie Director. However, I saw the potential that computers can also be a medium to share impactful stories and I believe VR can achieve that new dream.
What do you do outside work? I like indoor boulder climbing, exploring the countryside and meeting new people. At home, I like to play video games and work on my own personal projects (I even have my own YouTube channel and Podcast!).
Key qualifications: Electronic Engineering
What does your job involve? Investigation and research into multimedia systems, video and audio production, future TV production and broadcast content delivery. Special interest in Extended Reality (XR) systems and content, previously focusing on VR360-degree live video and now looking at volumetric video capture, production and delivery.
How did you get into your current role? After completing school, I joined the 3-year BT Apprenticeship scheme, during which I qualified as an Electronics Engineer. My first role after graduation was in a Video and Digital Communications lab, building then designing circuit boards for various BT research projects. I moved into an IT support role and then IT Network support managing large research networks and systems. I had an interest in video production and editing so began researching video and audio communications systems and have been doing this ever since.
What did you want to be when you were younger? An inventor.
What do you do outside work? I have had a life-long interest in photography; related to this is my interest in video production and editing; I have owned personal computers since I was very young and this now links everything together for digital production of both. I am increasingly interested in music engineering and production. To balance all of this 'indoor' activity I ride motorbikes.
What is Mixed Reality (MR)? How does it differ from Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR)?
A term that encompasses all of these technologies is XR which stands for Extended Reality, although these technologies can also be referred to as immersive technologies. Currently, most of the XR applications are primarily focused on visual content, but they can also include haptic (touch), auditory (sound), olfactory (smell) and other senses.
Virtual Reality (VR) refers to computer-generated content that fully replaces reality. For users to achieve a feeling of being there (or psychological immersion) it generally renders high-definition content and places the user in it.
Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the real world, allowing users to interact with the real world whilst looking at an additional layer of information generally through a mobile phone or a headset.
Mixed reality allows interaction between real and virtual elements in real time as if they existed in the same space and time.
What research are BT currently doing on AR, VR or MR technologies?
BT is currently doing research in using AR and MR to support our engineers in the field when doing provision or maintenance tasks, presenting them with the right information at the right time, and guiding them through the tasks. We have used VR to train our engineers, allowing them to learn and experiment using simulations of key network equipment anytime in a safe environment. We are pioneers in how we can use XR technologies for supporting immersive broadcasting, including sports and other events. BT has also trialled remote health using 5G connectivity with AR, connecting patients with remote doctors and specialists. Finally, we have used VR to connect security analysts remotely using a virtual Security Operations Centre (VSOC), removing the constraint of a physical location, whilst allowing multi-user collaboration for data analysis to better detect or respond to security threats.
3 - Have a go activities
4 - Career profiles
Key qualifications: Undertaking a BSc Digital and Technology Solutions Degree with the University of Exeter.
What does your job involve? I have rotated through several different teams during my apprenticeship. Covering AR & VR development for immersive training and asset manipulation, data analysis and optimisation of TV viewing data, research and investigation into anomaly detection for a research paper and building a data pipeline for network optimisation.
How did you get into your current role? I joined BT as a Research apprentice in 2019. I did several work experience placements while in high school and college so I knew which apprenticeship I wanted to apply for. My apprenticeship finishes in 2023 at which point I will join a team within Research as a Research Professional.
What did you want to be when you were younger? A Civil engineer. My college course was in engineering but also covered computing which led me to apply to BT.
What do you do outside work? Going to the gym after work, as well as taking up 3D printing & design as a hobby which has now become part of my job!
Key qualifications: BSc Digital and Technology Solutions with Hons, A-Levels: Maths, Further Maths, Computer Science and Physics
What does your job involve? I do research into the area of software and software development, looking into how we develop software currently and how we can make it easier and more efficient. This can involve either taking the newest inventions from other people or developing my own solutions and implementing them into BT.
How did you get into your current role? After completing my A-Levels at Sixth Form, I enrolled on the Applied Research Degree Apprenticeship at BT where I got to experience research in many different areas. Of these areas, I enjoyed working with the Software Research team so I decided to join them full time when my apprenticeship finished.
What did you want to be when you were younger? When I was really young I wanted to be an Archaeologist or Palaeontologist but as I got older I started to enjoy new technology and wanted a job that allowed me to use and experience that.
What do you do outside work? I love listening to music, particularly rock and metal, and I enjoy keeping active, whether it be walking the dog in the countryside to playing sports. Travelling is a particular hobby of mine, learning about a place's history or enjoying local foods are my favourite things to do.
Key qualifications: BA(Hons) Three Dimensional Design
What does your job involve? I lead a multidisciplinary research team that create, test and trial innovative immersive Extended Reality services with our customers. We’re currently exploring how 5G and cloud-rendering technologies can enable future work and entertainment Metaverse experiences.
How did you get into your current role? Following a summer placement, I joined the BT Human Factors Unit as an Industrial Designer. My work initially focused on the design of physical products, which then over the next decade evolved into researching User Interfaces for emerging technologies such as VR.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I always wanted to be a creative designer... so, I guess I have my dream job!
What do you do outside work? I do a lot of DIY, renovating an old house.
Key qualifications: HND, HNC, BT Apprenticeship.
What does your job involve? My team specialises in creating innovative virtual and augmented reality experiences.
How did you get into your current role? I completed my A levels alongside an Electronics and Computing course at Suffolk college, and in the second year I worked a day a week at BT. I enjoyed it so much that I joined as an apprentice.
What did you want to be when you were younger? Something technical, I was particularly interested in networks.
What do you do outside work? I used to play football, now I enjoy watching it.
Key qualifications: MEng
What does your job involve? My job involves investigation of new technologies, development of proof of concepts and demos, and generating intellectual property such as patents.
How did you get into your current role? I had a summer placement job at BT while at Univeristy, and then joined as a graduate.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I wanted to work in a technology, science or engineering related area.
What do you do outside work? Cycling, walking, reading, and parenting.
5 - UrbanXR
Key qualifications: ARB Architect, Circuit Stream Unity Dev.
What does your job involve? I design and develop large scale augmented reality experiences for exhibitions and outdoor events, and also help builders use mixed reality in construction projects. The best thing about my job is seeing people’s positive reactions to stuff we design when they see it overlaid on the real world!
How did you get into your current role? I trained as a building architect and worked as one for over 20 years after I qualified from university! Training as an architect at university took 7 years. When I set up my own business, I wanted to look to the future and how we will experience and design towns and cities. Extended Reality (XR) was the thing that really jumped out at me! Initially we used Microsoft Hololens headsets on construction sites but then moved quickly into using phones and tablets for public AR work (similar in ways to Pokemon go, so outside). I have found that the skills I learnt as an architect are very transferable to the tech world. I did pay to take a course to learn how to use Unity Game Engine with Circuit Stream online. This was so I knew a bit about the work the game developers were doing with me.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I think I wanted to write adventures for Dungeons and Dragons! I loved stories and fantasy worlds and making models. I nearly went to Art College but decided that Architecture would make use of my interest in science, stories and making things!
What do you do outside work? I make electronic music at home and do mad art projects with my youngest daughter who is 10. These usually involve big canvases (old Ikea table tops!) and lots and lots of random paint!
What is the best Augmented Reality project you've worked on so far?
It has to be the Smart City Experience we did for BT at their HQ in London and also at their Research HQ in Adastral Park near Ipswich. We set out AR screens with data feeds, video and animations around a scale model of central London. We also had animations running across the model relating to different aspects of the data. This project allowed us to deliver a never seen before AR experience that allowed BT to talk about Internet of Things (IoT) data gathering for Smart Cities in an engaging and interactive way for their clients. This project brought together lots of my passions: sustainable cities, design, data and augmented reality!
What is the most exciting use of AR, VR or MR you can see happening in the next 10 years?
I think communal, live, outdoor AR experiences are going to be a real turning point. To be able to see the same experience through phones or glasses is going to create new ways of hosting communal activities in towns and cities. AR glasses will be key to these shared experiences. Apple are working on a mixed reality headset for home use and will move onto AR glasses. Once their mixed reality headset is released sometime in the next 2 years, it could be a game-changer for the industry much like the iphone was.
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