One of most amazing aspects of VR and AR is user experience that can be defined as personal or group feelings about VR and AR applications and products. VR/AR user experience is more than usability, perception or customer adoption patterns, it deals with the emotional interaction with technology as well as physical and virtual environments. Although VR/AR is mostly a visualisation technique, other senses like touch and hearing are increasingly present. One example of how user experience can drive a business model is actually the success of social networks on the Internet. Smartphones too have provided rich user experience with multimedia and VoIP applications. AR has brought richer user experience on smartphones that are accessible through the camera or a VR glass. However the resources limitations on handheld devices have prompted novel methods of computation. Extensive work exists on mobile code offloading towards a server or a cloud to minimise battery depletion. Another method is VM cloning, but despite techniques to overcome hardware and software challenges little is done in view of understanding and improving user experience. This chapter gives a brief apercu of design thinking, a technique that can enhance VR/AR applications user experience. Focus is on AR applications for smartphones.
2. Use cases
3. AR apps development life cycle
Developing AR apps requires 3D Graphics and Object Design software (Example 3D MAX, a game engine (Unity3D), Qualcomm Vuforia (an AR SDK to track Image Targets), Head Mounted Display or a Smartphone with a high resolution camera). To enhance user experience, there are existing software engineering techniques like co-construction and user involvement. The time consuming activity is about design and production of the graphics objects that amount to more than 80% of a project. Google Libraries for AR objects and AR Kit have facilitated this phase.
4. Design thinking for AR
Design a way of thinking was initially meant for creation and problem solving. It is actually a combination of analytical thinking and intuitive thinking that dates back to the 1950s and 1960s. On its way, design thinking to improve UX has gained momentum. Today’s smartphone resulted from this approach. Figure 1 depicts global view of the main components of design thinking. The process is iterative and non-linear.
Coming back to the AR development for smartphones, marker-less applications are often more challenging but appreciated compared to marker based applications. Users love the element of surprise and astonishment. But the smartphone is not suitable to plug hardware devices that can add extra sensation apart from video, audio, 3D interaction. Nonetheless, the presence of sensors and access to data from cloud puts forward mobile cloud computing as a serious option for future AR applications with new user experience. Sophisticated scripts and AI code can run on the cloud and render user information and experience in real time on the smartphone. Currently effects are on the graphical objects more than the business rules. Thus an AR developer is first and foremost a graphic designer and a multimedia developer. To further enhance UX, more data analytics is required. On the network side higher bandwidth coupled with advancement in cellular networks, for instance 5G has not yet disclosed the potential for richer AR apps.
This chapter highlights user experience component in the development of AR applications. Design thinking is proposed to augment user experience in AR applications for smartphones. It is an iterative method that can add value to the already the hardware and software challenges in AR applications. AR applications may not always be customer or user centric, so it is on a case to case basis that design thinking must be applied. Survey on the prototyping milestone has shown that in the testing phase UX is often negligible although user testing is present compared to technical issues and Empathy is not straightforward. The future of very rich AR-UX lies in mobile cloud computing. The coming chapters in this book deal with more pertinent and complex scientific issues in VR/AR, nevertheless readers will appreciate how far user experience is pervasive.