The Hacking XR Speaker Series is an initiative of Hacking XR course (CMS.339/839). It is usually offered in conjunction with the MIT Open Documentary Lab and the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST). The HACKING XR SPEAKER SERIES is always free, and open to the public. This year, in the context of COVID-19 confinement, the class is entirely virtual. HACKING XR guests will visit through zoom calls - they will be recorded and shared


Free and open to the public.

Reservations recommended.


Jake Sally, COO - JADU

March 9th, 2021

1:15pm - virtually

​How does one create compelling and relevant immersive experiences? The immersive media are quickly expanding. In less ca decade, this nascent field has seen shifts from 360 videos, to 6 degrees of freedom CGI immersive worlds, and explorations of AI and 5G.


We here take a look at where XR is now, where it is headed, and what it takes to create (and pitch!) relevant, compelling experiences with emerging platforms, guided by our speaker, Jake Sally, COO of mobile AR music experience app Jadu.


Jake Sally is an Emmy-nominated producer, public speaker and entertainment executive dedicated to building the pipeline, vernacular and stories grounded in technology for audiences worldwide. He is COO of Jadu, an interactive AR company building widely accessible musical experiences with the world’s leading artists such as Lil Nas X, and out a slate of next-gen projects and partnerships. Previously, he oversaw content development at RYOT, Verizon’s internal content innovation company, focused on creating content formats of the future, technical pipelines and storytelling techniques as 5G networks begin to be widely available to consumers. He focused on collaborations with artists and technologists to alter and improve the way stories are told with next-generation technology including VR, AR, artificial intelligence, projection mapping, physical installations, 5G and motion capture. His key projects included a partnership with TIME Magazine to digitally recreate the historic March on Washington complete with a photoreal Martin Luther King who delivers the iconic “I Have a Dream Speech” to guests as part of a large scale traveling virtual reality museum exhibition on civil rights. He was also the creative producer for the United Nation's first use of projection mapping in the General Assembly as part of their Climate Action Summit held to galvanize world leaders to fight climate change like never before. His work has led to speaking opportunities both public and private for institutions including MIT, Johns Hopkins, USC, Mobile World Congress, SXSW, Emmy Television Academy Foundation, and the Sundance Institute's New Frontier Story Lab among others. His work has appeared at Super Bowl LII (2018) and is part of textbooks used at USC such as Crafting Stories for Virtual Reality.


March 15th

1:30pm - virtually



- Sonny Li, Codecademy


If the possibility of wide audiences to access content and tools needed to experience VR and XR projects has long been debated, it is also important to ensure creators and makers of all background can also access the means of production. How does one create XR content from scratch?


Guest Lecturer Sonny Li, is a Senior Curriculum Developer at Codecademy. He designed and led the production teams on Learn C++, Learn SQL, Learn Swift, Learn A-Frame, and currently the Computer Science Path.

Li will guide us through fundamental A-Frame concepts such as HTML primitives before digging deeper into the more advanced topics like building out a virtual environment and creating user interactions. A-Frame is a popular open-source web framework for building virtual reality experiences in the web browser. Based on top of HTML, it makes it simple for anyone to get started. 


Ali Eslami, False Mirror

March 29th

1:30pm - virtually

'VR is like dreaming with eyes wide open". Ali Eslami is a Virtual Reality Artist and Practitioner from Iran who has been active and experimenting with VR since 2014. Ali’s work carves new pathways into this emerging medium by developing interactive experiences, driving his practice-led research. He began creating immersive experiences without ever accessing a headset. His projects created from self-taught practice, went on to receive IDFA DocLab Award for “Best Immersive non-fiction” (Death toll, 2016) and the Gouden Kalf (Nerd_Funk, 2020)

Eslami's newest project, False Mirror, was created with the goal to  test out a theory about whether or not a virtual world could be habitable for humans. manifest as realities that blur fictional and non-fictional narratives, which strive to articulate possible futures. Ali compliments his process with speculative design and world-building, and is ever questioning the restraints of physical space, time and bodies. Besides content production, Ali is active in running VR lectures and workshops.



Katayoun Dibamehr, Floreal

Raqi Syed, Minimum Mass 

April 5th

1:30pm - virtually


It’s not about which subjects fit to immersive media, but rather how you think of what is felt, experienced, and understood through technological affordances.  We here revisit the concept of the “empathy-machine”, with a walk-through of the making of award-winning experiences Hangman at Home (Best VR, Biennale di Venezia, 2020), and MINIMUM MASS (ANIDOX:VR Award 2020).

Born in Tehran Iran, after a Bachelor of Arts in French Language in Azad University in Tehran Katayoun Dibamehr moved to Montpellier to pursuit her studies in Master 1 - French Literature and comparison. She then moved to Montreal to join her family where she got a major in Communication Studies in Concordia University. Since 2009, she worked in the festival scene (MUTEK, POP Montreal, RIDM and FNC) and began curating new media projects at Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinema since 2015, strengthening the new media DNA of this major festival. In 2018, she started her collaboration with Floréal Films based in Paris concentrating in producing immersive projects. She has actively participated in various manifestations in XR industry. She was selected at Dev Lab an incubator organized by Oculus, Ryot and Kaleidoscope in 2018 with the project Néphélé by the author Alexandre Perez (France). Her projects has been part of Venice Biennal College and International film markets and workshops like Venice Production Bridge, MIFA at Annecy, Sheffield Doc Fest and Sundance New Frontier Lab in the last couple of years and also selected as part of the official selections at Tribeca Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival, Annecy International Animation Film Festival etc. She is behind the production of award winning VR projects MINIMUM MASS by Raqi Syed and Areito Echevarria (Cristal Award for Best VR project at Annecy) and The Hangman at Home by Michelle and Uri Kranot (Grand Jury Prize for Best VR work in Venice Film Festival) in 2020. Katayoun's current wish is to get closer to artists, supporting and representing them, leaning towards the production of innovative, immersive and multi-screen art works. 

Raqi Syed is a writer, visual effects designer, and researcher. She is co-director of the award-winning film experience MINIMUM MASS. Her practice and teaching focus on the materiality of light, hybrid forms of non-fiction and genre storytelling, and using media archeology and software studies methodologies to better understand contemporary practices in visual effects. Raqi has worked as a visual effects artist on a bunch of feature films. In 2020 her VR work was exhibited at the Tribeca, Cannes, Annecy, and Venice International Film Festivals. She is a 2018 Sundance and Turner Fellow, and a 2020 Ucross Fellow. In 2017, The Los Angeles Times pegged Raqi for a list of 100 people who can help solve Hollywood’s diversity problem. She holds an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and an MA from the VUW Institute of Modern Letters.

April 26th

1:30pm - virtually


May Abdalla, ANAGRAM


How can we use new platforms and hardware in a way that genuinely pulls people into immersion? What are the factors outside the form that will always play an unwritten character in your story and how can we learn how to work with them so they don't 'break' your experience.  A practical inquiry into how to write to the reality you're in - rethinking the rules for immersive storytelling with the use and misuse of XR tech. 


May Abdalla works with technology to create sensory stories that help us to reimagine the world and our place in it. In 2013 she co-founded Anagram, an award-winning creative studio specializing in thought-provoking interactive storytelling and immersive experience design. Their work has toured internationally at festivals, public space and museums. Each experience gets the audience to move, think, talk - and participate.  Perhaps you have a glimpse of being someone else, or you find a corner of yourself you had forgotten. From meticulously designed theatrical sets to ancient buildings to just anywhere outside in the wild - each piece gets you entangled with a place. With a background in documentary film, animation and interactive game design, the studio explores recent advances in immersive technologies - including VR, AR and other XR tools. Their first piece Door Into The Dark, a blindfolded experience about being lost won the Tribeca Film Festival Storyscapes Award. The Collider, a VR installation about power dynamics was selected for Best of VR at Venice Film Festival and Best Immersive Art Award at Sandbox Festival in China. Her project A Face To Open Doors, an encounter with an AI border guard from the future is now at the Imperial War Museum in London. She is presently working on a VR experience about schizophrenia and gaming that explores how we create the realities we live within.


Amy Lameyer, WXR Fund

May 3rd

1:30pm - virtually

Music and Sound are a big part of what makes an experience immersive. But what happens when the music industry itself decides to lead and rock the XR world, using unexpected platforms to reach unexpected audiences? From Travis Scott Astronomical concert in Fortnite to Childish Gambino's Pharaos AR, we dive into a true push in XR application for entertainment, guided by WXR Fund's Managing Partner Amy Lameyer.

Lameyer is an Early-stage angel investor with 15+ years in corporate venture, M&A, artificial intelligence, and engineering. After helping grow content delivery network and cloud computing startup to publicly traded company (Akamai), Amy turned her experience in investing, content delivery, cybersecurity, media, and ad tech to the spatial computing industry. Bringing almost two decades of technical and financial leadership to the WXR team, Amy directs diligence for the fund and runs point on the artificial intelligence sector.