Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Suzie Gray AKA Suzie GeeForce AKA B.AR.D is an AR Poet and Playwright from London! She is currently developing a series of Augmented Reality Poetry that you can find on the SeekXR App, Snapchat and Instagram. Her first app, Poetal Lite, is now available on the App Store.
She creates poems for the environment as well as for the selfie, and is looking to collaborate with businesses and charities! She has a keen interest in Art, Science Fiction, Science and Technology, Health and Beauty, Lifestyle and the Environment.
Suzie, tell us a bit more about you and your projects so far.
I'm an AR Poet and Playwright from London! I have created AR poetry for SeekXR, Snapchat and iOS in general. My latest app, Poetal Lite, is now available in the App Store! I have a PhD in Science Fiction Theatre and ran a company for SF theatre called Stars or Mars. My published work includes Notes from Other Worlds, SUM and Energy (or the Art of Keeping it Together). I also wrote poetry for the crowdfunded space mission Lunar Mission One and FutSci, a platform to crowdfund scientific research! I have also been working on an AR Gamebook called Coming Home.
Has it been an easy industry to get into or have you had many challenges?
With all relatively new industries, there’s always the upside of experimentation - the excitement when parameters and protocols are yet to be drawn. However, it can be a challenge to prove to people that it is more than a gimmick, that it can be accessible and that it can be useful rather than a distraction. I’m still trying to find ways to step in, which I think is almost universal with the immersive industry as a whole - so it feels a lot more empowering and on a level playing field.
How long did it take you to be where you are now? What was the biggest obstacle?
I started learning AR in March 2017 and each mechanic I learnt allowed me to envisage new projects and avenues. The biggest obstacle so far seems to be tech related - each step comes with fresh challenges! I like to think of it as a puzzle - which I love doing - so it becomes a fun activity to find the solution! Other obstacles seem to be business related - finding funding avenues and opportunities to collaborate.
What are your projects you are currently working on?
I’m working on portrait poetry - quick lenses that augment your selfie through words and images. I’m also making a series of short “stories” with your face as a controller - it’s the literal self insert of a character in a narrative. I’d love to make an app where these can all be put together in the future!
What are your biggest achievements to date?
I recently released my first AR Poetry app that I made using Unity and AR kit! It’s taken me many early mornings, sketched plans, drafts of poetry and cursing at Xcode, but it’s been worth it. I flush with pride whenever I see someone has downloaded it at the App Store! Other achievements would be receiving my PhD in Science Fiction Theatre last year, forming my theatre company and publishing plays/my poetry collection!
What does the #WomenInAR movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being a designer and a woman in AR industry?
AR is all about mediating reality - a form of taking control of your environment. Because of this, the Women in AR movement feels so empowering - from changing mindset to helping us be the architects of our own realities. The most pertinent challenge to me is being taken seriously. I have been talked over or dismissed when it comes to AR at events, which isn’t the most settling feeling. I recall one occasion when someone disagreed with my explanation; when I demonstrated it correctly, they later confessed that they knew nothing of the technology questioned!
What will be the key trends in the AR industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I think commerce will be utterly transformed within the next five years - especially with Snapchat and Instagram (even more so when AR studio publishes to the latter). Marketing works best when it portrays a lifestyle around a product - AR is the best manifestation of this before the purchase! Another trend, I think, will be the use of haptics, sound and taste in AR; so that the medium isn’t focused 100% on sight. This will increase accessibility and a sense of immersion.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs in AR out there?
I would say to always be open to new ideas, connections and collaborations - they can pop up from the most unexpected places! Don’t hold your cards to close to your chest, but still be aware of how you play them! Ideas are such a valuable currency - don’t take them for granted! Now is the best time to get out there - where lines and barriers are yet to be drawn.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in AR?
Cyrene Q - a Queen of Social Media and Snapchat, utilising her art and web design talents to tap into a huge platform in truly innovative ways!
Dr. Helen Papagiannis - internationally recognised as a leading expert in AR! She’s been working in the field for over a decade and has incredible insight into where the immersive technologies will go! I’d recommend her book, The Augmented Human!
Amy Peck - an amazing consultant and AR/VR evangelist, working to make immersive tech accessible for everyone! She also worked for Leap Motion and is the Founder/CEO of EndeavorVR.
Facebook: Suzie Gray
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.