Almost a year ago, Dr John C.C. Fan, the founder and CEO of Kopin Corporation, shared how to make the best and perfect AR content during the AR in Action (ARiA) in MIT. His fifteen-minute talk inspired a lot of AR developers to ensure AR technology — both software and hardware — is more user-friendly.
You can listen to his talk here:
Kopin Corporation is a world-renowned supplier of wearable technology for the military. They are one of the leading creators of augmented reality technology for the military, enterprise, and consumer markets. They are the company behind SOLOS, a stylish smart glasses for cyclists and long-distance runners. Using this device, athletes can access their performance data hands-free. They can watch training videos on the go. The smart glasses can enhance their training.
Having a lightweight and fashionable piece of wearable technology is crucial to the mass adoption of AR technology, but isn’t enough. The AR content should be on-point as well.
Here are Fan’s tips for AR developers and to every business who want to offer AR content today:
1. The user always comes first
As creators of wearable technology for the military, Fan learned to prioritise ergonomic design over everything else.
It is true. It isn’t practical to wear bulky and uncomfortable smart glasses outdoors. People will purchase and use AR glasses when the device becomes sleek, fashionable eyewear.
“I wear glasses (why?) to correct my vision. I wear them all the time, so they have to be good-looking, comfortable, and aesthetically good. Correcting my vision is not enough,” Fan explained.
Humans, by nature, don’t want to wear things on their heads. When you want them to wear something, you need to establish the device’s purpose so people will keep wearing it.
Soldiers, for example, wear helmets not because they want to, but because the helmet protects them and saves their lives.
In that case, when an AR app or solution addresses people’s problems or concerns, people will patronise it.
“The first rule for a technologist is the human comes first.”
2. Provide the right amount of data
Too much virtual content will overwhelm the brain so deliver AR overlays in small, controlled bursts.
“You cannot provide too much data to them… The brain cannot absorb it, and it will be confused,” Fan said.
“Don’t jam everything in there… Only what they need for that particular mission,” he added.
3. Try not to obstruct the five senses
The best AR experiences preserve the user’s view of the real world. It doesn’t block our five senses — sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. It doesn’t deprive the user with the view of the physical world.
4. Sound is as important as your sight
As mentioned earlier, the best AR experiences do not obstruct the five senses, mainly audio and vision. There are other senses, but these two are the most important ones.
Why? Because in AR-powered world, touch screens and keyboards will be obsolete. Your voice will be used for command and control. The display screen, microphone, and speaker will be the main tools to receive and transmit information. You will see the physical and the virtual world as one.
“We have to be able to interact with the virtual world the same way as we do with the physical world,” Fan said.
5. Mind the clutter
Lastly, avoid overdesigning and adding unnecessary features. Design a precise, straightforward application that’s beneficial to the users.
“Balance the design, make it work, and give it flair,” Fan suggested.
Also, make sure that your audience will understand the purpose of the app. Otherwise, people won’t use it.
“People have to put it [AR glasses] on for a long time for the benefits. If they’re not doing that, the design will be a failure,” he said.
AR is on its way to mass adoption
Dr Fan’s suggestions continue to help AR technology innovators overcome challenges to make AR mainstream. He described what an ideal AR glass looks like, so people wouldn’t think twice about wearing it. He provided useful tips to AR content creators too. And when the world offers more helpful AR content, devices like SOLOS will be used by everyone — even the unsporty.