How Alternate Reality Will Change Design

Alternate Reality Design Hook And Pixel Blog_Text

Design Thirty Years Ago

Thirty years ago the internet was in its infancy and design only lived in a few forms. Print, video, products, and architecture. If you wanted to promote your business you did it with flat images. Sometimes those flat images would be moving on television, but everyone starts with print. And these formats haven’t gone away.  We still have magazines, commercials, billboards, flyers, posters, etc…  But technology came in and changed things for everyone, forever.

How Interactivity Changed Design

In the 90s, it began. The nation started to get connected and entrepreneurs saw the potential of doing business in a connected space. Suddenly you could promote and inform your customers with an interactive website. Animated banner ads were everywhere, looping endlessly. Marketing now involved more than copywriters and artists.  People who knew programming and networking were now essential. I am sure more than one person lost their office to become a server room. The design team grew to handle the new demands of clients. What once took place on drafting tables, was now behind the computer screen.

It’s been twenty years since all this started and much has changed.  Faster internet speeds made video viable online, and audio in the form of podcasts and online radio. Smartphones got the computer out of the house and into our pockets. Again this changed how we build for the web. Mobile is becoming king. Things we used to need a computer for we can now do on our phones. Apps are firmly entwined with our day-to-day lives. And then there is social media.

Microsoft HololensWe put our whole lives online. Every birthday, plate, comment, feeling, drunken evening; all online. This makes advertising laser focused. We can now target you directly. Like a jean company on Facebook? Great! Expect to see ads for jeans. Like “Dancing in the rain”? Expect to see ads for umbrellas. You will see tailored ads everywhere. Even your location can determine what ads you see.  When visiting other towns you could be getting restaurant recommendations for the place by your hotel. Many oppose having who they are known by the business world, I don’t.  I haven’t seen an ad for AARP in ages. It’s wonderful.
What’s going to change things again like the smartphone? My money is on alternate reality glasses or AR for short. Microsoft Hololens was recently unveiled and reports are that it works but is still a bit clunky. If you are not familiar with what alternate reality is be sure to check out this article by wired. (Article Here: Project HoloLens: Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft’s Holographic Goggles | Wired ) While we may not have an alternate reality next week, or next year, it won’t be long until it’s good. Then not much longer after that until alternate reality is in our everyday lives.

Alternate Reality: The Future

The benefits of an alternate reality are obvious.  Meetings are made easier, and information and video are overlaid next to your project. But where does design fit into all of this?  Well, the UI is an obvious step, if something is going to be in our faces, we need to be able to customize it to really enjoy it. Where else will design play a role in the AR world?  Everywhere.

Many predicted books to become less popular in the digital age.  But that didn’t seem to happen. Just having the tactile feeling in our hands is something we don’t want to give up.  But with alternate reality you could have the world projected around you.  Imagine reading Harry Potter again but the room you are in looks like a Hogwarts classroom.  Or to read The Shining from the lobby of the Ahwahnee Hotel, that would be a whole new experience.  A clever designer could take you anywhere.

Immersion doesn’t stop there. Magazines will forever be a part of our world.  Imagine coming across an advert for a vacation to Hawaii and having the option to go there digitally.  That scene could be tailored to get you mentally involved with the idea of booking that vacation. A gorgeous woman or man coming out of the waves. Condensation drips down the glass of a mai tai. The sound of the waves. Tempted? Well, this could happen anywhere, even your doctor’s office.

Immersive experiences aren’t just what alternate reality could produce. Clever code could use AR to analyze your fridge to see what you could cook for dinner. But wait! If you only had one more ingredient, you could elevate that dish.  By the way, here is a coupon for it. Would you like that delivered by drone? Yes? Me too.

What Could Change For Creators

Given the need of an alternate reality, our toolset will have to be updated. Currently, developers are producing games and experiences for virtual reality headsets we could adopt the same tools to create AR content. But most likely the creation platform will have to take place in AR itself. Three-dimensional modeling will become a breeze once you can stand up and walk around your sculpture. Then making a 3d composition will be as easy as arranging furniture. Without the added weight.

Our 2d tools won’t be changing much.  Sure they will be projected on floating monitors in our vision, and they will be operated similarly to working with a tablet.  But expect to see cross-integration in real-time. Much like the way smart objects work now, the texture file could be worked on and in real time see the changes in the 3d space. On top of all this teams could collaborate in the virtual space from anywhere in the world.  This could make team-based workflow seamless and social.

Web development could be enhanced as well.  Being able to visually see the links between pages and tags could make creating dynamic powerful websites easy. Undoubtedly the power of an alternate reality will come into play with the web as well.  So it is hard to speculate what challenges developers are going to have to overcome to make it work.  But once it is working design can come in and deliver immersive experiences for even the most mundane of websites. At that point would we have to give an AR website a different name? Webplace? Webperence?


Design is already so integrated into our lives now. The competitive nature of business demands it now. It will be interesting to see what creative minds will do once they can manipulate the world around us. Alternate reality will be another momentous leap in technology, and I can’t wait to see it.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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