Place of Residence: Chania, Crete
Position: Game designer| Game developer| AR Researcher at Surreal Team
Please describe a day in your life:
Research, designing, coding, planning, discussions with other researchers, and meetings are all part of a typical day at the office, which can be exciting, but also quite demanding.
As for the rest of my day, I usually spend it learning new things and keeping up with current developments in the areas of technology that interest me. Equally important to me, as a professional, is to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in society.
If I have enough free time, I improve my artistic skills and make art by using colours, paint brushes, markers, spray cans, and stencils in combination with technological methods, such as projection mapping, pen tablet and 3D printing. One constant thing every day is that I am surrounded by music. The right music can make everything more enjoyable.
How many projects are you currently working on? Please describe them
I am working as a full-time researcher, with the researcher Mr Yannis Kritikos and others, on the research project titled “Ancient Kydonia History Tour”.
ANCIENT KYDONIA HISTORY TOUR is a multidisciplinary project between the Surreal Research Team led by Professor Katerina Mania of the Technical University of Crete, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, collaborating with the Ephorate of Antiquities in Chania and the company Aegean Solutions.
The project involves the implementation of Augmented Reality applications, focusing on learning, 3D music and gamified historical content related to Ancient Kydonia, e.g. an ancient civilization of the Minoan Crete. More specifically, this project involves the implementation of Augmented Reality applications suitable for either the Microsoft Hololens 2 Mixed Reality Headset or for mobile devices.
This project aims to conduct high-quality research promoting the historical context related to the exhibits of the newly built archaeological museum of Chania and the archaeological excavations around the city of Chania.
Additionally, I work on various projects related to art using technology and digital game design development in my free time.
If you could pick one app/product/project existing now that you wish you were involved in, what would it
I think playing a role in the DALL·E project by OpenAI would be a great challenge and fascinating experience.
DALL·E is a new AI system that can create realistic images and art based on a description provided in natural language. This combination of art and AI is a fantastic idea, and DALLE delivers people a unique experience through this powerful tool.
How do you see technology evolving in the next ten years?
Technology will significantly contribute in the next ten years. Humanity and the planet can benefit from renewable energy, robotics, artificial intelligence, biomedical, telecommunications, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies.
Despite the potential for development technology offers, the answer to this question lies in the needs of people in the next ten years and in the intentions of everyone who has access to technology.
What would you like the industry to look like in ten years?
In the future, I would like to see more multidisciplinary projects. These projects allow people from different backgrounds to collaborate and combine sciences with arts, gain new knowledge about an unknown field, and achieve unprecedented results and innovations.
This would broaden people’s thinking horizons and improve their communication skills. A more collaborative approach with less competition would benefit the industry and the people involved.
What are the three characteristics you have that make you successful in tech?
1. Think outside the box
2. Be organized
3. Be on the lookout for new knowledge
What is the most challenging thing you had to deal with during your career?
Budget and time are always two significant constraints for every company and freelancer. A project with more complexity and quality requires more time and resources. Adjusting to tough conditions, equipment limitations and meeting strict deadlines was the most challenging aspect. Anyhow, the above have significantly improved my skills in identifying optimal solutions under specific conditions and constraints and enhanced my professionalism.
What is your greatest achievement up until today?
Among my greatest achievements have been completing my Integrated Master of Science (Integrated M.Sc.) in the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering of the Technical University of Crete as well as publishing two papers as primary author at VS-Games 2019 (Vienna Austria 2019) and IMX2022 (Aveiro Portugal 2022) conferences that have been added to the international scientific libraries of IEEE and ACM.
Giariskanis, F., Parthenios, P., & Mania, K. (2019, September). ARCHIMUSIC3D: Multimodal Playful Transformations between Music and Refined Urban Architectural Design. In 2019 11th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications (VS-Games) (pp. 1-4). IEEE.
Giariskanis, F., Kritikos, Y., Protopapadaki, E., Papanastasiou, A., Papadopoulou, E., & Mania, K. (2022, June). The augmented museum: A multimodal, game-based, augmented reality narrative for cultural heritage. In ACM International Conference on Interactive Media Experiences (pp. 281-286).
My collaboration with Burlington Books (publisher of English language teaching materials) also ranks high for me, where I worked as a 3D Generalist in the animation team, a role that gave me a lot of experience.
What do you wish yourself with respect to your career?
My wish is to work on projects that positively impact society. I would love to work knowing that my efforts actively contribute to a better world. Through the experiences I participate in creating, I hope that the users have fun and improve themselves as individuals. Last but not least, I wish never to lose my imagination as it is the key to innovation and problem-solving.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I plan to be a part of an innovative team that implements multidisciplinary projects involving the design and development of applications and digital games, as well as projects connecting artistic and technological content.
In any case, I will keep working on these projects on my own, too, since I will never totally satisfy my need for self-improvement and new knowledge.
What is your next goal?
As I prepare for my next step, I plan to complete the Ancient Kydonia History Tour project and my Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Technical University of Crete. As I mentioned, my next goal is to join an innovative team that focuses on designing and developing applications, digital games, and arts-related technological projects.
What tips do you have for people who want to start in the tech world?
To start in tech, they should turn to the internet and books for knowledge and information. To get started, they need to set a clear goal (i.e. designing and developing a video game from start to finish) and use these tools to achieve it. Nothing is impossible if there is a vision and a plan.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be?
Invest in your dreams and trust yourself. Consider the advice of people with more experience carefully.
What do you think non-tech people around you (family, friends) think you do?
Computer stuff, art and video games.
What is the invention of the century in your eyes?
In my opinion, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the invention of the century. The utilization of AI can contribute to a multitude of sectors and solve a wide range of problems.
What can’t you do without? (app/product…)
Like many people, I am dependent on my computer.
Where would you like to travel next?
The idea of travelling to Iceland someday intrigues me very much. The natural beauty of this remote country with the waterfalls, the hot baths, the cold climate, and the tranquillity it exudes meet my preferences and make it very appealing. The experience of travelling to such places is always rejuvenating for me, lifts my mood and feeds my mind with new ideas and tones of inspiration.
If you were asked to stay on a deserted island for six months, what three things would you take with you?
Solar panel, mobile phone, and multi-tool.
Do you have a person who influences or motivates you?
In periods of intense pressure, my mother and my partner always support me and help me cope. My older brother always comes to my rescue whenever I ask for advice or training on management, decision-making, or art. My father often advises me on artistic matters and teaches me a lot about colours and techniques. So, in a nutshell, it is my family, friends, and colleagues who are high-achievers, positive thinkers, and kind people. Such people inspire me to become a better person and professional.
What did you dream of creating/inventing/doing as a child?
Having a father who is a hagiographer, my brother and I were surrounded by paints and brushes from a very young age. This led to me initially painting on canvases as a teenager, and later on, I began doing graffiti. Another childhood passion I had was playing video games. So naturally, my dream has always been to become a professional multimodal artist and game designer/developer. As my life has evolved, my goal has mostly stayed the same; only the methods I use to make my art became richer and more interactive.
How did covid-19 change the way people view technological development?
Covid-19 had an immense impact on everyone’s personal and professional lives. I choose to focus on the positive side of things. For starters, people of the post-pandemic era are better equipped to see and understand technology’s importance as a daily tool. Some typical examples include e-learning, e-shopping and working remotely. The burden has shifted, and the consumer is responsible for learning about all the different platforms to conduct meetings, orders, etc., while our responsibility as providers has been to make those platforms safer, more functional, and easier to understand for the average user. As a result, these platforms have become increasingly valuable, as they can save us time and resources. It is now possible for us to carry out different tasks without physically being present at a particular location.