Hi Miguel, thanks so much for joining us! To get started, please give us an overview of your background.
Growing up, we didn’t have a computer at home, but at 10, I was lucky enough to be enrolled in a program called Misión Huascarán at my public school in Peru. The program taught the basics of computers, and we would make robots out of Legos. I remember launching Microsoft Word for the first time, and that’s where I met Clippy. I was mesmerized by this character’s animations and friendliness; it would assist me in finding images.
My love for technology continued to grow as I got older. I took a computer class in secondary school that I had the opportunity to attend once a week for an hour. In this class, I learned about programs like Photoshop and Corel Draw, but what I loved most about it was that I got to play video games like Counter-Strike and Half-Life.
After school, I often went to cybercafes to play those games, and that’s where my passion for video games started. As the years went on, my family and friends would come to me for help with their computer issues, and I was happy to act as their IT support.
I knew I wanted to turn my passion for technology into a career. So, I enrolled in a trade school and studied computer science. I learned from Jose Espinosa Landa (the most valuable professional at Microsoft) how to build computers and program and use languages such as PHP, Visual Basic, and C#.
What inspired you to get into immersive tech? Please tell us a bit about your journey into the VR industry.
After graduating from trade school, I knew I wanted to take my programming and building applications skills to the next level. So, I began working as IT support and quickly worked my way up to become an IT manager. But I couldn’t help but wonder what more I could do. That’s when I decided to enroll in university to learn more about computer science. It was there that I discovered my passion for game development. So, I took several classes on the subject. During one of those classes, I met Professor Pablo Figueroa, an exchange professor from The University of Los Andes in Colombia. His research topics were VR and Game Development, and he had been in the field for over ten years.
As a final project, I created an RPG in 3D called SuddenDir and presented it to Professor Figueroa. He was impressed with my work, and I remember asking him at the end of the presentation if being a VR developer was hard or easy. He smiled and said, “It’s not about the difficulty; it’s about the passion.”
That’s when it hit me, my passion for technology and game development, combined with Professor Figueroa’s encouragement and expertise, inspired me to pursue a career in VR development. In the ever-evolving world of technology, there is always space for creativity and innovation. Now, as a VR developer, I’m living my dream.
What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while on any project?
As a VR developer, one of the biggest challenges I faced was developing a multiplayer experience. I had to create an experience connecting people from different Peruvian cities. Initially, we struggled to develop a multiplayer experience in VR, as we were only familiar with developing standalone VR experiences. However, we decided to learn a tool called Photon 2, and it was through this tool that we could create a successful multiplayer VR experience. The project aimed to address deficiencies in a specific environment and was designed to ensure that workers were using safety gear, such as helmets and safety jackets, and could read danger signs and exit safely.
Can you tell us more about what you’re currently working on?
I participated in a hackathon where a team of us developed an AR experience for a marketing company. The AR experience uses geolocation to find virtual objects on a map, and as you move around, ads would appear. I worked on this AR experience with two individuals from Mexico, and we won the hackathon. The company that sponsored the event decided to incubate our project. The opportunity to enter a startup incubator to found our startup with an XR approach, I am very excited for what is to come and everything I will learn.
What were some of the most considerable challenges you’ve faced while working in the VR industry? How did you overcome them?
One of my most significant challenges was developing a VR experience without a VR headset. Access to technology is a hurdle that many, including myself, have faced. Unfortunately, when I started working for BSG Institute, they only had one headset and were unwilling to invest in another one. So, initially, I had to travel across town to the office to access the headset. However, as I learned more about Unity, I discovered that I could use the XR toolkit, allowing me to develop VR experiences without needing a physical headset.
What’s your vision for the future of VR?
I envision a future where everyone has access to this technology, where you and I can put on a headset and connect to be in a virtual world, just like today’s internet. When you combine VR and AI, you will see a world where AI can help develop VR experiences and build virtual worlds.
What are your thoughts on privacy and ethics?
To me, privacy means that my personal information and data should only be accessible to me. And if I create or develop something, it belongs to me. Ethics refers to the behaviors considered right or wrong, the adherence to these customs, and the acknowledgment of when errors are made.
What advice do you have for people (professionals/ students) looking to enter the XR industry?
If you need to know where to begin, start with YouTube video tutorials. I also recommend looking for technological communities, as it is here where you will learn a lot and have the opportunity to be mentored. There are communities out there that will support you in your journey. And if you want to work in this field, educate yourself and get certified.
Who have been your most important mentors? Why? How did you meet them?
I wouldn’t consider Pablo Figueroa and Jose Espinosa Landa as mentors, but these professors taught me everything I know and inspired me to be who I am today and be a part of the VR industry.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The future of extended reality is exciting. We are in one of the best times because we have access to artificial intelligence, extended reality, and the technology to run these applications.
Bonus: What’s your favorite inspirational quote?
El ayer es historia, el mañana es un misterio, el hoy es un regalo, por eso se llama presente!
Find Miguel on LinkedIn
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