About Leah Hunter

Ethnographer turned tech journalist, author, Speaker, FOUNDER, PRODUCER...AND FULL-TIME explorer of the world.


Leah Hunter writes about the human side of tech for Fast Company, entrepreneurial women for Forbes and Business Insider Deuschland, and innovation for O’Reilly Media. She has written two books about augmented reality,“Augmented Reality for the Industrial Enterprise: A Hands On Introduction to Rapid AR Development," (published by O’Reilly's Safari Books in April 2017) and “Changing Reality for Business: New Augmented Reality Tools for Your Technology Stack” (published by O'Reilly Safari books in March 2018). 

She speaks on stages around the world about “How To See The Future" and music-tech. She co-founded The Village Couture, a high-end textile art company that does good in the world. And she is currently producing a television show about artists and musicians called "Created Here."

Formerly an editor at MISC Magazine and AVP of Innovation at Idea Couture, Hunter has spent her career exploring the intersection of technology, culture, and design. She has created brand strategies and new products for everyone from Apple to Target to Sephora. She was part of a team honored at the Obama-era White House during the national day of Civic Hacking as a "Champion of Change."



When she's not doing the above, you can find her: helping lead IDEATE, a camp of entrepreneurs and world-changers at Burning Man; judging for orgs like the SXSW Accelerator and the Roddenberry Foundation Prize; doing on-air journalism and emceeing events; modeling; or teaching MBA courses and workshops on wearables and ethnography/deep observation at California College of the Arts, CEDIM—Mexico, University of California Berkeley, and The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. 



Fast Company


The Guardian

O'Reilly Media

Business Insider Deutschland


Cited as a ridiculously good content writer in... - "Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide For Creating Ridiculously Good Content


Speaking and Emceeing

The Fashion Incubator, San Francisco - Oct 2015 - Curated and moderated a panel on “Social Technologies: How They Are Transforming Fashion Merchandising and Marketing.”

Strata Hadoop World, NYC - Oct 2015 – Track host for IoT / realtime data track, exploring the ways the world of data is changing—in both engineering and real world application.

Bon Appetech, San Francisco – Oct 2015 – “Designing Food,” panel on innovation in food-tech with food scientists and design thinkers from IDEO, Gravity Tank, and Mattson Food Studios.

Dreamforce, San Francisco – September 2015 – Curated and moderated a panel on “The Future of Science And Tech,” with rockstar female scientists, VCs and entrepreneurs. We explore the latest in stem cell biology, supply chain innovation, robotics, and digital health.

Colorado Innovation Network Summit, Denver - August 2015 – Hosted the “Communities of the Future” track, exploring the way new innovations in low-bureaucracy government, green building practices, space innovation, and thinking about open source and security can change the way we live.

SXSW V2V, Las Vegas - July 2015  – Moderated Fireside Chat Keynote with Brady Forrest and Dave McClure. Discussing the future of hardware, investing globally, and media.

SXSW Accelerator, Austin - July 2015   – Co-hosted the entire Accelerator Competition (#V2Ventures) with VC Mohanjit Jolly. We explored enterprise and smart data, entertainment and content technologies, social tech, Health and Wearable Technologies, Innovative World Technologies. We gave startups advice from stage about everything from way to rethink ideas to how each category is evolving.

Bloomberg News, NYC   November 2014  – Guest Expert on Gender Equality In Silicon Valley on “Street Smart”

Montreal Geek Girls, Montreal – July 2015  – “How To See The Future”

International Startup Festival, Montreal – July 2015 – Keynote on “How To See The Future,” exploring the ways entrepreneurs can be inspired by

California College of the Arts, San Francisco – July 2014 – Part of CCA’s Design of Wearables Summer Series. Moderated a panel on “Wearables: What’s Next?”

California College of the Arts, San Francisco – July 2014 – Part of CCA’s Design of Wearables Summer series. Moderated a panel on “Wearables: From a Fashion Design Perspective,” with Billie Whitehouse, from Wearable Experiments,

California College of The Arts, San Francisco – July 2014 – Expert on panel about "Wearables from a UX Perspective,” along with Ana Rosario, Senior UX Researcher at Jawbone, Eric Karten, Director of Design for Karten Design, and Andreas Forsland – Founder of Smartstones. 

Decoded: Fashion Mentorship Hub, Austin – March 2015 – Mentor for fashion+tech startups and emerging designers at their SXSW Decoded: Fashion Hub. Office hours

SXSW Accelerator, Austin – March 2015 – Hosted the wearable technology category competition, winner Tinitell from Stockholm Sweden.

SHETalks Forum: Women In Business & Tech, San Francisco Fashion Tech Week – February 2015 – Expert on a panel with Jill Fraser, CEO of luxry handbag company Jill Milan, Meghan Cast, VP of Marketing at Threadflip, and Ellie Williams – Former TV news reporter and entrepreneur. The topic: female entrepreneurship and what it takes to succeed in fashion and technology.

Strata Hadoop World, San Jose – February 2015 – Keynote talk on “Tech Magic: 10 Disruptors Shaping The Sensed World” -- part of the Data Driven Business track.   The talk explored the people and startups altering the fabric of things through hardware, data science, and entrepreneurial vision.

“The shape and business of IoT is shifting. Learn about key startups making technological advances and surprising intellectual leaps. We aren’t yet indistinguishable from magic. But these people are getting us there.”

Brooklyn Fashion Design Accelerator, New York Fashion Week – February 2015 – Moderated the exhibit’s closing event evening “Cloud Couture: The Intimate Connection Between Fashion and Technology.” The ways in which wearables are going beyond the wristband—intimately wrapping of our bodies is connecting us physically to the cloud. We explored the implications of wearable – connectedness: to privacy, health, safety and security.  

Panelists: Bre Pettis,  disruptor, inventor and co-founder of Makerbot and the Bold Machines Innovation Workshop at Stratasys. Billie Whitehouse, co-founder of Wearable Experiments. Paul Amitai, director of Eyebeam’s Computational Fashion Initiative. And Even Lazurus, CEO of LazBro—a bracelet cuff for kids with connectivity to the smartphone for location, boundry setting, temperature, and heartrate activity.

The exhibit and the panel were written up in the New York Times. 

Northern California Human Resources Association, Oakland – March 2016HR West Conference, Emcee

Collision Conference, New Orleans - April 2016  I moderated four panels on four different stages--music, enterprise, sports, and center stage. 

  1. "Can AI Bring Mental Health To The Masses?" on the sports stage -- with Brandon Marshall, discussing Project 375.
  2. "Making Life Easier With On-Demand Automation and AI" on the enterprise stage -- with Navid Hadzaad (Go Butler) and Adam Rothenberg VC at BoxGroup.
  3. "The First Wearable Musical Instrument" on the music stage -- with Andrea Baldereschi (Remidi) and Mark DeMay (Remidi).
  4. "Waking From The Dream: The Realities Today's World Needs to Face" on center stage -- with Hayley Barna (co-Founder of Birchbox and First Round Capital), Maria Klawe (Harvey Mudd College), Eamonn Store (CEO of The Guardian), Kara Sprague (McKinsey). Watch the video of the interview and conversation here.

    Legacy Conference, Ottawa, Canada – April 2016 – Startup conference for student entrepreneurs. Keynote talk entitled "The Future of Humanity: Being A Student Of Life." 

    Strata + Hadoop World, San Jose – March 2016 – Created and moderate a panel on “Data and Culture” with Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist, Todd Harple, and Claire Michell from Internet of Things company Temboo. 

    SXSW Accelerator, Austin – March 2016 – Emceed the SXSW Accelerator competition. 

    SXSW, Austin – March 2016 – Gave an Ignite Talk about physics, music, neuroscience and wolves, "30 Minute Rockstar: How Everyone Can Easily Play Music (And Why You Should)" 

    "Hardware House" at SXSW, Austin – March 2016 – Led a panel on the intersection of high tech and high design with Jonah Becker (VP at Fitbit), Benjamin Males (maker of Lady Gaga's dresses at XO), and Kurt Dammerman (of PCH Lime Lab). 

    "Decoded Fashion House" at SXSW, Austin – March 2016 – Mentored companies on media, product development and wearables.

    Products That Count, San Francisco – August 2016 – Interview on the human side of tech, augmented reality, fashion, and how to predict the future.  

    Municipal Information Systems of BC "Dream It" Conference, British Columbia - September 2016 – Keynote on "Augmented Reality: What You Need To Know Now" for Municipal IT leaders and government officials from across British Columbia.

    Tradeshow Executives "Gold 100 Awards and Summit," Carlsbad CA - September 2016 –  At this event–a summit for the leaders who run the biggest tradeshows in the world–I gave a keynote and inspiration talk on "Innovation Now: How To Be A More Powerful Creator (In Business and In Life)" 

    Dreamforce, San Francisco - October 2016 –  Admin Theatre appearance with Salesforce Developer Evangelist, Mary Scotton, and Jessica Murphy.  The topic: "Authentic Connections in an Online World."

    O'Reilly Next Economy Summit, San Francisco - October 2016 - Moderated a panel on "The future of work: Optimizing for Humans and Technology Working Together" with Mary Gray (from Microsoft Research), Virginia Hamilton (US Department of Labor) and Kate Lydon (IDEO). 

    Gartner IT Expo, Gold Coast, Australia – October 2016 - Keynote on "Augmented Reality: What You Need To Know Now" for the top IT professionals across Australia. And an invitation only fireside chat with Gartner AR/VR expert Brian Blau. 

    Roddenberry Prize, LA (judged remotely) – December 2016/January 2017 – I helped to judge the inaugural Roddenberry Prize, created by the family of Gene Roddenberry–creator of Star Trek. The prize awarded $1M to five companies committed to creating a "boldly better" future. A committment I SO applaud!

    SXSW Accelerator, Austin - March 2017 – Judged and moderated the Augmented and Virtual Reality Category competition.

    Hamburg Startups SXSW, Austin – March 2017 – I spent a few mentor hours with startups. Here is an interview they published before the event.

    Digital Media Women Germany SXSW Event, Austin – March 2017 – Gave a talk on "Visionary Women" to a group of wonderful, kind German and U.S.-based entrepreneurs. Here is an interview they published before the event.

    HAX Hardware Accelerator, San Francisco – March 2017 – Moderated a panel on "The future of IoT Infrastructure" 

    Startup World Cup Grand Finale, San Francisco – March 2017 Moderated a fireside chat/panel discussion about how to create more effective partnerships between startups and corporations. Panelists: David Cohen, founder and CEO of Techstars, Edith Yeung, Partner at 500 Startups, and Brent Traidman, Partner at Fenox Venture Capital.

    Shawnee State University, Portsmouth Ohio – March 2017 – Keynote on how to see and create your best future for the university's "Celebration of Scholarship." Shawnee is the first college I ever attended. I attended there with my mom when I was 8-years-old, while she studied for her teaching certificate. I took classes there while I was in high school, as part of an advanced studies program. This will be a triumphant homecoming.

    Collision Conference, New Orleans - May 2017  I played three very different roles at Collision this year - each corresponding to one of the "hats" I wear in the world. I judged the Startup Competition on the PITCH stage. I emceed a conference within the conference. And I moderated a panel on "Upending Workplace Conventions" on the Startup University Stage with: Jodie Fox, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Shoes of Prey; Sanjeev Vohra, Global Technology Officer, Accenture Technology; and Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse. Each of the above is not only a deeply interesting human, but (s)he has done interesting experiments around things like giving employees unlimited vacation...human-robot/AI work teams...not having managers.

    Pluralsight's "Create The Future" Event at Levi's Stadium – Santa Clara CA, June 2017 Santa Clara CA – I gave a keynote talk on "Augmented Reality in Enterprise," focusing on key developments and ideas you should know and how to win with AR. 

    Samsung Developer Conference, San Francisco, October 2017 – Interviewed by John Furrier on "The Cube" about the future of Augmented Reality.

    Emcee and judge, SXSW Accelerator Startup Competition,   Austin – March 2018 Augmented and Virtual Reality Category

    Moderator and speaker, Mercedes-Benz me Conference, SXSW Austin – March 2018

    Collision Conference, New Orleans – April/May 2018 I moderated 4 keynote talks on Center Stage, The Planet Tech Stage, The Startup University Stage with:

    1. The CTO of Mattel and an expert on privacy for children’s tech toys

    2. The CTOs of Reddit and Walmart.com

    3. The female founder of a $140M sustainable fashion company

    4.  Highly successful startup founders offering lessons in brand storytelling and marketing for early stage companies


    • Alberta Innovates INVENTURE$, Calgary, Canada – June 2018
    • Reeperbahn Festival, Hamburg, Germany – September 2018



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