New Realities – Greatest Revolution in UX/UI
Technology has revolutionized every aspect of our life. The technological impact can’t only be seen in the mobile phone or gaming industry but it is making it big in every industry you can think of. In short, the reality of the world is changing and the biggest revolution is from technologies like Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Extended Reality (XR) and Mixed Reality (MR). These technologies have almost erased the line between reality and the virtual world. Initially, VR, AR, XR and MR were only limited to the gaming industry. Long gone are the days when they were merely science fiction or used to help role play within the gaming industry. The fact that companies like Facebook, IBM, Apple and Google are jumping on the bandwagon, are signs that the market is progressing and heating up quickly.
Surprisingly, everything from phone sales to cars to training employees at organizations, now you can find these technologies everywhere. In short, the user experience is changing. According to research by Tech Crunch, it is predicted that the VR/AR market will reach almost $108 billion by the end of 2021. This can be seen by understanding how much these immersive technologies (XR) are already revolutionizing the medical and real estate landscape. If looked at closely, these technologies are already playing a major role in amping up the user experience. There are so many apps and devices out there that don’t need to be commanded. The device/app will react to the environment of the user AUTOMATICALLY by perceiving gestures and actions in real-time. New app/device developers are now challenged more than ever. This makes it important for application developers and UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) designers to understand, develop and use AR/VR/MR and XR technologies.
How Do Immersive Technologies Affect User Experience and User Interface?
Before we understand how the User Experience is affected by Immersive Technologies, we need to understand what the user experience exactly is. Do you know what the ultimate goal of any business is? Yes, it is profit maximization. How does that occur? It happens YOUR product/service/application is popular amongst the masses and customers are satisfied.
User Experience or UE is when you do something to improve and increase the experience of the people/users that are using your website or application. The aim of this is increasing customer satisfaction that leads to increased profits. It works by keeping the end-user in mind before creating the foundation of your application. The user is the centre of the entire creation process. All the functions, elements and components of the application are structured according to the needs of the users.
There is so much choice for the users, the competition between companies is immense, and a single product/service is being produced/offered by many different companies. This gives the users a lot of alternatives from which to choose. With such intense competition, there is little left to do to stand out from the crowd and attract the attention of potential customers. Companies don’t have any time for trial and error and need to be the best in the least possible time.
To gain a competitive edge, the trick is to give the BEST user experience to your customers. A good UX design goes a long way in increasing customer satisfaction.
This brings us to the question of how can these immersive technologies enhance the UE? The World has quickly progressed from 2D to 3D (4D technology is on the rise too). We are literally in cyberspace. With XR, the digital world has become 3D. You don’t just touch things with your hands, the interaction is done with the entire body. This has been a breakthrough when it comes to enhancing user experience.
There is a misconception that bigger companies use immersive technologies like AR, VR and MR. This is not true. In fact, the smaller ventures and new startups are beginning to consider the value of these new technologies to their operations. Having a good UX/UI design is going to be the factor that makes or breaks your brand. The more comfortable and satisfied the customers are with your product/service, the better the brand and greater the brand recognition.
Augmented Reality and UX
AR is the act of enhancing the objects of the world with the help of information generated from the computer. This enhancement is generally over many sensory modalities like haptic, auditory, sensory etc. It is like a virtual layer that comes on top of our world and makes us see things better. When it was new, AR applications needed a tablet or smartphone to work. But now, things have advanced quickly. In due time, AR applications will be made into wearable devices. If done properly, AR is a unique and exclusive opportunity for designing apps/websites using color, image and object recognition. AR leverages recognizing key points or anchors within a given space. An example of this is Apple’s Animoji. It is an emoji that is animated and made especially for the new iPhone X. It is made with a mix of both AR and AI (artificial intelligence) technology. It works something like this: the animated message is customized and reflects the sender’s facial expressions and even their tone of voice and everything. This makes the message VERY PERSONAL and customized.
Designers are working with natural gestures. These are going to be used as the main drivers for steering the experience. Things are already in the streamline. Google came up with Soli, a projects that focuses COMPLETELY and ENTIRELY on interactions that are touchless. They claim that you are the only technology you need. And in many respects, that is true. The technology in Soli has a sensing technology that works with touchless interactions. The only catch right now is that the environment needs to be calm and there should be no distractions or visual interference.
A table is being made by IKEA based on these immersive technologies will tell you what dishes to make just by the ingredients placed on it. Yes, the smart table will sense how the ingredients on it will go together and what you can make with it. It just does not stop here. AR and VR technologies are used to help in training employees, making product prototypes to see whether they will be a hit or a miss in the masses and so much more.
Virtual Reality and UX
Even though it seems that VR is only going to be practical for the gaming industry, this is not the case. To give a highly immersive user experience, the brands use VR. For instance, Toyota goes ahead and uses VR to allow the customers to experience the brand like never before. They get to FEEL how riding a Toyota feels like. Not only that, but they can also check how certain customization options will look like without actually having to pay for them. How cool is that, right? Now you don’t need to do the modifications and regret them later. User experience has increased manifold because of this.
The VR experience must be in line with the company’s vision and mission of customer satisfaction. Similarly, Audi uses VR technology to let customers experience a model of the car which is not even on the market yet. With customers feedback, it is refined and then introduced. Even after introduction in the market, you can give a tour of the car through VR to the customers without physically even touching the car for once.
The Future of User Experience – An Amalgamation Of Immersive Technologies XR
Undoubtedly, exploring these technologies is very exciting. One of the major reasons for this is that technologies like MR, AR and VR are new and there is not much literature on them. The challenges are new and the stakes are high. This is why the return is higher. The market is lucrative and companies are quickly turning towards incorporating them in their designs to enhance user experience.
It seems like the future is lying on the brink of hyper-reality. This will be a combination of all the technologies mixed. You can already see it being used around. The establishment of Escape Labs is a big step in this regard. They are made with a combination of MR and AR technologies and give a total holographic experience. People can experience team-building exercises and brainstorming sessions together without the need for huge headsets. These things will no longer be required to transition between the real and virtual world.
With new technologies come uncertainties. There is a dire need to establish standards, practices and even prototype design patterns to ensure everyone is on the same page. This is the reason why UX designers are going to be highly demanded shortly. They will become an asset who use user-centered designs to make sure the products/services give a feeling of warmth to the users. The fact that these technologies are new, unexplored fully and evolving makes extremely lucrative and thrilling time ahead.