Key Influencers in VR 2021/2022

When you discover a new passion or hobby that you love, finding out more about it can sometimes be overwhelming. When you need to know more, whose voice do you trust? Who do you follow on social media? What influencers are worth your time? We’ve compiled our list, in alphabetical order, of the major players and key influencers in VR. It’s a varied list, comprised of different people with differing specialities. Key influencers, if you will, in this world of tech. Ready?! Here we go.

Robin Tommy,Tata Consultancy Services

Robin is a self proclaimed technology enthusiast with a passion to explore, experiment and experience – for him, that’s the purpose of technology. After encountering a child with cerebral palsy trying to walk downstairs in a block of flats, and then visiting a school for children with a range of medical conditions and physical disabilities, he was inspired to use technology to try and make their lives better. Namely, how to make physiotherapy more engaging and less painful, how to create union between learning and therapy, and how to create improvements in fine and gross motor control. Use gaming as the technology to make therapy fun, he and his team invented VHAB. VHAB is virtual rehabilitation platform that works by mapping the user’s entire body into a 3D avatar on screen, with multiple sensors around the room. It’s smart enough to adapt to each individual’s ability but provides enough challenge to increase that ability. Children play the games and participate in the activities without ever realising they are actually doing a therapy session! Currently, Robin is heading up TCS Rapid Labs for Tata Consultancy Services and working on a project for people with Parkinsons. 

Helen Papagiannis, Ph.D. XR Goes Pop

If you love VR, AR and business, this key player is worth checking out! Dr Helen boasts an impressive list of achievements and credentials, but she’s most known for her work on spatial and immersive computing. She works with the world’s leading corporations, advising on product development, future outlook, applications and trends, amongst others. Dr Helen is also a council member of the World Economic Forum Global Future on AR & VR helping to develop new insights, innovative ideas, and recommendations to inform decision makers around the world. She’s also written a book, “Augmented Human: How Technology is Shaping the New Reality” that introduces and explores AR and it’s applications. 

Inna Armstrong and Darya Yegorina, CleverBooks Ltd.

If you work in education, you may already be familiar with this company. Inna Armstrong and Darya Yegorina are the co-founders of Clever Books, an Irish based company. Clever Books is leading the way in how kids at school all over the world are educated. It’s purpose is to bridge the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants. If you’re not familiar with these terms, a digital native is defined as a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore is familiar with computers and the internet from an early age. A digital immigrant is seen as a person born or brought up before the widespread use of digital technology. Clever Books say “We change the way the educational content is delivered and the way the education is personalized through seeing, doing, using imagination, enabling students and teachers to merge the realities right in the classroom or at home. Thanks to the smart way of delivering STEM subjects, CleverBooks helps to develop 21st-century skills and to teach kids how to think instead of what to think. CleverBooks provides STEM-oriented global curriculum-based teaching and learning solutions for primary education.” We think this is an exciting development in education, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else comes next.

Ollie Rankin, Pansensory Interactive

Not everyone’s VR career started off with them working as an extra in episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, but Ollie Rankin’s did! He then went on to spend 2 decades pioneering new technology and techniques in filmmaking and VR. We have him to thank for the epic battle scenes that make use of AI (artificial intelligence) in the Matrix trilogies and Lord of the Rings. These films were the starting point of his career, and the studio won 2 Oscars for visual effects whilst he was part of that team. In 2020, whilst a large chunk of the world were in and out of lockdowns, Rankin was the technical architect of the Lost Horizon festival, the world’s largest independent music festival in virtual reality. Lost Horizon was the world’s first multi-day, multi-stage music, art and culture festival to take place in virtual reality. Through his company, PanSensory Interactive, Rankin writes and directs actor-driven interactive virtual reality and CG projects. PanSensory Interactive offers, in their own words, “unique solutions to the problem of how to engage, inform and entertain increasingly savvy audiences with shrinking attention spans.” It seems as though Ollie Rankin is always pushing boundaries and moving forwards and we are always excited to see what he does next!

Jak Wilmot, Disrupt!

Jak Wilmot started out as a YouTuber, and his channel ‘Disrupt!’ has grown quite the following. His videos explore the intersections of virtual reality, perceived reality and society. In a bid to try and experience what the future could be like, Jak once spent a week eating, living, working and sleeping in a VR headset. You can find out how this went down here! Disrupt! was co founded by Jak Wilmot and Jordan Warren, and they started out as a graphic design-focused branding and product development agency, specializing in re-branding, web design, and animation. However, Wilmot became more and more interested in VR, and started to specialize in VR filmmaking. Disrupt!s film debut, La Camila is a beautiful tale about a shepherd girl who lives in the clouds. The medium of VR filmmaking is slowly edging it’s way in the mainstream entertainment world. This is another key influencer in VR we’ll be keeping a close eye on.

Charlie Fink, Technologist

Charlie Fink is a reliable source for VR news. He’s an author and educator, and writes for Forbes. He also acts as a co-host of the podcast, This Week in XR with Ted Schilowitz. Typically Charlie’s articles focus on big shifts in virtual and augmented reality as well as featuring other forms of emerging media. On the podcast, he and Ted explore recent industry events and interview industry executives and experts. Another great person to follow if you want to stay up to date! 

So if you needed a steer in who to follow, hopefully one of these key influencers in VR will grab your interest and attention. Is there anyone you think should definitely be on this list? Who gets you worked up about all things VR? We’d love to know! 


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