How Will XR And the Metaverse Transform Design
Design matters. Every technological (r)evolution happens because majority of people accepted it and started using it. And we have designers to thank for that. With XR and immersive technologies coming into our lives, the design of apps is going to be incredibly important.
In this YouTube video, UX and product designer Daniel Marqusee shares his insights on XR and the future of creative work.
The dawning of extended reality is said to transform the type of content people will consume. Additionally, the world of work for digital creatives will experience an evolution unlike any other.
In his curiosity, Daniel landed himself a full-time job as a mentor for XR design and development with Circuit Stream. He immersed himself in the community, teaching and learning from fellow professionals along the way.
Table of contents
- Why XR is the Pinnacle of Transformation in Media and Design
- But What, Exactly, is XR
- The XR Renaissance
- Metaverse Design or How XR Transforms Creative Work
- Wrapping It Up
- About Daniel
Daniel also attended the Appliance & Electronics World Expo (AWE) 2022 held in North America, where he interviewed leading figures in the tech, entertainment, finance, and pharmaceutical industries on their opinion on XR. AWE is a community of XR professionals and enthusiasts that holds annual events online and around the world, showcasing a series of workshops, job posts, meetups, and product exhibits and competitions.
Why XR is the Pinnacle of Transformation in Media and Design
Daniel is not one to shy away from discussing the history of how people consume content and experience shared realities through media. Extended reality is more than just an upgrade in technology. It signals a new era of media consumption, information dissemination, and communication.
A Brief History of Mass Communication
There’s no better place to discuss the significance of extended reality to society than mass communication. Daniel walks us through a brief history of how people communicate and share information from decades ago to the present.
The invention of the printing press from 500 years ago was pivotal to how information was shared to the general public. Unlike passing news via word-of-mouth, media in print ensures that information is bound to last for as long as the records last. Thus began the 2D movement of content creation and consumption.
Media of all sorts, from books and news articles, to letters to your loved ones, are locked in a two-dimensional space. There is an incapacity to interact with the content and other consumers in real-time. As technology evolves, smartphones, tablets, and other devices enable us today to express ourselves and connect with people across shared online spaces.
“I mean, just think about it. In the past fifteen years, the rise of the smartphone has not only made dynamic communication effortless but has also transformed our economy and instilled hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs,” Daniel muses.
However, experiences on the Internet are still a screen away. Most content we enjoy is still produced on paper or canvas, with no means to bring the experience to the real life / physical world. “But that’s all about to change with extended reality and the metaverse,” Daniel quips.
If you look at the companies like Meta (ex-facebook), Microsoft and a number of innovative startups like Altspace, Roblox, Decentraland, Rec Room or Spatial, you’ll notice there’s a behind-the-scenes fight on which the digital, immerse world is going to prevail. Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of a metaverse might not come on top.
Metaverse as an augmented/virtual environment might merge innovative technologies from crypto and cryptocurrencies, advanced VR headsets, wearable input gizmos, blockchain and NFTs (digital assets will carry a proof of ownership) and replace social media as we know it. If you read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash or Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, you might have an idea of what the future might look like.
But What Exactly is XR?
Extended reality, or XR in short, has become a buzzword among tech enthusiasts. But what is it, exactly?
“. . . XR is a broad term used to describe a new computing platform that displays content in both mixed and virtual reality (a.k.a. immersive experiences),” Daniel explains. Extended reality combines the magic of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (VR) to allow people to create and experience content that will exist in the three-dimensional world.
The XR Renaissance
The three-dimensional world is the space all living beings inhabit, and XR introduces the merging of the digital and physical worlds. It sounds like the plot of a science fiction novel, doesn’t it?
Daniel goes on to discuss that the introduction of 3D in digital products and experiences is bound to set major changes in creativity, design, and passion.
Grounding Back Physically
Daniel lists off physical output as the first major transformation society can expect with XR. Rather than relying on mouse clicks or finger and hand gestures, VR and AR technology will work in tandem to enable users to send real-time data of bodily actions, expressions, and more. “ . . . interaction in the digital world will mirror the physical one,” says Daniel.
Such a change in interaction heightens the anticipation for a flawless user experience, prompting UX designers like Daniel himself to consider a range of parameters, such as ergonomics, accessibility, and real-world affordances.
Integrated Systems and User-Centric Experience
XR will eliminate the hassle of accessing separate platforms at a time. “. . . integrated digital worlds will replace dedicated applications and websites,” Daniel explains. Products of the foreseeable future will be a viable platform to run multiple processes simultaneously, regardless of our location. No longer will we be tethered to our phones or laptops; product design systems will become more accessible and natural to navigate.
Personalization and the Power of Avatars
Self-identity is all the more crucial in an XR-powered social world. Anybody can become whoever and however they want to be on the web, and that is already evident in today’s multitude of identities across social platforms. This cloak of anonymity leads to suspicious and harmful activities online, escalating into a social issue that has yet to be addressed.
XR aims to address several loopholes in personalization and accountability. Instead of equipping a 2D graphic to personify our profile, digital avatars shall become our personas online. “More compelling, however, is that our digital form will follow us across time and space, offering not only more accountability for our actions on the web, but also a deeper form of self-expression,” Daniel adds. Rather than dividing the community due to disputes in social conflicts surrounding race and ethnicity, age, and gender, digital avatars allow users to showcase their character through fashion and choice of avatar design. E-commerce and fashion are just a few of the thousands of industries that will rise to cater to the newfound demand for digital merchandise, security, and more.
Metaverse Design or How XR Transforms Creative Work
XR will introduce users to a design-oriented world. Product designers like Daniel will move past drafting dynamic menus and web layouts. Instead, they will have to learn new skills along the way, like world augmentation, wayfinding, and ergonomics. This would require a completely new design process. You are going to be creating a completely new world full of 3D spaces that could look like your favorite sci-fi movie, a video game, or closer to your known surroundings. This is to cater effectively to the users’ individual needs while accessing XR technology.
The UX design and development industry will boom, but digital artists will also receive newfound appreciation. Gone are the days of receiving measly salaries, as digital artists become highly valued asset builders, concept artists, and avatar builders and yes even NFT creators. “It will become only easier for independent creators to monetize their content outside the corporate mainstream . . .,” Daniel elaborates. As users demand more personal and intimate avatar builds, digital artists can build an illustrious portfolio and a consistent income stream.
Wrapping It Up
Daniel concludes the discussion with an acknowledgment that XR promises a bright future for digital creatives or anyone who is looking to design virtual worlds and willing to get to know the virtual space. However, dangers still lurk around the use of such technology, and careful deliberation is necessary to maintain a safe space.
The importance of metaverse experiences is going to be crucial for not only early adopters and pioneers but it’s also going to be an amazing opportunity for digital designers to craft the story as we go.
Daniel Marqusee is a UX Design instructor in Circuit Stream. A decade of professional experience in product design led him to discover his passion for UX design and development.
Get in touch with Daniel on his official website. You can also check out his design tutorials on his official YouTube channel.
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