For three months, I explored VR UX design with the goal of learning new technologies; designing humanely; creating rapid, interactive prototypes; and regularly sharing my work. I shared weekly journals of one to two week long sprints — totaling six experiments. Case studies are being published now.
I have since created six unique prototypes, most with available variations. Brief descriptions of each experiment are here, with links to either their case studies or journal entries for deeper explanations.
Guiding Question: What can be learned by taking a design from the web and translating it into VR?
Here, I am looking at the prototyping differences with a mockup on a plane, a curved mockup, and a three dimensional mockup. Which method gives me the largest results with the smallest work?
Guiding Question: How do video controls change when the content is all around you in spherical videos?
This experiment continues the exploration of prototyping differences between a planar mockup, a curved mockup, and a volumetric mockup while also exploring designs for spherical video controls. Inspired by @oscarmarinmiro.
Guiding Question: What does it feel like to see earth from a satellite point-of-view?
After hearing a podcast on SpaceVR, I was inspired to create an experience based on their project. Their goal is to send a satellite into space which would capture spherical video people on the Earth could experience in VR.
I started by building a model solar system where I had a lot of control over where I could place the camera, yielding a set of viewpoints. However, I realized I was building something more complicated than I set out to do. So, I wrapped it up and re-started. For my second attempt, I had a clearer project in-mind: less robust, more to the point. It’s easier to build after you have a clear direction.
Guiding Question: What are the best ways to move in VR without position controls?
I created an ontology of over 20 ways to traverse environments in VR. Four and a half of these I prototyped: three simple methods (jump, fade, and animate) and one and a half complex methods (micro-movements, and a partially implemented rotate-into).
It was my desire to use each experiment as a specific exploration, such that after many specifics, I may be able to generalize my design insights and prototyping expertise. In no specific order, they are as follows:
I’m a dual-degree master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. The specific program I’m in has a partnership with the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute. We spend a semester at CMU, then two semesters in Portugal, separated by a one semester internship.
I originally looked for UX design internships at VR companies and internships at R&D labs. It turns out that most VR companies are looking for full-time designers, not interns. I applied anyway, but to no avail. As the summer neared, I could either start applying for general and traditional UX design positions or I could forge my own path.
I decided that to get what I need out of an internship, it would be better for me to create my own.
Second, I will focus on creating humane designs. I mean, this is really my role as a UX designer anyway, but it’s important to put some emphasis here. As we move into what is potentially the new dominant medium (spatial interfaces), and as we do this in the design-focused movement of the last few years, we should force great human design into our new applications (inspired by Bret Victor).
Third, I will design through rapid interactive prototypes. While apps and websites can easily be expressed on paper, spatial interfaces require prototypes that match its dimensionality. Additionally, I needed to get better at producing many prototypes to explore an idea (inspired by Linda Dong).
Fourth, I will regularly share and interact with my greater communities. Experimentation done in a vacuum is largely worthless. I’ve spent the last few months absorbing a great deal of knowledge from others working in the VR space. Because of their work, I start mine on more solid footing. Hopefully because of my efforts, others can start their work more easily. And, sharing regularly gives me a chance to refine my documentation skills.