Innovate for Equity: Approaches to Inclusive Engineering of AR/VR Products

On October 28, 2021 at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET, our Elevating Conversation focused on “Innovate for Equity: Approaches to Inclusive Engineering of AR/VR Products.” President and CEO of, Brenda Darden Wilkerson, hosted an exciting panel with industry experts.

This was an intermediate-level technical panel with industry experts sharing the tradeoffs in engineering inclusive AR/VR devices through real-life examples along with compelling tactics for advocating inclusive decisions.

Meet our Moderator and Panelists:


Moderator: Denise Mendez, Founder,  MLX Labs

Over 20 years of experience in engineering and end 2 end system validation and is also an award-winning Toast master. As a systems engineer for mobile consumer products at Motorola, within Magic Leaps mixed reality organization that shipped the most comfortable HMD available that considered an often-overlooked consumer the Asian Female and their very different bone structure, she is a founder in MLX Labs bringing Mixed Reality technology to education.

samar pic

Panelist: Samar Ayoub, Director Hardware TPMs, Facebook Reality Labs

Currently leading Devices and System Hardware TPMs at Facebook FRL working on VR/AR and smart wearables. She has a long history of leading hardware engineering teams in the consumer electronics space, where she designed and shipped numerous products to market at Motorola, Google Nest and Oculus.


Panelist: Emily Mount, Former Director Systems Engineering, Magicleap

Formerly head of Systems Engineering at Magic Leap. Her path to augmented reality took her from a Ph.D. in quantum computing, to mine hunting work for the Department of Defense, and then to Magic Leap. She was behind Magic Leap’s handheld controllers, ensuring inclusive operation across hand geometries, use case, operating environments, and more.

Panelist: Brianna Havlik, HP Inc

Leader of the VR SW team delivering HP Omnicept, a software solution to create more personalized VR experiences. She has a passion for people development and project execution which she is thankful to be utilizing in the cool and fun field of VR. Despite Covid she worked with the team to create a cross continental data collection to ensure equal representation of data to train the deep neural network algorithms on heart rate sensors.


Panelist: Shirin Ebrahimi-Taghizadeh, Microsoft

One of the key contributors to creation of many SW and HW products including Windows 7-10, Microsoft HoloLens 1 and 2, WMR HMDs such as HP Reverb G2,  Samsung Odyssey+ (CES 2019 Innovation Award winner for Outstanding Design and Engineering), WMR Motion Controllers, Xbox controller with Bluetooth support and Adaptive Controller with Bluetooth support making gaming more inclusive (in Time best inventions of 2018). She is an ACM SIGCOMM and IEEE INFOCOMM published first author, a GHC2018 speaker on the topic of IoT and a virtual GHC2020 ACM Research Competition judge and has years of teaching experience in graduate computer networking and digital design courses.

She currently leads the Bluetooth core platform team in Azure and serves in other leadership roles at Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Shirin has a PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of Southern California and a minor in Computer Science.

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We at, are disheartened and dismayed by the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling that enabled the right of an abortion to people around the nation. brings together allies and champions across every sector to advance intersectional gender equity in technology. The technologists we support are also people impacted by targeted oppressive and unjust laws including laws that restrict reproductive rights. Not only do we empower technologists through our year-long programming but, we also advocate for better systemic solutions for the workforce and for their humanity. 

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, we are joining to elevate the calls to action of our social justice colleagues and community partners. 

If you feel called to do something today or in the next coming days, here are some action steps:  

  • Support and donate to Repro Legal Defense Fund, which is a national organization that covers bail and funds strong defense for people who are investigated, arrested, or prosecuted for abortion. Because no one should be behind bars for ending their pregnancy or helping someone else do so.
  • Support and donate to Plan C, an educational resource for learning about how people in the US access abortion pills.
  • Support and donate to your local Planned Parenthood, independent abortion clinics, and abortion funds.
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