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Owlchemy Labs' new COO wants to find "innovative ways to drive VR forward"

"I find myself looking towards the integration of emerging tech like AI as a tool to empower developers to create personalized and intuitive experiences."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 22, 2024

3 Min Read
Colourful characters in VR title Cosmonious High
Image via Owlchemy

Job Simulator and Cosmonious High developer Owlchemy Labs has appointed spacial computing veteran Sandra Marshall as its new COO.

Marshall joins the studio having garnered plenty of experience outside of the game industry. She previously spent 16 years working at Booz Allen Hamilton, helping the U.S. government and military contractor establish its first VR studio and create a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention VR app designed to model complex airflow patterns and teach safe use of Biological Safety Cabinets at a global scale.

She also led an initiative to develop a digital twin platform for the U.S. Air Force and according to Owlchemy boasts a "proven track record of spearheading market expansion [and] implementing cutting-edge technologies."

The VR studio, which last year named former COO Andrew Eiche as its new CEO, believes Marshall has the credentials needed to help it continue "pushing the boundaries of VR development."

"With Sandra's proven track record in driving innovation in design and technology, she's the perfect fit to help us continue to advance virtual reality," said Eiche. "Her addition to the team strengthens our resolve to make virtual reality a transformative and inclusive experience for all."

Incoming Owlchemy COO intrigued by AI tools, hopes to   deliver "continued sustainability"

During an email exchange with Game Developer, Marshall explained she's cultivated a "big-picture perspective" after bringing emerging technologies to a variety of federal government agencies.

"I've seen many use cases for VR that go beyond gaming. Some examples include creating a VR application designed to model complex airflow patterns and teach safe use of Biological Safety Cabinets to disrupting design solos with XR to improve medical treatment facilities," she explained. "That experience gave me a big-picture perspective of the unique and common requirements, issues, and considerations, for enabling VR adoption from prototype to enterprise."

She added that her job as COO will be to empower Owlchemy and its workforce while driving "continued sustainability." There have been mass layoffs across the industry throughout 2023 and at the beginning of 2024, and while Marshall acknowledged the "contraction" she believes Owlchemy is well positioned to "weather through."

As for how she intends to realize those sustainable growth plans, Marshall claims the VR market is primed for success thanks to the continued introduction of new hardware like the Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro. Owlchemy, she claims, must now drive development standards to ensure the tech feels approachable.

"To push the technical capabilities of VR forward and drive widespread adoption, you need to look across the wide landscape, have a balanced approach to R&D, and identify the opportunities to accelerate," she continued. "This includes driving standards development or building connection points to enable rapid prototyping while identifying ways to make the tech as frictionless as possible. Part of my job will be to help create this balanced approach and find new and innovative ways to drive VR forward."

Marshall said she's particularly excited to see what VR developers create at the "intersection of technology and human-centered design," adding that she's currently looking towards how the integration of emerging technologies like AI could be used as a tool to "empower developers to create perzonalized and intuitive experiences."

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About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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