In 1990, Tom Caudell, a Boeing researcher, coined the term – Augmented Reality. He used it to describe the digital display unit that helped pilots with their navigation. The technology has come a long way since that description, however, and is now transforming how we view the world around us.
As is the case with all forms of technology, augmented reality (AR) continues to innovate and improve on a daily basis. Take a look at Google’s AR Core or Microsoft’s HoloLens, for example. But with every innovation comes a set of challenges – challenges worth considering despite the abundance of opportunities.
Understanding Augmented Reality
In the simplest of terms, Augmented Reality – while similar – is different and not to be confused with Virtual Reality (VR). It inherits VR’s immersive qualities, but focuses instead on blending simulated audio, haptic, visual, and olfactory elements with the real world.
Contrarily, Virtual Reality is entirely simulated as opposed to the partially simulated AR, which alters real-world perception without changing the environment itself. Augmented Reality creates a hybrid world, a kind of bridge between reality and simulation; in fact, it adds layers atop reality.
Augmented Reality: $50 Billion by 2024
In a couple of decades since its inception, AR has not only touched complicated applications within education, engineering, retail, construction, and aviation, but also consumer-centric and basic forms in Snapchat filters, games like Pokémon Go, or a car’s assistive-parking mechanism.
Simply put, the technology has switched from specialized usage to widespread adoption. At the same time, it’s easy to say that this is far from the end. Global Market Insights, a market research and strategy consulting firm, forecasts a booming market size of $50 billion by 2024 for Augmented Reality. It’s a 75% growth from 2017, and is nothing to laugh at.
Implications Within UX Design
Augmented Reality goes beyond the traditional boundaries of human-machine interaction, and the mechanics of UX design will have to adapt to welcome this change. Using the example of Apple’s AR Kit or Google’s AR Core, it’s easy to see properties within the wearable headsets that are largely different from the 2D interfaces we’re accustomed to – namely smartphones or computers.
What Can We Expect?
- Changes in the Information ArchitectureAR offers enormous opportunity to reduce the cognitive load associated with a traditional 2D interface. Due to AR’s 360-degree interface, UX designers will now be able to organize information at several angles with the user in prime focus – the Z-axis.
- Rules of Engagement & Interaction
The touchscreen technology was revolutionary and something we’ve grown accustomed to, almost making it second nature. On the other hand, AR will require us to redefine our standards of interaction.Much like in the real world, AR pushes toward natural and gestured interactions akin human interaction in the physical world. By design, the technology promises an intuitive interface that will be easy to adopt.
- Contextual Input to Digital Output
AR platforms or systems are what we call non-command user interfaces. They conduct tasks without user input and utilizes contextual information in the environment instead. Pokémon Go, for example, uses real-world input to generate pro-active digital outputs.UX designers will be forced to understand how best to combine real-world and digital elements with respect to spacing, prominence, proximity, and size.
What’s the Verdict?
Augmented Reality is at its infancy, there’s not doubt about that. UX designers are yet to come up with best practices when it comes to building or designing the optimum human interface. That said, this is the time for experimentation – a defining age for UX Designers in shaping the future. It’s going to hit us faster than you might expect, and you best be prepared for it.