Beyond AR vs. VR: What is the Difference between AR vs. MR vs. VR vs. XR?
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- 10 mths ago
Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for any technology that alters reality by adding digital elements to the physical or real-world environment to any extent and includes, but is not limited to, augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR).
Any new technology that blends the physical and virtual world will also be categorized as XR. The “X” in XR stands for any variable—any letter of the alphabet—that may be used in the future for such technologies.© Laia Tremosa and the Interaction Design Foundation
Therefore, the term extended reality does not refer to any specific technology; it includes any existing or new technologies that may be created in the future that alter reality, either by blending the digital and the physical world or by creating a fully virtual environment.
UX design for XR experiences vastly differs from traditional UX design. UX for XR is not screen-bound and needs to take into consideration 3D spaces and the safety and physical comfort of the user. Although there are not a set of standardized guidelines yet, there are some proposed frameworks to set the bases for UX designers. The study Exploring User Experience Guidelines for Designing HMD Extended Reality Applications by the University of Cagliari (Vi, 2022) proposes the following guidelines:
Organize the spatial environment to improve efficiency.
Create flexible interactions and environments.
Prioritize users’ comfort.
Do not overwhelm the user.
Design around hardware capabilities and limitations.
Use cues to help users through their experience.
Create a compelling XR experience.
Build upon real-world knowledge.
Allow users to feel in control of the experience.
Allow for trial and error.
In the book UX for XR, Cornel Hillmann suggests that object-oriented UX methodology (OOUX) might be a good approach to solve design problems in the XR world. A typical UX process starts with user research and user flows and progresses to wireframes and mockups; therefore, it usually defines flows, interactions and features before defining the objects. OOUX breaks down the complexity of a design problem by focusing on the core content—the objects—first and then assigning actions to these objects. For example, using the OOUX design process, you would first focus on the button itself, and then you would assign an action to it. This approach has typically four phases:
Force rank objects.
However, many more studies and research are needed to establish common standards and best practices for UX for XR.
Learn how to design your own XR experiences with our course: How to Design for Augmented and Virtual Reality.
Watch the How To Influence Behavior Through Virtual Reality Narratives on-demand Master Class by VR pioneer Mel Slater.
To find out more about temptative guidelines for UX design in XR, read this paper: Vi, S. (2022). Exploring User Experience Guidelines for Designing HMD Extended Reality Applications.
For inspiring insights about UX for XR, read the book UX for XR by Cornel Hillmann.
Here’s the entire UX literature on Extended Reality (XR) by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:
Take a deep dive into Extended Reality (XR) with our course Design Thinking: The Ultimate Guide .
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