Beacon imagines the future of navigation through the emerging tech of Augmented Reality (AR). It quickly communicates the user’s orientation, expands on the user’s line of sight, and visualizes other transit options on-the-go, in real-time, for the commuter in distress.
Timeline: 14 Weeks,
September — December 2018
As of November 2018, I felt that AR is not being utilized to its maximum potential. The current understanding and use of AR is through games or the act of placing 3D objects, with entertainment being the main focus.
AR’s Current Landscape
AR can be used for day-to-day, practical applications?
What are AR Kit developers doing with the technology? Below are some examples of some interesting prototypes that I found on Twitter. The examples painted a clearer picture in terms of the technological capabilities and were a great help in my brainstorming stage.
“Augmented reality has potential value to go beyond the gimmicks and provide real, tangible value, since it can mix virtual and physical worlds together”
Jason Clark, Facebook Engineering Director
It was important for me to keep in mind why I was using AR, and why some features stay as traditional UI, while others are in AR.
I concluded that AR’s biggest selling point is its ability to visually communicate to the user in accordance to the user’s relation to the physical surroundings.
A quick render on Cinema 4D to show how AR can help visualize things around you, and give the user an understanding of their location clearly.
How can we use it to help navigate?
Know where you are
Look beyond physical obstructions
To have the user face the North arrow quickly and efficiently, solving the frustration of finding the starting point.
Account for physical barriers around crowded surroundings, and essentially look beyond what was capable.
Drawing from initial research and personal experience, I’ve decided the best approach to tackle the problem is to categorize the user flow into 3 key stages: Orientation, Direction, and Arrival. Creating a user flow of the current experience allows me to spot opportunity areas for AR more clearly and realistically within the current flow.
The final approach and treatment came about after doing some A/B testing with some users. What I found was that they wanted to get more information… the idea is to give them options without overwhelming them, keeping it as simple as possible, to keep in line with the treatment Apple currently outlines for their AR Kit developers: Allow for most imagery.
I found that people already have their own means of navigation. Some use the compass in their phones, some shake and turn in circles to find out if they’re facing the right direction.
With Beacon, the user are able to locate the correct route and “lock” into place with the compass arrow.
During transit, delays can be increasingly stressful. Having a means to scan from the notification bar and on foot allows users to save time and feel reassured throughout their journey, essentially making sure they’re able to find alternative means of transit anywhere, at anytime.