The Big Questions

Hello all, my name is Andrew J Hunsucker (people call me Andy). I’m a PhD student at Indiana University studying HCI (Human Computer Interaction). My major focus is design communication, but I’m also doing a lot of work in Augmented Reality right now. I’m straddling two worlds in my studies. As an Interaction Designer, I want to create great experiences, then set users loose in the world to see how they interact with it. As an academic, I want to ask big questions about how we design, and how those designs are experienced and realized by others.

As designers, we don’t live in a vacuum.

The big things I want to learn are all about how interaction designers are communicating their ideas. As designers, we don’t live in a vacuum. We’re surrounded by people with different jobs and different goals. Designers are often told that their job is to change the world. But when they get out into the world, they find out quickly that the world can change itself, and they are part of a much larger machine. Many professions dislike designers, feeling as if they slow down their own processes.

Many see design as a creative profession. However, I see design as a largely communicative profession. After initially developing an idea, designers must communicate that idea to various stakeholders to convince them of the value. Programmers, business people, marketers, executives and others all must be convinced that the design idea allows them to complete their tasks.

I believe that a designer must learn to speak the language of the other professions surrounding them in order to be successful. Inexperienced designers often assume they are the most important part of the process. Experienced designers know that they have to depend on their non-design colleagues to be successful. One of my big goals is to see how experienced designers communicate, and relay those lessons to student designers to better prepare them for their career.

I believe that a designer must learn to speak the language of the other professions surrounding them in order to be successful.

My other big questions pertain to Augmented Reality. We are just starting to get technology that allows us to start learning about how users will react to Augmented Reality. The HoloLens is my preferred hardware, but devices like the Meta 2 and the MagicLeap (assuming it ever sees the light of day) are starting to become viable.

But up to this point, most of the work being done in AR is being done by engineers and developers. This is super important, because we’re still grappling with a lot of technological limitations, but we have good enough technology to start involving the designers and asking questions about the user experience. That’s what I’m interested in.

How are users going to react to holograms in their field of vision? Where will they expect them? What social norms will develop around this new technology? Will people be able to wear them all the time, in any scenario? What are the control schemes beyond gesture and voice? What about situations where voice and gesture aren’t possible or acceptable? What are the novel applications? How do we prototype in AR?

When we run out of questions, we die. Right? Probably.

These are the questions I’m currently asking in AR. Answers to these questions will likely only lead to more and more questions. But that’s how it’s supposed to be. When we run out of questions, we die. Right? Probably.

So follow this blog and expect to see a lot of posts on how we communicate as designers, and a lot of strong opinions and practical discussions on AR from a design perspective.

Up next: Usability Testing in AR. Get excited

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