The idea of mixed reality has often been the topic of discussions in many development circles for years, but it has?been receiving renewed attention with the arrival?of consumer based products such as the Google Glasses and the Oculus Rift. The question then is how traditional methods of UX design apply to such mixed reality.
Mixed Reality typically consists of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality as well as any interactions caught in between the two.
Traditional UX Design Concepts
Traditionally, UX Design follows the abstract steps:
- Defining the problem.
- Developing a hypothesis to solve the problem.
- Testing of the hypothesis empirically.
- Analyze the data and draw conclusions, change variables to refine hypothesis.
- Repeat steps 2 – 4 until a validated idea has been fleshed out.
At the very core, these steps can still be followed and should still be used as a rough guideline. However it is important to note that there are a few commonly overlooked?points to look out for when designing for mixed reality
At the very core of UX design is that the design should aid the user to solve an interaction problem. As such, it should be noted that when defining the problem, it needs to be asked whether such an approach is really required to solve the problem. That is to say, while mix reality certainly has the ?wow? factor the first time a user experiences it, when the initial excitement wears off users will note the clunky user experience if poorly designed. Therefore, mixed reality should not be used if the only aim is to ?wow? users and not to solve an existing problem.
Mixed Reality Considerations
When designing for any interface, proper feedback has to be given when the user makes a mistake. Traditionally this is done on 2 dimensional screens with pop up boxes and error prompts. However such an approach should be carefully done when dealing with mixed reality so as not to block the user?s sight when using such a device. When possible, developers should take advantage of alternative?ways to give feedback to the user (haptic feedback, earcons). Feedback need not be limited to mistakes, it can be extended to user queues to help the user formulate the right intentions and actions in mixed reality environments.
Virtual Reality Considerations
There a few additional considerations to consider when designing for virtual reality. When designing for a VR system, it is important to remember that the user experience exists in 2 realities, the virtual reality and the actual reality. As such, additional planning is required to take into account how the 2 realities will meet and where possible problems will occur. For example, if an object exists in a virtual reality, the user will assume the object is real and will either try to interact it or avoid it when walking around. Another example is that if an object exists in actual reality, it needs to be reflected in the virtual reality or else the user might run into it.
To wrap up, while a great majority of the traditional approach to UX design does apply to mixed reality, more planning should be given to the possible problems these new interaction paradigms create.