Unlocking the power of Augmented Reality: Designing and building interactive 3D prototypes

Oct. 17, 2023   

3 min read

This is part of a four-part series highlighting work selected for presentation at the 2023 Grace Hopper Conference. This article includes insights from Sun Dai, a design lead in the Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality fields, and Yuanhao Zhu, who works on AR shopping experiences.

Digital interactions are no longer limited to screens. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its applications, like ChatGPT, are changing how we use and create information, while advancements in Extended Reality and virtual environments are changing how we interact with the world.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a key technology in this shift towards a seamless, 'screenless' future. By understanding AR’s design and potential applications, we can effectively use its capabilities to bring creative visions to life.

A customer stands in a clothing store, browsing through different clothing options on a projected augmented reality screen.

Designing for real-world experiences

Augmented reality enhances our perception and interaction with the real world by overlaying digital content. No longer for just gaming, AR is transforming sectors like retail, education, healthcare and real estate. For example, customers can virtually try on clothes or makeup, students can bring textbook diagrams to life, surgeons can use AR for visualization during procedures and potential real estate buyers can take virtual tours.

Designing for AR is about enhancing real-world experiences. It's important to be user-centric and understand the audience's needs. AR solutions should make tasks easier and be intuitive. AR elements should fit naturally within the physical space and not overwhelm users. Relevant data should be the priority; overloading the user can be disorienting.

From mock-ups to the final product: Steps to bring your AR vision to life

A close-up of a person using a digital tablet, designing a hoodie. A clothing store with 2 mannequins and jackets on a rack are in the background.

When it comes to developing an AR application that enhances the real world, there are important steps to follow. These steps include prototyping, user testing, development and deployment, feedback and iteration. Each step is crucial to ensuring the application's success and ability to meet its users' needs. Here's a closer look at each step and what it entails:

  • Prototyping: Use AR design software to create a mock-up of your application. This will help you get a feel for the user experience and design flow
  • User testing: Test your prototype with real users to gather feedback, understand pain points and make changes
  • Development: Once the design is refined, developers will create the final product, optimizing it for performance
  • Deployment, feedback and iteration: Gather feedback from users and make improvements to the product over time

Augmented reality holds the power to reshape our interactions with the world around us, offering enhanced experiences and tools to simplify our lives. By understanding its principles, potential applications and the design journey, we can create AR solutions that aren't just flashy but truly transformative.