Jeff Piazza of Behavior Design has some answers.
Here’s what he told about the readiness of VR, AR, and 360 video, and what he’s learning from current projects.
We know this much about UX design: it’s about engagement. It’s about earning sustained attention. The problem? Enterprise UX is changing faster than our collective design chops. Just when we get a handle on mobile UX, we get a slew of wearables to consider, along with virtual and augmented reality.
But we’re not designing for tomorrow; we’re designing for today. So which of these trends should enterprises sandbox now? To get a handle, I talked with Jeff Piazza, co-founder of Behavior Design in New York City. Piazza’s team has already started working with clients on next-gen UX.
Behavior Design does exactly that with their client base, providing design services to a number of industries, including technology (Red Hat) media (The New York Times) and entertainment (HBO).
Form factors are changing – interactive design is the constant
So how do we take interactive design and apply it to new formats? That’s what everyone is trying to figure out. Piazza:
We’re always looking at how can we take those ideas that we’ve been designing as interaction behaviors, and apply those to emerging media.
Even experts are grappling with new mediums:
It seems like we’re in this experimental time. You see that a lot with 360 video, where filmmakers are just trying to figure out, “Well, how do I tell a story when I can’t put my crew anywhere?” Or Google’s latest virtual reality news, which they announced at Google I/O.
To figure out which UX is going to stick, you have to experiment:
We’ve just trying to put out prototypes constantly. I’m trying to figure out where user interactions are happening. I think that’s what’s really exciting to figure out.
Piazza believes we are looking for the right “language for interaction”:
We need to get to that next level of experimentation to figure out what’s the right language for interaction. That will help drive what the content will be, which will then pull in the right users. It’s not going to be anything unless the content is interesting.
Virtual reality – an adoption gut check
So how do these trends look in the real world? Piazza doesn’t think virtual reality (VR) is ready for broad adoption yet. He sees experimentation – and marketing VR for sex appeal:
It feels like there’s a lot of brands out there that have been experimenting with VR on the advertising level, but in a way it’s more of like, “Hey, and we do VR.” It’s not integral in terms of part of their model of selling their business.
If VR has traction now, it’s for “short term” or “concise” experiences: “VR might be giving you a sense of what a car can look like, or what a college tour could feel like.” Piazza can see VR as an extension of a brand’s web site before too long:
When VR starts to mature a little bit more, you’ll start to see more opportunities for websites to add that piece as part of their responsive platform. A mobile-ready, responsive web site plus VR experience would all be part of their digital package.
Augmented reality – enterprise potentials
Piazza defines AR as “The combination of a synthetic or artificial three-dimensional experience applied to the real world.” It’s the ability to fuse 3D – and visual data overlays – into a real world context. Two AR initiatives Piazza is tracking: Magic Leap and Microsoft Hololens:
These two stand out as being able to say, “Okay, I have these glasses I can see through. I can see co-workers, I can see in environments that are not completely closed off. Then I’m going to apply some sort of computer graphic element that I can interact with that will give me additional information, that will enhance what I’m doing.”
Piazza cited Meta, a secretive AR startup that recently, according to Forbes, “dazzled” a TED crowd(not the highest bar, granted). Piazza says Meta is talking about possibly eliminating the need for computer monitors for their development team: “They’re saying, “We can use this as the next level of information delivery.” He also cited Atheer, an industrial AR company that uses AR goggles in conjunction with the Internet of Things”:
That’s what we’re really excited about. We think AR will eventually change how we interact with these systems… People who are checking, let’s say, industrial machinery, making sure that’s working correctly. Generally, you have to open it up and then figure out what’s wrong with it or do a check. Ideally in the future, sensors will be built in and you can use your glasses that will then read directly, send information to the glasses as you’re walking through.
Real world projects, and getting started
Intriguing – but not exactly mainstream adoption either. So how should companies approach this? Some if it is industry-based. Example: the travel and real estate industries are ideal for the “show and tell” aspects of AR or VR…
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Jon Reed has been involved in enterprise communities since 1995. These days, Jon is a roving blogger/analyst, and also counsels vendors and startups on go-to-market strategy. He is a diginomica co-founder, Enterprise Irregular, and purveyor of multi-media content. Jon is an advocate for media over marketing; he sees diginomica as a chance to disrupt tech media, with the BS-weary enterprise reader in mind. Jon was named best writer by the ERP Focus 2014 writer awards.