Oculus Research Q&A: Marina Zannoli

Oculus Research Q&A: Marina Zannoli

Yesterday, we kicked off a week of Q&As with the Oculus Research team behind an exciting new perceptual testbed that opens up exciting avenues for future research. Today, we’re excited to chat with Research Scientist Marina Zannoli.

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Tell us a little about your background.

Marina Zannoli: After completing a PhD in Cognitive Science in France, I spent a few years at University of California, Berkeley investigating how the optics of our eyes determine how we recover the three-dimensional structure of our visual environment. I’ve been at Oculus for two-and-a-half years working with the Computational Imaging team.

What brought you to Oculus?

MZ: I joined Oculus Research because I wanted to work on interdisciplinary teams with smart and generous people and tackle complex and ambiguous scientific problems that will have a significant impact in our daily lives.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Oculus Research?

MZ: My favorite thing about working at Oculus Research is my co-workers. I’m surrounded by talented and generous researchers and engineers who love to share their knowledge.

What was your very first VR experience? How about your most memorable one?

MZ: I fell in love with vision science the first time I looked through a stereoscope. The scene was sparse, but seeing these simple black-and-white lines floating in depth was an ineffable experience. Fast forward to my time at UC Berkeley, where I was transformed by looking through a volume of light created by a multi-plane display prototype—it felt like peering into another world through a keyhole. However, it wasn’t until I tried VR that I understood what “immersion” means.

My first experience with VR was definitely my most memorable one. While I was working at Berkeley, a friend of mine was able to get his hands on a DK2 and showed me a demo that transported the viewer through the history of VR (Welcome to Oculus VR). You sat in a virtual armchair and traveled down virtual memory lane. When the demo started, I was so immersed that I fell off of my chair! My friend credits himself for starting my journey into VR.

How do you think VR and AR will impact our daily lives in the years to come?

MZ: Beyond the obvious revolution that VR and AR will bring to gaming, I’m looking forward to using VR and AR in my own work to visualize and manipulate complex sets of information (e.g. data) and in my daily life to stay connected to my family who lives all over the world.