Get into XR without coding! Design AR/VR prototypes, test, share, and receive feedback

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What’s XR and why should we care?!

Well, first of all: VR+AR=XR. And it’s up to the creative minds out there, to create problem-solving and helpful use-cases by combining AI+XR in order to create life-changing experiences. In this article I’ll focus on AI and XR because I believe that AI will take a major part in our XR experiences and interactions. Btw, with the new rumors and leaks about AppleGlass, it’s the best time to get ready and dive into XR!




AI & XR are made for each other!

When it comes to Extended Reality (XR), Machine Vision (AI/ML) is particularly important to improve the entire experience. From hands tracking, Physics, and into an environmental and spatial awareness (6Dof, Occlusion, Meshing, etc.) AI plays an important role in enhancing the human experience.

Useful use-cases by creatives, for creatives

Last week I’ve seen this awesome project from a talented designer named Cyril Diagne, it shows how AR can be the perfect tool to quickly copy visuals from the real world and paste them in digital worlds. Oh and it’s open source!

Can we do it without XR Glasses?

It reminded me that three years ago, I wanted to develop a similar app for students and creatives, so I made these two concepts. But back then it wasn’t easy to develop because Hand Tracking wasn’t available, yet. Therefore, it was a bit pointless to invest in an expensive HoloLens / MagicLeap glasses, but creating a quick prototype is something we (product designers) can easily do!

How to test ideas without coding skills

Nowadays, there are more and more AR/VR prototyping tools available to UX/UI designers, and no coding skills required (#NoCode)! And even though I know how to code, I’ve created these lean MVPs / Rapid-prototypes to test my ideas, just as I myself consulted to other Entrepreneurs and Startups to do.

And yes, today we have XR SDKs such as: Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, Microsoft’s MRTK, etc. to turn our ideas into a working project, but it’s still more efficient and faster to test ideas for XR apps and Experiences by creating prototypes, even if you know how to code. Btw, that’s how Designers and Developers at Apple and Magic Leap are doing it.

Test ideas and get feedback

Just like in my previous article, for some prototypes I have used wiARframe and Unity, but for some concepts I even used Adobe After Effects… It’s great for sharing and getting feedback (Friends, Family and Social Media). And nowadays, we can even turn some of the concepts into reality, because there are so many SDKs we can use, and there are also more and more creators (Developers & Designers) who actually share their source code on GitHub.

For example, combining MRTK with Google Duplex API, and other Machine Vision capabilities, makes it easier for us to turn concepts into reality…
And even if you don’t have plans for doing so now, it helps you to understand the potential and also the limitations of all these SDKs and APIs in order to figure out if your idea is doable, or not (just like a designer who understands code, will design a product that is easier for the developer to build).

Few doable concepts with ARCore / ARKit

But still, the experience is not immersive as I want it to be (without Glasses). But testing it on a phone is still important, even if you only show it to friends!

But what if you don’t know how to code?

You can always start with simple ideas, by analyzing problems that most people have, and then providing a solution that can improve their lives. You don’t have to work hard and waste too much time on it, for example- I made this AR Key Finder concept in 30–40 minutes. Just captured the entire thing with my smartphone and then edited it via InShot app in 5 minutes.

But I still wanted to add an arrow to this concept, so I used a video editor on my computer to complete the experience without making it too fancy. Remember — it’s just a quick way to visualize your ideas without putting too much effort and time into it. As I’ve already mentioned, even Apple test ideas and create their prototypes in an old-fashioned way, and it’s OK!

And as for the following Concepts, they are made with WiARframe, then I’ve tested it on top of my table, recorded the screen, and edited / fixed minor stuff because I wanted to refine the experience.

I also forked WebView 3D project from from GitHub in order to turn this concept into a real working demo, using Unity. But I had some issues with Unity on my ElementaryOS, so I’ll try it on macOS or Win10 someday…

Sometimes, even slides are OK!

You don’t have to dive into Unity, ARKit, ARCore, or any of that, and you don’t even need After Effects or video editing skills! When I had this idea about Ethi – Ethical AI for XR glasses, I just jumped into Figma and conceptualized it with the speed of a thought. And the best thing is, that even if I’ll never build some of these concepts, I’ve learned so much about the HCI, UX/UI and Design Principles for VR/AR and Spatial Computing in the recent years.

Because it’s a new territory, and every time you come up with a solution or an idea, you have to research a bit in order to see and learn what the guidelines of each platform offers. And sometimes you can even see things in different perspective, for example, instead of solving it with complicated UI holograms and gestures, you can simply choose voice-commands. That’s why UX research and prototyping is great for XR too.

In Summary…

It’s all about storytelling! Sometimes, slides are perfectly fine!

So, go ahead and dive into XR (VR/AR) design, you don’t have to buy an expensive Headset or Glasses for it, you can use pretty much any of the techniques I mentioned, and sure — you can be creative and use your own creative ways or tools to do so. Feel free to comment and share with us.

I hope it’s been helpful, and please let me know if this article has inspired you to take action. And if you need more XR inspiration, visit the Immersive Muse!
Also, Check out my previous article with XR Design tools.

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