Interactive Design for Mixed Reality

When designing interaction for mixed reality experiences, it’s especially important to create interactive depth. By this I mean, using layers of interaction and a variety of trigger types. Each will offer its own reward and will contribute to the authenticity of the world you are building. There are several factors to keep in mind when creating these interactive layers.

  • Leverage pre-existing knowledge: When you are creating an interface (which is essentially what you are doing when you create interactive experiences), it’s important to leverage an audience’s pre-existing knowledge. Interfaces that are designed with this in mind reduce cognitive load, feel intuitive, and have better overall usability. This is an extremely common technique in visual design, especially UI/UX design.
  • Variety: Including a range of trigger types (tap, proximity, timed, etc) will ensure that your world feels more real with the added bonus that the participant is kept interested.
  • Use the body: One of the defining features of mixed reality is its spatial nature. The experiences are happening around the participant’s body. This leads to more potent emotional reactions and a variety of new input techniques. One of those techniques is proximity triggers. When a participant gets within a certain distance from an object an event is triggered.
  • Discoverability: If a piece of information (or experience) is fundamental to the storytelling, make sure that its trigger is discoverable. There is a whole arsenal of visual techniques that can assist in this. Using bright colors, high contrast, movement, and prominent placement will all help to call attention to a visual trigger. It’s just like creating a painting. You lead the eye on step at a time. There are lots of resources available to learn more.
  • Redundant Entry points: If the information or experience is central to the storytelling, consider giving it multiple triggers (aka “entry points”.) That way, your participant will definitely discover it.
  • Surprise: Sprinkling in optional experiences throughout your mixed reality artwork is a great way to add depth. First off, since it’s optional, you can use unexpected triggers (type and location.) When a participant finds one, they immediately feel a sense of delight and agency. They have discovered something! It whets the appetite for more exploration and adds authenticity to the world.

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