multiple major tech companies released impressive VR systems that were clearly the first of their kind; flawed yet fascinating.
Since then, there have been major leaps and bounds in both software and hardware when it comes to making VR streamlined and accessible. Much of this credit goes to Oculus and the release of its Oculus Quest in 2019.
2020 may finally be the year that VR goes mainstream, and we are not going to want to miss it. In order to keep up-to-date on the story of this technology as it unfolds, you are going to want to follow the right industry leaders, influencers, bloggers, and VR enthusiasts.
Starting off this list is none other than former Chief Technology Officer of Oculus, John Carmack. Considered by many to be the "Godfather of Gaming", Carmack has been credited with pioneering 3D-game-design as we know it today with his work on games such as Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein.
Carmack helped promote the Oculus Rift when it launched on Kickstarter in 2012 and joined as CTO in 2013. Although he is best known for his work in VR and gaming, he has also ventured and contributed to the aerospace industry with his work on founding Armadillo Aerospace.
In August 2019, he was the guest on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast episode #1342, where he shared his optimistic views, opinions, and knowledge on the current landscape of VR as well as what the future holds in store. It is very insightful, and we recommend checking it out.
In November 2019, he stepped down from his CTO position to instead focus his time on artificial general intelligence (AGI). However, he now holds the title of "Consulting CTO" for Oculus, so he will still have a voice in their development work.
intended to be sold as a do-it-yourself kit on Kickstarter to fellow enthusiasts.
When John Carmack helped promote the Rift in 2012, Palmer decided to drop out of university to focus on It full-time. Since then, Oculus was acquired by Facebook in March 2014. After some legal disputes and political controversy, Palmer Luckey left Oculus in March 2017.
Since then, Luckey has focused his efforts on defense technology. In June 2017, he co-founded the defense technology company Anduril, along with a group of other close associates.
Described as the "face of virtual reality" at one point, Luckey has made an undeniable impact on VR as we know it. His implementation of the Rift headset is the foundation for what we use today. Today, he is active on his Twitter account, where he shares VR news, thoughts, and opinions. We recommend that you follow him, as well as check out his regularly-updated blog.
3. Hugo Barra
Former Vice President of Virtual Reality at Facebook, Hugo Barra is an authority amongst industry leaders of this list. Barra was a Xiaomi executive before running Facebook's Oculus VR team in 2017. He has since made an impression on the public through social media, particularly Twitter.
With over 123K followers, Barra has dedicated much of his time to posting about the VR community’s hottest trends, many of which understandably involve his own company, Facebook. In May 2019, he announced that he would be taking a new role at Facebook, building a global AR/VR partner ecosystem based in NYC. His mission, in line with that of Oculus, is bringing AR and VR to more people.
Barra is now the Vice President of ARVR Partnerships for Oculus VR. To keep up with what is going on over at Oculus when it comes to their endeavors of bringing AR and VR to more people, follow Hugo on Twitter. He is a great first-hand liaison for what is happening behind the scenes at one of top companies that are advancing the virtual reality landscape as we know it.
4. FReality Podcast
Whether it be game releases and reviews, new hardware or general updates involving the VR industry - their podcasts make sure to highlight all VR current events.
The FReality Podcast goes live weekly and streams the entire experience on both YouTube and Twitch, and also uploads the audio version on Soundcloud and podcast platforms for all their viewers to listen to.
We recommend that you give their podcast a listen and follow each of them individually because this group of dudes is very passionate about virtual reality, and their content is both fun and informative.
5. Galit Ariel
Furthermore, she enjoys learning and educating on the impact these technologies will have on our cultures, behaviors, and interactions.
7. Cory Corvus
8. Kent Bye
many different creatives of the VR industry including game developers, technologists, enthusiasts, academics, and more. Furthermore, the Voices of VR podcast also explores the different industries that VR has impacted such as music, film, and theater. You can expect to find episodes that tackle the recent major developments in the VR industry, and how the VR experience is shaping the lives of many today.
"Cymatic" Bruce Wooden is currently the Content Launch Manager for Oculus, where he reviews content for the Oculus Store. Key speaker, consultant, and VR evangelist, Bruce has been an active member of the VR community from the start. His story in the VR industry first began with VR development back in 2010, and he later backed Oculus Rift on Kickstarter in 2012.
From there, Bruce went on to become the co-founder of Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) alongside Karl Krantz and Nana Usui back in May 2013, as well as become the co-founder of Altspace VR. Since then, SVVR is has had over four dozen meetups, four conferences, and grown to over 6000 members. SVVR has become the place to network, learn, and find the pulse of the VR community. As for AltspaceVR, it is a social VR platform that has since been acquired by Microsoft.
In June 2016, Bruce gave a Ted Talk about the potential of shared virtual reality, where he speaks about his personal experiences with shared virtual reality, the surprises and epiphanies along the way, and the impact it can have on human communication during that stage of VR's life cycle. We highly recommend checking it out, as it is very insightful in regards to the respective topics.
You should also check out and on Twitter to make sure you are notified of all future events and activities.If you would like to keep up with his projects and stay updated on his current work, we suggest that you follow him on
Overall, we strongly urge you to go over to his channel and subscribe for more of his exciting new VR content, unboxings, playthroughs, and more. Be sure to follow him on Twitter as well to keep up with his fun VR shenanigans and other VR content from the community.
11. Clay Bavor
A veteran Googler and Princeton computer science grad, Clay Bavor is the Vice President of Virtual and Augmented Reality at Google.
He previously led the product and design teams for many of Google's consumer and enterprise applications - Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and the Google Apps suite for businesses. He also has a history of working on Google Search and many of Google's ad products.
Today, Clay reports directly to Google CEO Sundar Pichai as he oversees the VR & AR teams. One of his biggest recent projects was his work on Google's Visual Positioning System (VPS), a technology that utilizes AR to recognize features in the environment in order to navigate more efficiently.
As far as social media goes, Clay is quite active on Twitter, where he regularly updates his 30k followers on the latest projects that Google is working on. You can also see his latest thoughts, ideas, and opinions regarding the respective industry.
Google will undoubtedly play a role in the advancement of VR/AR and how we use it in the future, just as they have done for tech for the past two decades. Therefore, we highly recommend following Clay to keep up with all of it.
Another huge persona in the VR industry you will want to stay updated on is Scott Vandonkelaar, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and co-founder of Zero Latency. Zero Latency is a free-roam multiplayer virtual reality experience designed for up to eight friends in a warehouse-sized space, where players are free to roam naturally and comfortably as they explore digital environments as they would in real-life, free from wires.
Zero Latency emerged in 2012, and the experience first-debuted at Pausefest in early 2014. Since then, Zero Latency has become a huge hit, officially opening back in August 2015 and partnering with Dell's Alienware. Now going into its fifth official year of bringing free-roam VR experiences, it has locations all across the world from Japan, Australia, United States, Singapore, and more.
so that you can follow all the developments and milestones is making every day.
Scott is featured in the Innovation Edition of Business Excellence Magazine. You can view the publication at the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry website, the article is on page 19.
VR has made an impact on a wide variety of industries since its inception. More specifically, VR is even pioneering the way movies and films are being made. Somebody who has had their footprint in this newfound exploration is none other than Adrian Sciutto, a Virtual Production Producer at Magnopus.
Magnopus is an Experience Company with the goal of creating immersive experiences of design, art, and technology across virtual reality and augmented reality. Founded back in 2013 and based in Los Angeles, the company has been making huge waves in the VR industry. Most notably, they worked as the Virtual Reality Advisor for 2019's The Lion King movie.
Many would be surprised to learn that director Jon Favreau's remake of the classic Disney film is shot entirely in virtual reality. Read Wired's article on the making of the movie to learn more.
Read on for his thoughts on designing user experiences for VR and his insight on the direction IrisVR is headed for the future.
15. Christopher Crescitelli
Next on our list of influential people to follow in VR is someone who has been steadily gaining some decent traction in the industry for a few years now. In 2014, Christopher Crescitelli started VRFest - a music, technology, and e-sports festival that takes place annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. Already in its sixth year of bringing key people and audiences together, the festival is recognized as one of the world’s first and largest virtual reality festivals.
Now known as Dreamland XR, it is dedicated to driving transformative changes in the immersive technology industry that perpetuate the expansion of the medium for both developers and consumers alike. The festival is four days of uninterrupted fun which also includes other forms of VR applications such as in film, real estate, and medicine.
Chris has also founded
As previously mentioned, virtual reality has applications in all sorts of industries - one of them being the sports industry. That is where TrinityVR comes into play. Founded by Zachary Lynn in May 2014, TrinityVR is a sports technology company that uses virtual reality simulations to better train professional and amateur athletes.
TrinityVR's current projects today concern their partnership with the MLB, providing a superior simulation platform for coaches and players to recreate a realistic batting experience using real MLB pitcher performance data. This endeavor is taking both VR training and sports training to a whole new level.
To keep up with the latest events happening in the VR industry, one important person you will want to follow is the founder and executive producer of Pulledin Productions - Cameron Kootz. Founded back in 2010, the company executes event production and strategic partnerships alongside original event production. They are globally leading experts and curators in immersive technology.
Cameron is a master team and community builder, with experience as a producer in live production (sports, music), and film production. He is also a master promoter, with experience spanning four decades. Currently, Cameron is focused on immersive (XR) eSports and family entertainment.
Pulledin's focus is creating original events from conferences, expos, and more. In terms of virtual reality, they have been at the forefront of major VR events - such as producing the VR/AR Global Summits. They are currently working on an immersive eSports and family entertainment event series, projected to launch in 2020. The company has also worked with TED conferences, Hackernest, and Microsoft to name a few of their previous partners and clients.
Next up on our list is someone who is all about covering breaking news and in-depth features on the topics of technologies, companies, and people pushing VR and AR toward mainstream adoption. Ian Hamilton is bringing you the latest in VR and AR news. The website also includes reviews, guides, and analysis of the progress of the XR industry.
Ian has over 1200 posts on their website - ranging from reviews on the latest games to in-depth analysis in new VR technology. UploadVR also has its own podcast, The VR Download, which is streamed live on YouTube on Thursdays at 10:30 am PST (18:30 UTC) and later uploaded to podcast platforms. The podcast covers the week's VR news, the VR games the team has been playing, and one big VR-related topic each week.
commend heading over to his
the largest virtual reality entertainment network and the global market leader with compact VR platforms.
Currently, Risher is a part of the Arenaverse team, a similar company with the focus of providing true free-roam, turn-key, massive scale location-based VR entertainment experiences. With experience in other VR endeavors, he will be your go-to guy to follow for his knowledge and experience in bringing the virtual reality experience to your local arcade, cinema, bowling alley, etc.
22. Ryan Wyatt
Becoming YouTube's current Global Head of Gaming and Virtual Reality at just 27-years-old, Ryan Wyatt is another industry professional who is helping to bring VR into mainstream media. With over 362K followers on Twitter, he is a heavy influence in the way we will be able to consume virtual reality content.
Beginning his career as a commentator for Major League Gaming (MLG) in 2008, covering big events such as the 2009 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare National Championship, he went on to join Machinima as head of live and eSports in 2011. He later rejoined MLG in April 2014 as the vice-president of programming. As such, he has a heavy background in gaming and streaming content.
While he does infuse a fair amount of extracurricular personal passions and hobbies into his Twitter personality, Wyatt’s status in the industry means that he should be followed by those who want to stay up on both VR and AR. We recommend giving him a follow on Twitter to keep up with where VR takes him, and us in the process.
23. Cathy Hackl
Considered one of the top women in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), spatial computing and innovation, Cathy Hackl has been engaging audiences across the globe and across industries for most of her career. She is a futurist, speaker, and author that works at the intersection of future technology, strategy, and storytelling.
Author of Marketing New Realities: An Introduction to Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Marketing, Branding, & Communications, Cathy currently works as part of the Enterprise team at Magic Leap - a company that has tailored its Magic Leap One headset primarily for AR applications.
Hackl has worked as a VR Evangelist for HTC VIVE, as well as Chief Communications Officer (CCO) for cinematic VR studio Future Lighthouse, where she collaborated on projects with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Oculus, Beefeater, and William Morris Endeavor.
Cathy is highly active on Twitter, where you can catch her sharing her views on the industry with her 44K followers. We recommend giving her a follow, as well as checking out her YouTube channel where you can watch many of her public tech-based keynotes.
| Twitter: @STRIVRlabs |
Derek Belch is the founder and CEO of STRIVR Labs, Inc., a Palo Alto-based company that uses VR to improve human performance. Belch saw the potential of virtual reality when he laid the foundation for STRIVR during the 2014 season with the Stanford Cardinal football team. It was at this time that he was an assistant coach for the team while completing a master's degree in VR, and his thesis project was exploring how virtual reality could be applied to sports training
Founded back in January 2015, STRIVR has now been providing immersive learning and training for five years as it continues elevating performance and helping employees improve their skills through the use of VR.
STRIVR currently works with 25 professional and collegiate sports teams and several Fortune 100 companies, all of whom use VR to improve the performance of their players and employees. Belch holds three degrees from Stanford (BA Communication, MA Journalism, MA Media Studies), as well as an MBA from the University of Southern California.
The last on our list is somebody whose passions lie heavily in Augmented Reality (AR) and its capacity to amplify human possibility - Helen Papagiannis. With AR rapidly advancing, she is asking the question: How can we design experiences to enhance and enrich a user’s life and extend our humanity in unprecedented ways?
Author of Augmented Human: How Technology is Shaping the New Reality, Papagiannis has been working with AR since 2005 as a researcher, designer, and technology evangelist. Her main goal is to show all the ways that AR developers are using the technology to amplify human intelligence, focus our engagement with real spaces, and improve our health.
Dr. Papagiannis has presented her interactive work and Ph.D. research at global conferences and invited events including TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, Design), ISMAR (International Society for Mixed and Augmented Reality), AWE (Augmented World Expo), and ISEA (International Symposium for Electronic Art).
In February 2019, Helen gave a talk at the Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau titled, "Can We Design Augmented Reality to Enrich Our Lives?". We highly suggest checking it out, as it is a very insightful look at the potential benefits of the AR side of mixed reality.
Papagiannis is mostly active on Twitter, where she shares her passion for augmented reality with her 13K followers. If you are someone who is also passionate about the impact that AR has the potential to make, she is your person to follow.
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Got any other influential people to follow in VR that you want to share with us? With the tremendous work that people around the globe are doing in the fields of VR, AR, and XR, we know we may have missed a few!