The Importance of UX Design in Augmented Reality

The definition of augmented reality is quickly expanding to move beyond gimmicky 2D and 3D digital overlays atop reality to more context-driven and personalized experiences. The new AR combines contextual computing with things like machine-learning, artificial intelligence, sensors, big data, and social media to deliver highly relevant information and experiences that are tailored, adaptive, and even predictive.

So what does this mean for UX design?

There is a tremendous opportunity for UX designers to lead the development of this emerging medium to change the way people experience reality.

Herein lie the challenges, and also the immense opportunities:

The new AR will be highly adaptive, based on the user’s continually changing environment and context. This will require UX designers to create a seamless experiences across environments, and multiple devices, with an acute awareness and sensitivity to shifting context where the user is always at the centre. Wearables will play a major role in the new AR, not limited to digital glasses like Google Glass. There will be a plethora of data continually analyzed about the user and their surroundings ranging from demographics to historical (past behaviours and interactions) to situational/environmental (including things like location, current device, time, weather, and even mood).

How will this data all come together to create a relevant experience delivered in a natural and intuitive means that is human-centric? How can we apply UX to be in a more reciprocal relationship with our new devices and this new technology?

Technology should not interrupt our lives, yet work in the background, appearing when needed to enhance productivity and connectivity to the things that matter to us most. As a UX community, we must ask, ‘How can we design AR experiences to enhance and make a user’s life easier?’ Nicholas Negroponte said, “Computing is not about computers anymore. It is about living”.

How do we want to live in and with AR, and how will it shape people’s lives? This will be the UX designer’s task.


Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter: I’m @ARstories