AR and VR: Our Deep Wish to Make the Virtual Real

When we close our eyes at night we enter a virtual dream world. We can fly, see loved ones who’ve passed, and defy the limits of physical reality. Time, space, and our bodies are different in our dreams. Anything is possible and the rules of the physical waking world no longer apply. Our imagination reigns supreme here. In that moment, it is all real.

As humans, I believe we have a deep-seated desire to push the limits of physical reality to be able to inhabit these dreamscapes. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality bring us closer to this dream.

We are explorers, we are inventors, we are storytellers, we are world builders. We have an innate curiosity to travel to the edge of our world, beyond our horizons, to seek and create new vistas. The power of the virtual fused with reality can help satisfy this wish. We can now step inside of our imagination and welcome others into the deep recesses of our dream worlds to share that reality.

May we imagine and build an awe-inspiring reality together.

I hope to see you at one of my talks and I would also love for you to sign-up for updates on my upcoming book. Let’s continue the conversation: I’m @ARstories on Twitter.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

june Augmented World Expo (AWE) 2015, June 8-10, Silicon Valley, CA.
Main stage talk: “Advancing AR for Humanity.”

Solid Conference 2015, June 23-25, San Francisco, CA.
Main stage talk: “Reality Has Changed.” (Save 20% off registration at this link with my code: AFF20)

Cannes Lions: International Festival of Creativity, June 25-26, Cannes, France.
Main stage panel, Innovation Lions: “Creativity Augmented.” Helen Papagiannis, Chris Milk, and Ted Schilowitz.

Designing the Future of Augmented Reality: slides from PechaKucha


Sometimes you just need to relinquish control.

20 slides, 20 seconds each, and no control of the slide clicker. GO!

I had a fantastic experience at PechaKucha Toronto in December. My presentation, “Designing the Future of Augmented Reality” is now posted here.

More on the wildly fun International PechaKucha format here.

I have some exciting announcements on upcoming talks and my book to share very soon! Hope to see you at one of these events!

You can also find me on Twitter: I’m @ARstories.

*Update: Feb 24/15: Flattered to be featured as the Presentation of the Day on the PechaKucha website!

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.35.46 PM

Will I be seeing you soon? I need your help designing the future of AR.


Very excited by the next couple of months of talks ahead on the future of Augmented Reality! This is our future to design and I hope you’ll be there to be part of the conversation.

December 9, 2014 Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Girls in Tech Toronto

December 4, 2014 Toronto, Ontario, Canada: PechaKucha IIDEX Canada (Canada’s National Design + Architecture Expo & Conference)

November 19-21, 2014 Visby, Sweden: Augmented Reality and Storytelling, Keynote address and workshop

November 13, 2014 Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Future Innovation Technology Creativity (FITC) Wearables, Co-Emcee

October 22-24, 2014 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: COLLIDE Creative Technology Conference

September 8-9, 2014 Calgary, Alberta, Canada: CAMP Festival – Creative Technology, Art and Design

August 27-29, 2014 London, UK: Science and Information Conference (SAI), Keynote address

…And on the topic of designing the future of Augmented Reality, I’ll be making some announcements about my upcoming book “The 40 Ideas That Will Change Reality” very soon! Thank you dear followers for your continued support and interest in my work! I sincerely hope to see and meet you at one of my upcoming talks soon.

Very best wishes,

Follow ARstories on Twitter  View Helen Papagiannis's profile on LinkedIn

An Explorer’s Guide to Augmented Reality’s Creative Future

It was a great honour to speak at the Ontario Augmented Reality Network (OARN) 2012 conference today alongside sci-fi guru & contributing editor of Wired Magazine Bruce Sterling and Gene Becker from Samsung. The day was chockfull of wonderful presentations and critical conversations on advancing AR as a new medium.

I’ve had requests to share the ‘creative manifesto’ slides portion of my talk, “An Explorer’s Guide to Augmented Reality’s Creative Future”, and here they are, unicorn and all. This guide is intended as a source of inspiration to light a creative fire under our AR rockets as we navigate this new terrain. The term “AR unicorn” was also coined during this talk as a metaphor for an AR future we dare to imagine and made real intro a wondrous reality.

A big thank you to Kevin Kee & Karen Flindall for organizing a terrifically inspiring event and another warm thank you to the esteemed panelists and wonderfully engaging audience today! It was so great to bring it all home to Toronto; thank you for having me.

*Update: October 7: Bruce Sterling shared this great photo on Flickr he took of me in cyborg mode exercising my Terminator vision at OARN 😉

Upcoming Augmented Reality Talks: Sept & Oct ’12

I’m excited to announce a few upcoming talks at conferences I’ll be headlining in Sept & Oct.

There’s a wonderful momentum building in recognizing Augmented Reality as a new creative medium for storytelling and as an evangelist for the medium I’m thrilled to continue to help spread the good word. I’m honoured and humbled to be able to inspire these important conversations at this critical time in AR’s creative evolution. Care to blaze the trail with me? Hope to see you at an upcoming talk.

My next talk is Sept 13-14 at VOX: the 4D Summit in Long Beach, California aboard the decadent Queen Mary. I’m excited to be headlining with Blaise Aguera, creator of Photosynth and distinguished engineer at Microsoft, as well as Daniel Suarez, best-selling author of techno-thrillers Daemon and Kill-Decision, and Chris Hewish, Head of Global Interactive at Dreamworks. The invite-only event is presented by daqri and will focus on storytelling and user experience in AR.

I’ve had the great pleasure of giving talks around the world and on October 5th, I’m excited to bring it home to Toronto at OARN, Canada’s largest Augmented Reality conference. Wired’s Bruce Sterling will be giving the keynote, with myself and Gene Becker as featured speakers. My talk will address, “AR at the Cutting Edge — Where do we go from here?”. I will also be leading a separate panel on the topic in the morning. Register here (early bird until Sept 1st).

TEDxDubai talk: Augmented Reality & The Power of Imagination

I’m very pleased to share video of my recent TEDxDubai talk! Naturally, I discussed Augmented Reality 🙂 but I also tied in my Tilt Shift photography to this year’s TEDx theme of “The Beauty of Small Things”.

Fighting a fever and a flu bug, I mustered all my might and was so happy to make it on that stage! Let’s say, it really was an out of body experience! 🙂

My talk featured my children’s AR pop-up book “Who’s Afraid of Bugs”. The book was created using AR software by Junaio. (You can also read more here in a recent interview I did.)

I spoke to the importance and power of imagination and make-believe, and how they pertain to AR at this critical junction in the medium’s evolution. When we make-believe and when we imagine, we are in two places simultaneously; make-believe is about projecting or layering our imagination on top of a current situation or circumstance. In many ways, this is what AR is too: layering imagined worlds on top of our existing reality.

As a designer/artist/PhD researcher I am both a practitioner and a researcher, a maker and a believer. As a practitioner, I do, create, design; as a researcher I dream, aspire, hope. I am a make-believer working with a technology that is about make-believe, about imagining possibilities atop actualities. Now, more than ever, we need more creative adventurers and make-believers to help AR continue to evolve and become a wondrous new medium, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

Make-believe is an extension of wonderment for me. In my previous TEDx talk, in 2010 at YorkU (embedded below) on wonderment and the creative process, I spoke to wonder guiding my work in AR, and the importance of developing wonderment in technology alongside compelling content/storytelling as the medium advances.

I am grateful to the superhuman TEDxDubai curators Giorgio Ungania and Natascia Radice, all of the wonderful volunteers, the mega talented fellow speakers and each of the incredibly engaging delegates for a truly stellar event. Thank you, thank you, thank you.