Envrmnt Creator: Create AR/VR easily
Desktop & Mobile Appwww.verizon.com/about/news/envrmnt-launches-ar-designer-intuitive-platform-makes-it-easy-add-virtual-experiences-mobile
Envrmnt Creator (AR Designer) is my flagship project, which I started as a concept on the drawing board, and eventually brought to as full useable product. My responsibility was to plan the desktop front-end design from scratch, and to define the app’s goals and requirements based on how our clients would use the system.
To pursue tomorrow’s emerging technologies, in 2016 Verizon created an internal innovation or open labs team called Envrmnt. The team was tasked with developing technologies and products for the early market of AR, VR and Mixed Reality (MR).
In the beginning, Envrmnt custom-built AR projects and apps for each client. We soon learned, however, that while some of the projects were unique, most clients had similar needs and requirements. This might include displaying a 2D video or 3D model on a mobile device when the device was pointed at a target image of a product in a magazine or on pages of a catalog.
From this awareness, the idea of building a web-based AR creation tool was born. Because the process of creating AR could be replicable in a scalable way, we decided to build a software prototype that would enable users to easily create their own AR experiences.ForVerizon RoleUX/UI Design DateJan 2019 SoftwaresSketch, Zeplin, RealtimeBoard, Principle, After Effects, Unity
The challenge: simplifying AR creation
When we began, only highly technical people could create AR experiences. Therefore, it wasn’t readily available to a much larger public market. Our goal, therefore, was to build a product that would be simple-to-use, intuitive, and would allow anybody with basic computer skills to build AR experiences.
Creating the Wordpress of AR
Our goal was to build a product that would be as transformational for AR as Wordpress was for website development. We called it AR Designer.
We designed it so that anyone could open an account and start making AR without prior knowledge. And we built it so that businesses could build and share AR experiences at scale and at low cost. These were leading-edge ideas at the time.
We wrote the project’s requirements using the knowledge we gained from developing projects for numerous clients. This way we could learn what our clients needed, better understand their business goals, and assess how well our projects met their needs. We selected the most common features that were in high demand, such as presenting a video or a 3D model over an image.
While defining the users of the app, we faced a challenge – although “Envrmnt Creator” is an editing tool directed to businesses, it is not just a B2B product – we actually needed to plan the experience for our client’s users, the ones who will eventually use the AR mobile apps, meaning the product was actually planned as B2B2C.
We built the system as an online based system, connected to a mobile app for previewing the experience.
The project included some very challenging technical elements, such as image recognition, 3D engine capabilities, large cloud-based file handling, streaming technology and more. Although not under my responsibility, I was involved in all the development stages in order to match the right solution in the front-end. During the process we designed and built more complex systems, such as file management system, back-end admin system, user settings management, collaborative teamwork management and billing system.
In order to simplify the process for users and minimize their decision-making steps, we defined fixed templates, based on few simple components. The editors could import their files to the app, place them in the workspace, view and test them on a mobile device, and then export and share them.
Here are the main steps I was involved in:
■ Creating a requirements document
■ Defining the app structure and architecture
■ Building user flows – Defining all user processes, including starting and editing projects, saving them, uploading videos or 3D models, defining target images, sharing projects with other workers, and much more.
■ Drawing wireframes, designing prototypes and interactions, and handing this off to developers.
■ Participating in QA to find and repair bugs in each feature we created.
As the project grew, others designers joined the team.
However, I was the lead designer for the desktop UI design, and I coordinated and guided the other designers according to our design guidelines.
Given the fact that AR editors are not common yet, it was difficult to test user’s expectations from such system. Many of our decisions were made based on assumptions and our experience with clients. During the building process, and between the various steps, we tested those assumptions with internal users.
This was a group effort, and I collaborated with for front-end and back-end engineers, designers, product managers, and 3D designers and artists.
“AR Designer” is a massive project, and it is still expanding and going on. Being able to shape a product from the beginning is a great challenge and an opportunity.
Working with developers on delivering complex technology to users, defining user experience for each stage of the project, building a completely new design system from scratch and being responsible for each pixel on the screen, collaborating with other designers and figuring out smart solutions – these are all the best experience I could get as a designer, and it will set better standards for me next challenges.