What 3 XR creators built in RLab’s 2-week Human-Centered Design course

In an RLab online intensive led by Wayfair AR designer Sam Brewton, designers and developers learn to use a human-centered design approach as a foundation for creating experiences across the mixed reality spectrum.

Over the course of two weeks, participants prototype their own WebVR, WebAR, social AR and spatial computing experiences using a range of tools and workflows— including A-Frame, Glitch, Blender, Spark AR, Reality Composer, Adobe Aero. The projects coming out of the course include playful experiments and prototypes of future products from emerging XR talents to watch, showing off creative applications for a wide-ranging set of skills and tools.

We asked three designers and developers who recently took the course to share their favorite projects and learning experiences.

Pilar Aranda, AR Product Manager, Herman Miller

Tell us about your project.
As the pandemic developed, I realized I was missing public spaces so much. Places you can wander around, people watch or meet other wanderers. I intended to create an unfiltered anonymous public space called Concourse that is platform agnostic and will work in VR but also in any internet browser. A place I could meet with my 10 year old niece that lives in the other part of the globe, or a place she could invite her friends independently if they had VR headset or not.

I’m continuing to develop it in my free time, and I’ll be ready to share it with the world soon, but you can try the prototype here (headphones on please!). It works on most VR headsets and in desktop/laptop internet browsers.

Why did you take the Human-Centered Design for AR/VR course?
I’ve been working in the XR medium for about four years now, but I realized I’m missing so much of the fundamental in the UX and design areas. I think most of us that are currently working in the field are self-taught, and it is beneficial to keep educating ourselves to become better designers and developers.

What did you learn, and how do you expect to apply it in your work?
I’m glad I get to see other workflows and tools that I’ve never used before, like Reality Composer. I’m super excited to keep exploring them at my own pace after the course.

I’m ready to embrace user experience design as one of my core values while building XR experiences. I just got elected for the Oculus Launch Pad program, where I will be working with social experiences. I want to explore the potential of XR as a tool for fostering connections for social good.

Elvin Ou, Co-Founder, NEONBLACK Studio & Visiting Assistant Professor, Pratt Institute

Tell us about your project.
AnHome is an interior design web VR platform that provides a series of model units and styles with customizable finishing and furnishings to help homeowners design.

The goal was to target homeowners who don’t have interior design or construction backgrounds with the need for accessible and affordable home design platforms as clients and use Virtual Reality as a tool to achieve that. I was able to generate my initial ideas and prototype it as a web VR experience after RLab’s course, and plan to continue the project with more development and potentially become an actual complete product.

Why did you take the Human-Centered Design for AR/VR course?
I come from an architectural design background with knowledge in building AR,VR experience in game engines like Unity and Unreal Engine. I was hoping to learn more about the systematic process of designing a human-centered design for AR/VR.

What did you learn, and how do you expect to apply it in your work?
The case studies were extremely helpful in forming my design thinking and process when creating AR/VR projects. The discussion has helped me expand my perspectives and also my network.

Jacob Sherwood, Masters Candidate, NYU ITP

Tell us about your projects, which you go into detail on in your blog.
My project work in the RLab course explored new and exciting software and techniques in the AR/VR realm. I used the assignments to explore the playful as well as useful use cases — creating a WEBVR experience called Cabin Fever, a WebAR experience with simple way to get to Arduino Nano 33 IoT pinout in AR, a social AR experience called Bitcoin to the Moon, and a spatial AR experience called Potty Party.

I plan to continue to explore AR/VR and how it can be both imaginative and informative and help us connect with the world around us in different ways.

Why did you take the Human-Centered Design for AR/VR course?
I’ve been interested in the field for a long time, and I liked that the course was both fast-paced as well as work at your own pace. The amount of material we covered in the 2-week period was massive. This was my first introduction to most of the software we used and it was great to get exposed to so many different options.

What did you learn, and how do you expect to apply it in your work?
The RLab course reminded me to focus my design both for the expected user but also cater it to the project itself. It exposed me to new design principles needed to develop interactive experiences in virtual and augmented realities.

With these new skills I plan to develop more engaging new media experiences.

RLab’s Human-Centered Design for AR & VR course is next running online from October 9–25. Learn more about RLab’s upcoming classes here.

RLab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard is New York City’s hub for VR, AR and spatial computing.

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RLab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard is New York City’s hub for VR, AR and spatial computing.

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