Beacon is an indoor-based navigation application that is dedicated to helping new post-secondary students get around campus with the use of augmented reality.
Navigating around campus as a brand new student can be a very overwhelming experience, especially for those who haven't been on site before.
Following the standard design thinking framework, I was able to diverge in my research and scope my problem space. After diverging, I converged and identified a specific "How Might We" question to further develop my design.
The solution is an indoor-based way finding application that can allow new students to navigate their way around campus with the use of augmented reality.
To get a better understanding of the problem space, I did some primary research into first year experiences on campus and how students operated during their first few weeks. I had sent out a survey to current first year students. Upon completion of my initial survey, I have gained a significant amount of both qualitative and quantitative data. Using this data had allowed me to gather insight on user pain points and can give me an informed decision on what I was designing.
I had gained a significant amount of both qualitative and quantitative data. Using this data had allowed me to gain insight on user pain points and gave me an informed decision on what I was designing.
To further supplement my research and understanding of the first year experience, I conducted in-person interviews with 8 first-year students, from varying programs.
Taking all the insights from research and the participatory design workshops, I created a thorough user journey that highlighted the UX before, during and after downloading the app.
With the insights I had gained from my research, I had more of a solid understanding of my users’ needs and what their pain points were. I have found that many students during their first year at Sheridan College managed to get their way around campus by wandering around and/or by asking fellow students for directions. Some students who had utilized these methods had varying degrees of success and lack the confidence in traveling the campus by themselves weeks and sometimes months later.
My primary goal moving forward is to reduce the process of trial and error when exploring and to help them gain the confidence to explore campus on their own. I found many issues while doing research for this project but I narrowed it down into the main issues that would solve the problem. By boiling down my research into these goals, it helps me make sure my later design decision are grounded in my user research and actually solve the problem.
Issue 1: How to inspire confidence within new students
Issue 2: How to encourage exploration in an interactive and memorable way
Before I began with designing any screens, I had mapped out the information architecture/user flow. By doing this it allowed to have a clear goal of what I was designing and how I can make the process of navigating the campus easier for newer students.
Once the information architecture/user-flow was laid out, I began with roughly sketching out the UI. This was done so that I could quickly get my ideas down. I started with low-fi prototypes and tested them quickly with users to hash out how I thought the flow should work. Once I had worked out the high level overview, trying to sketch for AR proved somewhat difficult.
The homepage is very minimal as it can allow users to easily navigate through the app without disrupting the AR experience.
The destination page is where students can select where they would like to go on campus, it could either be a classroom, restaurant or a service. Users will be prompted to select a wing followed by a room number or name of service/restaurant.
Once students have finished inputting their destination info, they will then be prompted to scan their environment to launch the AR experience. The purpose of this is to determine if the environment is suitable enough for the experience
With this project I learned a lot about what it takes to design a product from the initial conceptualization to the final prototype. In hindsight, something that I would've done differently would be to have some form of an interactive prototype to formally test the design with my target users.
In the future, once I gain more experience in the field of immersive technology, I would like to revisit this project again. This time by turning it into a real product using Unity's AR capabilities.