Understanding Augmented Reality and How to Build AR Experience Using AR Core

Lately, I have been curious about Augmented reality. AR technology definitely is one of the most powerful tools that can solve complex problems or create an enjoyable, immersive experience with the potential to make a significant impact on education, health care, industrial design, e-commerce etc.

Being an user experience and interaction designer, it is important to consider the human factors while designing products. AR is a relatively new subject and there is little to no content available online for the same. So, I decided to take up some courses online, to learn the fundamentals of augmented reality and to build an AR experience using ARCore. I just finished an introduction course to Augmented reality and ARcore on coursera , which I have summed up in this blog.

AR is basically the simulation of real world objects or information by computer generated inputs, thus changing the perception of reality .

Our mobile phones are one the most compatible hardware for AR as it already has a gyroscope, GPS, accelerometer and camera. Also, in this technology-driven world, everyone has access to smartphones making it easier for people to start using AR quickly and easily. However, for better performance AR needs a phone with decent processors and some phones may not be compatible with the AR apps.

Applications of AR

credits Wikitude

As designers, our focus is usually on finding the users needs, product application, the context and defining the use cases. AR could be widely used in e-commerce, advertising, architecture and industrial design for product visualization. Also used in other sectors such as social media, gaming, in education, in non-profit organisations, health care and the list goes on. With regards to AR, the sky’s the limit.

Furthermore, recent research indicates that the Augmented Reality Market is set to exceed 50 billion USD by 2024.

Hardware Requirement

Not all mobile devices support AR. Some popular devices that can handle AR apps are, Google Pixel and the Iphone X series. However, most of the recently released mobile phones tend to support AR apps.

UX Considerations

As UX designers, it very important to be thoughtful and create meaningful experience and solve problems or just create enriching and entertaining experience using immersive technology.

This could be achieved by making the app realistic and ensuring uninterrupted AR experience throughout, while at the same time being aware of the technical limitations of AR technology.

Google has provided a UX consideration guide for designing AR apps, which can be found here. For starters, designers should ensure the screen is not cluttered to allow for easy user interface and eliminate unnecessary buttons.

These might sound obvious but it’s important to be creative and give the users what they need, when it is needed. They should hide unwanted functions and provide information in an effective way without breaking the experience.Designers can leverage their knowledge of creating user flow and by developing a strategy for the product. This can involve action, audio, input action and should be able to narrate the flow of the experience, which makes it easier for prototyping before it heads into the development process.

Possible Interactions

Here are some of the possible interactions offered by the AR core.

  1. Drag and drop
  2. Voice( can be done using google SDK- so cool right?)

3. Tap, Pinch and zoom.

4. Slide

5. Tilt.

It’s important for Interaction designers to be aware of this, a badly designed interaction can break the immersive experience.

Breaking the immersive experience example

Well, this was an attempt to summarise what I learned from my research. I hope this has given a general idea about AR tech and UX design consideration.

In the next article, I will write about some quick resources available to get started with Augmented Reality.

credits GIF Maker

I will also be writing about some prototyping tools that are available in the market. If you have any recommendations, do comment below as I’m sure everyone is quite curious to explore them.

Written by John Rodrigues.

M.S in user experience and interaction design at Thomas Jefferson University, USA| Founder of D&D SmartLabs

Portfolio: designwithjohn.com

Youtube Channel: Design_with_John

Product and Experience Designer