Designing Perception: Augmenting Perspectives
This post is part two in the Designing Perception blog series. You can read part one here.
So, how do we design experiences for augmented reality?
The answer sounds monumental; We transform the user’s perspective of what is happening in their world at that moment.
At SpellBound, the way we achieve this is through an empathy-driven design approach. While we love working on new ideas and making changes that are exciting for our friends and family, our main focus at the end of the day is the patients and therapists that use our app. We put ourselves in the shoes of our users and work to create the best experience for them. We make sure to focus on all facets of the experience, and we consider and use any tools at our disposal and use an empathy-driven testing process.
Our team is full of amazing engineers and developers that can code an otherworldly app in no time. However, none of us are doctors or nurses. It takes an understanding of the customer and user to make a good design - whether is is physical or in our case, virtual.
For example, an early hurdle for us to cross was deciding whether to use mobile devices or headsets for patient therapy. Both had their advantages, but understanding the user base was required to find which platform would create the best experience. Of course, the convenience of phones and tablets was clear, but the immersiveness of headsets was intriguing. It took a visit to our local children’s hospital to discover the dealbreaker. We tested our app with many different children and had great feedback for both platforms. Then, we entered the room of a child with wires and sensors around their head, and we met a child with only one eye. Both impossible scenarios for a headset. These encounters and tests helped us build empathy for the user. This empathy was built into the visual design, engineering and platform for our app. We focused on mobile devices for our development process, and ultimately were able to have a wider user base.
Similarly, we found empathy to be a major driving force in our development of our newest product, the Magic Portal. How could we help patients become more comfortable with a hospital room and provide escape in times of worry? While we had discovered many use cases for our existing tools to familiarize spaces, it was time to take another look at our user base, understand their needs, and take a walk in their shoes. We considered a few valuable factors in the development process: We needed to design and consider for patients who couldn't leave their bed, were unable to use both hands, and loved to explore.
How can patients quell their worries if they are unable to leave a scary situation?
By peering into, and being immersed in, an entirely new world.
We designed wall-mounted targets to accommodate for those who are unable to use both hands with our tools. With these targets, the SpellBound viewport will create a 3-Dimensional space inside a frame on any hospital room wall. Animals, interactions, and magic move between our world and the Portal world, bringing wonder and peace to patients from the comfort of their hospital bed. By creating an escape from a scary place and a connection to a magical place, hospital rooms don't seem so scary anymore.
An unexpected use case that developed out of our hospital visit was engaging the siblings of the sick child. Not only do the children undergoing scary procedures experience trauma, but the siblings that accompany them to the hospital do as well - through scary environments and interactions. This case study has developed into applications we would have never considered before, including augmenting spaces in hospital hallways and rooms.
Of course, we can’t just end here. As we gain empathy and learn more about our users, we discover more areas for us to research. As we expand our knowledge base, we create more ideas for products. But in that, we find further places to research and greater product ideas to create the best possible hospital experience.
Now, how can we change experiences for the better?
Stay tuned for the next post in the Designing Perception series: Making Magic.