Microsoft Mixed-Reality Team Internship

During this internship I was given the task of concepting, designing, and prototyping a potential future experience of a website in Mixed-Reality. I worked on an interdisciplinary team made of engineers, game developers and designers. The goal of the project was to inform, inspire, and propose questions to internal teams.

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Involvement:
Design Research
Concept Development
User Testing
Prototyping

Researching the medium

Previous to working at Microsoft, I had only spent a handful of minutes using virtual and augmented reality devices. Before beginning the project I wanted to get a better understanding of the benefits, defining characteristics and limitations of the VR/AR platforms. Here are some of my initial observations:

Augmented Reality (Microsoft Hololens)

  • Untethered experience
  • Ability to change physical location
  • Ability to see the physical world while viewing virtual content
  • Multi tasking seems cumbersome
  • Limited processing power and battery life
  • Gestures require significant onboarding
  • Gestures can be awkward in public situations

Virtual Reality (Oculus, Vive)

  • Tethered experience
  • High Performance graphics and audio
  • Movement limited to cord length (currently)
  • Locomotion patterns in VR are still in their infancy
  • Most physical movement is from the hips and upper body


A 2D Designer's Prospective on working in 3D

Like most design projects I started with drawings to get my thoughts outs. I found very early in the process that in order to adequately convey a concept I would need more tools. I used a variety of current tools and software to explore spatial relations and hierarchies in 3D. Google Blocks to prototype scenes and structures of a VR experience.

Overall Learnings

  • Ask questions
  • Writing is a key component to great design
  • Observe people's emotion in VR/AR
  • Capture your design process

Because these are new mediums, it is important to reflect on your process early and often. This is a space where it is important to be critical of everything.

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Note: Due to the sensitive nature of this work and NDAs, I can not share and designs or specifics. :/