UX Fest’s VR/AR Panel Discussion


By Arvia Glass

UX Fest 2016 took place on Sat., Dec. 3rd at Blankspaces DTLA, where a number of experts were in attendance, including a panel of virtual reality specialists. The moderator and panelists included: John Root (founder of VRLA + work for Magic Leap + Digital Domain + ID software), Mack Reed (projects for Fox, Microsoft, Dell), Jimmy Johansson(projects for EA and Activision), Kat Harris (certified HoloLens evangelist) and Ed Moore (Amped UX).

During the discussion, they focused on where the industry currently stands, VR’s potential, and what this means for UX designers. There is no doubt that design practices will undergo an inevitable shift, as new technologies demand new solutions to problems.

Generally, when thinking about design practices for virtual reality, consider these tips from interaction designer Jonathan Ravasz. In his personal quest to understand what approach to take when designing for an immersive 3D environment, he delved into behavioral and environmental psychology, architecture, sound/lighting design, and physics. The first thing a designer should consider when shaping a virtual environment is orientation and scale. This is achieved by creating a virtual ground and atmosphere. These elements give users a sense of up/down and near/far. Terrain features like paths, obstructions, and cliffs aid in creating an intuitive environment to navigate through. Sound, visual cues (i.e. moving contextual objects) and recticles can be used to guide and direct a user’s gaze. Recticles are like cursors, used mainly on mobile VR platforms, which enable user interaction in virtual reality. Changes in size, shape, color, and movement act as a guide through your designed, virtual experience.

A tried and true set of design principles for VR doesn’t currently exist. While this emerging industry is still in its nascent stage, it’s up to the UX and UI design professionals of today to experiment and think outside of the box in order to create good content and the best virtual user experience possible.