Building a Virtual Reality Platform From the Ground Up

When I arrived at Facebook my team was just starting to explore how we could bring immersive media and VR to our 2 billion users.  Over the past 4 years we've released hundreds of products and features that have begun to flesh out a new VR ecosystem.  I had the opportuninty to contribute and lead a wide variety of projects, eventually moving into management and building my own team to push this new medium forward.



I lead 360 videos for my first few months at Facebook.  The product had just launched and there were a variety of usability issues to tend to including a lack of orientation understanding, poor gyro implementation, and lack of clear identity.  Once these issues were resolved we built a feature to address our most common user feedback - "Where do I look".  We built "Guide" which allows and video creator to add points of interest to their video.  The viewer can then tap the gyro icon to follow the action or take back control at any time by swiping. 



Our immersive photos product also had a bunch of usablity gaps when I picked it up.  After adding key features like setting an initial view and supporting albums, the team turned to our biggest problem - capture.  To address it we created a camera mode that allowed you to "paint" a full 360 capture (as well as other shapes).  This technique is over 3x faster than our competitors while achieving similar results.  Since, I've overseen the support of 360 photos across our other surfaces including stories and messenger.



Our team was working on an open source 360 3D camera that could therotically be built by anyone using or open source instructions.  I was volunteered to be the gunea pig to test our instructions.  It ballooned into the promotional video for the product.  The construction took about 4 hours.



The first VR app released by Facebook.  The primary device we were aiming for was the Gear VR which has poorly designed input.  I experimented with a variety of innovative interactions to provide a leanback viewing experience.  Innovations included a reactive cursor, look based navigation, miniature slidshow controls, and media preview panels with depth.



Facebook Spaces was one of the first multiplayrer Social VR products to come to the market.  I lead the design for our avatar creation system.  We focused on helping anyone create an avatar that they felt comfortable with as quickly and easily as possible.  We released a variety of innovative features including avatars generated automatically from your profile picture, physical controls to manipulate your facial features, and interactive magazines for clothing selection.



Our team built a tool to allow 3D creators to bring their work to Facebook for the first time.  All you had to do was drag and drop your 3D models into the browser and you could share them with your friends and followers.  These models could later be shared and shown to others in VR using Facebook Spaces.



A design led project that incorporated everything we'd learned about immersive media over the years.  We started with the question "What can't we currently share about an experience?".  Rather than trying to improve on existing forms of media like video and photos that already do a great job of capturing a moment or telling a story, we focused on more viceral feelings.  The size and structure of the space you were in.  The vibe and sounds of that place.  The transitions between spaces.  By focusing on just those attributes, we were able to capture those feelings by stylizing rough 3D photogrametry models generated from hand held videos shot on a smartphone.  As we experienced these environments, we started introducing animations and interactivity that made them feel like a living memory.



Our next big VR project is coming to Oculus in 2020.  Details upon request. Sign up for the beta here.

Selected Works

VR.DESIGN+MOBILE.DESIGN+DESIGN.MANAGEMENTAs a founding member of Facebook VR design I helped build a thriving VR ecosystem

INTERACTION.DESIGN+PROTOTYPING+INDUSTRIAL.DESIGNSamsung Research invested in our small team to explore the potential use cases for AR glasses

INDUSTRIAL.DESIGN+METAL.WORKING+GAME.DESIGNThrough my time at RISD I worked on a variety of projects with NASA that eventually led me to VR

MOBILE.DESIGN+WEB.DESIGN+GRAPHIC.DESIGNI love contributing my skills to charities

INDUSTRIAL.DESIGN+WOODWORKINGA way of keeping up my craft

Wanna collab? Hit me up