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Imagine Better Futures - The Next Frontier
AR and VR gain traction in the design world to offer us insight into the metaverse from a design perspective.
To design in this digital era is an enormous privilege. We can reach a far wider audience than ever before and break down barriers concerning communication, quality, and cutting-edge, innovative design. The pen-and-paper method has evolved into envisioning a realm of possibilities in digital design, with supporting actors in X-reality, like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).
What is the difference between AR and VR
Virtual Reality (VR) completely takes over your sight by employing accessories such as headsets. In contrast, Augmented Reality (AR) allows your field of vision to be enhanced by digital devices — as if layering a digital display over a real-life view. Nespresso nailed the AR concept with their recent Festive for Good campaign — their window displays could be enhanced by scanning a QR code on the passer-by’s smartphone. See what it looked like here.
How do AR and VR intertwine with design?
“You get a 360º view. Now you can see everything you couldn’t with a top-down floor plan,” says game developer Judah Mantell in an interview with Dauphin. Pen-and-paper design is costly, time-consuming, and limited from a creative perspective. AR and VR provide many advantages: they save the client and the designer time and money, help manage expectations and drastically improve communication, meaning overall better results. Judah introduced Dauphin to Sceneforge, a desktop App originally directed toward film scene sets, which offers user-friendly software to modify aspects such as lighting and space. Try it here.
In a nutshell, AR and VR, together with Assisted Reality and Mixed Reality, become X-Reality. It helps the client visualize what their project will look like in meticulous detail. We will enter the metaverse when the seams between the brick-and-mortar showroom and X-Reality blend. But why are we steering the ship this way?
“Being collaborative and having people involved,” says Judah. He adds: “It’s becoming increasingly important for people to see what they’re buying, in a way that you couldn’t previously from just an image. That’s where this technology really shines.”
The ability to immerse ourselves in design allows us, as customers, to really get a feel for what we’re buying. And from a sales point of view, MR design stops just short of giving the customer the product to see and feel.
- Exact measurements
Every millimeter can be accounted for from your favorite device. You can check all the elements in a design fit before making the journey to buy them, retrenching valuable time and money.
With the advent of AR and VR in design, we can perceive how specific elements will look in different degrees of natural or artificial lighting.
While some may argue that the only way to be entirely sure what you are buying is to buy it in-store, detailed descriptions of products and sending samples of fabrics to potential clients are an excellent compromise for your online showroom.
Play with various aesthetics at the click of a button.
With AR and VR, you allow the client to walk through your virtual showroom, ‘clicking’ on different visual elements to find out exactly what each item is - its measurements, materials, uses… its story.
“Basic interaction, like scrolling through a list, pales in comparison to AR, VR, and The Metaverse. In design, visualization and visual graphics are key,” Judah reminds us. “There are so many ways to do interaction, but these technologies, like Sceneforge, offer us next-level visual power.”
Another clear advantage to visualizing a design before construction begins is that designers and clients can experiment with more daring options. The “let’s-see-if-this-works” is feasible in digital design: click to eliminate and try something else. Experimentation is not so manageable in traditional design; MR gives clients and designers a wealth of new options, allowing them to think outside the box and innovate more than ever before.
AR and VR for design bestow designers with an enhanced selling point, as there is less ambiguity surrounding the final product. The more confident a designer is that a design will work--and being able to prove it through AR or VR--the more likely a client is to work with them. Apps such as Roomy or Houzz are an excellent option for technophobic designers. Still, ideally, a designer will invest in their education and resources to use more enhanced techniques and gain an edge over their competitors.
Money is at the forefront of an overwhelming majority of projects, and AR and VR allow for detailed financial predictions in design. Knowing precisely what will be used, when, where, and how means that a designer can give a more accurate quote to their clients, and they can better organize their time. Multiple trips to different suppliers as problems arise are more time and cost-intensive: it is better to organize a trip to visit various suppliers in the same outing.
Changes at later stages of the design process tend to be more costly. AR and VR allow designers to identify potential problems early on, making significant savings.
Which Technology Should a Designer Use?
Naturally, the market has answered demand, and there are many options for Apps and devices that designers can take advantage of. This article numbers nine of these options, ranging from Apps that allow the client to see the design in 3D to on-site helmets with virtual reality headsets incorporated.
Cutting through the noise can prove difficult for the tech novice eager to learn how to incorporate digital design aspects into their repertoire. Play with AR Copy Paste to get a sense of the possibilities in a user-friendly interface. It detects objects in the real world- ideal for when you are window shopping and allows you to superimpose them in another document -or design- at your fingertips.
“The thing with these cutting-edge technologies is that they haven’t really been accessible for the majority of people up until now,” says Judah. “But for the creative field, this is one of the most important innovations in a very long time because it opens up doors that haven’t been opened before. Both in terms of creating art and the way it’s displayed and sold.”
Is AR The Death of Traditional Design?
When we interviewed Judah Mantell from Sceneforge, we asked if he could identify any disadvantages to mixed reality. In Judah’s words:
“I think the correct term is a level of friction. As with any new technology, people are hesitant or skeptical, which is warranted. It’s a whole new wave of technology which is a difficult pill for some people to swallow.”
However, as Dauphin asserts in a previous article, a designer must ‘become a life-long learner.’ For the most part, technology permeates every corner of our lives for the better: it is paramount that designers stay up-to-date with emerging technologies, even if they seem unattainable. Designers must adapt; they must adopt new technologies and embrace them to remain relevant.
To propel progress, we need to disrupt the status quo at every opportunity - take a problem that humans have, and find solutions that cater to all. Still, as in any groundbreaking innovation, the question of access and accessibility posits challenges. We need to consider and address these challenges, as finding solutions is paramount to the success of Metaverses today and in the future. Traditional pen-and-paper design and brick-and-mortar showrooms may not become completely redundant; they serve as the perfect complement to digitalization but cannot stand alone anymore.
Web 3.0 brings with it unimaginable possibilities for the design world. Nascent technology such as mixed reality and the metaverse is born of the need that we have as humans to progress and do better every day. The metaverse may well be it. After all, the metaverse is based on reality, driven by mixed reality immersive experiences. Don’t get left behind. Welcome to the virtual design world - the next frontier.
Gibson, Eleanor. “AR Copy Paste tool allows users to capture images of physical objects and drop them into a computer.” Dezeen, www.dezeen.com/2020/05/16/ar-copy-paste-augmented-reality-tool-cyril-diagne/ May 16, 2020. Accessed 19 Jan., 2022.
Mantell, Judah. Interview. By Dauphin. Jan. 13, 2022.
“Nespresso creates “Enchanting Phygital Experience For The Senses” With Gifts of The Forest Campaign.” Dezeen, www.dezeen.com/2021/12/21/gifts-of-the-forest-ar-nespresso/ 21 Dec., 2021. Accessed 19 Jan., 2022.
“X-Reality: What Is That Really?” Xrgo, xrgo.io/en/x-reality-introduction/ Accessed 11 Apr., 2022