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Technology is one thing that’s constantly evolving. Owing to these advancements, things that seemed like fiction and far from reality are a part of our daily lives like 3D, 4D Animation, Virtual Reality and so on.  

And although the concept of Augmented Reality (AR) is not something new, it has advanced dynamically to connect to real-time users and the environment. Augmented Reality in simple words essentially refers to technology that includes real-time data from the natural environment so that the result is a combination of real-time data and programmed code to make it look like a real-world feeling object.  

Augmented Reality primarily focuses on visualizing products so that businesses have the ability to display virtual products in the real-time environment. One of the most common examples is the location-based AR game Pokemon Go developed for Android and iOS devices.

When we talk about AR from the web or user experience the need to combine real and virtual becomes far more demanding, as it is a true test of interactivity where the user needs to feel connected both physically and mentally.

This brings us to the question of the hour, how important AR truly is for the UX. Is it limited to just User Experience on a big animated screen or projection, or does it go deeper integrating with even the web design?

Is Augmented Reality important for UX?
The past few years have seen a drastic change considering design. The design went from being static to dynamic and now responsive and inclining towards being interactive. This new change can be attributed to the developments in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). VR relies heavily on external objects like wearables to facilitate it, AR, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on them although it does use it.

Source: Layar.com

One way of incorporating AR to enhance UX is through web designing. Web designers can incorporate interactive 3D typography and real-time design. Last year, DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts) studios unveiled their first ever Augmented Reality exhibition integrating AR with design to enhance user experience.

Source: webdesignerdepot.com

Although as a web pro, AR doesn’t impact your business directly until you are in the designing domain. Digital designers can take help of AR to make their designs more connected and captivating for their audience. Also with the launch of Google Glass and ARCore as well as Apple’s ARKit the demand for AR based devices as well as the design has increased. But is it truly harnessing the power? And if yes, what are the benefits?

Let’s have a look at how Augmented Reality benefits UX:

  1. Real-Time feedback
    As we know AR is all about connecting the virtual to real to offer users a unique experience, one of the key aims is actually to offer them real-time feedback. Real-time feedback essentially helps users get live results based on their previous actions and not just some static collected data.For example, an Augmented Reality GPS system can calculate your predicted time to reach a destination based on your past trips. These trips can be measured by how fast you walk or which routes you’ve taken giving you real-time feedback on how long will it take you to reach your intended destination. This real-time feedback is more attainable with IoT (Internet of Things) in the picture, as it gathers data from various sensors installed.

    AR in this way helps with real-time information and knowledge presenting giving the user a sense of personal experience. More so even encouraging users to make the correct decisions boosting productivity.

  2. Making Design more User-friendly
    A good design is one that’s both interactive and user-friendly, and this encompassed not just the web design but even physical designs. According to research, augmented reality applications will grow to around $2.4 billion by 2019, suggesting an almost 10% increase from 2014.AR fundamentally reduces the cognitive task on a user as well as the interactive post to complete the task, this, in turn,n makes the design more powerful and user-friendly. When we talk about smart homes, smart apps or smart cars that can interact with smart television, smart parking system and so, we don’t essentially talk on designing new gadgets but redefining and designing websites as well as applications that are united and user-friendly.

    One example of user-friendly design can be a restaurant or a food app, which gives you suggestions based on previous order or location you’ve been to. This not only makes the application smart but also simplifies the work for the user.

Possible Challenges for UX designers
However, with all these possible benefits there are also some challenges when it comes to making UX designs more attuned with AR.

  1. Comfort Level
    Smartphones and other smart devices are made so as to reduce mental and physical pressure. But with the addition of AR into this, chances are your comfort levels might be compromised. Imagine wearing AR centric glasses on a regular basis to get a feel of the real in the virtual or vice-versa just to use an application. To maintain this balance, UX designers need to be able to maintain the fine line between comfort and pressure to the user.
  2. Safety
    Another important concern is for privacy and safety of the user. With the smart designed devices knowing everything about the user seems hassle-free where you needn’t remember things irrespective of their nature (important or minuscule). But the downside to these predictive devices is, if fallen into the wrong hands it can greatly hamper the user. This can be seen more in apps requiring the users to input their location, storage and security permissions. The design should be such that it only follow orders or responds to the individual it is catering to and not responding to intruders. Without these safety measures in place, there is a threat to a user’s privacy.

Although it’s still a debatable question of whether Augmented Reality will truly change and impact UX, it is safe to say that design in the future will surely include some amount of AR if not more. This design includes all application designs as well as website designs that are responsive as well as 3D models.

Overall, what UX designers truly need to keep in mind when designing is a sense of user’s current needs and future expectations.

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H. FatimaH. FatimaH. Fatima used to be an Engineer by profession and Writer by passion until she started pursuing full-time writing. She is presently a Content Marketeer at Newfold Digital (APAC). She mostly writes what she deeply perceives and analyses, it is her way of unwinding. Her interests include writing, reading (an avid reader), watching foreign-language movies and public speaking.View all posts by H. Fatima