Lessons in AR

What is augmented reality especially good at?

What sets it apart from other mediums?

What sort of storytelling does it excel at?

How do you create an immersive experience that balances narrative focus and audience agency?

How do you co-author with an audience in a meaningful way (that isn’t just choose-your-own-adventure)?

These questions and more have been swirling around my head over the last few months. In an attempt to process my discoveries, here are a few things that I noticed about AR creation:

  • Proximity and Scale: The physical space around the participant is incredibly important. You can use both proximity and scale to make experiences feel potent and personal. If an enormous (virtual) bear comes within inches of you, I promise it will feel personal.
    • UX Tip: Use proximity triggers to clue the audience in on what to interact with. This also rewards exploration, which is vital to creating a sense of agency.
  • Active vs. Passive Interactions: Using a blend of active and passive interactions breathes life and authenticity into the world, creating something that is both engaging and immersive.
    • Active Interaction – The participant expresses a clear intention to direct the experience in a particular way. This can occur through typical UI elements, or simply gazing at a particular point in space.
    • Passive Interaction – The participant chooses to interact with random elements with the world. When they do, a surprising and enriching reaction occurs, but it doesn’t actually affect the outcome of the narrative in a significant way.
  • Checking-in: Always ask yourself if this could occur in any other medium, including interfaces. If it could be done with buttons equally as well, why use AR?

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