From the moment we wake up until we fall asleep, we experience and interact with the world in different ways. Our interactions may seem mundane, such as drinking from a cup, but this is only because we have become used to the “rules” of our reality. When sipping from a cup, we mentally evaluate the material and shape of the cup, the nature of what we’re drinking (temperature, weight, viscosity), how much liquid is in the cup, and the posture and position of our bodies. Thankfully, our brains simplify our perception of the difficulty of these actions, making many inherently complex tasks feel almost effortless.

In a VR or mixed-reality world, the understood rules of daily life are replaced with those from a constructed reality. If we attempt to re-create the experience of drinking from a cup, how do we grasp the cup in a way that feels natural? How do we let go? How do we know if the liquid is hot or cold? How do we simulate the act of drinking from the cup and indicate that the action has taken place? These are the types of mental exercises posed by Renée Stevens in Designing Immersive 3D Experiences.

Renée Stevens lays out a holistic approach to extended reality development that considers factors from color palettes and lighting to sound stages and typography. For individuals looking to get started in extended reality, Designing Immersive 3D Experiences provides a clear, straightforward introduction to both technology and the design considerations. For teams, the text can serve as a common reference point for treating development and design as equal partners.

VR, AR, and related technologies have been heralded as tools that can bridge distance, cultures, and generations. As a developer for more than 30 years and an early adopter of AR and VR, I have often fallen into the trap that plagues many of us, namely, chasing the technology. Rather than asking “What is the highest resolution and the most detailed textures that we can apply?” we should be asking “How can we create an engaging experience for the largest possible audience?” Applying insights from Renée’s book to our projects, we as developers and designers can begin to create the truly transformational experiences that the technology has long promised.

John E. Ray
Author and Director, Office of Research Information Systems
Ohio State University

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