Joe Brazao

Designing for Immersive Reality Experiences – what happened at our meetup in March

On 21 March, we brought together an array of talented designers and true experience creators who led us across the fields of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Multi-Sensory Extended Reality.

As new, evolving and growing mediums, the technical capabilities and possibilities are ever changing and evolving, so we enlisted the help of Julien, Joe and Angelina who showed us what is achievable and where this technology might be headed.

Julien Denoel

First up was Julien Denoel, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Somewhere Else, who by the way has opportunities available for UX students interested in gaining work experience, or an internship position, at his agency. (You can get in touch with him at hello@somewhereelse.co.)

MUXL first starting working with Somewhere Else back at our conference in 2017, where Julien’s partner, Christophe Mallet, lead us through storytelling in VR.

We were delighted to be working with Somewhere Else again and very interested in Julien’s idea of talking about Virtual Embodiment and the impacts of this for training and education.

At the meetup, Julien set the scene by reminding us that automation is here and that ‘adaptability is the new currency’. Learning has evolved from traditional one size fits all (think traditional lectures) to being specifically tailored to the needs of the learner (think mobile, e-learning).

The next frontier is Immersive Tech – where the user is placed inside a simulation, shown to greatly improve memory and retention. This technology contains ‘special powers’ as the user can be placed in situations that otherwise would have been unsafe or too costly to experience in real life.

Julien also covered an important facet of learning in VR – Ontological Design. Essentially, the space is the story. By limiting or extending the field of view, you can dramatically affect what the user thinks, believes and experiences.

Joe Brazao

Next to the stage we welcomed (soon to be a Dad!) Joe Brazao, Lead UX Manager at Zappar.

When we first started taking to Joe, he was slightly unsure about speaking at the meetup, having only recently joined Zappar and being fairly new to AR. Given Joe’s background and new venture into this field we thought he would be an ideal speaker, as he could help us to navigate and understand the possibilities and implications of this new technology.

Joe started by reminding us that it is humans who are at the heart of design and that AR has a huge potential to help with learning. Emotion creates memory and as Confucius said “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”.

AR has the capability of doing just that – to bring objects to life, ready to interact with and to deepen learning and understanding.

If you are perhaps curious to try some AR design for yourself, why not check out ZapWorks Studio. Here you can create fully-customisable AR, VR and MR experiences across print, product, packaging, retail, events and more, plus the hobbyist version is completely free.

Lastly, we were enthralled by the ingenious Angelina Aleksandrovich, a Creative Director and Technologist Producer, who took us through her journey into Multi-Sensory Extended Reality.

She first experimented with moulds of her own body and grew a VR headset from mushroom, then quickly onboarded many top clients who were fascinated by her visions and ideas.

She explained to us that Multi-Sensory XR can be defined as “the spectrum of experiences that blur the line between real world and the simulated world”. VR & AR are key forms that fall across this spectrum.

Not to be ignored are the 5 senses plus the 6th sense – which is balance (very important for VR). For any simulated environment to attempt to be convincing it first has to address all of these senses which interact in infinitely complex and deeply connected ways, and are often taken for granted.

Angelina was really able to flex her creative and technical muscles whilst part of team behind Somnai – a revolutionary immersive theatre pop up production that ran in London in 2018. Participants traversed 5 different virtual worlds in VR, whilst physically being in 1 room.

Angelina Aleksandrovich discusses her work with immersive theatre project: Somnai.

Her latest work involves exploring all aspects of sexual arousal – what stimuli humans find arousing and how this can be combined with other senses and factored into a truly multi-sensory experience. She is currently looking for collaborators and fellow experience designers to work with her https://www.aleksandrovich.co.uk/.

After the talks, Jonathan Forder, Managing Director at Discover Studios, set up a demo area where those attending could check out Google AR Elements Application and learn more about best practices in AR.

From Mobile UX London, we would like to say a big thank you to all of our incredible speakers and to everyone who came along and joined the meetup.

We would also like to thank our friends at Oracle for hosting us for the evening.

Our next meetup will be taking place on 11 April, where we will be investigating how to design voice-first experiences.

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