Following the ideation phase, I started creating user flows, wireframes and interactive 3D prototypes. As the project timeframe was quite short, it was very important to quickly nail down the core UX. Based on the info that Google gave us about the real-life Chromecast presentations, we deciced that the experience will have 1 presenter, 10 active users and potentially unlimited amount of passive users. The presenter and the active attendants would have avatars and would be able to interact with each other. The experience was to last approximately 20 minutes, with the Google presenter driving everyone through the product presentation.
Virtual reality was not only used as an answer to the real-life schedule and distance issues. We also wanted to take advantage of the virtually limitless possibilites of the medium. Unlike a real-life basic keynote with slides, we wanted to create an engaging and interactive experience for the users through 3D models, interactive use cases, quizzes and multiple interactions
Two main environments were created for the experience. The lobby room, where most of the presentation takes place and a stylized living room where the use case was demonstrated. As the experience was running on mobile devices on the attendant's end, the whole 3D environment and the avatars needed to be quite low-poly and heavily optimized. This techinal limit drove us to make stylized graphics that were also supposed to help make the experience visually engaging for users.
One of the perks of using VR is the fact that you can transport your users where ever you want to. This way, we were able to provide a true narrative in the experience, along which all the attendants learn how to use the Chromecast product and its features in a everyday life situation.
My main task was to create the presenter user interface. As this role required quite a lot of controls and interactions, we decided that the presenter will join and drive the experience using the HTC Vive headset, which just got released at the time.
In order to keep the whole presentation manageable, we decided to have only 10 active users in the lobby room. It was also possible to join the experience as a passive user.
I designed a simple user interface for the presenter, which displays a set of tools, such as a laser pointer, a paint brush and the ability to control 3D models in space. The presenter needed to be able to interact with the environment and the attendants in order for the presentation to feel alive and entertaining. .
In addition the main VR user experience, I also designed the mobile UX side of the experience. As the attendants were joining the experience through their mobile devices, we needed to have a consistent user experience between the mobile and the VR app, as well as a seamless transition between the two.
The process was a bit more classic on this one, after designing the user flow and specified the different steps of the user journey, I created interactive wireframes that were used as base by the visual design team.
Overall, the virtual reality solution developed by the team was stable and working fine. Although there is no way to know if the application was really used on the field by Google teams, we know that the solution was definitely usable as, towards the end of the project, the whole team was doing its morning team meetings in the app itself. In addition, several user tests were conducted along the process, confirming that the app was easy enough to understand and use by neophytes users.
Two years and half ago, when we created this project, virtual reality was still in its early beginnings. The two main HMD (HTC Vive and Oculus) were just freshly released and the mobile devices were starting to be powerful enough to run simple VR experiences. Although the technical constraints were numerous and everything was to explore in this new medium that is VR, the team at UNIT9 managed to come up with a functional and innovative solution. On a personal side, this was my first professional VR project and the learnings were immense.