Why I quit my job and dedicated myself to VR full time.
"There are no VR experts, not yet anyway"
By getting on the ground floor of this VR movement means that everyone is leveled. And with the VR technology evolving, rapidly means many of the insights we have collected until now will change as well. My rich background in screen-based design does not really matter or give me an advantage because the medium is so different and is governed by its own limitations, insights and best practices.
Following is just a few examples of all the insights about VR and reasons of why I can't go back to non-VR design thinking. I Hope it can spark some new ideas for you or even start a conversation.
Don't be incremental – Rethink everything
Don't emulate reality, the real world is too rich and complex and has limits that don't apply to VR. Instead, leverage the digital capabilities at your disposal and design a better digital version of the reality you want. A good mental "seed" for this kind of thinking is Enchanted Objects. Coined by David Rose from MIT.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"
/ Arthur C. Clarke
Inherently social interface
VR is the first medium that makes a shared digital reality feel natural. Following are three reasons why:
Nonverbal communication is a huge part of how people communicate and we are very good at reading body language. By tracking just hands and head position is enough to communicate a wide range of emotional cues. Better body tracking will only enhance this fact.
In the real world, we are used to sharing spaces with other people. If I can see something, other people are able to validate and share that reality with me. This opportunity will enhance the experience of any VR application exponentially.
Bringing self-expression to a new level with the ability to wear anything. Not only real objects but representations of ephemeral data in new ways. A big part of human communication and hierarchy is what we wear, the bar of what is possible to wear and how we want to be represented is now lower than ever.
Don't just tell me, show me
The ability to communicate and express ideas in a multichannel environment. A medium where we can create new tools and mental models to be more efficient together as humans. The most efficient way to communicate is to engage the recipient of your message.
This is why education is one of the first things people think about when they are introduced to VR.
In VR text is not the most efficient or engaging way of communicating because of its just one channel in a multichannel environment just like the real world. Instead, we now have the ability to activate multiple channels and also to use biology to our advantage by activating the mirror neuron in humans. It fires when a human observes an action being performed by another. In that way simulating the action being performed. In other words, if you want to tell someone how to perform an action, show them how it is was done. It can be easy to apply using pre-recorded user movements and interaction highlights.
VR is a controlled environment reacting to the presence of a person and its interactions with the environment. This will enable enhanced and more natural interaction models. This is area is maybe one of the most interesting compared to the real world and previous mediums I have worked in. Where the lack of context awareness limited our design.
- Tools can change the environment and the environment can change the tools. (A magnifying glass makes the whole world larger not only the viewport of the tool)
- Adding anthropomorphism and other emotional triggers to increase the emotional context.
- Seamless transitions of tools between VR and reality. (smartphone functions extending its context to include the virtual world)
- Enabling more Anticipatory design with the rich data ecosystem that VR and AI create together.
The assumptions about VR will be many because its similarity to the real world and our previous way of working with other mediums, the only way to make real progress in this field is to prototype rapidly and confirm or debunk those assumptions.
And I know that my insights and assumptions are up first on the chopping block. I'm already working on it. Contact me if you want to collaborate and make VR prototypes.