Technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Majority of people are interacting daily with their mobile phones, laptops, tablets and all kind of devices with microprocessors embedded in them. We're not only using the latest technological achievements, but also older and more common devices that have being lying around in our homes and workplaces even for decades. All of these apparatus, even the most common ones, have been new and innovative at some point in history but are taken for granted nowadays. Many of our daily routines and even way of thinking is enhanced by technology that has been a result of years and years of research and development.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are something that's new and advanced today. They have the potential of being the most "innovative" game changers of the decade. All of the big players have jumped by either buying existing AR/VR companies or developing their own solutions, both hardware and software. There's very little revolutionary tech behind AR and VR, but finally the widespread and increasing processing power of mobile devices can make the experience available to everyone. And this is not the first time - do you remember the time before mobile phones had cameras in them? Or a touch screen?
Augmented reality is a new and innovative technology today, but can it take its place and become a standard after few years? How should we design the user interface and experience so that it would add value to users? This new environment is also a very unconventional one since it allows new ways to interact with the environment instead of forcing the interaction to happen on a flat screen. But how should we embrace these new possibilities for our own and our clients benefit? Can we be forerunners and define Umbra as the default way of implementing UI and UX? These are some of the questions we here at Umbra are trying to solve together with engineers and designers.
The whole world is your canvas when designing user interface and experience for AR devices. Some of the most advanced models like Microsoft Hololens can create a 3d representation of user's surroundings and use it to track user position and movement whereas iOS devices supporting Apple's ARKit can only recognize simple horizontal and vertical surfaces. While world tracking adds a totally new dimension for user interaction, it also introduces new challenges: 3d models now exists in a real world where users might actually lose them! While transformation tools like translation, rotation and scaling are nothing new in 3d modeling, the environment is different for them as well. Umbra Composit allow users to optimize models large in both physical size and data size so model transformation tools in Pryzm must work not only with miniature sized models but also with huge BIM models. It is intuitive and natural for us to control model placement using touch screen, but it's a non-trivial task to determine what the user actually wants.
Work for the AR experience continues and we're constantly looking for new and better ways of utilizing AR for model viewing and interaction.
Please go ahead and try Umbra Pryzm either on Hololens or on iPhone/iPad to find out how we've approached these problems so far!