This next post is melting my brain a little bit… check out the next post for the video sketches that started me down this rabbit hole, and this post for more background on types of spatially fixed content.
Digital designers need to be able to communicate their visions to other people, including clients and developers. Today, we use programs like sketch and principle to make mockups, and we use a common language (pixels, hover-over, global nav, workflow diagram, etc.). The elements and relationships we are describing today are primarily 2D and are displayed on one screen (the move to responsive design has changed this a little).
Our context adds a few complexities – it is a distributed system, meaning it has multiple inputs and outputs, so we aren’t designing for one screen anymore; and it includes augmented reality – a technology that demands new approaches to designing interactions.
Describing the relationships that UI elements in augmented reality have to the physical world requires us to use new systems and new terms. Even seemingly simple elements, like the wireframes in the video below – have complex and dynamic relationships to multiple points of reference in the physical world. How would we describe them to a developer, if we wanted our sketch to be prototyped?
As designers tackling 3D interfaces, we need a system for communicating these spatial relationships – in three dimensions – based on the position and orientation of objects (scale is another factor not fully addressed here). In the sketch above we see UI elements that are spatially locked: to the ship’s window, to the horizon, to a ship moving on the horizon, and several combinations thereof.
What follows is my attempt to make sense of this… through writing, diagrams and a sketching template.
Continue reading “complex spatial relationships”