With AR and AI gaining ground in design space, all we can say is- the future is now. Look at the Waze traffic navigation app, Pokémon Go, Google Cardboard, the Amazon shopping recommendation tool; all these involve technology that was once seen in sci-fi stories and futuristic fantasies.
Yes, there hasn't been a better state than the current one for UI/UX designers. The present digital age has witnessed revolution through augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed or hybrid reality and artificial intelligence. These areas have unleashed new design opportunities for designers who are leaving no stone unturned to create out-of-the-box interface and experience.
AI and AR are now arming the designers with tools and equipment to explore their creativity and build mind-blowing products. We need to have a knack for these technologies to offer optimal user experience. It is high time we start embracing these tech trends as those who stay ahead of the curve will ace the game. Before we delve deeper let us clear our basics-
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality is a blend of virtual reality and actual reality and great models merge these effortlessly enabling users to relish a technological shift from their usual routine using bare minimum additional inputs. Take the case of football marker which won the hearts of the users because it absorbed into users’ existing viewing patterns i.e. they could avail the benefits without the burden to include additional technology.
What is fascinating about Pokémon Go is that almost everyone keeps their mobile wherever they are and that’s the only thing needed to play the game.
The actual reality is that you're walking in real-world surroundings and the virtual part is that the in-game map is a depiction of the real world, but with the touch of computer graphics adorning it. When you spot a Pokémon, you're focusing on it with the device camera supposing it to be really there.
Besides, real-world landmarks have been shown on these maps as Pokéstops. The places are real, but the cute and baby-faced creatures they are viewing on their screens are not. The engineering makes it look as if the fictional animals are staying in the regular world.
Augmented reality plants a layer of digital effects or animation onto the present architecture in a manner that unites the two. Another instance is Google Translate that allows you to use the device camera to convert signs and other foreign language stuff into other languages. The hard part for designers here is to keep in mind that their skill can be best brought out by being in the background of amazing user experience.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Machines can be trained to think, reason, gain from experience and do decision-making and artificial intelligence rightly proves it. Handling the problem of cognitive overload for humans, AI configured computers or other computer-operated devices to support us in basic to complex applications of our day-to-day life.
The most suitable examples here can be Google Assistant and Siri; the well-known virtual assistants who made AI integrate into our daily lifestyle seamlessly. You’ll find AR and VR engaging with the real world to some extent but AI includes systems learning to solely deal with issues of the users.
Take the case of Spotify; whether you are choosing your favorite artists on Spotify or Spotify making using of its own intelligence to discover what you like listening to, there is a world of difference. And there is no doubt that Spotify’s AI will act as a good prompter when you are on the lookout for new music.
What all can AI do? It creates quick, personalized and more spontaneous experiences. The Waze and Google navigation apps are doing the rounds these days because of the competent AI technology. These programs unite data inputs along with machine learning to get the solution to the problem of taking you to your destination most easily and quickly.
The apps study traffic conditions, thus deciding spontaneously whether to stick to the same route or to navigate in a different direction.
As a matter of fact, there are high chances that the last customer representative whom you engaged with online was also AI- a chatbot made specially to reply to typical keywords written by you as well as to mold the conversation in a way till the desired result is obtained.
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As AI utilizes data for making dynamic decisions, in the same way, AR also employs recognition data of some objects and points in the domain. Apps made with the help of AR have the potential to identify images, colors, and items of the surroundings. This is required so that the app can recognize the points of the physical world which call for augmentation.
AR design solutions should be as natural as it can be and this is possible only when the designers are careful of the requirements of the design's target users.
As a designer, your target must be to provide your users with an experience that blends the virtual world with the right shades of the real world.
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Scope for Interactions
One of the objectives of augmented reality (AR) is to reduce the overall cognitive load i.e. total mental capacity required to perform a task.
A common cause of this point is when users can show an object in their present surroundings as it is. Think of a scenario where you wish to buy a new kitchen table but you are clueless how it will look and adjust in your current set up. With the help of AR, the table supplier makes it possible for you to fit in the existing surrounding, thus removing botheration to try it out and probability to return it.
The same move can be used at the time of trying out new clothes and much more.
Another significant feature of AR technology in relation to UX design is lowering the cost of interaction. This cost is the combined total of both mental and physical efforts used by the user to engage with the site to fulfill his goals.
AR technology facilitates a considerable reduction in this cost thereby enhancing the UX to a great extent. To understand, think that you are in a clothes shop. You have your eyes on a new outfit. Generally, that would mean that you have to remove your present clothing and try the new item.
Now, let's accept the truth; this is the most troublesome ever. Nothing could have been so wearying unless you're addicted to shopping, but well, that is a different story altogether. Through AR, users have to just face the mirror-shaped display which enables them to select various outfits and show them instantly. There is no need to get stuck in unnecessary physical actions if you want to attain an otherwise easier goal.
Even if you consider it from the sales point of view, AR will make more effective sales here as people can explore more outfits in a decent span of time.
Users are quite a governing force for big industries or firms to create and design an app that acts as a source of communication for all. So, it is best to study the user behavior to know the use, expectation and time allotted to different age-groups.
This gives you a valuable perspective about what features you need to lure users to download your app. Analysis of user behavioral pattern takes into consideration the app idea. Be it a chat idea or a shopping idea, Gen Y (millennials) will explore it thoroughly to identify which feature is different and will best suffice their needs. Generation Y users are enthusiastic to dig into the world of amazing features that enthralls them completely.
After the analysis is done, the concept is understood, what we need is to add a USP. Clients may come up with similar ideas and concepts but what different can you give them makes you set apart. For example, clients can ask for an app like Whatsapp, Tinder, Instagram, etc. but what exclusive and sophisticated features can you give castes a great impression on your clients.
The use of Augmented Reality is developing just like the way users play, shop, interact, track the location and perform day-to-day tasks. For example, Field Trip is a location tracking AR app that enables users to track the places they want to go to.
The app informs the nearby places in a popup dialogue box that provides detailed information about the place. Also, users can see the places on the map, bookmark them as favorite and adjust the app to go hands-free and read the cards while driving.
The Art of Design
Always be open with the app idea, client requirements, and usage. User experience is the main goal of these revolutionized technologies and this becomes the key reason for extra caution during design. Like, if you come across various AR apps like IKEA you will notice that the design is clean and has zero complexities.
It is an app assisting users to choose the furniture with a suitable height and width together with options of various colors that merge with the color of the walls. Designing an experience is undoubtedly a hard job. To determine the wants of users, you too have to put yourself in their shoes as there is a lot of difference in the viewpoints.
At the time of designing, you are concerned about concept, functionality, and features, on the other hand, users dive into the concept, design, and usability. This is where things go haywire and you tend to lag in spite of your expertise. Various resources like empathy map, UX canvas persona, affinity diagram, etc. can provide important insights into clients' needs. Also, tons of tools on the web such as Daqri, Aurasma, Layar and many more can prove useful in designing a cherishable experience for your AR apps.
The Virtually True World: Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality deals with a computerized, three-dimensional territory where artificial sounds and visuals make you believe that the virtual world is truly real. It is created to enhance the gaming experience and other places where the user wants to get the real look and feel.
Think about experiencing something without actually experiencing it. Further, picture yourself with a menu bar as if it were really present. Here all rules become windows. Augmented reality is a kind of virtual reality in a way that it blends what the user experiences in their real surroundings along with digitized effects added to the combination. It is a subset of virtual reality.
In AR there is still a facility to access the usual finger UI, but with straight-up VR, you can only interact with the features that the VR world provides you with. Virtual reality involves more entrancing experiences. Take the case of a game like Lone Echo, where the users have a headset to fully engage with the universe of the game.
We can witness it in training projects where doctors perform complicated surgeries on computer-created patients and prospective astronauts train for forthcoming missions, experiencing the condition of an emergency in space while being present within the safe territory of a NASA training pod.
AR and AI are definitely more than a trend. They have become a way of life. Designers must be fully acquainted with these technologies if they want to excel in the game. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality have indeed changed the rules and have taken the gaming environment beyond our wildest imaginations. User experience has now become a smart blend of physical surrounding and virtual features; hence designers must put the best use of technology to make the app immersive and interactive. What are you waiting for? Let’s invade the future starting now!