"The offices of the future will be completely different to how we currently work, and that's exciting."
Gerard Slee, iXperience Virtual Reality Head Teacher for 2018, expands on why VR is revolutionizing industries the world over, and how he's going to equip his 2018 class with the cutting-edge skills they need to know now.
Gerard Slee, iXperience VR Head Teacher
After qualifying at the University of Cape Town, Gerard worked for large architecture firms around the world; optimizing workflows and developing new methods of digital architectural presentation. Currently he runs the Tenebris Lab, a design collaborative that specializes in VR and AR software and games.
What are you working on now? Tell us about an exciting project that you’ve recently completed or are currently involved with.
Our flagship project at the Lab is called LUX Walker, a piece of Virtual Reality software that solves communication errors and improves workflows for people who work with 3D data. The aim is to develop a fully immersive 3D true-to-life scale representation of a design model for users to navigate through, and interact with, while in VR. This will change the landscape of communication between architects, developers and their clients.
What do you enjoy about the world of VR? What excites you about the industry?
Virtual Reality is exciting because it is still very much research-based, and the interactions are natural to design for. This means that anyone with some understanding of how things work in relation to the human body can develop interesting applications for VR. It thrills me to think that we can bring the world to people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience certain environments.
Students build VR Environments while interning
Why did you decide to get involved with teaching and how do you continue to keep things fresh?
I have always loved teaching. I was heavily involved with community outreach projects at school and often taught IT skills to those without access to hardware. At University, I mentored my peers in the areas of technology and software development. The key is to constantly look ahead at the technology on the horizon and not get too stuck in the present.
What are you looking forward to about iXperience this summer?
I'm looking forward to teaching a class of students who have a passion to learn something new. Getting these students to look a little differently at how the world works and making them understand technology, and the application of it, is also very rewarding. I also really like the iXperience team and their vision; it's always a pleasure to get to spend time with them.
How do you see VR changing in the next year to five years to ten years? Paint a picture of what our world might look like and how professionals should be equipping themselves.
While Virtual Reality is still in its infancy, the landscape is rapidly changing. Large companies already understand the benefit that VR can bring to training and data within their industries, which means it will be commonplace in the next 5-10 years. Developments, like eye tracking inside headsets, will enable us to understand how people use digital space, and thus will allow us to craft better experiences. Augmented Reality is also on the rise, and this should bring some transparency to a currently screen-based world. The offices of the future will be completely different to how we currently work, and that's exciting.
What skills will iX students have after graduating from your class?
Students will be able to tackle problems with a design-thinking approach, observe the world a little differently, and be equipped to prototype interactions within VR. We will cover the basics of 3D modeling, lighting, and audio design; and then combine these into interactive Virtual Reality worlds.
What’s one piece of advice that you have for the iX class of 2018?
Explore your thoughts, observe your environment, care for others.
What are your ‘desert island’ books or movies?
I would watch LOST on a deserted island, but I prefer an empty notebook over a novel.