Stephanie Engle



Virtual Reality 



Chapter 3: Designing Human Dimensions 

ROLE  Product Designer, Social VR, 360, Live, Creator

CREDITS  Live-streaming from Facebook Spaces, 360 videos, Live 360 videos, VR creator tools 



There's a time and place for everything.

Often in life, you had to be there to get it. Many of our deepest connections in life come from cosmic intersections of where and when we are. It's the reason Facebook has invested in headsets and 360 media to teleport us anywhere. It's the only way to explain the magic of my first job out of college: designing on Facebook's VR team.

We needed to figure out our place.

That logic wasn't so effortless when I first joined. The irony of working on technology about space was that it hadn't found its place. My largest contribution to designing media that could take you places was helping the team articulate where VR and 360 media could go.

Together, we built products that defined our place in Facebook's dialogue: bring people closer by keeping them from missing out. Success meant inspiring a dialogue: Take me there.

With a place in mind, we needed to take people with us.

Working on 360 media, I learned about bridging old and new ideas. People wanted teleportation, so an engineer and I pitched and built the first step: with Live 360 videos, people could teleport to unfolding moments on their smartphones. At the same time, we urged the company to think about new ways to define success; "Watch time" couldn't capture a medium about presence and participation. 

Often people couldn't get there, so we needed to open our world.

Working on VR, I learned the challenges of hardware and scaling products to everyone. The virtual world offers a place to be together, but most can't access it. Thus, a designer and I pitched and made live-streaming from VR as a portal to bring your friends in.

More than invent virtual worlds, we needed to help people realize value.

Working on creator tools, I had the humbling responsibility of helping others articulate the value of their life's work. Concepts like time and space are pretty hard to explain to viewers, even for the people who make VR media themselves. To find that value, I traveled the world meeting those creators, ensuring they had a chance to co-write their own destiny. I then designed novel tools to help creators capture that value and start to make a livelihood. 

There's a ways to go.

I'm not sure we'll realize the full value of that work for a while. Mostly I'm in awe of how lucky I am, that the essence of my work on that team perfectly characterized how I felt about it: right time, right place.