August 31, 2016

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Interactive User Manual with AR Solutions

A user manual is a technical communication document intended to give assistance to people using a particular system. (NataliiaVasylyna, 2011)

An Interactive user manual (IUM), with step by step instruction using text, graphics animations or videos, helps to enhance the user experience. It is a tool which can assist the users by displaying the content visually during troubleshooting operations, regular maintenance, initial set up, or for imparting training. It is a powerful tool which can be utilized in multiple domains.

Users might get overawed when they are interacting or using a product for the first time due to poor visual affordance. This forces them to get help from a technician or through some online content. If there is a mobile app which aids such a user by providing an immersive experience in a make believe world, then the user can feel self-reliant, empowered, and in control. This is all possible through Augmented Reality.

“Augmented reality (AR) is a combination of the real scene viewed by the user and a virtual scene generated by the computer that augments the scene with additional information”. (Jvallino, 1998)

Benefits of IUM

An immersive 3D experience with cutting edge AR Technology will increase the information retention and decrease memory overload, since it demonstrates the method in an interactive way. IUM reduces the element of unpredictability and the fear of unknowns. There will be no language barrier issues and the users can easily access the IUM over mobile smart devices, which creates flexibility for the users in terms of time and physical location.

Why AR App?

  1. AR apps providing rich immersive user experience enabling easy understanding of troubleshooting options
  2. Context-Based Ux with AR Apps providing useful information and tips based on the context of use
  3. AR apps empower users to become more self-reliant & taking appropriate decisions cutting down the overheads cost of customer support team
  4. AR apps as effective marketing tools enhancing User Engagement with products
  5. AR apps enable conversion of passive to active buyers improving lead generation

Use Cases

Toy unpacking application

Objective:

The toy buying experience can be made more interesting if the users can get an opportunity to interact with the toys before making a decision to buy them.

Design Process:

The research phase involved understanding the user needs and doing a detailed literature review, field survey, and contextual inquiry, followed by a detailed recommendation report. The design phase was very iterative and agile based. Continuous refinement has been done through usability testing. In the development phase, the image target feature was used to develop the toy unpacking AR app.

A typical scenario could be with a father and son who go together to a toy shop. Before buying a toy, the father scans the toy box using AR app. It projects the content in front of the package and they also have a chance to play with the toy using the AR app.

AR Troubleshooting application

Objective:

The troubleshooting process can be made easier if the users get an interactive guide which clearly explains the instructions in a step by step format.

Design Process:

Contextual inquiry was conducted among the technicians to find out the difficulties in locating the problem area and complexities in repairing the device.

The app was designed with proper UX design. The interactive visuals like 3D arrows and models avoid the language barrier and reduce complexities. The app was developed using hybrid image target.

The app scans the machine and indicates the problem area in the real life environment using graphical arrows and animations with text. The user has to simply follow the instructions to correct the issue.

AR User Guide for VoIP phone

Objective:

Users can learn and understand about the functions of the device easily if they get an interactive help option which scans the desk phone and shows the user guide in an interactive way.

Design Process:

An interview was conducted to identify the complexities in making a conference call. The interface of the application provides easy navigation for the user. An object recognition feature was used to develop the VoIP AR application.

If the user taps on the concall option in the app and places the device in front of the IP phone, the app will start to play the instructions for making a conference call. An animated 3D hand appears and the buttons get highlighted.

Conclusion

AR technology is going to play a vital role in everyone’s day to day life in the near future. Keeping the futuristic approach, HCL UxD COE has been conducting research and designing applications in different kinds of AR projects using 3D gaming framework and various AR SDKs. Today, AR technology is blooming through mobile platforms and HCL UxD COE is all prepared to take it forward. This has the potential to create a new wave of products that will define the emerging User experience trends.

Vallino, J. R. (1998). Interactive Augmented Reality. 7. Retrieved from https://www.se.rit.edu/~jrv/publications/VallinoThesis.pdf.

Nataliia, V. (2011).The Basis of Acceptance Test Plan Preparation. Retrieved from http://blog.qatestlab.com/2011/10/25/the-basis-of-acceptance-test-plan-preparation/