Inspiring interview with Galit Ariel! Galit Ariel is Founder and Creative Director at WondARlands and Future Memory Inc., an author and international speaker. She is passionate about a future in which technology is integrated into our everyday’s life but does not control it. Her goal is to bridge the gap between digital, physical, and mental spaces to create tools and platforms that help people experience these worlds in new ways. Definitely a women to follow and get inspired about how she took over the world of augmented reality! What was your inspiration to start in Augmented reality? I was fascinated with interaction design and augmented reality since my BA at Central St. Martins. It seemed like the dawn of a new technological era where every surface will become interactive and physical space will be laced with three-dimensional assets…but it took a much longer period then I expected for it to mature into the consumer-facing technology it is today. I kept thinking about spaces and behaviours during the coming years, working as a designer of physical spaces and objects, as well as experiential designer and strategist, and I pivoted back to immersive technology during my MA studies at SCAD university, focusing on social tech and immersive tech implementation strategies. I was so excited that all my initial passion for human-computer interaction were awakened, and this time backed up with the maturing of that technology but also accompanied with my own deep understanding and experience around design, culture, business and social needs. I was in love with technology again, getting closer to what I believed (and still do) it can do for the way we live and experience the world. But I was also concerned about undesirable practices in other (and more mature) tech fields. I was determined to highlight the impact immersive tech (and AR in particular), would bring to cultural, political, economic, identity and social systems (both good and bad). So I wrote my first book ‘Augmenting Alice: The Future of Identity, Experience and Reality’. What was initially a passion project, got spotted by TED and I ended up giving a talk in their global event that looks at how Augmented Reality will launch a type of space exploration (right here on planet earth). Soon I was writing about tech cultures, giving workshops and training and getting to speak in front of EU policymakers, scientists at Bell Labs, entrepreneurs in Slush, as well as creating programs, seminars, and workshops for anyone interested in understanding this new age of the WORLD wide web. I believe that the more people comprehend it, and the many facets it might take, the better its application might become. Tech is for the many, not the few. Can you share your experience about working in the Tech industry? I was trained as an industrial designer and made my final projects around Human-Computer Interaction and design. But ended up focusing more on industrial design and agency work for the coming years. These fields were quite male-dominated, and I thought I can deal & overcome sexist paradigms and mindsets. However, when I shifted to the tech industry, one that should represent an accessible tool that is supposed to elevate individuals and society, I was taken aback by the ‘boys’ club’ approach and attitude it ingrained. Here I was, ready to make great tech, dismissed due to my gender, different background, not having the ‘right’ contacts, but mainly since I challenged common attitudes which relied on technological supremacy over human qualities and culture. I was not getting contracts because I refused to work with unethical practices or create meaningless apps that are only aimed at monetizing user data and engagement. It was a choice: to conform or to stand up to my values and the belief there is a way to think about and develop technology and interactions. It also didn’t score points at the ‘move fast and break things’ dudes. They didn’t understand what the fuss is, and why put any effort in changing something that works well (for them). It felt quite isolated and demotivating. But the longer I’ve persisted, the more I was able to find like-minded people, organizations and collaborators. I am grateful for those who did allow themselves to be challenged and challenge me back. A tribe of awesome people that are truly are passionate about creating better, more ethical, and more meaningful technologies and tools. I’ve started with two of them – Nishan Chelvachandran (an amazing AI and cybersecurity entrepreneur) & Georgie Pinn (an amazing interactive artist) – a new entity called ‘Future Memory Inc.’ that works on creative tech perspectives, cultures and businesses. I am starting a PhD that will research the intersection between technology and imagination, and I am more hopeful and excited about the future than I ever was. It was well worth the journey and all the hardship. If you could use 3 words in order to describe your journey until now, what would they be? Curiosity, passion, common sense. What was the best advice you received in order to do what you do today in your work? Acknowledge consensus, but don’t let it distract you. Which advice would you give in order to inspire girls and women to choose for tech? If you are not let on the boat, build your own and start sailing. We need more female pirates to discover new territories and explore oceans of knowledge. I promise you it will be hard & frustrating, but also liberating and full of unimaginable treasures. Thank you Galit for this truly inspiring interview!