About Karmanaut and Viveka Weiley

Karmanaut is (or was back in around 2002 when I wrote this) a user experience design consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. Specialising in virtual worlds and advanced hypermedia projects, Karmanaut is committed to finding innovative and appropriate solutions for the most interesting and challenging design problems: Interactive data visualisation, multi-dimensional information design, and effective human interfaces.

Don't Panic
earth in space
NCSA Mosaic, Australian Net Guide, Sun Australia

girl leaning in car window in the rain
Virtual Opera House
3D model of stackable computer prototype

Karmanaut is me, Viveka Weiley. Hypermedia, in case you're wondering, occurs when multimedia information is structured in a hyperlinked information space, such as the Web. I did my first website design consultation in 1994. I had no idea what I was getting into.

I've been working with Virtual Reality (mostly using VRML and now X3D and WebGL) since I got hooked on its capabilities at the SIGGRAPH conference in 1997. I went on to pursue research into the interaction between virtual & augmented reality and urban design through Ping, a company I founded with Chris Thorne in 2002. We had some success with the planet-earth project, powered by 3map, our Free/Open Source geospatial virtual reality platform.

I went on to pursue advanced user experience projects for clients and startups in Sydney and Silicon Valley, and to follow my research interests at the Creativity and Cognition Studios at the University of Technology, Sydney.

I've been interested in computer graphics since I first animated an LED matrix the display of the KIM-1 (in 6502 assembly language, on a hexadecimal keyboard) at the age of nine. When I was twelve, I attempted to program a GUI for my Commodore 64, and it worked, for a loose definition of "worked".

Main competencies

  • Usability and User Experience Design; based on industrial design principles, and incorporating requirements gathering, use case preparation, user testing, usability analysis and/or heuristic analysis.
  • Information design, especially for hypermedia systems such as the Web.
  • Information architecture; ensuring that data is structured in a user-focused way.
  • Accessibility - Web Accessibility Initiative compliance - a legal requirement for many web sites in Australia and elsewhere.
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, mostly using X3D/VRML and WebGL, but also other immersive technologies such as QuicktimeVR, Shockwave3D, game engines etc.
  • Geospatial technologies, particularly relating to 3D representations of geospace.
  • Teaching, speaking and occasionally ranting on the subject areas above.
  • Managing creative technical teams collaborating on software and new media projects, and including remote participants, employees, contractors, volunteers and clients.

Education, teaching & research

I hold a Bachelor of Design from UNSW CoFA, and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Information Technology with First Class Honours and the University Medal from UTS.

I am completing a PhD at the Creativity and Cognition Studios at the University of Technology, Sydney, where I lecture in Digital Media Technologies and conduct research into augmented and virtual reality systems.

Before my work at UTS I taught a course in Urban modeling at UNSW's Faculty of the Built Environment. I've also taught Game design theory, Screen design for interactivity, Web design theory, Virtual worlds design, and Interaction design principles at the Silicon Graphics Centre & the Enmore Design Centre, Sydney Institute of Technology.

I've given guest lectures, papers and tutorials on virtual environments, city and planet design at UNSW and at the ECAI, SIGGRAPH, GRAPHITE, VSMM and Electrofringe conferences, and on creativity and user experience design at OZCHI, Creativity and Cognition and Interactive Entertainment, and for organisations including UTS, IDEA and AIMIA.

Professional consultancies

In recent years I've become involved in the technology startup community, starting in 2002 by founding a geospatial 3D company with Chris Thorne, and then consulting on UX and product strategy for innovative startups here in Sydney and in Silicon Valley.

In December 2000 I began full-time independent consulting work through Karmanaut.
Since then I've done formal usability testing and analysis for clients including HSBC, the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice & Community Education, Qantas, Landcom and others, Web design for Rimshot Music, Surgical Graphics/Anatomate, the Cape Gallery and others, and multimedia & Virtual Reality interaction design for Surgical Graphics/Anatomate. I've also done some lecturing, attended & presented at many conferences, and involved myself in my professional community.

For 1999 and 2000 I was a Hypermedia Designer at Brainwaave Interactive/Beyond Online.
At Brainwaave I did information architecture, human interface, and visual design on websites for a wide range of clients, including Audi, Canon, the Olympic Coordination Authority, Beyond 2000, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras netcast (which won an award), Telstra, the Biennale of Sydney, and many more. I also did virtual worlds design, a couple of touchscreen kiosks, some TV graphics, an ATM, and the interface for a consumer internet appliance.

For 1997 and '98 I was a Producer and Creative Director in the Broadband Content research and development group at Optus Multimedia, implementing and testing virtual worlds, telepresence, streaming media, universal messaging, multi-player networked games (including Quake level design), interactive TV and online collaboration.


I was co-proposer and an inaugural steering committee member for SIGGRAPH Asia, the region's most successful and prestigious venue for innovative work in computer graphics and interactive techniques. Before that I was founding Chair of the regional association ANZGRAPH, which convened the GRAPHITE conference series with ACM SIGGRAPH and South-East Asia's SEAGRAPH, and Past Chair of Sydney ACM SIGGRAPH.

I'm a member of various other ACM Special Interest Groups; Computer-Human Interaction, Computers and Society, Hypertext, Hypermedia & the Web, and Knowledge Discovery in Data. I was a ballot group member for the Software Engineering Code of Ethics & Professional Practice.

I maintain the MacWeb3D mailing list and web site, supporting a community of Mac-using Virtual Reality practitioners.

Geospatial 3D on the Web

In 2002 I initiated the planet-earth Free virtual earth publishing & search engine which became part of 3map, the collaborative Free/Open Source geospatial VR engine, built on enterprise database technology and open standards.

I founded a 3D geospatial virtual reality company with Chris Thorne, forming partnerships with Telstra and the US Naval Postgraduate School, and providing 3D mapping consulting services to the City of Sydney, Landcom, UNSW and the NSW and WA governments and others. Ping Interactive Geospatial operated profitably until 2006, when we contributed our source code to the National Science Foundation funded X3D Earth project. As a corporate member of the Web3D Consortium, Ping was closely involved in developing the international standards for 3D on the web.


Cross pattern drawn on Commodore 64
Pyramids on the banks of a river drawn on Commodore 64

KIM-1 hexadecimal keyboard
slipgateslipgate screenshot
Virtual Sydney
3D model of portable computer prototype