Extended Reality (XR)

Your constantly-updated definition of Extended Reality (XR) and collection of videos and articles

What is Extended Reality (XR)?

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 worlds 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.

Three circles that overlap. From left to right: augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality. A big circle representing extended reality encompasses all the other circles.

The term XR includes AR, MR, VR, and any technology that blends the physical and the digital world.

© 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 an entirely virtual environment.

User Experience (UX) Design for Extended Reality

UX design for XR experiences vastly differs from traditional UX design. UX for XR is not screen-bound and needs to consider 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 an excellent approach to solving 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 first breaks down a design problem's complexity by focusing on the core content—first the objects—and then assigning actions to these objects. For example, using the OOUX design process, you would first focus on the button and then assign an action. This approach typically has four phases:

  • Discover objects.

  • Define objects.

  • Establish relationships.

  • Force rank objects.

However, more studies and research are needed to establish common standards and best practices for UX for XR.    

Learn More about Extended Reality

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 learn more about UX design guidelines in XR, read this paper: Vi, S. (2022). Exploring User Experience Guidelines for Designing HMD Extended Reality Applications. 

Read the book UX for XR by Cornel Hillmann for inspiring insights about UX for XR.

Literature on Extended Reality (XR)

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

Learn more about Extended Reality (XR)

Take a deep dive into Extended Reality (XR) 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.

All open-source articles on Extended Reality (XR)

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