Summary: What’s next in mobile AR UX? In mobile, new game-changing AR-enabled phones offer location-based services blazing a path for Augmented Reality.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality offers virtual data and visualization overlaid across real environments. It takes existing physical spaces and supplements or “augments” them with information, objects, actions, or interactions. One of the most extensive uses of Augmented or “Artificial Reality” involved interactive art installations pioneered by Myron Krueger, author of the groundbreaking books Artificial Reality I and Artificial Reality II.
Put the capabilities of mobile phone GPS and real-time points of interest on a live camera view with data overlay. You have the next big thing (potentially helpful to users) in mobile user experience.
Examples of Augmented Reality for mobile:
1. Location based Restaurant finder with reviews
Coincidentally, Yelp was one of the first well known sites to go live with Augmented Reality.
2. Location based Travel points of interest
Wikitude AR Travel Guide offers travel based historical context and place information.
3. Virtual pet for the iPhone
ARf is an Augmented Reality Virtual Pet on the iPhone.
4. Public transportation schedule and station finder
The London Underground Tube Map finder provides station way-finding and travel information.
5. Virtual objects you can interact with in the real world
Gizmodo offers an AR toolkit for creating virtual objects.
Potential UX issues with Augmented Reality
- Context may limit social or physical interactions. For example, outdoor trees or indoor walls, noisy environments, and busy or dangerous objects might interfere with AR engagement (like a bicycle or car flying by).
- Content may obscure or narrow a user’s interests or tastes. For example, knowing where McDonald’s or Starbucks is in Paris or Rome might not interest users as much as “off the beaten track information” that you might seek in travel experiences.
- Privacy control will become a bigger issue than with today’s information saturation levels. Walking up to a stranger or a group of people might reveal status, thoughts (Tweets), or other information that usually comes with an introduction, which might cause unwarranted breaches of privacy.
Benefits of Augmented Reality
- AR UX has a long history of usability research R&D and a solid user adoption foundation.
- AR improves mobile usability by acting as the interface itself, requiring little interaction (this Interaction Design technique is known as Direct Manipulation). Imagine turning on your phone or pressing a button where the space, people, and objects around you are “sensed” by your mobile device- giving you location-based or context-sensitive information on the fly.
- AR can revolutionize the mobile user experience with multi-modal interaction like touch did before it.
Augmented Reality for mobile is an exciting development and has the power to take the mobile user experience to the next level, offering users the value proposition they have long been waiting for on mobile phones and devices: helpful, simple, convenient just-in-time information and services.