UX Design Principles for Augmented Reality

What is UX design for Augmented Reality?

User experience design is the process of designing a product, service, or website that takes the real needs of the users into account. Excellent UX design places the user at the center and enables a seamless flow of information or interaction. It is about intuition, empathy, and human psychology.

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that allows designers to enhance the perception of the real, physical world using computer-generated content. With augmented reality apps, UX design offers a seamless blend of software and hardware. AR experiences depend on the user’s natural environment, so the UX must be spatial, interactive, and contextual. This is quite a hard balance to strike.

To create a great AR experience, it is helpful to follow a few key UX design principles that we’ve highlighted below

The Five Pillars of Great UX for Augmented Reality

Interaction and visual interest are at the heart of every UX element for augmented reality. Users want to enter a virtual, augmented space and do not want to be distracted by unimportant or unappealing details. Keep these five principles in mind when designing UX for AR:

1.   Environment

AR experiences are spatially and intimately connected with the real world. The UX experience must therefore be tailored to the environment and capable of adapting to any environment the user finds themselves in.

As designers, one of the best ways to learn about how to use the environment effectively is by getting out of your office and experimenting in the real world. In general, the environment can be categorized in four distinct ways regarding the distance from the user:

  • Intimate Space
  • Personal Space
  • Social Space
  • Public Space

Designers must try to think creatively about each type of environmental space and how the UX will change in each one.

2.   Onboarding

Making your AR user experience friendly and engaging can be pretty challenging. By focusing on user onboarding, you will give yourself the best chance to make your UX enjoyable and practical. Often, you can’t just rely on basic markers and overlays to deliver the information. You must complete the onboarding experience more interactive, intuitive, and, most importantly, fun!

3.   Movement

How does your product or service integrate with your users’ habits and needs? Movement is the key to engaging your users’ minds and allowing them to understand the experience physically and psychologically.

An AR experience should make full use of the space around the user and enhance the way users interact with the real world. To understand movement as a designer, you have to get out of your seat and experiment with how your experience works in real space.

Your AR app may visually guide the user, but it’s important not to dictate specific directions and instead grant the user some freedom with the way they move.

4.   User Interface

User Interface (UI) in AR can consist of augmented reality elements and traditional screen space. As a designer, you may need to design different yet interchangeable UI experiences for both. This presents a significant but exciting challenge to designers and developers.

How can you use UI in the augmented space to boost immersion and deliver new experiences? Alternatively, how can you use screen space UI to provide crucial information and enhance the AR experience? These are some of the questions you should be asking when thinking about the interaction between UI and AR.

5.   Interaction

In the world of AR, interaction is different. In regular apps, there are quite a few limitations on the user experience. With AR, you can expand the user experience and experiment with your interactions.

Users can move the entire device to initiative functionalities and move between various spatial interactions. It is important to make these interactions as intuitive and responsive as possible to ensure users get the most out of your features and continue to engage with your designs.

Excelling in the Realm of Augmented Reality

Paying attention to these five pillars will give yourself and your team the best chance of succeeding in your augmented reality pursuits. The potential for AR development is exciting. So, anyone involved in design and UX should be looking to AR as a new avenue to be explored.

To learn more about UX design principles and augmented reality, please contact our UX experts.

AR - Changing the way you look

The global market for augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) ) is forecast to reach close to $300 billion by 2024. We are constantly changing how we interact with the world around us, and augmented reality presents us with an inventive way to enhance these interactions. It also gives us a way to improve how we create and design. Augmented Reality is set to be particularly disruptive in the mobile world. There is a lot for mobile marketers, app creators, and designers to consider when incorporating AR into their workflows and products.

So, what AR developments are worth following, and how can we use AR most effectively in our daily and professional lives?

Measure and design the world around you

In 2020 Apple CEO Tim Cook said of AR that,“You rarely have a new technology where business and consumers both see it as key to them. That's the reason I think it's going to pervade your life. "Indeed, Augmented Reality has many practical applications which indicate that it is a technology that is here for the long term. For example, AR can be used as a tool to measure and design the things we see and live within the real world.

There are a number of apps for Android and Apple devices that allow you to use AR technology to measure and visualize items in real space. With something like “Ruler App + AR Tape Measure” augmented reality technology is used to tape measure the real world with your smartphone’s camera. All you have to do is target aim on the detected plane and start to use the AR tape measure tool.
Today, there is also a selection of AR apps you can use for interior design. Apps like Houzz, Dulux Visualizer and IKEA Place all allow users to see how different decor items might look in your home. With these kinds of apps, you no longer have to worry about whether a design will suit the environment before buying it. Instead, AR technology lets you see the world differently. It enables you to conveniently measure and design in ways that would otherwise be impractical and expensive.

Learning with AR

Augmented Reality also has plenty of utility in the classroom. AR is already being used in education to allow students to deepen their knowledge. With AR applications, teachers will improve their interactivity and engagement with their students. For example,, SkyView is an app that enables students to explore the universe using AR overlays of the night sky. As a result, science class has the potential to be so much more interactive and awe-inspiring.

Similarly, Microsoft’s HoloLens is a type of augmented reality (which they call “mixed reality”) that has allowed medical students and doctors to receive a practical, hands-on education of the human body. AR technology has made it easier and more convenient for students to enhance their understanding of anatomy. The potential learning opportunities with AR technology are limitless!

Learning with AR is a hot topic. If you want to know more about the exciting work being done with AR and the fascinating conversations being had take a look at ScienceDirect’s page on Mobile Augmented Reality.

Navigating to your destination

You may not have even realized but you’ve probably used AR to help you navigate. Many advanced GPS navigation apps like Sygic or Google Maps now use AR to enhance their navigation experience. For example, Sygic, which has over 200 million users worldwide, drivers can take advantage of an AR feature within the app that guides via a virtual path on their smartphone camera preview. It is an intuitive system that serves as an upgrade on the previous map-based navigation and provides users with a real-time camera preview, ensuring that their journeys can be safer and more accurate.

AR gaming

One of the most famous examples of AT in mobile gaming apps is Pokémon GO. The viral game became a worldwide phenomenon when released back in 2016. The success of Pokémon Go indicates the potential of free-to-play AR-based games. The app, which uses a freemium business model that combines local advertising and app purchases, has grossed more than $5 billion. Although the game is based on an already popular IP, Pokémon also shows how eager consumers are to get out of their houses and use AR games to interact with the world around them. Check out this Game Designing article, “The Unstoppable Rise of AR: Groundbreaking Games”, to learn about some of the other AR games that are taking the industry by storm.

The future of AR

The future of AR looks bright. It is a technology capable of altering the way we interact with each other and the world. AR also presents plenty of great opportunities for creative minds in the mobile gaming space. At Radiant, we understand the value of being at the forefront of digital innovations. As we see it, AR will be one of those innovations that will change the game for industries worldwide. We want to help businesses navigate an increasingly crowded field, make the most of their digital transformation and create innovative solutions.

In the world of mobile, those who appreciate AR's potential and are actively looking to use AR to be creative will make engaging content and positively change the way their users interact with the world around them.

Are you interested in the future of Augmented Reality? Visit Radiant Digital to learn more about the role AR can play along the road to complete digital transformation.

The Digital Thread is imperative for new growth in Digital Twins and AR

Most enterprises aspire to be digitally transformed. Innovation as the engine of growth favors this initiative, especially in the immersive technologies space. A core enterprise priority now is to deliver new customer experiences through digital products and services. This mandates the collection and analysis of operational data used to make process adjustments for cost reduction, efficiency improvement, and reliable business outcomes. The biggest challenge today is deploying disparate technologies within a unified business function.

The Digital Twin is foundational to any digital transformation. It offers the latest representation of a system while mimicking an enterprise’s machines, workflows, controls, and systems. A communication framework connecting traditionally siloed components and processes is still required. With such a framework, companies can achieve an integrated view of an asset throughout the digital product lifecycle. The Digital Thread is that framework that offers snapshots of a product’s or system’s lifecycle.  Engaging both these technologies can potentially enhance your operating models, revenue streams, and workflows. It propels performance across the product innovation chain, enterprise value chain, and asset chain.

How Digital Twin and Digital Thread Differ?

The Digital Twin is an executable virtual model of the physical equipment that can be iteratively updated across the entire lifecycle. It specifies the engineering components, the materials used, and the behavior of these components. It includes the operational data and as-built information unique to asset representation.

The Digital Thread is a communication framework that enables a connected data flow while offering an integrated view of the asset’s data throughout its lifecycle. It covers all the siloed functional perspectives. The digital thread paradigm delivers the correct information to the right place at the right time.

The Augmented Reality Dimension

Augmented Reality (AR) and Digital Twins can be relatively merged to offer seamless, immersive experiences. However, it is essential to understand the unique set of challenges that come with deploying these technologies. In the AR industry, dealing with the deluge of data flowing from numerous connected sensors, devices, and components is a pervasive challenge. AR requires the building of virtual copies of products and processes. Implementing the Digital Twins in AR helps assess key performance indicators like unplanned downtime, throughput, changeover time, material wastage, etc.

This helps identify and isolate issues and deploy fixes. Using the Digital Twins, iterations are made cost-efficient and less time-consuming. Digital twins also help position companies for next-gen computing that is interactive, spatial, and intelligent. All of which is pivotal to Immersive experiences provided by AR.

Digital twins are components of a larger digital continuum-a Digital Thread. The Digital Thread binds data sources used in AR implementations to create a virtuous cycle from start to end. It renders better efficiency gains and performance improvements. Thus, the baseline digital twin reflects the dynamics of the environment it mirrors when integrated with AR using:

  • Connectivity and networks to transfer sensor data into the models used in AR.
  • Data intelligence to translate raw data into actionable data insights that can help in the AR model evolution.
  • Simulation offers a virtual view of operations using AI and ML.
  • A human/machine interface on wearable or mobile devices to get the context of a machine or system meaningfully for a specific function.

Key AR-Digital Twins Implementation Challenges

Operational Disparity: The Digital Twins often exhibit the inability to scale and cover all the envisioned state stages in AR modeling. While moving from a pilot to full-scale implementation, getting commercial value out of your Digital Twins and AR assets becomes a problem compared to when experimenting with application code. There are often disparities between the virtual representation creation of the current state and an aspirational future state.

Resource Management Problems: The lack of readily available 3D content and the complications that arise with the need to scale up content as conditions change is an inconvenient process in terms of AR. With Digital Twins, live insights are generated as processes take place. There is a lack of an interface that can effectively convey and convert these insights. In recent times, AR has become the go-to technology for creating user manuals, instructional tutorials, and quality assurance manuals. Although these custom-created tutorials provide higher ROI initially, updating them is a big challenge.

Modernization Setbacks: Also, products and work processes need constant refinement and modification to match productivity goals. This requirement adds to the challenges above. Often in AR, legacy equipment is connected to several connectivity and control systems. This equates to challenges in capturing the correct data, aggregating it in a meaningful way, and analyzing it.

Weaving a Solution with Digital Threads

Augmented Reality can be compounded with Digital Twins to solve the inherent and independent complexities of these technologies.

All the products and processes have a digital identity with unique characteristics. In practicality, there is a constant need to update and scale content in an ever-changing environment.

The dynamic data sets collected through various IoT sensors present on the physical systems can be mapped out as a single Digital Thread. This Digital Thread holistically combines the Digital Twin of a system and the corresponding AR processes. It is the collaborative unit of multiple Digital Twin instances within the simulated systems’ environment.

Live Digital Twin data offers a real-time view of internal processes and system statuses. Hence, the Digital Thread acts as a single composition of all the disparate digital identities within the physical system or operation.

Demonstration with the Volvo Case Study

The Volvo Group specializing in manufacturing trucks, construction equipment, and industrial engines employed Digital Twin and Digital Thread technologies to update and scale QA for AR experiences continuously. Each engine required 40 checks with about 200 possible QA variants that had to be executed in 8 minutes at the QA station. Usually, it took five weeks to train employees on this complex inspection procedure. So, Volvo combined Digital Twins and Digital Threads to establish and maintain data flow consistency and efficiency. They leveraged the Internet of Things (IoT) for data integration across various platforms to ensure real-time data synchronization.

A single integrated digital entity was delivered using AR so QA technicians could access the latest engine configurations near real-time. This AR solution overlaid 3D data and QA information directly on the physical systems through computer vision for tracking and anchoring content. This technology integration helped Volvo reduce the time taken to update and validate a QA process from 24 hours to less than an hour. Training times were drastically reduced from 5 to less than two weeks.

Wrapping up

AR companies need to consider the Digital Thread to achieve greater efficiency and carve a niche in this dynamic and challenging space. Strategically leveraging Digital Twins and Digital Threads helps achieve true digital transformation with a higher market share in the AR experience lifecycle.

Connect with Radiant to learn more!