For the last 16 years I have researched and prototyped 3D interfaces which have useful a purpose and easy to use. Much of this work started from the i3D group I set at Razorfish in 2000. Back then there were different challenges such as plugins broadband speeds. But the essentially question then and now is still 'do 3D interfaces make the interactions more complicated or natural?'. And can it be more effective than what can be done with a simple photo or video?
Knowing the breath of the content helps the categorise data in 3D. The Media Guide designed in 2000 organised content into stacks which you can flick through and can preview a movie before making final selection.
A project we did with IBM and the BBC took a large database from an archive and made semantic links for a search. Categorisation was key in sorting for this project. The 3D Search tool also developed in 2000 traversed search results and updated its links as the search was refined.
It's never good being too early for market adoption, where you struggle with social acceptance. There's also need to recognise when developer and 3D asset creation costs grow out of proportion compared to simple and familiar 2D UX can offer. There are justifiable reasons pursue 3D UX when applying research.
Clear utility for a 3D UX is important so users can understand benefits without explanation. Simplicity of display and touch supports this idea and by stripping down excessive graphics the real functionality will reveal itself.
The Sports Tracker uses allows you to compare your performances and those of others. It displays goals visually and offset the overlay to the side of your natural vision.
There has been a lot discussion about where all this might lead and it's exciting. However poor examples of AR/VR will create resistance of broader public adoption. 3D feature films is good example of this, where the rush to market brought some negative reviews. This market has cooled significantly since 2012, but it has also matured with some really good stereo films now being shown.
Good research and applied design UX can be instantly measured. By both its functionality and usefulness of the experience. 3D navigation can add a level of unfamiliarity for some users which is unnecessary for their interaction. So it’s important to apply good research and understand how to design for AR - 3D. Some of the questions to ask are here.
Would the UX be simpler and easier to use using currently accepted design techniques?
What would 3D bring to an interface that can’t already addressed?
Would the navigation of a 3D interface need to be learnt?
Below is an example of minimal touch. My Travel Vision interface for mobiles. My research was centered on how to make better travel decisions quickly in an unfamiliar place. Travel Vision tracks for buses and simply tells you if this is you bus or not. The computer vision camera mode tracks objects and summarizes the information for you.
The Life Style interface extends people's inspirational pinboards into their own homes. People curate their styling choices and ideas to suit their own lifestyle. The media stack 'rich-pins' links the pinned image and 3D objects. Then tracks it on your smartphone. The experince gives people confidence to explore creative ideas before purchase.
If you're looking to develop a project with AR-VR please get in touch. I’d be happy work with you and share my experience.