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.

Design Research
Concept Development
User Testing

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.


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