A New Partnership with Circuit Stream Brings You the Latest in XR Design and Development

By: Jeff Nazzaro

You’ve no doubt been hearing about virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and even mixed reality (MR) for years, if not decades, and you’ve probably wondered when this immersive technology would find its way into your life. That answer is now.

“If you’re worried about being late to the party, don’t!”

Under the emerging umbrella term extended reality and the cool initials XR, it is becoming more affordable and accessible to the general public and making serious inroads into gaming, visual entertainment, and social media. Its use in training applications in corporate and industrial settings, military, and sports is exploding. If you’re worried about being late to the party, don’t. You’re right on time.

And if you’re looking to get in on what is still a pretty low floor, whether as a new standalone career or a way to enhance your current job credentials, UCR University Extension Professional Studies, in partnership with online XR education provider Circuit Stream, has you covered—from first steps to a foot in the door.

“Circuit Stream is proud to be partnering with UCR University Extension,” said Co-founder, Lou Pushelberg. “Southern California is the origin of today’s consumer virtual reality devices and is, therefore, a really special place for us to launch this partnership together. The immersive technology industry is growing thanks to the backing of many of the world’s largest technology companies, and we're looking forward to bringing our educational experience and partnerships with industry to support learners at UCR University Extension, and the growth of the industry overall.”

“The immersive technology industry is growing…”

Two different paths, Interaction Design and XR Development, are being offered, each consisting of 10-week online programs, featuring live and on-demand classes culminating in certificates from both UCR University Extension and Circuit Stream.

Interaction Design & Prototyping for XR takes a practical, hands-on approach to guide students through the completion of two XR projects. The focus is on thinking about unique, XR-driven solutions to problems, according to Jerry Medeiros, an XR developer who leads the Circuit Stream education team. Say a company needs to train people in an expensive procedure that is potentially dangerous for a novice and thus, wants to pursue an XR solution. The designer assesses needs, feasibility, costs, application (VR or AR), and hardware. They’ll be trained to compile all the human factors, business needs, and goals and then test solutions and design alternatives.

“They’re going to make sure that what they’re creating or proposing is an efficient solution for the business and the workers, with the constraints they have,” Jerry said. “They’re going to be researching alternatives and testing that with the users and finding out how to solve those specific training needs that the company has.”

“XR Designer is an excellent way to introduce new modes of thinking into a current work environment.”

XR Designer is a career in and of itself, and also attracts many professional designers currently working in other fields, like web design or product design, who want to get into XR and 3D design. It is also an excellent way for professionals trying to introduce new modes of thinking into their current work environment. Jerry has worked with automotive industry executives who want to learn how to use emerging XR technology for testing and demonstration purposes, how to start a project, and hire people to develop it. He has also taught doctors and nurses looking for solutions to specific training needs that will be cheaper and won’t put patients at risk.

“Probably they’re not going to build everything,” he said, “but how do they go about it? What is possible? It’s good for anyone who wants an overview of the process.”

The XR Development with Unity course pushes students through a project-based curriculum that yields a portfolio of seven projects and is specifically designed for those looking to break into the industry. One Circuit Stream student created a VR game to keep cycling on a stationary bike during inclement weather interesting and fun. Others have developed step-by-step training modules using VR for learning how to operate complex, dangerous machinery, like textile machines.

“The XR Development with Unity course is designed for those looking to break into the industry…”

“It’s basically for people who want to get into the industry. They want to know what’s going on,” Jerry said. “They want to get some basic knowledge in programming; they want to have a prototype. The students come from very diverse professional backgrounds because the course is beginner-friendly.”

Both the design and development courses are constructed as entry-level, with no prerequisites for joining. As for potential professional applications, the sky really is the limit and XR really is just getting going. As evidence, Jerry pointed to major tech players like Apple and Microsoft starting to take XR seriously, while Facebook is rebranding itself as Meta as it plots its new XR course. As the price for hardware has come down to earth, more developers are creating apps and games for a broader audience.

“As for potential professional applications, the sky really is the limit and XR is just getting going.”

“This is the perfect moment to get into this, because it’s not the future anymore—it’s now the present,” Jerry said. “It’s happening now. There are things happening and companies are pushing that. The job market is skyrocketing. You can see AR/VR developer jobs, AR engineer, VR designer. Those things that we didn’t see in the past, now you can see lots of jobs in this industry. So, it’s the perfect time to start it.”