The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Business: 2018 Report

The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Business: 2018 Report

Virtual reality and augmented reality are two of the most innovative technologies to gain mainstream traction over the past several years. These nascent media have taken content cues from the related fields of cinema and video gaming: that is to say that a significant amount of the content has been devoted to the purpose of consumer entertainment. However, businesses have identified other compelling use cases for these media that are all largely focused around the concept of utility.

 

Put simply, digital interfaces have the capacity to function as useful tools, and some of these tools make work easier, faster, safer, and more efficient. (For a more significant breakdown of the concept of utility apps, check out this post from Shockoe COO Alex Otañez). In the case of VR and AR, companies have been embracing these unique tools as a means of improving operations for a variety of use cases, all stemming from unique affordances inherent to the media themselves. I would encourage anyone who has read this far to download the full report posted below — while this post is a great start, the downloadable PDF provides a much deeper dive into technologies and use cases of how emerging technologies are impacting businesses and operations in 2018.

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Adoption Outlook

In a 2018 survey from immersive technology research group VR Intelligence, companies reported significant growth of VR and AR technology in both consumer and enterprise applications. In fact, 38% of respondents reported strong or very strong growth in VR for enterprise, and 43% reported strong or very strong growth in AR for enterprise. Additionally, enterprises have reported a significant intention to invest in immersive technology, with 61% citing VR and 58% citing AR as high priority business areas.

On the surface, it may seem that many companies are attempting to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive landscape. However, the powerful benefits of these new interaction methods can, in many cases, result in a significant benefit to the business in a variety of departments and across many different industry verticals. While respondents in education, AEC (Architecture / Engineering / Construction), and Manufacturing indicated the greatest adoption of XR tech, it is becoming clear that significant use cases exist for everything from health care, to banking & finance, to retail. The most commonly integrated use cases include:

  • Product Design & Prototyping
  • Sales, Marketing & External Communication
  • Manufacturing
  • Workforce Collaboration & Internal Communication
  • Training & Knowledge Retention
  • Educational Learning.

The common thread throughout all of these use cases? Utility.

Understanding the Medium

Implementation of immersive media must begin with developing a clear understanding of the affordances and constraints of the medium itself. For both VR and AR, you are interacting with objects and environments that are three dimensional. For VR, the user is placed into that environment and interacts from within. For AR, the user maintains a sense of their true environment and places and manipulates objects within it. Both media afford the user a true sense of the following:

  • Sense of Size – The actual dimensions of a given object or space.
  • Sense of Scale – How large something is in comparison to the user, or other objects.
  • Sense of Distance – The actual distance covered.
  • Sense of Proximity – How near or far something is to a user or another object.
  • Sense of Materiality – The color, texture, and material type of a given object, and how it is affected by changes in lighting.

In addition, VR affords the addition of:

  • Sense of Presence – The feeling of “being there.”
  • Sense of Ambience – What the character and atmosphere of a space are like when all of the previous factors are taken into consideration. This can include lighting and acoustics in a space.

Understanding these unique affordances of the media can help guide businesses when attempting to identify use cases in the areas outlined in the above section. For example, a true sense of size and scale can help manufacturers use AR to improve their quality assurance process or use VR to iteratively design product in a tactile manner.

Considering the Benefits

It would benefit companies to look to smart speakers as a good example of how a medium’s inherent qualities can enable utility. For example, Google Assistant is a virtual personal assistant (or VPA) that is implicitly designed to offer useful benefits to the user. What makes it groundbreaking is the fact that voice interaction is so natively ingrained in day-to-day user interactions. Native language communication is one of the earliest developmental milestones for us as humans. As such, it is an interaction method that is largely heuristic, allowing users to interact in a natural manner to engender the desired outcome. In other words, the affordances of the medium itself make it more useful.

Virtual reality and fully spatialized augmented reality possess a similar quality. Even before we develop language, we develop fine motor skills in order to interact with the world around us. Picking up and manipulating objects is one of the greatest evolutionary benefits we have as a species. It has allowed for the development of tools, which has in turn allowed for the development of complex societies. Despite this, many traditional digital two-dimensional interfaces are limited in their tactility, forcing the user to operate in a rectilinear environment consisting only of an X and a Y axis. That’s not to diminish the value of two-dimensional interfaces—GUIs and touch-enabled mobile devices have been among two of the most groundbreaking societal advances. Yet, there are still certain tasks that might be better accomplished through three-dimensional interaction. By understanding the nature of immersive media, businesses can build useful applications that were previously impossible, thus improving accuracy, efficiency, connectivity, and mobility.

Want to read more? Download the Full report

To learn more about how emerging technology is improving the way that businesses operate, download the 2018 Shockoe Emerging Outlook Report.

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Dan Cotting

Dan Cotting

Director of Immersive Technology

With over a decade of customer and user experience strategy under his belt, Dan Cotting is Shockoe’s Director of Immersive Technology and resident “future-tech-crazy-person.” Dan fully believes that virtual and augmented reality will pave the way for an entirely new approach to business operations: improving the lives of both employees and consumers, while simultaneously increasing business efficiency and productivity. When he isn’t dreaming about this “Ready Player One” future, Dan spends his free time playing bass guitar, practicing 18th century photographic techniques, brewing beer, and enjoying time with his wife Kelly and son Marshall, and their five rescue pets. He holds a B.S. from Boston University and an M.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Enhancing User Experience with ARKit for a Furniture Manufacturing App

Enhancing User Experience with ARKit for a Furniture Manufacturing App

Augmented Reality (AR) gives us the ability to enhance our world with a real-time overlay of sound, graphics or video. With the promises of Swift’s ARKit, developers have the opportunity to harness this great power and create projects where our only limitation is the imagination. We had the pleasure of utilizing augmented reality and specifically Apple’s ARKit in a recent application for an American furniture manufacturing company. This client wanted to step into this innovative space and turned to Shockoe to create a proof of concept that takes their existing system for documenting defects with a deck of cards and digitize it with an AR app to enhance this process. Let’s dive into more details on this exciting project.

The Client

Our client is a major manufacturer of quality kitchen and bath cabinets for the home with over 500 cabinet styles and a variety of designs, materials, and finishes. You can find these cabinets being sold through a nationwide network of homebuilders, independent dealers, and distributors. In the U.S., many of their products are found at Lowe’s and The Home Depot. So how can a corporation that boasts the embodiment of the marriage of technology, automation and American craftsmanship benefit from an AR experience?

The Ask 

Our team was tasked to create a digital field tool that can aid in the assessment and documentation of product defects using augmented reality and QMS standards. What were we working with? Well, interestingly enough, the current system for assessing a product defect was a deck of transparent cards that employees would hold up against a cabinet surface to mark the defect. These cards contained instructions and details that would allow an employee to properly mark a defect on the appropriate surface. Not only was this process inefficient, it was also ineffective and gave the chance to human error to the user experience. We had to make a change.

The Build

In order to encapsulate these deck of cards, we started with user testing to begin to understand the user mind. We first provided the user with options of cards to choose from in order to provide the appropriate marker for the defect. These options included species, finish and joint type which were used to drive the next list of defect options. Once each category had an option selected, the user was now able to document the defect. You can see examples of this in these screenshots.

AR-app-manufacturing-AR-assesement-screen

Based on the option selected, the user was given a different spec and AR type used to mark the defect. Specs ranged from 1/4” width x 8” length box to parallel lines .010” in width. Precision was key when marking these defects.

Using ARKit, we are able to create virtual objects with these exact specs to best represent the marker. One of the most important benefits of using AR is that it maintains proper scale from any perspective/distance (which is why we couldn’t simply put an overlay over a photo). This killer feature of AR makes it the right feature in this particular case. ARKit was the ideal technology to solve the client’s problem, and we happen to have the skills to do it.

Here is the code I used to map out these options.

func createBoxImage(length: Float, width: Float) -> VirtualObject {
		
	let position = SCNVector3(x: 0, y: 0, z: 0)
		
	let distanceY = self.get3DPositionInYFromPointForDistance(inches: width, fromPosition: position)
	let distanceX = self.get3DPositionInXFromPointForDistance(inches: length, fromPosition: position)
		
	let scnBox1 = SCNBox(width: distanceX, height: 0.001, length: distanceY, chamferRadius: 0)
		
	let rectangleMaterial = SCNMaterial()
	rectangleMaterial.diffuse.contents =  imageLiteral(resourceName: "focus_square.png")
	scnBox1.materials = [rectangleMaterial]
		
	return VirtualObject(geometry: scnBox1, modelName: "Box \(length) in x \(width) in")
}

 

With  ARKit, we had access to vertical planes allowing us to detect and place nodes on vertical surfaces. Once the vertical surface was detected, we prompted the user to tap and place the marker on the defect. The user also had the option to rotate or drag the marker appropriately once placed.

As the last step and to further enhance their experience and provide better documentation, we’ve added the ability to take photos of the defect as well as take notes about the current defect.

The Outcome

Using ARKit allowed us to provide multiple tools into one mobile app that are efficient and innovative. Users are able to access data easily in the field, improving training and speed of proficiency. By increasing speed, accuracy, and efficiency, all business units will be able to operate with more objective assessments of business KPIs. Augmented reality allows for the automatic surface detection and reliable and accurate scale that decreases the level of subjective user assessment. We’re excited to see the progress of this furniture manufacturing company and help clients with similar needs. Reach out to us if this sounds like the right solution to help your team or if you have your own idea of utilizing augmented reality for your app!

Shae Hazelwood

Shae Hazelwood

Developer

Shae is a mobile developer with a passion for producing business-focused applications and strategy-based mobile development. What began with home-grown app prototypes has turned into a career at Shockoe focused on Titanium and Android development as well as considering market deployment practices. When he’s not deep in code, Shae spends his time playing video games and listening to Hip Hop.

Event Recap: VR in Entertainment

Event Recap: VR in Entertainment

To kick off the summer Shockoe and industry experts took an in-depth look at the state of VR in the entertainment industry — from cinema and storytelling to gaming and beyond. We brought together Richmond industry professionals who are using this exciting medium to its fullest potential and pioneering the next generation of VR.

Mark Lambert and his team at VArtisans took a deeper dive into how they’re using Virtual Reality and 360º video to transport users to exciting locations around the world. VArtisans is a Virginia based team of 360 video and VR artists, programmers, and cinematographers brought together to explore new ways of storytelling in 360 video and VR. Mark has decades of VFX and film production experience, working on dozens of projects including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Polar Express, and Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. Over the last year, the VArtisans team has visited 14 countries to film both monoscopic and stereo 360 video. From Uganda to the streets of Paris, Rome, Tokyo and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, VArtisans are currently producing an array of 360 video projects as well as multiple art and experimental pieces. With each new project, they take the opportunity to explore new uses, innovating new techniques and concept improved methods to tell stories with this immersive format. Mark sees a huge audience potential in the rising VR & AR market and 360 video is the beginning wave. Since Google and Facebook added 360 support, usage of VR has taken a steep adoption from users worldwide. The technology, the language, and the experience will be evolving rapidly and VArtisans is excited to explore this world in it’s earliest stages.

Following the presentation, Robbie Ciszek, Tyler Rhodes, and Momin Khan of RVA Game Jams took the stage to share a day-in-the-life of a VR game developer. RVA Game Jams, a community project created in 2012 to bring together passionate video game developers and enthusiasts from the Richmond area. It has grown to be one of the city’s leading groups in video game development and emerging game technology. From development to hardware, they were eager to share more details from some of their latest projects and additionally, presented some of their latest work with the participating audience.

Top VR and AR Trends in 2018

Top VR and AR Trends in 2018

Last month, our CEO and I attended the 2017 VRX Conference in San Francisco. Billed as the conference “where the business of immersive tech gets done,” speakers and attendees included key individuals from companies such as Walmart, Ford, Qualcomm, ExxonMobil, and Wayfair. At Shockoe, we focus on developing enterprise applications, so we were particularly drawn to VRX for its dedicated enterprise track. We saw this as a great opportunity to review the current state of immersive tech at companies within our primary industry verticals (retail, logistics, manufacturing, and energy). In addition, we knew the conference would be a great way for us to network with other tech professionals from around the country and learn from some of the top talents in the industry with speakers and attendees from many of the major immersive tech organizations such as Google, Microsoft, Oculus, HTC, and Intel.

Based on our experience at the conference and our work at Shockoe in 2017, here are my thoughts on top trends for VR and AR worth watching in 2018:

 

Settling on a Name for These Emerging Technologies

 

One immediate takeaway from the conference is that the naming conventions for immersive technologies are still very much in flux. Almost daily, there seems to be some new acronym related to immersive media. For example, while at VRX we heard all of the following terms from different panelists and presenters: VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), MR (Mixed Reality), IR (Immersive Reality), and XR (Extended Reality). While the definition for VR is fairly clear, there’s still some confusion surrounding the differences between AR, MR, and the overall umbrella terms IR and XR. In fact, a constant refrain from presenters was “XR… or whatever we’re calling it now.”

 

Yet, this confusion is nothing new. As industry veteran Charlie Fink points out in this Forbes article from last October, the struggle to settle on names for these technologies has existed for nearly 25 years and it doesn’t seem that the matter will be settled anytime soon. At Shockoe, we refer to this group of technologies as Immersive Media, though we will often refer to each individual technology by its specific name. We see VR as creating a new reality that a user enters, AR as augmentation of the physical world via a handset device, and MR as an interactive, head-mounted display based augmentation of the physical world. As the industry continues to evolve, we’ll adjust our naming accordingly to meet the needs of our clients.

 

Understanding Deployment of Immersive Tech in Enterprise

 

If 2017 was the year of ideation and stakeholder sell-through for an immersive enterprise, 2018 will be the year of addressing the complexities of deployment at scale. While many companies are already investigating and quantifying the benefits of immersive tech in the workplace, few have begun the significant undertaking of deploying these solutions at scale throughout their organization. Ideation and creation are only the first steps. Moving forward, it’s imperative that IT teams understand all of the potential pain points and best practices throughout the delivery process. They must ensure hardware deployment, content management, and ongoing support are all factored into the equation.

 

While immersive enterprise deployment is similar to the deployment of mobile technology (also a relatively nascent technology in certain industries), both offer unique challenges that must be considered. The primary consideration is hardware. From AR capable phones to room-scale 6-DOF VR headsets, immersive technology requires a significant investment in hardware for many companies. Furthermore, the logistics of large-scale deployment of these devices is challenging. As such, a clear solution and deployment roadmap that balances capital investment and ROI is crucial.

 

Once the hardware is accounted for, another significant factor is the content pipeline that is critical to interfacing with immersive experiences. Integrating with existing infrastructure, content management systems, and APIs can often prove overwhelming if not correctly managed, particularly if there are a large number of 3D assets to be implemented. Having a successful pipeline also means maximizing the efficiency of assets (reducing polygons, simplifying textures, etc).

 

Post-deployment, operational considerations become major factors in the adoption of these new systems and devices. It is critical that organizations train their IT teams to handle the complexities of immersive tech deployment, both for device management and for troubleshooting the new use cases. Organizations that address these factors will increase chances of successful deployment and adoption of immersive technology in 2018.

 

Integrating AR into Retail Applications

 

With the 2017 introductions of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, 2018 will likely be the year that spatially-aware augmented reality truly enters the mainstream. Given that the current install base for AR capable devices numbers in the tens of millions, the only thing limiting adoption is recognition of use cases and the time needed for the design and development of related applications. It’s crucial, however, that these new apps are addressing actual user needs and solving real organizational problems.

 

With that in mind, perhaps no better AR use case exists than presenting accurately sized and scaled objects in a spatially correct environment; e.g., Will this sofa actually fit in my living room, and what will it look like? In my estimation, 2018 will see the rise of AR integration into a wide variety of retail applications. From furniture to clothing to groceries, being able to pre-visualize an item in context prior to purchase will be hugely beneficial. Indeed, many major retailers have already integrated AR tech into their apps, the most noteworthy of which is Amazon. In 2018, this tech will shift from a “nice-to-have” feature to a “must have” for retailers to remain competitive.

 

AR and MR for Data Visualization in the Supply Chain

 

While the most commonly cited use case for AR is for retail applications, there are some exciting possibilities for AR and MR data visualization throughout the supply chain. For example, Microsoft’s MR Hololens headset is beginning to be used to show real-time overlays on factory and warehouse floors, allowing foremen to see the flow of goods in real-time and manage processes using hands-free interactions. While the technology is still very experimental and expensive, the potential efficiency benefits are massive.

 

Until MR headsets are a more realistic and affordable option in supply chain operations, AR has significant potential for an affordable and portable visualization option. Assessments and overlays can be easily implemented to increase efficiencies and promote a three-dimensional view of data and/or processes. Just as AR adoption in retail will grow significantly in 2018, enterprises will use AR improve the efficiency of their data management.

 

Adoption of VR for Training

 

One of the most prevalently discussed use cases for VR at VRX 2017 was the anticipated adoption of VR corporate training in 2018. Walmart spoke to their success using VR to train employees for scenarios such as Black Friday, as well as their ongoing efforts to train for common management/customer service simulations. Training company StriVR discussed their use of VR training for multiple NFL teams and the benefit of being able to avoid significant injury while still retaining information. Because virtual reality has such a significant amount of experiential presence, it has the potential to form memories the same as if we were to literally experience something. As such, per StriVR, it’s possible to increase retention from 20% with written material to as much as 90% with an experiential material. This kind of efficiency gain will be huge for large organizations looking to improve their training processes.

 

So when does VR training make sense for an organization? Generally, virtual reality training is most beneficial when standard training would be:

  • Dangerous: Certain equipment or work environments necessitate carefully considered training tools that mitigate the potential for user injury
  • Expensive: Repetitive or expensive tasks that would be prohibitive for training can be repeated at a fraction of the cost
  • Impossible: Certain scenarios are literally impossible to test in current conditions (e.g., going to space, deep-sea exploration, etc.)
  • Rare: Other significantly important scenarios are hard to replicate outside of controlled environments

 

Look for organizations to significantly adopt VR into their training programs in 2018.

 

The Emergence of Social VR

 

It’s often said that the “killer app” for virtual reality is going to be social; after all, Facebook clearly acknowledged the potential of the technology when they acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. While social immersive tech is likely to be adopted more rapidly by consumers than businesses, there is a significant interest in its role in streamlining the efficiency of communication for enterprises. While current teleconferencing and online meeting methods allow for more flexibility than ever, the future of off-site communication likely lies in a world where employees have a sense of presence despite lacking true physicality. Being able to not only see someone but also interpret their facial gestures and body language while moving through space will give business communication a new form of digital intimacy, allowing businesses to improve efficiency while significantly decreasing travel expenses. Look for these applications to make their way into the enterprise in 2018.

 

2018 and Beyond – A Snapshot

  • VR software revenue will reach $17B by 2020, surpassing hardware for the first time
  • VR headset price decreases have led to more consumer adoption in 2017. This trend will continue into 2018
  • For investors in immersive startups, the expectation is that ROI will be slower than traditional tech startups
  • The highest potential for growth in immersive is in enterprise applications
  • Mobile graphics are currently ten years behind desktop and 20x lower quality. But…
  • The future of immersive tech is mobile. Why and how?
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip will have significantly advanced immersive capabilities
  • The NGCodec will compress data by 99%
  • 5G networks will allow for graphics processing in the cloud
  • All of this will combine into device-agnostic experiences that are streamed to any headset, which will only be limited by screen resolution

 

In Summary

 

2018 is poised to be a breakout year for immersive technology, particularly in the enterprise space. While consumer and entertainment immersive will continue to have a significant role, it is likely that corporate adoption will push the next wave of XR growth. As companies identify use cases and learn to navigate the complexities of VR, AR, and MR deployment, they will begin to reap the benefits of these new methods of interaction and visualization. Overall, the outlook for 2018 is very bright, and we’re looking forward to pushing the limits of this technology here at Shockoe.

 

Interested in continuing the discussion or investigating how emerging technology can improve your organization? Get in touch with us here.

How technology leveled the playing field among drivers

How technology leveled the playing field among drivers

Most people may agree that there are two types of drivers – the confident and the not so confident. With the help of technological advancement, the automotive industry is leveling these playing fields, making it difficult to categorize drivers. One of my favorite commercials in the past year is the State Farm Safe Driver which depicted a female receiving a “safe driver refund” check. State Farm not only showed off their refund policy for their Safe Driver program but highlighted that it was a female who got the refund instead of her husband who was helplessly confused possibly because of the oddly popular female driver stereotype.

Technology has always been able to make our lives easier. Safe driving is not excluded from the list of the daily tasks positively affected by technology. Today, the “not so confident” drivers can rely on an array of technologies to not only make us a tad more confident but ultimately safer drivers. So just how is the automobile industry leveling the playing field? We cannot answer that question without taking a high-level look at how automobiles have evolved in recent years specifically with a technology in mind.

First, there are the navigation systems. Ten years ago, having a navigation system in your car cost about 10% of the price of your vehicle. Instead, drivers relied on printable directions from sources like MapQuest to get from point A to point B. Reports show that printed maps were a huge distraction for drivers resulting in safety concerns. If you think texting while driving is a major distraction, try reading a map while driving. Today, the majority of new cars have a navigation system—usually a touch screen—that comes standard. Additionally, the navigation has been voice-enabled meaning drivers don’t even need to look at the screen for directions.

After a few more technological leaps came self-aware cars. It’s mind-blowing to know that your car has a sense of self-awareness. Augmented Reality allows cars to visually project directions, dashboard gauges, and more, in front of the driver’s view eradicating the need to look away. The windscreen of cars is now a massive digital screen with endless opportunities. The navigation, the voice commands, even the auto parallel parking really leveled the playing field for various drivers. AR is usually considered to be a live view of the real world, onto which extra data – usually pulled from the internet – is layered or superimposed. In recent years, we’ve seen more automobile brands incorporate AR to their offerings with a promise to make drivers less distracted, thus being able to focus more on what’s on the road ahead. I’ve driven recent models of a luxury automobile equipped with AR used to project the dashboard gauges, current speed, maps, directions and other basic dashboard-like information onto the windscreen. The informative data had the amount of opacity not to impair the driver’s view of the what is on the road while at the same time keeping head and eyes straight ahead, nullifying the need to glance away to a navigational or any other screen(s). Once this becomes mainstream, one may argue we will have no need for street signs, since of course pedestrians will be wearing Google glasses with similar AR technology available.

Distractions are said to be the number one cause of accidents in recent years and reducing driver distraction has been one of the major goals of the automobile industry. First, we were given Voice Recognition which meant I can tell my car to “take me home” and navigational guidance to my configured home address would be started automatically and now instead of glancing away to a screen, I can now see the directions, current speed and a whole lot more right on my dashboard. This is the kind of technology that invigorates us at Shockoe.

We started 2017 with a focus on Voice Recognition, Augmented and Virtual Reality and I must add that it feels great to be a part of a company that has always been on the cutting edge of technology but even better, a company that is always ahead of the curve on the next big idea in this ever-changing industry. So when you’re using your enhanced car windows that allow you to to zoom in on places and objects of interest that you are passing, when the back seat of your car appears transparent while reversing so you can see everything around you, just remember, Shockoe will be right there with you, working with those same technologies that are turning us all into confident drivers.

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Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality… Confused Yet?

Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality… Confused Yet?

There are exciting new worlds being created, recreated and explored as we speak. There are digital worlds being developed from the inspirations of Earth and beyond. For those of us not able to travel to places like the polar ice caps, the Sistine Chapel, Rome, the Pyramids of Egypt, Mars, or other places we may not be able to visit in our lifetime, this is our chance. Now, we have the opportunity to visit them from the comforts of our very own homes.

Our mobile enterprise company, Shockoe.com has recently branched out into the brave new world of Virtual Reality (VR). In this ambitious new venture, there are many things to consider. First, let’s break down the different branches of the digital realities.

VR provides the user with a digitally created 360 degree world using a type of headset, whether it’s utilizing Google cardboard, an Oculus or one of the many other options of headset viewers. Augmented Reality (AR) uses our mobile devices and overlays digital images over physical reality (ever heard of Pokemon Go)? Lastly, and my favorite, there’s Mixed Reality (MR).

MR might be such an advanced technology, that we likely won’t see this catch on until VR and AR are more of a regularity. MR is the ability to use virtual reality inside of our physical world. For instance, a doctor performing surgery on a patient could use a virtual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or X-ray scanner over their patient, providing them with an accurate view inside their patient’s body. Mind-blowing, right?

Now that you have an idea of the different realities being created, let me tell you that there is nothing more exciting than having the opportunity to design the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) for these exciting realities. When starting the conversation of UX for VR, it’s easy to get a little carried away. The possibilities seem endless (because they are), which is why it’s important to focus on what’s best for the user, what makes the most sense for the user to do in order to see and navigate our experiences. What does the client want to provide their users?

These questions are seemingly simple, yet necessary. A UX/UI designer needs to know what type of VR they are designing for. Is it for a headset alone, headset with camera sensors, or headset with gloves? What are the limitations of this experience? How far can the UX/UI designer push these limitations while still maintaining a fulfilling, yet positive user experience? What can I designer do to keep users returning to their fascinating VR experiences and even share them with others?

shockoe_vr_coneoffocusUsers with solo headsets can only use their Field of View (FOV) or Cone of Focus to make their selection, not their hands. While this might seem limiting, it’s not. Keep in mind that this is VR, where the user can turn in any direction they choose and explore a new world by just putting on a headset. Making a selection through vision is quite simple. A UX designer could use a countdown, various loading animations, or status bars. They can even invent something totally new and intuitive that hasn’t been thought of yet.

Making a selection is one thing, navigating these new worlds is another. There are a lot of different things to consider when navigating in VR. For one thing, it’s somewhat similar to navigating our physical world in terms of our FOV. We all have our own, some of us more or less than others, and the Cone of Focus is how designers segment the FOV.

The UX designer should focus the user’s primary actions within the initial area of vision. When we look directly forward, by just moving our eyes we can see approximately 90 degrees within our central vision. Everything outside of that is our far peripheral vision and should be designed accordingly by placing only secondary and tertiary user actions within these areas of vision, such as motion cues or exit options.

These are extremely important limitations to know when designing the UX for VR experiences. These degrees of vision define how the UX should be envisioned and implemented. Without making the user work too hard to explore their new digital surroundings, the UX designer must take into account the Cone of Focus for all primary actions without taking away from the extraordinary experience of VR. Thus, making one consider the visual placement of UX design by measurements of FOV degrees throughout the app.

While all of this information may seem overwhelming, it is also very, very exciting. Designing UX and UI in 360 degrees is a phenomenal opportunity to learn, adapt and innovate in this amazing new digital age. At Shockoe.com, we are on the edge of our seats with excitement about being able to provide our clients with the intuitive experiences their users want through innovative technology that VR offers.

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