How the heck do I prototype for augmented reality ?

Lately I have been learning about augmented reality and mixed reality. As product designers, we focus on defining the problem statement, discovering potential opportunities, iterating , testing our concepts and many more.

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Other factors such as voice inputs , object resizing , rotation and various other interactions have to be thought of before we hand off the designs to the developers

The question that I had is how do we prototype these storyboards and narratives. During the wire-framing phase, nothing can replace the pen and paper. However, at some point when we reach the mid-fidelity phase, we face the limitations, as the current prototyping tools we are familiar with , fail to deliver it. Its important to show your concepts and not just tell.

Show not tell

While there are many tools coming up, I have been experimenting with two softwares- Adobe After Effects and Torch app.

Game development engines like unity and unreal have higher learning curve, but trying to learn them when there is a time constraint could be counter productive. However, if you have the time please do learn these softwares, as they can open up some interesting possibilities for you.

I think the debate of the future won’t be ‘should designers learn code?’ But it most likely will be ‘should designers learn game engines?’ hahaha ( exciting times).

Anyway, let’s jump in on my experiments

Adobe After effects for prototyping.

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Camera tracking with after effects

Adobe after effects comes with a camera tracking, audio editing and 3D model import option in it. This helps to show the concepts and narrations to your team.

It might have some learning curve to it, but dedicating some amount of time learning it is definitely worth it. According to my research, one of the best course is by Issara from UX in motion, which teaches you how to use Adobe after effects as a prototyping tool for creating augmented reality experiences.

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AR based navigation prototype made in after effects


Torch is a prototyping tool designed specially for augmented reality, which lets you import your 3d models, visualize , implement marker based AR, create interactions, and also help in translating the narratives.

Here is the quick demo I did with AR torch.

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Learning these tools won’t make you an AR UX designer. There are a lot of human factor considerations in the process. However, during the prototyping phase of your process, these tools will help you articulate your designs well to your team.While there are many other prototyping tools, these are some that I have been experimenting with personally.

whats next ?

I have been experimenting with hololens. It seems like they some workflow integrated for designers and will be writing about it in the next blog post.

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Made with hololens

Thank you for reading

Written by

John Rodrigues | User Experience and Interaction design Student at Thomas Jefferson University. | Portfolio: |Product designer at Blackstone Launchpad Jefferson

Written by

MS in user experience and interaction design student at Thomas Jefferson university | Founder of D&D SmartLabs| Product designer at Blackstone Jefferson

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