Game Developers Conference (GDC) is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

XRDC speaker Q&A: Jenna Goldberg and the art of data visualization in AR

There's data processing, and then there's understanding data. Normally, when trying to sift through reams and reams of data, you're working on screens or with physical spreadsheets, using whatever 2-D tools you have on hand to give that data any context you can.

But what if you could see that data in three dimensions? What if you could interact with it? That's what Jenna Goldberg, senior visual designer at IBM, has been trying to realize for the last few years. And at XRDC, she'll be giving a talk about the Immersive Insights project at IBM, and how she and her colleague Reena Ganga are creating tools to visualize data in augmented reality.

To get you ready for her talk, we've reached out to Goldberg for a quick Q&A about her work, which you can now read below!

Attend XRDC 2018 to learn about immersive games & entertainment, brand experiences, and innovative use cases across industries.

Tell us about yourself and your work in augmented reality.

My entrance into the Augmented Reality (AR) realm started with 3D animation. While attending the University of Texas at Austin, I was captivated by the limitless creativity and wanted to learn more. I expanded on my animation knowledge by participating in game design, where my team and I created a 3rd person action-adventure game. From there I realized that while I stilled loved 3D animation, I wasn’t particularly interested in gaming. I made the switch to Augmented Reality when I worked at Builder Homesite Incorporated (BHI), creating an app for people to make custom-designed homes and explore them in an AR setting. Finally, my 4 years of pursuing IBM paid off when I was contacted by them, looking for an AR software designer for a project called Immersive Insights. Both working at IBM and being an AR designer were dreams of mine, so I immediately transferred over and have been at IBM since.

Without spoiling it too much, tell us what you’ll be talking about at XRDC. 

While designing for AR is exciting, it’s also extremely challenging. As opposed to typical UX design that is taught in school, designing for new technology comes with its own challenges that aren’t often taught. There is no quick Google search for an answer, no AR expert to turn to. My college, Reena Ganga, and I will be discussing the problems we encounter daily, and how we address them. We will share some of the lessons we have learned so far and explore some of the issues we haven’t yet been able to overcome.

In addition to this, we will uncover our successes and how all of this applies to designing for Enterprise Software. Specifically, we will address the difference between designing for AR in terms of entertainment and B to B companies.

What excites you most about AR/VR/MR?

What’s so exciting about this field is that it is still nascent. This sort of newness puts everybody in the field on the same team. We are the answers on Google, we are the experts. This encourages everyone in the field to interact with each other and share what we’ve learned. Both within IBM and in the overall design field, many groups have come together to combine our knowledge and assist each other with the concerns that arise regarding design in AR. There is never a dull day. Every day of work brings something new.

Who would you like to meet at XRDC?  

I really look forward to meeting other AR designers who have encountered some of the same issues that I have, and inquire about what they’ve done to confront those issues, as well as share what my team and I have done. It’s rare to find people who are working specifically with data visualization in AR, so the more collaboration the bigger the benefit.

Why do you think companies will be interested in pursuing advanced data visualization in AR, based on your work?  

Every company can benefit from discovering insights about their consumer habits and sales data. However, the way it is now, insights are only being generated from data analyzation experts. We need intuitive programs that allow those with less of a technical background to be able to discover insights from their data as well, so more people can reap the benefits. AR not only makes interacting with your data more exciting, it makes it more accessible. Because of its immersive nature AR allows users to form a close relationship with their data by living in it. Today we are engrossed with our tablets and PCs and I think we find ourselves segmenting our computer time and our human time more and more. AR is the first step in the marriage of digital and real life.

XRDC is happening October 29th and 30th in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Now that registration is open, you’ll want to look over XRDC passes and prices and register early to get the best deal!

For more information about XRDC, which is produced by organizers of the Game Developers Conference, check out the official XRDC website. You can also subscribe to regular XRDC updates via emailTwitter and Facebook.

Gamasutra, XRDC, and GDC are sibling organizations under parent UBM Americas


Connecting the Global Game Development Community