Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies have evolved at a rapid pace in recent years, transforming the landscape of various industries.
As of 2023, there are 65.9 million VR users and 110.1 million AR users in the U.S. and an estimated 171 million VR users worldwide. This sudden growth has had a significant impact on the design industry, where AR and VR are revolutionising the way designers conceptualise, create, and present their work, offering new opportunities for creativity, efficiency, and engagement. How can we incorporate these technologies into our work to reshape the design process and enhance the user experience?
Powerful AR and VR tools
AR and VR technologies provide designers with powerful tools for visualisation and prototyping. Previously, creating a product mock-up would be a lengthy and costly process that would involve several different creatives. Thanks to VR, we are now just a few clicks and a short render away from seeing what our product would look like in the flesh. This allows designers to evaluate design elements such as ergonomics and aesthetics in a virtual environment, making necessary adjustments far earlier in the process, and saving time and resources in the long run.
AR and VR have also revolutionized the way we think about the user experience. It’s now easier than ever to create immersive user experiences that just wouldn’t have been possible even a decade ago. Designers can create virtual environments that allow users to interact with products or spaces before they are even physically built. This is particularly valuable in industries such as interior design and retail, where customers can use AR to visualise how furniture or decorations will look in their homes before making a purchase.
New ways to work
We are also finding new ways to work together, thanks to AR and VR technology. Design teams can work together in accessible virtual spaces, regardless of their physical locations. This is particularly valuable in today’s globalised world, where design teams may be spread across different countries and time zones. VR collaboration tools enable designers to meet in a shared virtual environment, review designs, and make real-time adjustments, which streamlines the design process and fosters creativity and innovation.
The same technology can be used to help designers interact with clients. We can test prototypes with users in a virtual environment, gaining valuable insights before mass production begins. This iterative approach to design leads to better results that are more aligned with user preferences and needs.
There are still some significant challenges to overcome when incorporating AR and VR into design. One of the biggest hurdles is the significant cost of hardware and software which can be prohibitive to smaller firms. The specialised training needed to operate some of these tools is also still quite limited.
As technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, we can expect to see even greater integration of these technologies into the design process. From creating virtual showrooms for retail to simulating urban planning scenarios, the possibilities are endless.