Preserving Tradition and Encouraging Diversity: Fredy Andrade on The Future of AR and VR

The ROOM
6 min readJul 17, 2023

If you were born in the 80’s or 90’s, you probably got the chance to play some of the popular video games of those times. Games like Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders were all the rave, and by the late 90s, video game technology had evolved to the handheld game consoles and the early versions of PC gaming systems. We’ve since transitioned into more intricate, immersive gaming experiences, and one of the ways we’ve been able to achieve this is through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

Fredy Andrade is a Software Developer and Gameplay Programmer who knows all the secrets to modern video game technology, especially those with AR and VR components. He shared with us his motivations for venturing into this field, the opportunities that exist in AR and VR for other tech professionals, and how the AR/VR industry can continue to innovate and advance this digital transformation era.

Could you share a bit about your background, and how you got your start in the AR/VR industry?

I’ve worked as a Software Developer over the last 10 years creating web platforms with languages such as Ruby and Javascript, and co-founding the first Afro-Colombian Programmer’s Community called Hackdó, in my free time. Particularly in the last 4 years, I’ve been able to chase my childhood dream of developing AR/VR experiences for festivals and video games such as Fortnite, Satoshiverse, and NoahVRK.

As an Afro-Colombian, I have always been concerned about the future of our people and the way we preserve our traditions and tenets. Those concerns made me think that maybe the intersection between tradition, technology and my dream of becoming a Game Programmer could be used to preserve our ancestral memories in new mediums. While I was at university, I started creating casual games to test this assumption. Years later, I discovered AR and VR as new mediums, and things just took off from there. In time, I’ve come to realise AR and VR are only a fraction of how data and information will transform the way we perceive and interact with the world, and that has made pursuing this field all the more exciting for me.

What are some of the most memorable projects you’ve worked on so far?

I’ve worked on numerous projects over the years, each one for a different medium. One of the most interesting projects I worked on was The Afro Verse — a VR experience focused on Palafitico Buildings, made for NegroFest.

Some of Fredy’s projects: (L-R) Palafitico Buildings, Satoshi Verse, Fortnite

Another memorable project I worked on is an unreleased game called NoahVRK. My job was to build the main character mechanics interacting with objects, set the inverse kinematic animations of hands for making them follow the Quest Controller, and integrate animations. It was a great experience and is the most realistic VR game I have worked for.

I’ve also worked on a blockchain game called Satoshi Verse. My responsibility on this was to build Enemies AI, integrate the animations for each character, and apply the Unreal Engine Ability System to NPC.

Of all my projects, the most prominent one is Fortnite. My work there has been focused on making UI/UX improvements, solving bugs and creating other fun things that I’m not at liberty to discuss at the moment.

How is the AR/VR industry evolving in tandem with other technological advancements?

The growth of the AR/VR industry has been slow and steady, but it has really skyrocketed in the last 5 years. The demand for AR/VR job positions grew by 1400% just in 2019. Now the future is even brighter with Apple jumping into the competition against Meta and rebranding the field as Spatial Computing.

The noticeable achievements of this industry are in the way it is changing everything. For example, the world of short animated movies is better than ever before. Meta has invested a lot of money in tiny studios making touching movies that allow viewers to interact with the main characters. A lot more optimisation techniques, texture packaging, and animation tools now exist, like Quill Animation for animation, Medium for 3D sculpting, and Quill Tether for watching short animation movies. There are also various tools designed specifically for working in the metaverse. So really, the possibilities that Spatial Computing (AR/VR) is opening for creators are endless!

What skills do you think are most relevant for succeeding in an AR/VR-related role?

Fredy leading a Hackdo workshop | Source: ideasycorazon.com

The necessary skills are in a wide range of fields. For example, you can be an animator that understands the creation process with Quill Animation, or you can be a programmer who knows how vectors work in linear algebra. Having a solid understanding of game engines such as Unreal Engine or Unity can also give you a chance, and knowing how to build UI/UX solutions and adapting them to Spatial Computing is a crucial area of expertise. Additionally, if you understand spatial sound, you will be able to play a key role in making narratives more appealing.

So truly, there are many paths that can lead to a career in the AR/VR world. A team focused on making AR/VR products will always need a backend and a frontend engineer and a Data Analytics expert and other tech professionals. People should just stay ahead of their learning processes and keep pushing forward.

What advice would you give tech professionals eager to break into the AR/VR field?

The first thing an aspiring AR/VR professional should do is unlearn any preconceptions about how Spatial Computing products are created and open yourself up to learning new skills. If you already have programming knowledge, work on building UI/UX skills and making animations. Learn about the main rules for AR/VR human interactions and the rules for device limitations. Finally, join or build a local community where you can create products that you can showcase to others. This will help you learn from others while you hone your own skills.

What are your thoughts on diversity in the AR/VR field, and what can be done to improve it?

Source: CareerVillage.org

A lot can be done to encourage diversity in this field. I’m a firm believer that educating people about being respectful to everyone, regardless of how they look, is a must.

AR and VR have given us the superpower of post-humanism; here, people can wear an avatar and be whatever they want to be. I think that’s a great starting point for the world to begin to understand that the human body is just a kind of technology, similar to avatars. I think AR and VR will change the way we perceive others’ physical features, and that can have a profound impact on promoting inclusivity and breaking down stereotypes.

Another thing that we can do to encourage diversity with AR and VR is to do professional interviews with avatars and just select the best talent based on their skills and not how they look.

What current or future AR/VR trends do you find most intriguing?

The future of AR/VR is getting more exciting especially in fields like drone operation, cinema, video games, and human interaction in chats. In the next five years, I think workstations or remote working will change dramatically, enabling immersive collaboration and transforming the way we interact with colleagues and clients alike.

I also believe that we are entering into a new era where AR and VR devices will be cheaper and more accessible for people. The success of this field depends on the creation of tools that improve the lives of people as they go about their daily activities. So in order to ensure the continued growth of AR and VR, it is crucial to address the gap in device price and accessibility, making these technologies more affordable and widely accessible to all.

The ROOM is building a community for world-class technology talent and experts like Fredy Andrade that will power the future. Find out how you can join us at www.theroom.com.

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