Sometimes it feels like you’re doing science fiction” – TechGirl

Everyone talks about the metaverse, but few people actually do anything with it. Saskia Groenewegen yes. She is a VR/AR specialist in Ordina. “A magical world,” she says about it. How that works, she tells her in our podcast.

XR Technical Lead

Saskia: “I am the XR technical lead. XR stands for Extended Reality: It’s the generic term for Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Augmented Reality (AR). With VR you put on some glasses and you no longer see the real world, but only a virtual world. With augmented reality you see the real world, but you get information added to the real world. For example, think of Pokémon Go. Mixed reality often contains more sensors, allowing you to grab a virtual cup of coffee from your real table with your real hand.”

“Now I work a lot with our programmers and 3D designers. I am the point of contact for the client in the projects. We create virtual environments together. That’s often software for other companies, like something you can train with. Once we build a ship for the navy in virtual reality, you get a virtual version of the ship with systems that actually exist there.”

Mixed reality is often used, for example, by mechanics. “It takes a lot of effort to learn the many systems, but if you wear glasses that support it, everything goes better. The glasses can help you recognize which system is involved and even give you step-by-step instructions. This allows mechanics to do their jobs better, faster and safer. There are often junior technicians and senior technicians and then they go on trips together, but companies don’t have enough technicians and because of these glasses, the senior in the office can help multiple juniors remotely.”

many different problems

Clients come to Ordina with IT questions, after which Saskia and the team find a suitable solution. “We have to properly map customer demand and properly discuss it. Then we start programming and working step by step, often with scrum, so that each time you take certain new steps in the project. In addition, we regularly check with the customer if we are still heading in the right direction. We use Unity, a game engine, and we also code in C#. The game engine does a lot of the basics for you and we code the rest in C#.”

Many projects are smaller proofs of concept. “Companies often want to get familiar with this technology, simply because it is still so new. Then it is analyzed if this technology can help the company and its employees to do certain things”. That makes for a fun side job, always working on one project for a few months or six months and then the next.

“It is very nice to work with so many different companies and do different things. Sometimes you suddenly find yourself in a barn, because for a project we have to see what you can do with the data about the cows: has the cow had enough to eat, is it sick or pregnant? Farmers collect data on this, with a certain software system, and we have made a visualization of that data that you can access with Hololens.”

virtual reality is magic

Saskia is happy with that variety, but also that she is always working with new technologies. “Those VR goggles are always changing and every few years a new pair of goggles comes out that is better than the last. She sometimes she feels like you’re doing science fiction. Virtual reality is truly magical. You can enter a completely different world by putting on those glasses, as if you are entering a fairy tale book. You can walk through a book in 3D, how cool is that?

Oddly enough, Saskia herself plays few games in virtual reality. “I like games, but only fantasy games like The Witcher and Skyrim. Games in virtual reality, like Beat Saber, are often games that you don’t spend a lot of time on. Also, I don’t have a lot of space in my house, which is important right now if you want to use VR at home.”

What can we expect from virtual reality in the future? Saskia: “Interesting question. The average consumer is currently more concerned with the gaming side of VR. People mostly buy an Oculus Quest 2, because it’s pretty cheap and you can play games and go to chat rooms with it. The gaming side is big, the social side is very big: the latter is a bit the metaverse side. I think that for the workshop the hardware has a great influence. Unfortunately, VR headsets are a bit heavy and expensive, so they haven’t just been introduced, but I hope that will change in the coming years.”

Work at Ordina

Would you also like to get started in the world of virtual reality, and are you curious about what Ordina can offer you? Then take a look at the ‘Working at Ordina’ page or contact Claudia van Triest to discuss the possibilities.

The TechGirl Podcast series is powered by Ordina.

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