XR is settling down for good in our lives and starts to be increasingly present in the domains of entertainment, education or advertising. If you don’t want to miss out on this exhilarating emerging future, discover what the intricate thing between XR and UX is and why User Experience plays a fundamental role in it.
XR stands for Extended Reality and, as the name indicates, applies to all the technologies that interact, augment, and create different realities. This umbrella term connects VR, AR, and MR that stand for three different ways of the intertwining of the real with the virtual. Having one acronym for them all makes it just more practical to pair it with User Experience.
Brave new worlds
Let’s unriddle these new worlds first:
VR – Virtual Reality is either computer-generated or reality-inspired content. In the first case, you can immerse yourself in any imaginative environment possible like the Jurassic Park. In the second case, you can view 360 videos of any place in the world like the cool Safari ride you’ve always wanted to go on but didn’t have the guts to do it. To enter this new dimension of impressions, you simply need a head-mounted device. That could be a VR headset, VR helmet or glasses.
Imagine talking over skype using VR when the person is right next to you as if you weren’t separated by any geographical distance. Or architects and urbanists showcasing their work as if the buildings and road infrastructure already existed. That’s the scenario for the years to come.
AR – Augmented Reality combines the real and the digital. You simply add a virtual layer to the existing environment through a device like a smartphone or glasses. That allows the digital elements to overlay onto the reality creating a totally new perspective.
Have a look at Ikea’s awesome app that recently used this technology to make the interior planning and design. The images of the furniture are simply inserted into the desired setting so that you can see if that grey sofa really fits into the corner of your apartment and matches the color palette.
If you feel like creating your own AR – check this cool Layar APP
MR – Mixed Reality is a technology that’s more interactive than AR. It involves virtual elements that can move or change, but they’re always easily distinguishable from the real-world landscape. Find out more checking this cool MR APP.
XR and UX love affair
These sci-fi like technologies are finding their way into shaping the alternate meaning of both private and professional lives. Whether it’s Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality or anything in between, they require some visual planning, information architecture, intuitive user flows, and pixel-perfect details. Providing seamless and enriching experience is the key to success.
What are the XR challenges that UX needs to face?
1. The design complexity – XR technologies go beyond 2D or 3D design requiring a whole new level of intricate detailing on various layers.
2. The illusion of tactility – the website or apps don’t create the tactile sensation. XR opens the door to imaginative sensorium reactions.
3. A sense of comfort – so that the users, while fighting with tigers or visiting luxurious castles, don’t get sick because of their labirynth going crazy.
4. Expression of realism – what’s the fun in extended reality when it looks so fake it hurts? Creating authentic settings and smooth interactions between virtual add-ins and real components
5. Intuitivity – Easy-to-navigate control panels and menus are crucial when it comes to navigating through virtual waters. Plus, just like in the case of good old school UX, the fewer controls the better. When the User forgets about one reality being in another means the
Go with the user flow
Enhancing our real world has never been easier and more accessible. XR technologies mark a real revolution in the 21st century being the innovation that can’t be ignored. They not only extend the reality but also the scope of User Experience. Just when UX designers got too familiar with website and application design, there are new challenges on the horizon. The multi-layered and multidimensional user-flow that’s tactile, comfortable, and immersive.