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How User Testing Has Pushed Augmented Reality Tech Forward

Five years ago when someone said AR, chances are high you’d immediately think of it as the technology behind mobile phone cameras and Snapchat filters. But as developers have continued to play around with augmented reality technology, AR’s potential for solving problems in the commercial world has been largely realised. Nowadays, a great majority of modern businesses are incorporating AR into their user testing processes too. And in turn, user testing has greatly boosted the development of AR. Here are just a few ways user testing continues to inspire innovations in augmented reality technology.

‘Try before you buy’

Traditionally, user testing has been viewed as a means of measuring the usability of software like apps, but with the emergence of AR technology into the usability testing process, a variety of other sectors have begun to adopt AR to gauge customer experiences with their products. One sector that stands out from the rest is retail. With the rise of eCommerce, traditional retail environments have had to adapt to new technologies in a few jarring ways, like establishing ‘click and collect’ functions on their websites which poses some threat to jobs in the retail sector, despite simultaneously allowing brick-and-mortar businesses with the opportunity to provide as much convenience as eCommerce stores. It’s become apparent that if retail spaces want to save themselves from downsizing, these environments will need to offer customers more immersive or intuitive shopping experiences. This is where AR comes in. Imagine being able to see what a smartwatch looks like on your wrist before you commit to buying it, or having the ability to try out furniture in your home without moving a muscle. AR provides customers with the liberty to no longer rely on their imagination alone, allowing consumers to make well-informed decisions about their purchase, which greatly improves their entire shopping experience. Unsurprisingly, retailers like Apple have generally received positive customer feedback from these AR additions to their retail spaces.

3D UX mapping

Alongside being able to ‘try before you buy’, customers and businesses alike can also greatly benefit from augmented environments being highly naturalistic to manoeuvre through and manipulate. In fact, being able to create whole environments with AR technology has proven to be a valuable tool in the world of UX mapping as well! The primary reason for this is that bringing UX mapping into a three-dimensional sphere can help users get a more realistic feel of the products that they’re trialling, which in turn can provide the product’s developers with solid data on the efficacy of their current designs. As UX mapping is also largely about building environments, the relationship between UX mapping and AR technology can also be described as symbiotic, as the two disciplines essentially help build each other up. AR technology has allowed UX mapping to evolve into a three-dimensional sphere, and the process of UX mapping consistently allows for innovations in AR to consistently be spear-headed.

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Time and other variables

Over the past few years, developers have begun to respond to a call for AR environments to move from static spheres into malleable environments that respond to a number of variables, including time, light, colours, weather, and location to name just a few. The introduction of this flexibility in AR-generated environments can be greatly useful for industries like property development, interior design, civil engineering, and landscaping, where professionals are tasked with building environments that are expected to be both aesthetic as well as highly functional. But it’s not just designers that can stand to benefit from this new technology. As AR no longer exists in a static space, AR technology can now be used to create AR navigation systems. The possibilities here are actually more extensive than you may think possible. Not only has it allowed for the creation of wayfinding apps to navigate specific built environments like airports and shopping centres, but it can also allow for further innovations in the motor industry, as well as in portable navigation devices. It’s highly likely that these innovations will greatly improve public safety in both rural and urban areas alike.

The laws of UX dictate that oftentimes the most simplistic solution is the best. And it’s safe to say that being able to physically occupy an imagined space is, funnily enough, the simplest way to best assess that space. In this regard, it’s not surprising to see how integral AR has become to user testing, and how the evolution of the relationship between these two disciplines helps propel modern businesses to newer and greater heights.