As a UX Designer, I am a witnesses to changes, changes that I am learning how to embrace them and how to create a link between them and people because from my experience, in many cases, I know that some people are facing those changes more quickly, some people are reticent about them and some are somewhere between. Even every year bring a lot of new things to learn, not just for the professional, but for users, too, I will be back in time in the middle of 2016, when the Niantic launched their location-based augmented reality game called Pokemon Go, that started a new, let’s call it “trend”, called augmented reality. At that moment I knew that everything will take into another direction, that technology will start evolving more and more and I will need to keep in mind not just the changes that I will face it during the design process, but the changes during the understanding of human behavior and quality of life, but not affecting the real human nature.
Right now, it’s not a known fact that the global augmented reality market size is continuously growing and the predictions are totally on behalf of it. I know that this will make some differences on how we, as specialists, are thinking the products, especially because the elements of the problem will be more complex until now, cause let’s face it, making AR software is not easier than classic software as we know it. But, until the analysis of complexity, the main question is, are the people prepared for all the changes new technologies will bring? Some of them yes, some of them no… because people are coming from different cultures, they have different knowledge and different proclivity to what’s new.
The “human” factor and it needs
Any company that wants to start producing products with AR, VR or MR, should take into consideration the “human” factor and it needs. During the process I follow in my work, for any project I am involved in, I am trying to do a proper research regarding the needs, the behavior related to using a software, the culture of users and other information relevant to the project but related to users, things that I consider to be done for developing a good product which will accomplish the needs for it was started. In my opinion, these are some mandatory things for now, for those regular software projects we are working on, but what can we do more to actually meet with these technologies the actual needs? Maybe, we should start thinking about how users are behaving day by day, how they are following patterns and how can we improve their life by having these technologies and not making them “captive”. I am thinking that these extensions of “reality” need to be thought as extensions of human, extensions that will reduce the time we spend making an activity or finding the right solution right away and after that to have some time for personal purposes. Sounds too idealistic? Could be. But, for example, AR, VR or MR are planned to be integrated a lot in the healthcare system. If you are a patient and you are waiting a lot as a result from the physician, your life is affected a lot by that waiting and your stress level will be increased. But, if you are a patient and through a new technology with AR, VR or MR will be able to find more quickly about your disease, the stress level will not be the same, and the waiting is shorter. So, in this case, having these technologies implemented will be a real asset to the quality of life.
So, how the regular users are perceiving the new technologies?
As I said before, the “human” factor is different because coming from a different culture and have a different perspective on approaching changes and I feel that for every project I am involved in. The things will not be quite different when we will start developing products with AR, VR or MR because the user typologies are the same (let’s call them, the most common behaviors because are a lot of secondary behaviors to keep in mind):
- The users that embrace the new technologies are curious and they have continually improved their knowledge. As I know from my previous experiences not related just to AR, but to software products, these kinds of users will be curious about the products with AR, but they are more pretentious when it comes to what they will use.
- The users that are curious how the new technologies are working, but have some reticence by totally embracing them. These kinds of people are looking just to fulfill their needs in the matter of technology.
- The users that are reticent to changes, they embrace, in general, pretty late all the new technologies, and they are looking for a more traditional approach of doing things. It’s nothing bad to be reticent to something, especially when you have your beliefs and they are not fitting with all those changes.
As a conclusion, from a person who works a lot with people, studying their behavior and needs, I advise you do not create software with new technologies just to add it to your portfolio, create software with (new) technologies that really help people. This is not just applied to this, but to all software that you create because just answering to user needs your technology will be easily embraced.