Welcome to the second edition of What Charges You? – this time featuring Rebekah Diaz, AR/VR Strategist for Zpryme’s XR division, Froliq! Read on to find out about the exciting things Rebekah does at Zpryme, and how she spends her time outside of the virtual world. Want to keep up with Froliq’s future developments? Follow them on YouTube!

CR: What charges you about working in the energy industry?

RD: The transition and transformation. Right now, we’re riding a wave of changes in the industry. Everyone and everything is becoming more accessible! I feel drawn to these areas of high potential energy. 

CR: There is indeed a lot of potential energy, both within your specific role and within the energy industry, so I think that’s a great connection. Tell me more about your journey toward working in energy, and your professional background before you transitioned into this space.

RD: Before I was working for Zpryme/ Froliq, or Dance-Virtual, I was a ballroom dance teacher. I worked my way up the ranks of the dance studio. In the studio, I used the term ‘energy’ in a much different way than I do now. Energy in the studio was mostly related to sensation.

CR: Thanks for sharing that! That definitely leads into my next question, which is, how did you decide to pursue doing VR professionally and how did you learn to do it?

RD: I was the Director of a small non-profit studio in Austin, Dance International, when I met Jorge Ortiz, the Director of XR at Zpryme/Froliq. He invited me to be his business partner for Dance-Virtual. There was a lot to learn in the beginning. He did a lot of the initial research for us to work together. Going from dance teacher to XR Strategist was a big leap that required a lot of practice and research. The XR industry is moving fast and evolving. When designing apps with Jorge, we still reference and write developer blogs, attend and speak at virtual conferences, and watch and make tutorial videos to make sure we stay on top of the latest and greatest capabilities within the XR industry.

CR: That’s an incredible story, and it sounds like it’s been such a fun journey with a lot of learning along the way. Which tools and software do you and Jorge use to create these virtual experiences?

RD: We mostly use a game engine called Unity. We also use Visual Studio, SteamVR, Blender, OBS Studio, Audacity, VSDC, Google Drive, Slack, Monday, occasionally Perception Neuron motion capture suits and software, greenscreens, and recording equipment. Because of COVID we recently added Plastic SCM to synchronize remotely. For Augmented Reality, we test experiences on our personal Android devices, and we have an iPad. For VR, we use a variety of headsets (WMR, Vive, Oculus, etc..) to test our apps.

CR: I think it’s so cool that Zpryme is connected into using VR/AR as an innovative tool to help and to educate people. What charges you about working with Zpryme?

RD: Earlier I had mentioned that I worked with energy in terms of sensation, while Zpryme works more with the traditional energy industry. Zpryme brings that sensation to the energy industry! There’s just something special about this group of people and how they treat other people. Everybody truly is “sensational”! Emma Garcia Purvis, People and Culture Manager, does a great job maintaining our culture, keeping everybody focused while ensuring we are all healthy and balanced. Zpryme does such a good job of sticking to their values. They’ve done that for the past two-three years and I’ve watched them grow into what they are today.

CR: I feel the same way. We have such a strong sense of values which everyone shares. We have a very harmonious team made up of genuinely kind people. And you don’t find that everywhere. Now that you’ve shared about how you discovered Zpryme and started working with them, what charges you outside of your work in energy? What are you passionate about?

RD: I have a few hobbies. I like to dance, play music, and cook. I just joined the Board of Directors for the nonprofit that I used to work for, which is exciting for me. Other than that, my life revolves around my son. We spend a lot of time playing games. I was just able to introduce him to PC games, and he’s learning how to use the keyboard and mouse as a toddler. I really enjoy reading, too. I’ve been working on my Spanish literacy to complement my conversational skills. I also like to cook. My husband and I don’t own a microwave. We hand-cook every meal. My husband’s mother was a chef who cooked French food and his brother is a chef who cooks traditional Mexican seafood on a boat. We like to cook in our family! Finally, nothing recharges me like sleeping!

CR: That’s great! It sounds like you have a lot of fun passions that engage a variety of different interests. It’s nice that because of the way we work at Zpryme, you can make time for your family and for things that you really enjoy. And now, I’ll ask you the opposite of the question I just asked: what zaps or drains you? What are your pet peeves, either about energy or the world in general?

RD: Generally, I don’t focus on the negative. But it’s kind of hard in the COVID world. So if I had to name something, I’d say that inefficiency really peeves me, as well as things that are rigid and dense. I like things to be flexible, stable, and balanced. So, if it’s not efficient and it’s really dense and bulky, it tends to frustrate me. I should note, as far as efficiency goes, I don’t mean for something to be done as fast as possible. Mobility would be an example of that, because I don’t always try to get from point A to B as quickly as possible. Sometimes I like the journey to be more relaxed. What inefficiency means to me is when I see potential energy failing to be converted to kinetic energy. It makes me really frustrated, because Newton’s first law, you know?

CR: Those are really great examples. I think a lot of people share those “zaps” with you. We’ve reached my last question: as someone in a position where you are very much a futurist at Zpryme, what are you optimistic or excited about as you look into the future?

RD: As I mentioned earlier, I’m looking forward to the results of this transformation. Sometimes, I have a bleak outlook on humanity, but then I cross my fingers because I read an article about somebody who I feel is doing right and making a meaningful impact with their innovation, and I get a sense of relief and feel that things will be okay. Although we don’t know what’s ahead, I’m looking forward, and I’ve been seeing more signs recently that we’re headed in the right direction. I’m confident about that.

CR: It is really exciting. It’s nice to just be hopeful and see signs that tell you that things are moving the way they should be. I agree with your answer to the other question as well. When you see changes that could and should be made but the people in the position to make them just aren’t doing it for whatever reason, it’s easy to think, “why aren’t you doing that?” It could make life better for so many people. And there are all kinds of examples in modern society of old or outdated systems, or systems that are just really problematic for a number of reasons, being perpetuated at the expense of the wellbeing and even lives of so many people, which is quite frustrating. But, there are so many people acting, advocating, and amplifying, which creates hope for the positive potential you mentioned to be realized. That’s a future I want to invest my energy in. Thank you for chatting with me, Bekah!