Home   >   Features

4 mixed reality design considerations from Magic Leap

Aleissia Laidacker and Brian Schwab discuss creating MR experiences
4 mixed reality design considerations from Magic Leap

Virtual reality and augmented reality have brought with them completely fresh experiences that can further immerse players into games.

No longer tied to a stationary TV screen, users are encouraged to physically explore a virtual space or navigate the real world.

Defining realities

Speaking at Unite Berlin 2018, Magic Leap interaction director Aleissia Laidacker gave three definitions for AR and VR, and the ‘mixed reality’ experience the company claims it’s creating.

VR is described as digital environments that shut out the real world. AR meanwhile is digital content on top of the real world.

For Magic Leap’s mixed reality, it’s described as digital content that interacts with the real world around the user.

This kind of experience brings about new design considerations, particularly with the unique technology and control setup of the Magic Leap One.

Magic Leap’s Director of Interaction Lab Brian Schwab walked through four design considerations for MR.

#1: Less is more

Magic Leap’s Director of Interaction Lab Brian Schwab drove home the notion that ‘less is more’ in mixed reality, as the developer should want to create “magical experiences” within the real world - not replace it.

He said that by keeping the pixel count low, the experiences is “that much more magical”. This means if a developer adds too many pixels onto a screen, it can take away too much from the real world.

Schwab also noted that when you have a limited field of view, by putting too many pixels users may also start to see the rectangle, “and it looks like a television”.

And when users think they are watching a television, they act in a specific way - standing and waiting for something to happen, otherwise known as screen mode.

Schwab said the goal should be to avoid putting the user’s attentional state into screen mode at all costs, otherwise they may start ignoring the rest of the scene.

#2: Respect the real world

Schwab said developers are typically used to having control of a scene and showing people what they want, as opposed to following around with the user and being with them in the real world. The goal for MR is not to control and replace, but to extend the real world.

He stated that developers should never forget that your experience is not in full control. “It’s a guest and needs to act like it.”

An example Schwab used is a guest going to a friend’s house, and when their friend receives a text or a phone call, being a bad guest by getting in the way and keeping on talking.

Schwab also noted that developers should, in general, follow real-world rules as this can help ground experiences in reality by giving more cues to trick users’ minds.

#3: Getting your attention

Schwab said one of the considerations in MR is: how do you tell a linear story when the user can be looking wherever they want?

To help understand how to direct user attention, Magic Leap has been studying stage magicians and stagecraft in general.

Schwab said professionals in these disciplines have developed good ways of drawing attention to where they want the audience to go, and that lessons can be learned here for mixed reality experiences.

“It’s all about giving people a little bit of a telegraphed notion,” said Schwab.

“The good thing about our device is we have eye tracking, so we know where you’re looking, and if you’re not looking where you need to be looking, then we can do stuff where you are looking or we can get you to come over where you need to be.

“We can use motion offsets in the periphery, or we can use spatialised audio cues to get you where you need to be.”

#4: Reality considerations

In general, developers should ensure the user has enough cognitive bandwidth when dealing with a scenario.

“You cannot budget the entire sense of everything for your experience,” said Schwab, adding that you can’t throw too much information for a user if you also want them to walk across the floor. Too many distractions can confuse from the task at hand.

There are also safety considerations he said. When moving around, placing content in the upper half of the room can be distracting, as this will draw attention towards the ceiling and cause many users to stumble over their own furniture.