In the Summer of 2022, I worked at Lumen Technologies in their headquarters in Monroe, Louisiana at their Product Innovation Lab. Over the course of my internship, I developed three experiences and spent time iterating over interaction designs. Currently, the app is a part of the Edge Experience Center installation in Boulder, Colorado.
Designing the Edge Experience
Captivate the user by using as much of their environment as possible.
Before I started designing the app, I realized I was making something for two types of users that had different needs: The Demonstrator and The Customer. The Demonstrator needs to set up the app quickly to give the headset to multiple customers in succession while educating customers, not in AR. The Customer has to be able to understand how to use the AR app with minimal explanations and learn information from the experience.
Thus I came up with the following design pillars for the app:
- The app must be quickly set up and easily restarted.
- Interactable objects must be obvious and their method of activation must be intuitive.
- The user’s attention must be focused on the experience by taking advantage of the space they are looking at.
Programming the Experiences
While most AR apps are located in an arbitrary location in the real world or are anchored to the ground via a QR code. Having anchors in arbitrary locations can oftentimes result in users not being able to interact with the experience. Whereas QR codes can be damaged, take time to scan, and what they trigger can be vague to the user.
So I chose to create persistent anchors that the demonstrator will place during first-time setup. Afterward, the headset will load the anchor locations.
Next, I created three experiences that were triggered by buttons. Each one had animations and particle effects, as well as a Timer Manager that would trigger parts of the experience to play.
Making it Intuitive
There was a great deal of iteration with buttons.
For demonstrators, the app had to be easily set up and restarted.
During testing, I noticed that having them manually rotate elements via trackpad was frustrating and time-consuming. Instead, I opted to have anchors placed and rotated relative to the center of the experience. This led to setup being nearly instant with experienced users.
For customers, I had to make sure they were comfortable, knew how to interact, and knew how to pay attention.
There was a great deal of iteration with buttons:
- Version 1: An orb on a pedestal, overlap the hand to trigger.
Results: Users didn’t know what to do with these.
- Version 2: A floating red button, press the button to trigger
Results: Great, but immersion breaking and buggy.
- Version 3: A floating orb with particles, overlap the hand to trigger
Results: Users thought it looked cool and touched it
I also had to adjust the height of elements as I learned that both my neck and the users’ would get strained looking up or down too much.