Envisioning Holograms (2)

Design Breakthrough Experiences for Mixed Reality — M.Pell

(*The article is based on the book)

Why is holographic design so challenging?

Thanks to all of the movies, television shows, books, and video games, we think holograms already exist.

1. High expectations

Iron Movie series is a great place to start if you want to fast forward to see and hear what holographic experiences will eventually be like — projection, voice control, and gestural interaction as the primary way to interact with holograms. Guess what? We caught up. The holograms of Iron Man appear in both ambient environments and integrated directly into equipment, such as a helmet’s heads-up display. Voice is often the primary input mechanism for Tony Stark, supported by articulated gestures for manipulating the holograms. It seems that our upcoming future computing interface is going to integrating those great features as our favorite movies.

IRON MAN II “Hologram suits”

2. Paradigm Shift
IMAX movie Hubble 3D with spatial surround sound and popping off the screen astronauts astonishing the audience. The integration of so many new elements together created a new standard and raised expectations for impact, visual clarity, sonic landscapes, and proximity to the actors & filmmakers.
Designing and developing holographic experiences is such a different paradigm than all the other forms of computing that have come before it. We have been transformed the design from flat 2D to 3D.
Holographic computing provides us great new opportunities and challenges. It is a clear blue sky full of new ideas and possibilities, and no place for old baggage and inappropriate models.
The Key to designing for mixed reality is completely letting go of the past.

Astronauts float above the audience in Hubble 3D

3. New Skill Set

Designing holographic experience requires its own skillset and techniques based on spatial thinking, natural inputs, and a bit of theater. Our standard way of solving problems for the web, mobile, or the cloud is not much use as we begin working with a medium as different, that still evolving, and certainly not uniform or predictable just yet.

A traditional designer’s skill set focuses on composition, typography, color, layout, and voice, which are not discarded here, but aren’t nearly as important as understanding your new holographic canvas (the physical space that you’re in right now, rather than the flat screen you are reading these words on).Consider how someone can place what you designed to be used on the tabletop up on the ceiling instead. How does that change your thinking?

You can’t go out and buy a conversational book to learn how to get in sync with your audience. It takes some time and a real commitment to experimenting.

4. Spatial Thinking

Embracing space as your canvas rather than flat rectangular screens. The world around you is now the stage for your ideas, not the confines of windows or cards. Consider all of the air and space that surrounds you “inbounds”. Content can be placed and worked with anywhere in the actual room you are in, or even behind walls and under floors. Anything is possible within the space we occupy, even sharing experiences with other people.

Almost everything before this point in the history of user experience design has been all about designing and controlling what’s behind the glass — windows, menus, icons, dialog, and buttons. Now we find ourselves sharing physical space with these life-sized digital objects that can appear above, below, and behind you. That takes a colossal metal pivot to start designing completely outside the glass and into your physical world.

How does the size of the room and what’s in it affect your experience? Do physical proximity and positioning mess with your intended interaction model? Can people resize your objects to be bigger than the space you’re in?

5. Natural Input

Using the whole room as interface and our whole bodies as the input mechanism (voice and whole-body interaction) — key elements for holographic computing.

Kinect for Xbox — was first introduced by Microsoft in 2010.

The ultra-high-tech Kinect sensor array brought full-body interaction and voice commands to the Xbox console gaming experience without the need for extra controllers — “You are the controller.” Kinect-based games asked players to jump, wave, turn, and use their hands instead of using the Xbox controller.

Microsoft XBOX 360 Kinect Sensor — voice & body gestures as primary inputs

Kinect was a huge technological milestone on the journey to holograms. It paved the way for the mind-bending complex sensor, microphone, and camera technology packages needed to power holographic computing.

6. Device Require

There is a feeling you only get when seeing them with your own eyes and it’s nothing like being inside the actual headset or a projection environment to sense what is happening firsthand. Today’s software emulators are great at getting us close, but they’re not accurate enough when it comes to nailing the scale, positioning, lighting, and presence relative to ourselves in the real world.

7. Limited Data

A hologram is still a new industry waiting for us to explore, unlike mobile and web design, we don’t have millions of holographic computing devices out there in the world generating user data.

Data won’t save us time. We need to learn as we go. Our best data will come from working closely with people to understand what works, or doesn’t from their perspective, not from usage logs.

8. Real People

Unlike many other design spaces where you start from previous examples and data, creating faceless customer cardboard cutout that agile teams obsess over as their target, mixed reality needs you to develop true empathy for the people at the heart of your new experience. There is no amount of usage data or neatly organized focus group responses that will substitute for seeing a real person’s spontaneous reaction for yourself.

Holograms are nothing without people bringing them to life.

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