“We saw researchers, students and developers unlock amazing use cases with VR once devices became easily accessible and affordable, so I want to see that happen with MR and AR glasses as soon as possible.”— Amber Choo (@ambich0o) on Threads
Today we have @ambich0o. We have all heard of Virtual Reality (VR). How do you differentiate that from Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR)?
Hi Ryan! AR and MR are used pretty interchangeably but I do see a difference, in my mind anyway!!I see VR as completely occluding your vision from reality. You are transported entirely somewhere else. AR is generally a GUI overlay on-top of your vision which does not interact with reality. I see MR as reality + smarter holograms that understand your real spatial reality and can be positioned within the world (eg: on your living room wall) instead of head locked to the user like AR is!
You do prototyping with AR and MR. Can you provide a bit more detail about what that means?
Sure thing! My core work right now is with the AR glasses design team, which is understandably doing a lot of fun stuff. Companies making AR glasses need to consider what an intuitive user experience feels like on their device, and they need to understand what types of content they want on those glasses, and how users control that experience. That’s what I help with! Previously I was on the VR core UX team which was the same thing, but for Quest 1, 2 and Pro.
Generally we start with an untested, spicy design, and I will build an experience prototype in a few days that shows that design in motion on the device. We may take it to user research to figure out if users understand what’s going on. We may take it roadshowing within the UXR, engineering and design populations internally for feedback. If everybody is thumbs up, it’s something we can send to engineering to build for real 🙂
We are always ideating, shipped or unshipped 😍 meta loves pushing out new updates to reality labs devices to make them even better after launch
How do you see AR changing the way we live in the next 3-5 years?
Phones have reached the limitations of the block-in-your-pocket form factor. We are already seeing AR glasses products like the XReal Air, but they are meant for very limited use cases. I want to see AR change the way we live by integrating into our lives with a glasses form factor that is effortless, augmenting our lives with smart, contextual information & helping us all stay connected. It’s a big race and many companies have horses in it, so the timeline is unknown and the stakes are high!
What are some special and cool use cases you are seeing for AR/MR? Maybe Medical? Educational? Others?
It’s very early in AR and MR’s history for us to know the full potential of these mediums. We saw researchers, students and developers unlock amazing use cases with VR once devices became easily accessible and affordable, so I want to see that happen with MR and AR glasses as soon as possible. There is huge potential for education and productivity in these spaces. The most useful experiences I’ve seen so far are visualizers for product sales, eg Amazon’s ‘see it in your room’ before you buy.
Fun fact, before I did VR games and VR product II was a researcher in a chronic pain lab investigating whether or not virtual reality would reduce pain intensity in chronic pain patients in clinical settings. Spoiler alert: it totally did. The theory lies solely in distraction therapy and it’s a better temporary analgesic than medication alone (VR + meds).
How do you navigate the delicate balance between creating immersive experiences and ensuring user privacy with Mixed Reality?
We have dedicated user privacy teams at Meta evaluating access to and use of user data in every step of the process, from early stage design to ship 🙂 Everybody working in product, even if they don’t think they will need to be working with user data, still needs to go through training to understand the different types of user data and how to best protect it.
Do you see some ethical dilemmas arising from AR?
Oh heck yes. User safety is a big one I hope every company thinks very hard about. We don’t want ads for Jurassic Park showing up in your AR glasses while you are driving (can you imagine a life sized T-Rex head suddenly appearing in your car trying to eat you lol)
Not even just driving honestly, walking too. 🦖
Ideally safeguards are put in place on a system level to protect both new naive developers and users.
Can you share your thoughts on the potential of Heads-Up Displays? What are the challenges and where are the most exciting opportunities?
AR glasses can merge together with contextual AI in really fun ways. Maybe you forgot where you put your backpack, so you ask your glasses and it shows you the way. You need to buy avocados after work: it reminds you. Maybe you forgot the whole grocery list honestly, but that’s cool, it’s showing up in your peripheral as soon as you walk into the store. Maybe you compose a thread with dictation while holding groceries with both hands. We’re going to be augmentedly smarter & more productive.
What type of educational background is needed to get into AR development?
You don’t need a diploma or fancy degree to make AR. Everything you need to know is searchable on the internet. Determined kids with a laptop and a phone can download Unity for free and deploy a hello world to a device, and it’s the same process for AR. Unity itself is actually such a powerful tool for encouraging young people & beginners to get into software development, whether it be 2D games or AR apps.
How can people find you elsewhere online?
Threads is my preferred platform 💯 And for those who game, I’m ambi.chu on Steam 🤓
This was so fun! Appreciate you Ryan and thanks for putting so much hard work into spotlighting all these great devs ❤️