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Virtual reality research & design

Researched and addressed usability issues on an Oculus Go VR app I'd previously developed. Also designed a new level and repurposed it for the Oculus Quest.

Finding flaws

After the first virtual reality instalment for Specac, we spent time usability testing in with internal staff and at an event in Dubai.

Low resolution, inability to cast onto a screen and awkward controls (especially accidentally closing the app) were cited as the top issues of the Oculus Go VR app.

Along with adding a new product activity to the app, I was tasked with addressing these usability issues.

Solution scouting

Low resolution:

action: upgrade to Oculus Quest

Unable to cast onto a screen:

action: use Oculus Quest's Chromecast functionality

Awkward controls:

action: add clearer instructions

action: snap objects into desired position when close

Device caveat

The Oculus Quest, so far, doesn't provide the same 'Release Channel' cloud installation platform as the Oculus Go. So we currently have to sideload the Quest app instead. But, as it's sideloaded, Chromecast is not available. So I am using open source application 'Scrpcy' to cast to a laptop until a release channel becomes available.

UPDATE: I have recently learned from Oculus that, if Specac Ltd buys an Oculus Enterprise device, it'll allow some form of cloud installation and casting without the app being placed in the Store.

Building the solution

I built the app using Unity. Affinity Designer was used to draw assets and Solidworks was used to source product CAD models. Blender was used to draw additional 3D assets.

As before, I used experience mapping to plan out the series of events and triggers that would make up this usage scenario.

The outcome

We live tested this version of the app at an open day to over 100 visitors, at the new Specac site in Kent.

I asked questions, made notes and recorded the screens, to identify usability issues. 70% of users experienced none.

We had great reception on the visuals, comments on how realistic the view was in the headset. Screen casting aided user guidance and provided a shared experience for those who weren't in VR. The headset's 'hold to quit' option and the improved instructions reduced usability issues.

Thoughts

The Oculus Quest is a far superior device to the Go, which I can't see lasting too long in the VR landscape. However, despite a Chromecast feature being made available, the unexpected lack of a Release Channel demonstrates the difficulties when building for a new platform that is largely untested.