UX & VR work well together. When is going to be mainstream?

Virtual reality will change the way we live. That is a fact. However, when is going to happen? The learning curve is substantial, to designers, to content producers and even to users. But the potential is real.

Since early last years, during my Hyper Island time, after I experiment a roller coaster ride using just a Google Cardboard and an iPhone, I am reading and following the VR subject with more enthusiasm.

From late December, an article from “Design to Improve Life” by Kigge Hvid, highlights the immediate use of VR in our daily lives. Fjord Design Trends also do the same.

Experience economy is out there. Over the time, to emphasise new immersive experience and offer a distinctive experience we need to designing a strategy to improve and upgrade our capabilities, gaining strength and momentum. In a time that users leave website or apps because it is not working well, function and design have to walk at the same pace.

My rollercoaster ride, with audience (@Method and HypersIsland)

The relations between how the internet evolves during the past fifteen years and how the path of virtual reality could be the same. From just a search and text to a world of apps, reading books online, proximity with people thousands of miles away, more data generated in the last years than a whole decade, the internet change the way we live and design.

From simple functions to a new way of living.

VR is a subject for a long time. However, for long it was an unreachable point for most of us, consumers and designers. The moment is here, the full materialisation for the average user. As Fjord states in their Design Trends 2016, this is the “critical year for virtual reality”. Sony, Oculus, and Samsung are releasing consumer versions of their products, from Samsung smartphones enabling Oculus Gear VR headset to a new trend in Netflix partnerships.

Adding to this, Suzanne Labarre, from Fast Company Design, writes about the new future job titles for designers including VR. This journey is just in the beginning.

Virtual space is real. Google Cardboard puts everyone with a smartphone in touch with VR. Is a matter of time when VR will impact the customer experience. As designers, we can only experiment by ourself’s; do research; observe others like early adopters using it in public and private spaces, from work to home, and reflect our learnings on our work.

In virtual reality not only the user can hear and see a favourite video game, being part of a film or and even share time with family and friends. Hvid speculates that a new way to test everything is coming with VR.

VR can also be used in training. Education can be included virtual reality in the classroom, immersive games, used by children and adults. By March 2015, Tech Republic reported that nine industries were already using VR.

Can people test a new phone, vase, clothes or even a resort before purchase? How will this affect the brands? Doing business can also be different, from VR meetings to collaborative workspace in an alternative reality. Speculation on how people will adopt and use this subsists. Only time will determine if the mass consumption is a reality for VR or not.

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New inputs to consider when designing: we do not have just a screen to deal with, we have to account for space, the ability to move ways from reality for a period, safety, sound, etc.

When the experience initiative is delivered on demand setting the engagement to be revealed over a period, from 5 minutes to 15 minutes video duration, we can measure and collect data that will help determine the success. The quality of the image influences the experience.

As designers, we can engage with the community and learn from them. User research is being done. From my perspective, these questions are raised to take into consideration when approaching the subject:

. The amount of time each experience leads; what is the physical response, are people feeling sick?
. How the space where the experience is going influence the user?
. Are individuals thinking about others, or just focusing on their perspective?
. How safe do we have to feel to embark for long into the experience?
. Can participants move freely? How has the virtual and physical world co-habit? 
. Is it a group or an individual experience?
. How hardware comfort is being assessed for both short- and long-term use?

The learning curve is substantial, to designers, to content producers and even to users. But the potential is real.


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