UX Case Studies

Augmented Reality

Walker Art Center | 2016

The Walker Art Center asked me to help them concept some ideas for an augmented reality mobile app. They wanted to experiment with what this emerging technology could do to attract new patrons and enhance the museum experience.

The first experience was the most straight-forward: Wayfinding. We’d need to display a list of exhibits in the app, allow the user to select one, then overlay some kind of path marker on the user’s field of view. I considered using a “thread” visualization that would hang overhead, but that would require users to walk around with their phones -- and heads! -- tilted upwards in an uncomfortable way.

Instead, I recommended a simple wayfinding path on the floor, combined with virtual signage overlayed on the walls...

The next concept was a multimedia placard that would identify the piece of art the user was viewing based on a combination of location data and visual object recognition. Mobile-optimized content would then be delivered to the device, just like any other web content.

Based on my personal experience designing street games, I also pitched an augmented reality treasure hunt concept. Users would follow clues around the museum, encountering exhibits along the way, and try to find a piece of virtual graffiti on the walls, floor, or ceiling. Upon successfully tagging the tag, some reward content would be delivered to the device and their name would be added to a public list of treasure hunters.

Augmented reality is an exciting frontier in user experience design. I’ve been eagerly awaiting it since the 1990s, when it was just a twinkle in a cyberpunk author’s eye. I really appreciated this opportunity to roll up my sleeves and get into it with real user stories.

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