Student Spotlight: Jack Morgan - Financial Analyst to Sr Product Manger of the Metaverse
January 26 2022
The XR Development with Unity course from Circuit Stream is a project-based 10-week live online course, where students learn the fundamentals of augmented and virtual reality development with Unity game engine.
In this segment of our Student Spotlight series, we talked with Jack Morgan — a financial analyst who meet with immersive environments way back in 2019. The first impression had a tight grip for years until he finally made a decision, took the 10-week XR development course and is not working as a project manager at a company that is building a social media metaverse.
Jack just started working as a Senior Product Manger at Together Labs , a company which is looking to redefine social media in an avatar-based immersive environment. Take a look at their platform IMVU and chat real time in 3D.
In his spare time Jack likes playing video games and creating XR games and services. At the moment he is continuing his project on Film Xplorer application that enables users to explore film locations in SF using AR markers.
Financial Analyst to XR Developer
Jack first encountered immersive environment in 2009 when he was working as a financial analyst at a M&A investment bank called Qatalyst in San Francisco.
"I was working on a 5-year mobile technology forecast project for a major phone producer. I was tasked to project new trends that would affect the mobile industry over the next 5-10 years and I discovered XR in my research. I was convinced it was the future and have been infatuated ever since. I went on to focus my digital studies thesis at USC on AR and Sports which I finished in 2013.
When Jack was working in Sports he always kept an eye on the XR Industry. After he left his job in 2020 he knew that his next role had to be in the XR/Metaverse field. With the proliferation of VR devices like Oculus and the advancement of mobile technologies and HMD’s, XR had the potential to explode in 2022.
"I had looked at a number of XR jobs in early 2021 but my in depth knowledge of the field had become rusty and out of date. It became clear that I needed to continue my XR education which is when I found Circuit Stream."
Favorite XR Experiences
Jack's favorite AR applications are the ones that allow users to utilize technology to explore the world around them.
"My favorite AR app is probably still the first one I ever used. Skyview uses AR overlays on a user's mobile camera feed to allow users to identify constellations, planets and satellites in the night sky and providing a vital societal function by reigniting interest in Astronomy and Science in younger generations that struggle to connect with outdoors as older generations use to.
Jack believes that we spend too much time on our phones on useless applications and it is good if XR applications utilize these powerful tools to help people look up at the world around them instead of looking down into the virtual abyss.
Getting Involved with XR and Circuit Stream
Jack was already permanently imprinted by immersive worlds since 2009 and he expanded his studies at USC from 2009-2013 with the Digital Studies courses. After that he picked up his research in 2020 by taking online courses. Just like a lot of other XR enthusiasts he started watching YouTube videos to track trends and new services in the industry.
After spending time in the Sports world for more than 6 years Jack realized that he needed to catch up on the recent developments in XR during his time away and found Circuit Stream to be a perfect option for him to pick up where he left off.
"I decided in early summer. I took C# Scripting course with Cash, XR Development course with Nakisa, and XR Design course with Tyrell. Nakisa was also my 1-1 instructor."
His First XR Idea Coming to Life
It seems like Jack Morgan is a huge movie buff since his idea was to visualized famous movies sets in actual geographical locations. The idea "Film Xplorer" was born.
"I wanted to test out my idea for a Film Xplorer application. I wanted to see what was possible, what the restrictions were and build a prototype. If I determined that the idea didn’t have long-term viability then I'd utilize the project to get a new job in the XR/metaverse industry."
Jack created a Film Xplorer application that allowed users to explore San Francisco by looking for film locations by searching by location, title or actor with Google Maps images and AR markers. This allows users to utilize technology to explore the world around them and to connect with their favorite films and destinations
"I utilized OpenData San Francisco API, Google Search/Maps APIs, AR GPS API into one application in Unity that allowed users to utilize all available data to dive deep into films based in San Francisco."
Experience with the XR Design and Development Course
Jack thinks the most difficult part is trying to think about products in a 3D world that doesn’t have to follow the same rules as our 3D reality. Most of his actual product experience has come in the 2D space and adding 3D movement complicates the equation.
"From shaders and colliders to switches and teleportation, there are a lot of XR concepts that are not common in other industries. However, what surprised me most is that once you learn the basics of those components it is relatively easy to create fun XR games/services in Unity without much coding."
Learning all the subtle nuances of developing on 3D engines like Unity can be difficult. Since it is an open platform with a ton of integrations and capabilities it can be hard to come in as a new developer and expect to be able to get everything right on your own.
"That is where the 1-on-1s [XR Plus pack gets students 10 hours of private mentorship hours] really helped provide the guidance and help needed to take an ambitious idea like mine and make it a reality. Nakisa really helped me take all these separate technologies and concepts and combine them into an intriguing service. Like figuring out the URL formatting for the google search APIs or filtering through a government api data feed like Open data that was riddled with errors and inconsistencies, Nakisa was able to help guide me through it so I could make my dreams a reality."
Jack confessed that the courses have been really fun and he learned a lot.
"It will help build a foundation for your XR knowledge, expand your existing understanding and provide you with the tools to create fun and exiting XR applications in Unity."
What's next for Jack?
Jack just finished his courses and got recruited to work at a Metaverse Company called Together Labs as the new Sr. Product Manager of the Web/Desktop team on a product called IMVU. IMVU is a metaverse product that enables users to create their own Avatar and 3D chat rooms to meet new people and hang out with friends in the Metaverse.
The company also has other crypto and gaming initiatives that have XR elements Jack is excited to explore.
"My foundation in XR world building, development and design gave me a great foundation for my new job at Together Labs."
Connect with Jack Morgan
Interested in XR Unity development or learning about AR and VR?
Take a look at our course content and syllabus.
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