Resonai Team Spotlight: Gal Sharir, Head of Design

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When Gal Sharir was ten years old, she wondered why sunglasses couldn’t display the names of buildings around her. Today, she’s Resonai’s Head of Design, laying foundations to make that dream an augmented reality. Her invaluable work ensures Vera is both functional and user-friendly, making it far easier to create AR experiences at an architectural scale.

We recently met with Gal to discuss her role and better understand her vision for the future.

What We Learned:

  • AR design is about understanding your space. Resonai’s design goal is to intuitively scale AR to any environment — from small office corridors to sprawling shopping complexes.
  • Resonai thrives when everyone can speak up. Resonai’s work culture succeeds because it encourages the entire team to share their ideas and insights.
  • Experimenting with AR helps it grow. Augmented reality is functional, but the work designers and developers do today will ensure it is universally accessible in the future.

 

Hi Gal! Would you please tell us what your typical day looks like at Resonai?

Each day is different, but there are several aspects I’m responsible for. One is the Resonai product itself, which has a few different parts. Let’s say we have three “players” in Vera. One is the building admin, who uses a web interface to curate the digital space. This interface includes a combination of 2D and 3D perspectives, and it’s really cool. Then you have end users — visitors, tenants, technicians, or other groups — who need to make use of mobile applications like indoor navigation or smart ticketing. Finally, we have Unity developers to create those mobile apps using our SDK.

So we have a developer who builds apps, an admin placing apps on a building, and end-users who interact with those apps. My role is looking at each link in the chain and asking, “What’s the easiest way to build this component or element?” It’s a process of working with developers to understand what they’re doing and translate it into something the end-user will understand. Everything we produce is really complex, so we rework it until it’s as clear and simple as possible.

Outside of the Resonai product, I’m creating marketing materials — the websites, presentation decks, eBooks, campaigns. This step also involves designing mock-ups of Resonai applications themselves, usually images depicting what AR is and how we connect the digital and real worlds into something fun and useful.

 

That’s marketing materials, product design, interface design… I imagine all these considerations make your role quite complex.

It does, but I like that. Working on AR experiences and the Vera platform is not as simple as comparing 3D models to 2D blueprints and saying, “Oh, this is too small, this is too big.” It’s walking through the physical space and noticing a navigational marker disappears too early, for example, and starting again. It’s coming up with a solution that works for all of the spaces in the world.

I imagine it happens less because of COVID, but do you ever visit the facilities for on-site testing?

Yes. When we built a digital twin for the Moscow Trade Center, we went to Moscow to test the application. It’s a huge market with 6,000 shops with really wide corridors. The ceilings are high. I could see fifty meters in front of me, which is completely different from our building in Tel Aviv, where I see maybe ten. So we spent the entire day walking and filming everything to understand the experience. Which digital objects are too big or too small? Are the notifications rushing by too fast? This testing helps us design for different spaces.

 

Tell me a bit more about your professional background. I understand you work at a University?

I studied in the joint university program of computer science and design at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. In addition to my work at Resonai, I’m a teacher in the web design studio.

When I started with Resonai as a front-end developer, I was still a design student. At the time, Resonai didn’t have anyone with design experience. It was all very trial and error. But over time, I learned the processes that let me identify design problems and change them. It’s really helpful to understand both sides — I can develop a feature and understand how it fits into the overall design. Now tasks that used to take two weeks might be streamlined to be completed in one.

 

How would you describe Resonai’s work culture?

Resonai gives you the freedom to do what you love. I teach at Bezalel Academy, so I’m away one day a week for a three-month semester! I did an exchange semester at ENSAD in Paris and participated in multiple art exhibitions and design weeks — mostly in Israel and one in Japan. All of these experiences contributed to me at Resonai. Being a teacher, for example, really lets you understand how to communicate new concepts to your students. The day after teaching, I’d come back to work, and I’d have so many new ideas I wish to share and explore.

At Resonai, if something interests you, or you notice a problem, you are encouraged to speak up. And we listen to each other. We actually work that way. I’ll create lists of ideas and concepts, and they don’t just sit there — we look at them and make changes accordingly. It could take time, obviously, but it does happen.

 

What excites you about AR?

Since I was about ten, I’ve always worn sunglasses. And I remember walking in the street with my dad, and I said, “I don’t understand why there isn’t something on my glasses that shows me names of buildings around us.” I don’t know why I said that, but it’s true! It makes so much sense compared to holding up a mobile phone. At Resonai, we’re working on mobile AR solutions because we can’t wait to make that dream a reality. Someone needs to conduct the experiments and build the processes that will ensure the user experience is intuitive and natural.

You know, my father worked on the first mobile phone that played video. I remember him walking around with a suitcase that was the demo phone, a great big circuit board. Then, one day, he came home with a small phone that held a single video — Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger music video. Now, all phones have video. And they work. We don’t even think about how difficult they used to be.

AR is the same. It works, but it could and needs to be better. The 3D can be more complex, the rendering can be more beautiful. But I’m positive it will be one day. Until then, I like being part of something that’s at the forefront of innovation — and making it real.

 

Thanks so much to Gal for talking to us about her experience! Are you interested in joining the Resonai team? Check out our open positions and apply today.

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