Understanding Augmented and Virtual Reality

Khaulat Abdulhakeem
She is the Founder & CEO of DiverseK and host of the DiverseK podcast. DiverseK helps guide and connect diverse tech talents to companies globally.
Adora Nwodo
She is a software engineer at Microsoft.

[00:00:00] Khaulat: Today I'm with Nene Adora and she's a software engineer at Microsoft. And she works with the AR and VR, augmented and virtual reality team. So that's basically what we are talking about today. So this session is particularly very interesting to me because I don't know much about AR and VR myself. So we're just going to dive right in right now.

[00:00:21] Khaulat: So yeah, I'll start with asking Adora to tell us bit about her career background and about her. 

[00:00:27] Adora: Okay. Hi everyone, I'm just going to throw in one slight correction here first, before we go in. I work on the mixed reality team, so that's what it's called my organization where I work. I am a software engineer there.

[00:00:42] Adora: I have a block that I run as well. And if you follow me on Instagram, even on Twitter as well, once in a while, you'd see that I actually DJ sometimes. So that's me. About my job, I spend my job, you know, building. So on the mixed reality side of things that I [00:01:00] work at, I'm not the person to build the apps.

[00:01:03] Adora: I don't do client facing stuff, essentially. I'm one of those people on the back end that build services that allow other developers build experiences. So I build services, we ship these services with these SDKs and then people use these SDKs, use these services, use these products that we build to create, you know, multiple mixed reality experiences.

[00:01:32] Adora: I'm one of those blending, physical and digital world to make a new reality type of influence. So yeah. That's it. 

[00:01:39] Khaulat: Yeah. All right. So how about tell us a bit about your background in your career towards where you are now? 

[00:01:46] Adora: My background, it's very funny. I've told this story like several million times, people still keep asking me every single time. I discovered computers at seven and that like drove me into this whole, whatever I'm going to do in [00:02:00] my life, I'm going to be working with computers and then I found programming as a result. And I started writing code. I'm not going to count before my first official internship.

[00:02:12] Adora: So like maybe when I was building projects or when I used to do, you know, all this family feel like when somebody in your family hears that you can build websites, they would now drag you go and do this one for me. So I'm not going to add those, but I'm gonna say my first production experience till now, I would say that I've been in the industry roughly for like almost five years.

[00:02:35] Adora: Cause it was 2016, so yeah, June, 2016, I had my first internship. I got my first full-time job, like a year after. And I've been working ever since. I have found myself in multiple realms. Like, I'm doing backend now, I'm doing a bit of infrastructure engineering now, I've done backend in the past.

[00:02:55] Adora: In the past, I was also an Android developer as well. So I've basically [00:03:00] just been about until I actually figured out the thing that I really wanted to do and then started doing it. And for me, I mean, I've done front end as well, hated it by the way. And then for me, it was either I end up a backend engineer or I go into like full Android engineering or mobile experiences in general.

[00:03:18] Adora: It could have been anything else, but I settled for what I settled for at the end of the day. 

[00:03:23] Khaulat: Yeah, and you find it interesting.

[00:03:25] Adora: I'm going to be very honest with you. I mean, I don't think I find programming interesting in any way. I find it stressful. However, it's something that I learn from every single day.

[00:03:36] Adora: Like I wake up every day, I have to do something, like I'm giving a task that I have to do, or I'm giving a book that I have to fix. Or even if it's something I'm currently working on, I make a mistake and I have to learn from it. The point is every single day I learn something new in this industry. And I'm someone that gets bored easily.

[00:03:53] Adora: So the fact that I'm constantly learning something is one reason why I should stay. [00:04:00] 

[00:04:00] Khaulat: Yeah.

[00:04:00] Adora: Like there're some things that you just never see me do because of how mundane it would get at some point, and me, I don't like stress. I get bored easily. I don't have energy. So, I guess like, this is a good place for me.

[00:04:11] Khaulat: And you like something that will always keep you learning new things all the time. 

[00:04:15] Adora: Yeah. Spark curiosity is very important. 

[00:04:18] Khaulat: Yeah 

[00:04:18] Adora: Yeah. 

[00:04:20] Khaulat: Okay. That sounds interesting, actually. Okay. Can tell us a bit about augmented and virtual reality in a very beginner, friendly manner.

[00:04:29] Adora: Okay. In a very beginner friendly manner. So I'm going to use a skill or I'm going to use some kind of, yeah, so you know how in primary school they're teaching you addition and subtraction, they use something called a number line.

[00:04:42] Khaulat: Yeah.

[00:04:42] Adora: Right. So imagining a line, I'm going to call it a mixed reality line or a mixed reality spectrum where mixing reality is in the middle, where your number line is at zero mixed reality is in the middle.

[00:04:57] Adora: At one end [00:05:00] is the normal physical world that you have, that's your positive side. 

[00:05:05] Khaulat: Yeah. 

[00:05:06] Adora: So in physical world, I have this phone. There are things that you can see in the physical and interact with. 

[00:05:12] Khaulat: Yeah.

[00:05:13] Adora: And then in the digital world, which is on the other side, there are computer generated graphic things, right?

[00:05:23] Adora: So I'm going to use this concept to explain what AR VR is. AR exists in your physical world AR exists because you still have a sense of what's going on around you in your physical space, but you're able to insert computer generated elements into that space.

[00:05:42] Adora: Sometimes you might be able to interact with them. Sometimes it might just be static. I'm going to give you an example. If you are someone that uses Snapchats or Instagram stories, and you've used the filter before you've interacted with AR because all those filters, all those stars, the glasses around your eye, they were placed [00:06:00] in

[00:06:00] Khaulat: the physical world.

[00:06:01] Adora: Yes, exactly. Which was your face. Right? So those digital elements being placed in a physical world, and you can interact with them either, maybe through a mobile phone or through glasses or something. That's you having an AR experience. It's very different from a VR experience because a VR experience takes you away from your physical world completely. 

[00:06:25] Adora: You wear VR headsets, right? You have no idea what's happening around you in that moment. All you can experience are some of 

[00:06:36] Khaulat: it's another world. 

[00:06:37] Adora: Yeah. It's like a different world. Some of them are animated, like cartoons. Some of them look real. Because how the animation is done or how the element are illustrated.

[00:06:47] Adora: It looks real. So imagine when a VR headsets and thinking you are on third mainland bridge, and then you are walking and you are about to jump into the water, you actually forget that you are wearing a headset that's how [00:07:00] real it can be. It immerses you 100% immerses you completely. So that's the difference, right?

[00:07:05] Adora: So AR is like putting digital elements into your physical space for you to interact with them. VR is more taking you to a hundred percent digital experience. Was that very helpful?

[00:07:18] Khaulat: Yeah, it was beginner friendly. Thank you. Yeah. Which of these two is most interesting to you? Is it AR or VR? 

[00:07:26] Adora: The most interesting to me I speak for myself. Personally, I think I want to have the best of good words to be honest. So I'm someone that likes to have my cake and eat it, I want everything. So I would say AR because I can have the feel of digital things being put in my place, but I still do not lose my me experiencing my physical space so I can enjoy both of them by wearing headsets or by using my phone to do really cool things, this really experience it. [00:08:00] So that's the one that I think is more interesting to me personally. 

[00:08:04] Khaulat: Okay. What's your role as a software engineer in this mixed reality space? You've stopped a bit about here at the beginning though. 

[00:08:12] Adora: Yes, I have. My role as a software engineer, I build different services, different tools that allow other engineers, other people, other business to build these experiences. So I'm not building the experience that, you pick up your phone and then you use, I create the tools that allow other developers build those experiences. And most times these are cloud services that I build. So if you go on the internet today and do a search, right, and you try and search for mixed reality, Azure mixed reality service.

[00:08:48] Adora: So the services you come across are the services that my team and I work on. That's what we do. So we build these cloud services that other developers can now use [00:09:00] to create whatever mixed reality experience that they want to create. 

[00:09:03] Khaulat: Okay. Yes. Interesting. What are other career parts in AR and VR aside being a software engineer, you know, doing what you do.

[00:09:15] Adora: Okay. Other career parts for me, I think the engineering parts is even like multiple there so you can be a software engineer, like, you know what I do build for people that will now build the experiences. You can be the software engineer, building the experiences. You can be an architect, right?

[00:09:34] Adora: Trying to figure out what these services are supposed to look like. You can be an illustrator, you know, creating all the avatars and illustrations and all the things that all these engineers will now use to create these experiences in the scene. I mean, people use VR for storytelling as well. So you might be the script writer cause I had to go right script.

[00:09:57] Khaulat: Yeah. 

[00:09:58] Adora: The person that even puts the [00:10:00] story together, it's used in the marketing space as well. So you could work in advertising and use VR experiences for your campaign. Right? So multiple things, essentially. I think this technology has a place in multiple life scenarios.

[00:10:21] Adora: Right? So multiple people can you know there's the PM side as well, right? So there are lots of things to be honest, that I think like you can do with this aside, just being a software engineer. You could also be a person that is in charge of, if it's a movie, for example, you could be a distributor of that movie, right?

[00:10:42] Adora: If it's a product, if it's a tangible product that you can sell, you could be someone that goes ahead to sell it. You could be a salesperson. So there are different other fields that make this field work as well. It's not just take. 

[00:10:54] Khaulat: Yeah. Thank you. What are some career advice you [00:11:00] give to students and recent graduates who wants to get into a field in tech.

[00:11:04] Adora: I'll tell you to not be shortsighted, you know, always think long term Shameless blog, by the way, this question that you just asked me, I have a video on my YouTube channel that drops today, answering this exact question. So you might get a longer answer, if you watch that video.

[00:11:21] Adora: But personally for myself, when I did my internship, that's one I told you about that I did in 2016, right? After like six months, I chose not to quit the joband come back. Cause I felt like experience was something that was important to me and not just any kind of experience because you can have experience.

[00:11:37] Adora: To be honest, for me, it was more relevant experience, experience that was relevant in the field that I cared about. So like, I'm not going cause I want to have work experience, go and do some kind of accounting thing. And then in two years, come back and say, I want to be a software engineer.

[00:11:52] Adora: It's not relevant to me. Cause I won't go back to that field in any way. So always think long term, there are some times that especially when you're [00:12:00] younger, Find something that would help you build, prove yourself. 

[00:12:05] Adora: The money can come in front. Let's even tell ourselves truth. If you're really looking for real money like that, is it about being paid that you're supposed to thinking about, but that's a different conversation. The point is the money can come in front. Right. So make decisions that can basically arrange your life. Yeah. So that when these opportunities, come in, you'll be in a better place to grab it. And I've had like multiple conversations and I have multiple friends that would see offer A that will pay like random figure. Offer A will pay like 400K, but long term, it doesn't look like something that they want to be interested in.

[00:12:39] Adora: Mm-hmm.

[00:12:39] Adora: He is giving like 210 at the time, but it's like, okay, if I work here for like, you know, two years a year and a half, like 18 months or something. I can leave here. The experience I get from here, I can use it to get like, you know, apply for this job. So think long term, if you're about to get a job offer that will pay you [00:13:00] and it's not where you see yourself long term. Don't take it. Like I know lot of people that have to down offers because that's not what they wanted to do long term. That's not what they wanted to do with their lives. Basically, think long term, always have a plan, make decisions that take you one step closer to your goal, or to the plan that you have always think things through.

[00:13:20] Adora: There's this advice that my dad has, he gave me the advice and it's something that is even everywhere. It's something that he talks about and says and does all the time. And the advice basically is always engage your brain before your hands and your mouth. So this essentially means like, what he's just saying is always think before you talk, always think before you act, think before you make a decision that can affect you long term, if you care about the certain career path, and this is what you want to do with your life, think deeply about it.

[00:13:51] Adora: Possibly pray about it make that decision and be very deliberate with chasing what you want. Don't be someone that is baby. Don't wait for [00:14:00] somebody. Know what you want. Think about what you want, decide what you want and go after what you want aggressively. That's just all I'm going to say.

[00:14:08] Khaulat: Thank you so much that that's like a very good way to wrap up this session. Thank you so much for today. I love everything you talked about and I'm sure a lot of people would have a lot to learn from it.