Low-fi and Hi-fi Mockups, Interaction Design,
Spatial Design, Prototyping, Wireframing,
UX Research + Strategy
Mehul Shah, Harri Lin, Lisa Liu
Human-Computer Interaction + Design,
University of Washington
Feb 2020 - Aug 2020 (Currently Ongoing)
How might we help reality technology design enthusiasts transition into a professional role in AR/VR/MR?
This project is ongoing and we are working remotely due to COVID-19. What you see on this webpage is my work until June 2020. There's more to come. Right now we are brewing ideas to come up with a robust design solution. By August, we would be having our final designs and prototypes.
Meanwhile, you can read the detailed research report we presented to Microsoft in June.
Recent Update: Designing/Body-storming/Prototyping a new user interface for VR platform that's includes hand tracking and spatial understanding.
“Designers should care because the market that has provided them with reliable work over the past few decades and is about to shift towards a new paradigm of immersive 3D content. Sound, touch, depth, and emotion will all be integral to the [AR]/VR experience, making even the most novel 2D screen experiences feel boring and dated.”
— Blake Hudelson, Designing for VR | A Beginners Guide
I led my team through 3 cycles of research that lasted for 13 weeks in total. The following visual gives you a breakdown of the cycle phase which we followed in our design process.
Three cycles of research -- each research cycle lasted around 4-5 weeks across 4 months.
Research Cycle 1
Explore the AR/VR field
Cycle 1 is called ‘Explore’ because our goal was to explore the AR/VR field in order to see what it was like for a Non-AR/VR designer to enter the field.
Interviewed with 6 SMEs in the field in order to understand the questions:
Why is AR/VR is important?
What are the opportunities in the space of AR/VR?
What are the barriers while designing for AR/VR?
We performed literature reviews, stakeholder mapping, exploration interviews since we wanted to further understand this space and learn the vocabulary that would help us with our research
And finally, we explored all tools that exist out there to learn more.
Tool Exploration with my team
Research Cycle 2
Deep dive into industry
In Cycle 2 we ‘deep dove’ into the industry. Our goal was to learn about our SMEs’ workflows and skillsets in order to open this up to Non-AR/VR designers.
We interviewed 6 Non-AR/VR designers to gauge their knowledge & interest in reality technologies. We also interviewed 9 SMEs at various companies to map their workflows and their challenges.
We learned that without passion to commit to learning the tools in this field, non-AR/VR designers won’t be able to enter the field.
Because of this, we needed to talk more to people who have that passion in order to understand how they are making their way there.
Research Cycle 3
Reflect on Personal Journey
In Cycle 3 we focused solely on the journey that a passionate Non-AR/VR designer (that we reclassified as an enthusiast) takes to become a professional in this space.
We ran a screener (and short survey) to find both enthusiasts (who are in their mid-journey) and early professionals (who recently completed their journey).
We asked 4 enthusiasts and 3 professionals to map out their journeys and find out what their biggest challenges were.
through our research, we successfully identified a 6-stage journey that enthusiasts go through.
Reflecting on the personal journey our users went through while learning
Workflows and Journey Maps
Workflow mapping of an AR/VR enterprise project
An example of our Journey Mappings
Workflow mapping from Research cycle 2 [click the image to view magnified version]
Journey mapping from Research cycle 3 [click the image to view magnified version]
6 Stage Journey
Through 3 cycles of research, we identified a 6 stage journey that each enthusiast goes through these stages, though they might go through each stage at different speeds and in a different order.
Magic renders the world differently
“......See the world right in front of you. It’s hard because you see it every day, but all of a sudden you see it differently and that makes all the difference.” - Subject Expert
See the future potential
“Personally, I definitely see that's a trend. I definitely see that this will one day will be widely adopted.” - Designer
Learning through struggling
“... most of [my projects] are just like I started something for three minutes and then restarted because I did it wrong.” - Enthusiast
No unified way to communicate ideas
“I even tried to explain the experience to other people ... [but they] don't get it, they don't see how... useful it is until it's on your head.” - Enthusiast
Community is essential
“Getting in context community staying in contact through LinkedIn or Slack or whatever is hugely important to building up that network.” - Enthusiast
Continue Conveying Ideas
That's a really big challenge, too is helping our customer ... understand how design works in that 3D space because for them it’s like a black hole" - Subject Expert
6 Stage Journey. [Hover to view more]
Spatial & Learning
Opportunity to explore new methods of learning spatial techniques that motivate users to continue their progress including pair learning.
Storytelling in 3D
To encourage communication of unique stories from beginning designers, there’s an opportunity to minimize barriers of progress (such as code, software & hardware bugs, or lack of knowledge).
Collaboration & Community
A platform for collaboration where both enthusiasts and professionals may involve creating a medium for people to better convey ideas across different stakeholders and team members. Currently, there are no notable existing similar platforms.
We want designers to have the ability to synchronize their concepts and ideas more easily across different stakeholders despite having different backgrounds and knowledge.
Many existing tools are complicated and feel overwhelming to use. We want our solution to simplify a very complex technology into something easy to grasp.
Sustain the Magic
It’s very easy for people to quit during the journey because of multiple reasons. We want to provide reassurance for people at multiple stages to sustain their initial magic feeling so they can finish the entire journey with tireless tenacity.
Break Free of 2D
We want users to have the ability to more naturally convey 3D spatial ideas to other people without compromising their original vision (which often means degrading it to a 2D version or verbal instructions).
Currently, I am ideating with my team to bring these concepts to life.
Presentation to Microsoft Hololens Design Team
On a conversation with Todd Omotani, Principal Design Director for Microsoft HoloLens
Presenting our Storyboards to the Microsoft HoloLens Design Team
On a conversation with Ricardo Acosta, Windows Holographic Senior Technical Designer at Microsoft
In the next 2 months, we will take these ideas and bring them to life. We will test + iterate + prototype certain concepts. While also working closely with a team from Microsoft Azure Studio we will try to create a practical design solution to address our design challenge.