The future of User Experience with Virtual Reality

The future of User Experience with Virtual Reality

The future of User Experience

The various UX designers that I met over the past six months have kept asking me this question – how will the user experience industry change when Virtual Reality becomes a common phenomenon. The field of User Experience has been expanding for the last decade. Starting as a simple form of human-computer interaction to design machine interface to coming into the limelight in the age of digitalization, the field of UX has expanded to accommodate new experience tech into its fold.

Similar to when the User Experience moved to the digital world and learned the know-how of designing apps for the touch screens, UX designers will need to learn new fields of study to design for the virtual world. 3D objects and constructing of the virtual world will be seen as key skills that a VR UX designer must have. This phenomenon will be a door opener for a large number of 3D animators in the country to join the User Experience industry.

If you walk up to the Hub zero mall in Dubai, you will see an indoor VR fun park. You can often see people in small cubicles standing, wearing VR glasses and fighting off zombies that only they can see and experience. While I was there, I could see the fun that the users were having, or how scared that they were getting and this experience bolstered our confidence in VR technology to create an alternate virtual world where various tasks can be performed. Below I have listed down a few use cases that will see the light of the day in the next few years: -

VR classrooms

It’s too early to call any company a winner in the eLearning space. This is because VR will be disrupting the e-learning industry in the next three years. With the advent of VR in the e-learning space – a Sam from US, Jose from Mexico and Mahesh from India will be able to sit in the same virtual classrooms and learn from an educator sitting in Australia. Students and teachers will actually experience sitting in a virtual classroom and consuming content. Technology like when you write on your tablet, it can be seen by everybody in the virtual world will be developed as companion technology with VR. VR content will be the new craze and various small animation houses across the country will gear up to deliver VR content. Think of the enormous changes that it can bring to niche sectors where live training is very costly or too risky – for example practicing a spacewalk outside the International space station. Transport, oil and gas, shipping, airlines are the first set of industry who will adopt to VR based training.

VR office spaces



VR office spaces
Once virtual writing and omnipresence technology is developed with VR, that enables what you do in reality can be seen in the virtual space – employees would not need to come to the office at all. At the time of joining, a VR headset with right enterprise security including single sign-on, security, encryption etc will be given and the employee needs to login into virtual office spaces. They will be able to write on a whiteboard, do virtual meetings and physical office spaces will only be used for face to face customer meetings and team building exercises.

VR in tourism

Think of a tourist coming to India and getting down at the T2 terminal in Mumbai. He goes to the incredible India VR posts, picks up a VR headset and experiences the different locations that he can travel from there – Osho ashram in Pune, Rameshwaram temple, Taj Mahal and every other location that can be promoted. The user should be able to plan his itinerary as well based on the VR experience.

VR in music concert and Netflix shows

This is something that Facebook would be working with its acquisition of Oculus. Think of Tomorrowland being streamed live on Facebook and you can wear an Oculus headset, be a part of the musical journey for three days from the comfort of your home. Think of VR shows on Netflix and PrimeVideo. With this, you can be a character in a drama series and would be able to see the episodes while standing inside the series virtual environment. For example, standing on the wall while Viserys destroy the wall in Game of Thrones. We can see the first version of this kind of storytelling in Xbox and PlayStation games, but the ecosystem will change with FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) of the digital entertainment world adopting to VR.

Developing an ecosystem for VR

VR would require an ecosystem in place to support such large use cases. User Experience will require to train themselves in the field of 3D animation – each object would need to look lifelike with the right graphic simulation. Graphics cards and computing power in laptops and web needs to improve to enable this. A list of 3D objects would be needed for the designers like you get a list of icon sets and images. The developer ecosystem needs to come into play – worlds like Minecraft or secondlife will come into play and a developer ecosystem is required to change portions of the virtual world to build their own. Enterprise use cases would require reimagining their internal systems and security processes. I predict that the next social network and dating apps are going to be virtual and would be entered wearing a headset, till the time wearable technology does not catch up with VR. Next ten years is going to be very exciting for the VR world.

Shashank Shwet is the founder of Fortune Cookie UX design firm (www.fortunecookieux.com) that works with various customers across the globe with offices in India, Singapore, Mexico and Dubai. He is also the Founder of ImaginXP, (www.imaginxp.com) a curriculum and certification organization in UX Design and Design thinking.

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