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The New UX using VR, AR and Touch less gestures

Author: Arshad Sarfarz Ariff, Technology Architect

Introduction

UX in web applications were always driven by mouse and keyboards. Similarly, UX in mobile applications were always driven by touch screens coupled with gestures. But advancements in the field of virtual reality, augmented reality and touch less gestures are gearing up to challenge the status quo. AR and VR has been listed in Gartner report titled - "Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends 2017". Gartner has predicted that AR, VR and mixed reality (MR) solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20% of large-enterprise businesses by 2019.


Virtual reality:

Virtual reality is a three-dimensional artificial environment created by software which can be explored and interacted with by a person, like he does in a real environment. Immersing the user into the virtual world is achieved by using Head-Mounted Displays (HMD). HMD worn on the head projects the virtual environment making the user feel that he is involved in a virtual world, thanks to HMDs like Google Daydream and Oculus Rift for making virtual reality affordable to the masses. Google Daydream allows users to utilize their mobile device for immersing into virtual reality using a headset and controller.

 

Augmented reality:

Augmented reality makes use of physical environment and augments or overlays the computer generated 2D/3D images, text on top of the Physical environment. This is generally done by using HMD in the shape of eyewear glasses as opposed to HMD for VR that covers the complete physical view to immerse the user in virtual world. Microsoft HoloLens claims to provide augmented reality leveraging holograms. Besides, Microsoft along with others are working on taking this experience to the browsers which is evident from the previews available on Edge browser.

 

Touchless gesture:

Touchless gesture is a revolutionary way of interacting with software where natural movements of the hands and fingers on space are tracked to provide capabilities like clicking on a button, sliding through the control, enlarging or compressing images, navigating through menus etc. Google Project Soli aims to provide new user experience using touch less gesture interactions.  This is achieved by using a mini chip that imbibes the entire sensor and antenna which recognizes dynamic gestures exhibited by fine movements of the hand and fingers.  Currently gestures that mimic interaction with physical tools like button, dial and slider are developed.

 

Beneficial Use Cases:

These technologies lay the foundation for a new form of user experience in day-to-day applications. Some of the use cases that would benefit from the combination of VR, AR and touch less gestures are

UX_AR_VR_TG_New.png

Though the above mentioned use cases would stand out to be early adopters, everyday use cases ranging from browsing the web to transacting on the mobile would soon become the norm of the day using these techniques.

 

Impact on Application Development:

VR, AR and Touch less interaction would not only be a game changer on user experience but also put a dent on application development. Enterprises need to rethink their strategy on Gamification using VR, AR and Touch less gestures. 

Use of JavaScript for virtual reality is made possible by WebVR that works on defining JavaScript API for creating immersive 3D, virtual reality experiences on the browser. This would need a headset and a compatible browser. Mozilla Firefox, Google chrome and Microsoft Edge are racing to provide support on their browser for range of VR headsets.

The importance of UX and single Page applications would rise higher as the presentation logic on the browser plays a key role to handle new forms of interaction. New SPA frameworks can emerge or the existing frameworks can undergo significant change. For example, navigation of pages might undergo complete change. HTML5 techniques like offline storage may be used heavily as more and more images need to be stored for 3D image construction. Performance of the browser and the SPA applications need to push the envelope to deal with 3D construction and interaction. Applications might need to be architected using pre-rendering along with parallelism.

These new capabilities would also open up challenges in the field of testing. Newer frameworks and languages might emerge to support unit testing and system testing. We can expect the system testers using VR headsets for regression.

New application development can no more consider only apps built for desktop, tablets and mobiles using RWD. It needs to keep in mind the range of headsets and the type of 3D experience and gestures that can be supported in the new aps.

Existing applications would face greater challenge, as it needs to be adapted or redesigned to incorporate UX using VR, AR and touch-less interactions. Many internet facing applications might need to go through this new form of modernization, resulting in increased opportunities and challenges for application development and maintenance.

 

Summary:

In a nutshell, we can forecast that AR, VR and Touch less gestures would redefine user experience and would become inevitable for the enterprises to not just market their products but rather achieve the customer loyalty to their products. Though these technologies have not become mainstream in many of the industries except gaming, it won't be far before the mindset of customers forces the enterprises to rethink their digital strategy. As far as technology partners are considered, they should build the competencies to handle the surge from this digital wave.

 

References:

http://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartners-top-10-technology-trends-2017/

http://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/it-leaders-pay-attention-to-augmented-reality/

https://www.oculus.com/rift/

https://vr.google.com/daydream/

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens

https://atap.google.com/soli/

http://www.strategyr.com/MarketResearch/Mobile_Augmented_Reality_MAR_Market_Trends.asp

https://webvr.info/

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