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In Change the Gigaom conference in Austin, Texas, on September 21-23, 2016, Dr. Jacquelyn Ford Morie (CEO of All This World), Melissa Morman (Staff with experience at BDX), Liam Quinn (CTO’s Dell), and Doreen Lorenzo (Director, Director of UT Austin Integrated Design CenterTalk about empathetic design in virtual spaces and the future of augmented reality.
The future is here, but there’s much more to it than that about a more fully immersive environment. Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR / AR) will thrive in the digital space, taking us from a two-dimensional interface to a three-dimensional virtual space. But once these virtual and augmented environments are ubiquitous, what will we do, how do we react, and what new things will we learn?
One of the areas where we’ll see some of the biggest changes is home.
Melissa Morman, Customer Experience Officer at BDX, is looking for ways family builders can adapt and deliver more digital experiences to their customers. Mormon says she is looking for new technologies for the home building industry by asking questions like “How do you attract digital customers?”
Currently, prospective homeowners are given a floor plan to help them evaluate (and visualize) a new home. But when the house is not under construction or is undergoing important changes, the layout cannot do the job. Smart builders understand this and are looking at ways to use augmented and virtual reality tools to help customers see possibilities.
Carrying an Oculus Rift headset, customers are immersed in a virtual home and can adjust the colors, materials, and even the physical configuration of the rooms. Need to create a wider corridor for a wheelchair? Want to see what your countertop looks like with a different color of granite? All these changes can be visualized in great detail.
While in these immersive environments, how can we react? What will our emotional responses be and what creative ways can they be used?
Dr. Jacqueline Ford Morie said that “VR allows you to experience walking a thousand miles in other people’s shoes. It is powerful as a tool for empathy. “She cites a project called”Hunger in LA”Relates the participant in a reconstructed scene of a real-life man who is lining up at a food bank. This project was groundbreaking as a journalistic approach to generate empathy and understanding.
Dashboard moderator and director of the UT Austin Integrated Design Center, Doreen Lorenzo, agreed there is a huge opportunity for designers to use VR and AR to “enter” the world of use and really understand what they need – whether you’re designing for people with a disability or understanding a group’s specific needs. Morie agrees, saying, “We’re starting to use a lot of VR for health reasons so it can change lives. That’s coming.”
But these are all experiences of one person. The perception of VR is that it’s antisocial. Can we expect to see a social, virtual experience?
Morie mentioned a project called Placeholder as a great example of some of the earliest social VR work ever done (the project is led by Computer like theater authors and researchers, Brenda Laurel). Completing the role of different mascots, you and a group of your friends can talk to each other and leave messages for each other in the larger range of the game. There are also opportunities for a richer, more immersive experience – snorkeling like a fish or soaring in the clouds like a bird. “VR is social, not antisocial,” she said.
If VR is temporary immersive experiences, then AR is always with us. We can imagine this as persistent, accessible information overlays. Imagine a mechanic working on a unit with a virtual notebook right in front of them. But beyond that in the future, AR has the potential to go beyond simple coatings. In a world that combines AR and VR, they create a seamless and flexible mixed reality (MR).
Quinn said they have already started seeing aspects of this vision with Dell’s Smart desk for creative professionals. Dell is developing business applications for augmented reality that will allow IT departments to do things like remote technical support with enhanced overlays. They are also working with automotive and aerospace partners to create mixed reality environments for their customers, creating an increasingly richer experience for interaction.
By Royal Frasier, Gryphon Agency for Gigaom Change2016