Highlights from my talk at the Atlanta chapter of Women in Research

This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak to the Atlanta chapter of WIRe (Women in Research) about AR, VR and the Internet of Things. We discussed technology, UX and design considerations, and my thoughts about the future of these experiences. Everyone was nicely engaged and brought forward some great questions.

Capturing Data about AR and VR Experiences

I found myself very intrigued with a question I received about how we could look at capturing information and data from AR/VR experiences now or in the future to use in research. Currently no headset hardware supports an internally facing camera toward actions such as eye tracking. 

We have the potential to use screen video capture or create applications for VR that could track where a user is looking at within an application and what items they are spending the most time on. For AR devices such as HoloLens, we could similarly utilize the gaze tracking feature of the hardware through an application to measure what people are looking at and potentially combine that data with footage from the headsets external cameras. 

There are now more connected devices at market than there are humans on the planet.

Beyond headsets, utilizing external cameras placed within an environment for AR could be useful to track engagement within a spatial design. Smarter cameras with application support for facial expression recognition or Xbox One Kinect camera’s ability to detect heart rate are biometrics that could also prove useful as support to researching all of these experiences.

What We’re Bringing Home Today and Tomorrow

There are now more connected devices at market than there are humans on the planet. We are soon to be vastly outnumbered (cue Skynet paranoia). I briefly touched on what we consciously or unconsciously invite into our homes with all of these smart devices. We allow for a lot of data about our daily lives to be captured. How, and if, we can utilize this data is of great interest. 

Amazon is capturing in-depth data of it’s Prime Member consumer base by limiting the sale of the Echo Dot to that audience (more specifically to that audience that already owns the larger Echo or Fire TV). The Echo Dot device is tiny, yet powerful enough to multitask a stunning variety of applications. With the price point of just under $90, they are massively on back order.

A device like Echo Dot has clear advantages for at home user research. It’s relatively inexpensive and unobtrusive. I can see that if you’re tracking a users habits, how often they wash their hands while cooking or throughout the day in their kitchen, for example, a voice controlled application set to track and record a phrase such as “Alexa, I’m washing my hands” could result in a more accurate capture of data than if someone had to write on a sheet of paper or track via a mobile app.

Demos and Future Talks

My talk ended with VR demos of Leap Motion’s Blocks experience on the Oculus Rift headset. Some attendees had never done a VR demo before, and it’s always fun to watch people engage with this technology for the first time. The entire experience has me ready to speak at more events in the future (next time with video!) - reach out if you’re interested in having our team at your event.

Photos: Daniel Hollister

Kat McCluskey (@mccluskeykat) is Senior Art Director for the Razorfish Emerging Experiences team, based out of our Atlanta office.