Social Augmented Reality (Social AR)

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What is Social Augmented Reality (Social AR)?

Social augmented reality (AR) is a situation when augmented reality is a collaborative tool or creates a social space, either in-person or remotely.

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Social augmented reality applies to various contexts, including gaming, education, tourism, and marketing. With AR, people can interact with each other and their surroundings in new and innovative ways, creating immersive and engaging experiences.

Yet, designers should be able to ensure the social safety of their users. Designers must protect user privacy and shield them from embarrassment while using the product, especially in public.

In Entertainment

Social AR is particularly valuable in gaming experiences. Online gaming is booming, and AR gaming has tremendous potential in asynchronous, playful experiences. AR is a natural evolution of multiplayer gaming and can change how people interact with public space.

One notable example of social AR in gaming is the mobile AR game Pokémon GO. The social element or player battles, group discovery and Pokémon trades turned a breakout hit into a cultural phenomenon.

In Workspace Collaboration

Because AR allows for the illusion of presence and immersion, many companies are investing in workplace applications of AR with integrated social elements.

Meta's Metaverse is one such application that blurs the line between virtual and physical worlds to make a workplace environment full of collaborative AR tools and communication.

Microsoft Hololens is another high-budget workplace solution exploring what the future of workspaces could look like.

All these examples demonstrate the value of perceived presence to make more engaging, efficient and fascinating experiences with other people.

Guidelines for Collaborative AR

For AR experiences that require a sense of presence, AR designers should try to maintain a sense of "realness." Certain factors have to be guaranteed to maintain that sense of realness.

AR/VR designer David Smith outlines how to ensure an excellent social experience for AR/VR with six guidelines:

  1. Instantaneously shared actions: User interactions should immediately change the shared experience for everyone. Latency over ten milliseconds ruins the user's perception of the "liveness." This is especially true when the participants are face-to-face.

  2. Shared state: The users should see and maintain a shared world. Actions by the user should change the environment for everyone.

  3. Dynamic join: Users should be able to join a session already in progress at any time. In multiplayer games, a lobby holds players until everyone is ready to start, but for collaborative AR, let new users join sessions already in progress.

  4. Verification of synchronization: The application should verify that it remains synced with others. Users who go out of sync should be able to easily resync.

  5. Rich vocabulary: Have an unlimited "vocabulary" of interactions between the system and the user. This means the system should be able to incorporate unanticipated interactions dynamically. AR is a space for live creation and development, so all interactions should be supported, visible, and consistent for all participants.

  6. Replicated simulation: The shared world should evolve dynamically and respond seamlessly to user events. Users should all experience the same physics and environment that make up the simulation.

Other Types of Social AR

It's worth noting that not all collaborative AR is for virtual spaces. Some add new ways to communicate and share. Snapchat filters are an excellent example of collaborative, asynchronous AR. 

However, as previously stated, these apps should also be safe to use, protect the user’s privacy and not embarrass them. Users should always consent to how much and what they wish to share.

Learn More About Social AR

Take our course on UX Design for Augmented Reality

For a deep dive into why AR, like Snapchat filters, has value, read Social AR 101 – An Insider's Guide to Social Augmented Reality.

Read David Smith's six principles of collaborative AR, Collaborative AR: Comparing Approaches

To read a study on AR collaboration in the industrial sector, read Creating Collaborative Augmented Reality Experiences for Industry 4.0 Training and Assistance Applications: Performance Evaluation in the Shipyard of the Future.

Explore Meetaverse, a Metaverse meeting program.

See G2’s selection of the Best AR Collaboration Tools in 2023.

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Literature on Social Augmented Reality (Social AR)

Here’s the entire UX literature on Social Augmented Reality (Social AR) by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Social Augmented Reality (Social AR)

Take a deep dive into Social Augmented Reality (Social AR) with our course UX Design for Augmented Reality .

Augmented reality has emerged as a transformative technology, allowing us to blend the digital and physical worlds to enhance our daily lives. However, the path to create seamless and intuitive user experiences in AR presents unique challenges. This course equips you with the knowledge and skills to overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of AR.

UX Design for Augmented Reality is taught by UX expert Frank Spillers, CEO and founder of the renowned UX consultancy Experience Dynamics. Frank is an expert in AR and VR and has 22 years of UX experience with Fortune 500 clients, including Nike, Intel, Microsoft, HP, and Capital One.

In this course, you will explore the entire design process of AR, along with the theory and guidelines to determine what makes a good AR experience. Through hands-on exercises and discussions, you will explore and discuss topics such as safety in AR, how to determine whether AR is the right platform for your idea, and what real-world spaces have potential as stages for AR experiences.

In lesson 1, you will learn the origins of AR, what makes it unique, and its colossal impact on human-computer interaction.

In lesson 2, you will dive into user research practices tailored to AR and its unique characteristics.

In lesson 3, you will dig into how to prototype for AR and create low-fi but testable prototypes.

In lesson 4, you will learn the heuristics and guidelines to test your designs and ensure they are practical and user-friendly.

Throughout the course, you'll get practical tips to apply in real-life projects. In the Portfolio projects, you'll build a foundation of an AR product. This will allow you to create a portfolio case study to entice recruiters or developers to make your dream a reality.

Use your industry-recognized Course Certificate on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile, or website.

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