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WTIA & Galvanize Present; Tech in Focus: Virtual Reality

February 21 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Panelists will discuss the latest trends and the future of Virtual and Augmented Reality as it relates to business and real life applications. How will VR/AR impact how we work together? How will it impact how we communicate? How widespread will this technology become outside of gaming?


Boaz Ashkenazy, Co-founder, Studio 216

Boaz Ashkenazy is Co-founder of Studio 216, an immersive technology agency specializing in virtual and mixed reality production studio focussed on real estate and architecture. Boaz led the development team that launched one of the first virtual reality residential sales centers in the United States. Studio 216, in partnership with Skanska USA, also developed the first holographic leasing center in the world using Microsoft HoloLens, which recently opened in downtown Seattle. Studio 216 was one of eight agencies selected to participate in the Microsoft HoloLens Agency Readiness program which provided participants with early access to HoloLens technology. Studio 216 was founded in 2005 and has offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Shanghai.

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Marianna Budnikova, Software Engineer, HoloLens

Marianna Budnikova is a software engineer at Microsoft Analog (HoloLens) team helping engineers become more productive through data science. An ardent mixed reality fan and hackathon-participant, she has been developing HoloLens prototypes for education and commerce outside of work. Before moving to Seattle area, Marianna worked on growing mixed reality community in Boise, ID and assisted Idaho Virtual Reality Council in organizing the first VR/AR hackathon in Idaho. Marianna is a Google Scholar and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from Boise State University.

She writes about technology, mixed reality development and women in computing on her blog CodeBrave.


Forest Gibson, Co-Founder, Pluto VR

Forest has a diverse background including VR, marketing, video, and crowdfunding. Before co-founding Pluto VR he helped Kickstart an automated brewing machine that makes beer at the press of a button, pioneered a new way to train employees through mobile gaming, created more than a dozen viral videos, and starred as an Internet Scientist on Know Your Meme.

Heather Raikes, Creative Director, 8ninths

Heather Raikes is Creative Director at 8ninths, a Seattle-based virtual and mixed reality design and development studio. She has led the 8ninths team in developing for multiple VR and AR platforms, including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, GearVR, Google Daydream, HoloLens, Meta, and Magic Leap. 8ninths has produced virtual and mixed reality content and solutions for companies such as Citibank, Microsoft, Amazon, IPG Media Labs, Endemol Shine Media Group, and Seattle Pacific University. Heather has a PhD from DXARTS, the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media, specializing in immersive media and mixed reality composition. She worked extensively in the New York new media industry, and has held multiple future-focused university media art research positions.

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Mary Jesse, Chief Strategy Officer,VRStudios

Mary is a technology executive, strategist, inventor and entrepreneur. Her past roles include Founder and CEO of Ivycorp, VP of Strategic Technology for McCaw Cellular Communications and VP of Technology Development for AT&T Wireless. She has founded and built companies specializing in wireless, telecommunications, software and film production. A licensed professional engineer, Mary holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering and has authored more than a dozen patents.

Presented By:

Galvanize will provide food and drink for this event.

Galvanize is the premiere dynamic learning community for technology. With campuses located in booming technology sectors throughout the country, Galvanize provides a community for each the following:

  • Education – part-time and full-time training in web development, data science, and data engineering
  • Workspace – whether you’re a freelancer, startup, or established business, we provide beautiful spaces with a community dedicated to support your company’s growth
  • Networking – events in the tech industry happen constantly in our campuses, ranging from popular Meetups to multi-day international conferences

To learn more about Galvanize, visit galvanize.com.


February 21
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


111 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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