These days, people wish to finish their work in a short time just because they need to move on to the next task, as the time never stops for anyone. But sometimes some issues freeze our work and drag us into drastic results.
- When opening the computer to send an important mail to a client, a dialog box may appear and shows a technical error message.
- While driving in a car to attend an important meeting the engine may stop working.
- A little piece of paper might get stuck and create paper jam issue in the printer while taking a photocopy of an important document.
What would happen if people are given an option to correct these issues on their own without calling the support?
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 online websites.
People often fail sometimes due to the lack of knowledge to use the product even though the company provides the user guide. Most of the user manual or user guide contains more than 500 pages with detailed information and it is not very handy. Users also have difficulties in finding and understanding the solution in the long user manual and sometimes they misunderstand the procedures. When the users try to learn the guide with more information, it might trigger the users’ frustration towards the device and increases the cognitive load.
If users have a tool which interactively explains how to fix or use their device, they would never call the support. Just imagine that the tool is your smartphone with an app. Not just an ordinary app, it should be an augmented reality application. 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 term used to describe a live view of a physical, real-world environment that is augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics. AR environment has digital information transposed onto a real-world view” (Sawers, 2011). The user can just tap on the troubleshooting AR application on their smartphone or tab to experience the interactive troubleshooting guide. Hence, not only the technicians, even the users also easily troubleshoot the devices by following the AR virtual guide.
Benefits of an Interactive User Manual
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 since it is a step by step virtual guide and the users can easily access the IUM over mobile smart devices which create flexibility for the users in terms of time and physical location.
Why an AR App?
- AR apps providing rich immersive user experience enabling easy understanding of troubleshooting options
- Context-Based Ux with AR Apps providing useful information and tips based on the context of use
- AR apps empower users to become more self-reliant & taking appropriate decisions cutting down the overheads cost of customer support team
- AR apps as effective marketing tools enhancing User Engagement with products
- AR apps enable conversion of passive to active buyers improving lead generation
AR Troubleshooting Application
Users find difficulties in troubleshooting the office printers. Based on our research result, most of the users are calling the technical persons to clear the paper Jam issue.
Desk research was conducted to understand the functions of the office printer. The contextual inquiry was conducted among the technicians and users to find out the difficulties in locating the problem area and complexities in repairing the device.
Immersive Augmented reality application was created which enables the users to understand the troubleshooting options easily. The application was designed with interactive visuals like 3d arrows and models which avoid the language barrier and reduces complexities.
Troubleshooting process can be made easier if the users get an interactive guide which clearly explains the instructions in a step by step format.AR troubleshooting app scans the photocopy machine and indicates the problem area in the real life environment using graphical arrows and animations with text. The user has to follow the instructions to correct the issue.
Fig 1 :Printer troubleshooting AR app screenshot
AR User Guide for VoIP
A user manual is a technical communication document intended to give assistance to people using a particular system. (NataliiaVasylyna, 2011)
According to the research result, most of the users are struggling to make a conference call in the voIP phone.
The research was conducted to find out the various features of the IP phone. An interview was conducted to identify the complexities in making a conference call and various help options preferred by the users.
Users can learn and understand about the functions of the device easily if the users get an interactive help option which scans the desk phone and project the user guide in an interactive way.
The Interface of the application provides easy navigation for the user as the menu option is available on every screen. A crisp and clear instruction was given in a step by step format.
If the user wants to make a conference call he can just tap on the con call button in the application and place the smartphone or tab in front of the IP phone. Once the IP phone is recognized, the application will start to play the step by step instruction for making a conference call. An animated 3d hand appears and the buttons get highlighted. It also highlights the message which appears on the UI screen.
Fig 2 : AR voIP user guide app screenshot
AR Toy Unpacking Application
Toy buying experience can be made interesting if the users can get an opportunity to interact with the toys before taking a decision to buy them. This can be done by the use of Augmented Reality where the how to play instructions can be projected on its packaging box using Augmented Reality.
The research phase involved understanding the primary & secondary user needs while they make a decision to buy a particular toy. This discovery phase involved doing a detailed literature review, field survey, contextual inquiry followed by a detailed recommendation report. The design phase was very iterative and agile based.
The interface of AR page was created with options like play, reset, demo and buy now options, which make the users, engage with the product and it interactively guides the users. Continuous refinement has been done through usability testing.
A typical scenario could be with a father and son who go together to a toy shop and the son gets excited at seeing his favorite toy. Before buying, the father scans the toy box using AR app and the contents of the toy are augmented in front of the packed toy box. Both of them have a chance to play with the toy using the AR app.
Fig 3 : AR Game Instruction app screenshot
Not only for device troubleshooting, we can utilize this powerful tool in multiple domains to guide the users. 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.
AR technology is going to play a vital role in everyone’s day to day life in the near future. Keeping the futuristic approach we have been conducting research and designing applications in different kinds of AR projects using 3D gaming framework and various AR SDKs. AR makes the device user-friendly, so the device reinforces and enhances the experience of the users which automatically increase the profit in the device marketing, and it eventually reduces the device manufacturers cost of the investment in health/support service centers which improves the revenue streams. Today, AR technology is blooming through mobile platforms and we all should be prepared to take it forward. This has the potential to create a new wave of products that will define the emerging User experience trends.