Introduction

This report will introduce a development plan for an interactive bar, including an interaction rationale identifying the chosen method of interaction that is to be implemented in the concept, an exploration of the core features and functionality and a full design rationale that builds on the concepts explored within the interaction rationale, linking to relevant heuristic, evaluative and design frameworks where appropriate. The report will conclude with recommendations for areas of improvement within the design and how these improvements may have been implemented, throughout the design process.

Interaction Rationale

When considering the design of an interactive system with the implementation of the latest or potentially future technologies, there are multiple interaction techniques that could be explored to find the most appropriate technological avenue to explore, during the design stages of product development. Jacob (1994, p. 1) and Carnegie Mellon University (2018) infer that an interaction technique is where a human user interacts with an electronic device, which then provides a form of feedback to the user based upon the action performed and the result(s) of that action.

The client (Mr Flanagan) stated in the client requirements that the latest technology should be used in the design of the application and there are three prominent yet, differing styles of interaction that are to be considered, Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Intel (2018) and Tokareva (2018) propose that VR is the more prominent technology when compared with AR and MR and fully immerses the user, removing them from reality, in a virtual world created by a computer program, where the user moves using a haptic (any form of interaction that involves touch) controller.

McCauley (2017, p. 300) and National Youth Tech Journal (2018) suggest that VR can be advantageous when used to educate or train others, as the digital environment can be programmed to represent any time or space and as the user is in a digital reality, they may not feel the same pressure when performing an action as they may in actual reality. National Youth Tech Journal continue to claim that one major disadvantage to VR is the adverse effects using this technology can have on the user’s health such as dizziness, light-headedness, headaches, eye-strain and nausea. Fernandes and Feiner (2016, p. 201) share the view of National Youth Tech Journal, proposing that VR sickness can cause discomfort for the user and could cause the user to avoid further use of VR technologies based on any past adverse experience(s). Fernandes and Feiner continue propositioning a potential solution to VR Sickness, in which the user’s field of view when using the VR device should be adjusted during use to reduce or remove the effects of VR sickness, without affecting the level of immersion the user feels during the session. A final key disadvantage to using VR technology is the lack of human engagement, as Metz (2017) and Hicks (2016) suggest that human communication could become damaged through the use of VR technology, due to the VR environment being just the human and the device.

Billinghurst, Clark and Lee (2015, p. 3) and Mealy (2018, p. 9) claim that Augmented Reality is the process of applying an overlay of computer-generated content to a real environment, in an attempt to create the illusion of a seamless blend between the AR content and reality. According to Fowler (2018, p. 16) AR has been used extensively by aircraft manufacturers for training, research and development and the first commercial AR system was developed by Oculus VR and released in 2016, the Oculus Rift. Perdue (2018) shares the view of Fowler, claiming that AR is used in military aircraft for the Heads-Up-Display (HUD) that is projected into the pilot’s view. Perdue continues inferring that AR is also used in gaming, a view shared by Fisher (2018), with both parties suggesting that Pokemon Go!, Temple Treasure Hunt and Snapchat are prominent examples of the implementation of AR technology, within the gaming industry.

When considering the implementation of AR technologies into the proposed application, there are notable advantages and disadvantages to take into consideration. Akcayir and Akcayir (2017, p. 15) claim that during a student study involving AR, 10% of the participants believed that using AR promoted higher levels of interaction between the participants themselves and the educational material provided. Akcayir and Akcayir conclude propositioning that the use of AR can support perception through the visual displaying of content to support the user, such as educational materials and that the participants identified that AR technology in itself is easy to use and enjoyable. Armstrong (2018) shares a contrasting view to that of Akcayir and Akcayir, suggesting that due to the AR overlay requiring a screen to view, the user could become removed from the moment and potentially disillusioned. Carmigniani et al. (2010, p. 347) claim that even though smartphones are portable and widely owned among humans, a major disadvantage is the small screen size of smartphones and how this is not ideal for 3D user interfaces using AR technologies.

Mixed Reality is the final interaction style to consider and Microsoft (2018a) define MR as the blending of our reality with a digital computer-generated environment. Lee (2018) expands on the previous point by Microsoft, inferring that MR is a combination of both VR and AR, however, it shares more commonality in terms of features and experience to VR over AR. Microsoft (2018b) claim that MR can be used to play games, to teach in educational institutions and to share experiences with others via the Microsoft Dynamics 365 software. Vyas (2017) shares a similar view to that of Microsoft, claiming that MR is advantageous during collaborative activities across an organisation, when a 3D environment is required such as in a medical facility for 3D operating rooms or viewing virtual organ models and in real estate where property models can be viewed through an immersive walkthrough. Honig et.al (2015, p.2) propose that MR can be valuable when conducting development and research in the field of robotics. Honig et al. continue suggesting that due to the interaction between reality and a virtual environment in MR, experiments can be conducted remotely and therefore potentially expanding collaboration between the individuals involved. ­

While much of the current research around MR technologies focuses on the advantages of using this technology, there are disadvantages that are to be taken into consideration. Corbin Ball (2018) suggest that at the current stage of development, MR equipment is expensive which will probably limit consumer use at present, the current range of equipment is not fashionable meaning that everyday use of the equipment should not be expected and there are limitations to the technology at present such as difficult gesture control. Kaplan (2017) agrees and expands on the point made by Corbin Ball, claiming that consumers require more affordable and intuitive solutions, however, Kaplan also proposes that Windows Mixed Reality will provide the solution in time.

Core Features & Functionality

After careful consideration, using the research documented above, Mixed Reality is the chosen interaction technique that is to be used in the proposed application design. The reason for this choice is due to the potential of increased collaboration when using this technology and also due to the technology allowing for interaction with reality as well as the virtual world depicted (the application). Another reason that MR has been chosen is due to the perceived lack of advanced technology that is currently available at local establishments stated by Personae A, C and E (See Appendices A, C and E). A potential concern however, is that Personae B and D (See Appendices B and D) are novice users of technology and this has been addressed (discussed below) through the addition of simple navigation and visual prompts throughout the application. The MR technology is to be wearable in the form of a fashionable pair of glasses, meeting the needs of Personae D (See Appendix D).

As the application is to be technologically advanced, the incorporation of a smartphone login system has been included, to add a one step process to the login system, automatic language selection based on the language selected on the user’s smartphone, automatic acquisition of the user’s details to incorporate into their account details section (name, mobile number, etc) and automatic login to any application that is installed on the venue’s system, such as Facebook or Twitter. The inclusion of one step and other simple processes throughout the application, such as the checkout process to pay for drinks and social media buttons along the footer of the application, meets the needs stated by Personae C and D (See Appendices C and D), as they find that some systems have difficult or multiple step processes which they find frustrating. Alternatively, if the user does not wish to have an account with Flanagan’s, the language selection tool can be used to login as a guest.

Personae A (See Appendix A) is frustrated with a lack of accessibility options in current applications and to address this, the incorporation of a changing menu system based on the language selected has been incorporated and the screen reading style can adapt to right to left display, as some languages such as Arabic (BBC, 2014), Urdu and Hebrew (Andiamo!, 2013) read from right to left. When the language selected is Arabic, the menu system will automatically discard any alcoholic options, as Lemon (2018) claims that many Arab countries have strict or complete bans on the sale or consumption of alcohol. A button on screen can be touched to add the alcoholic options to the menu again if required.

To conclude, the addition of games to the application will encourage further interaction between the users. Initially the users at the table will be using a single session that no other user can view or access information from, eliminating any potential privacy issues that may come into question. There will be the option to interact with others on the table using a multi-user session that is activated when a game is opened in the application. As with the single user sessions, users that participate in a multi-user session will only be able to view and access data from their personal session via the MR device.

Design Rationale

During the initial design process (basic 2D wireframes), the proposed application was designed following the heuristics of Nielsen (1995), Shneiderman (2016) and Tognazzini (2014). The design follows a strict template that includes a fixed header that is always displayed along the top of the screen when the user is scrolling down the page and a fixed header image, conforming to Nielsen’s (1995) Consistency and Standards and User Control and Freedom, as well as Shneiderman’s (2016) Strive for consistency and Permit easy reversal of actions heuristics. The decision to use a fixed header that incorporates essential elements, such as a side menu icon to access all areas of the application, the user account area and a language selection tool, was influenced by badly designed navigation options in other applications stated by Personae A through D (See Appendices A through D). Shneiderman (2016) and Nielsen (1995) propose that the user should be able to reverse actions made in error with ease and to conform with these heuristics a back button is implemented as a permanent feature of the header, as well as options to edit the quantity of drinks added to the shopping cart.

To keep the user informed of actions performed through appropriate feedback (Nielsen, 1995 and Shneiderman, 2016), the incorporation of a change of colour (light blue) for buttons, tiles, language selection and menu options on touch was added. The use of said buttons, tiles or menu options performs an action that is the beginning middle or end of a series of actions, as Shneiderman (2016) suggests that providing the user with informative feedback upon completion of one or more actions, helps to provide a feeling of satisfaction and/or relief. Adding these methods of providing user feedback is essential for meeting the requirements of Personae C and D (See Appendices C and D), where it was stated that previous interactions with applications resulted in problems using the interface in general and the navigation options.

Tognazzini (2014) infers that incorporating Fitts’s Law, the use of large objects for the elements most commonly used by the user and smaller objects for elements the developer feels should probably not use, is one of the principles in design that is regularly ignored. Throughout the design of the application, the header is pinned to the top of the screen and all elements deemed important on screen are fairly large in size with relevant text defining the action that these elements perform.

Accelerators have been added to the interface, including the one-click payment options (contactless or through pre-set options within a user account) and the smartphone login system, to add advanced options that intermediate and advanced technology users can use to speed up interaction with the interface (Nielsen, 1995 and Shneiderman, 2016). Upon review of the stated frustrations of all personae (See Appendices A through E), the addition of both simple elements and advanced accelerator elements stated above, should provide a pleasant, streamlined experience for novice, intermediate and advanced users alike.

Tognazzini (2014) claims hiding slow loading actions using multi-tasking techniques, allows the user to continue with the action they are performing while the computational actions are completed in the background and external applications such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are included in the application and will be pre-installed on the system for users, meeting the social media requirements of Personae D (See Appendix D). Personae C (See Appendix C) states that during the use of previous applications there were problems with the speed of the application, so the pre-installation and automatic login (if using a smartphone) for external applications could help to minimise potential latency issues when using the application.

The selected colour scheme for the application is black, white, dark and light grey and blue. To keep the application consistent throughout the design process black was chosen as the background colour, as Hall and Hanna (2004, p. 193) infer that to ensure the interface is readable while retaining a look of professionalism, a black background with white text should be used. However, Hall and Hanna continue to provide an alternative proposing that for an interface that incorporates the user making purchases, the use of chromatic colours (Gray’s School of Art (2018) claim both primary and secondary colours including red, yellow, blue, orange, green and indigo are known as chromatic colours), is more likely to be viewed as pleasing and stimulating visually to the user. The use of dark grey within the design was to highlight the background of other elements that appear on the main black background, including the background for drink options such as different cocktails and as Cherry (2018) and Chapman (2010) suggest that shades of grey to promote a look of professionalism while remaining subtle when compared to other colours. Light grey was used as the background of all touchable buttons to ensure their visibility on the interface. Finally, to further promote the look of professionalism, but also as Wright (2018) and Graf1x (2018) claim, the feeling of trust, integrity and tranquillity, light blue was used within the design to highlight when an option has been touched by the user, providing them with instant informative feedback and meeting both Nielsen’s (1995) visibility of system status and Shneiderman’s (2016) offer informative feedback heuristics. 

Two different font types were used within the design of the application, Verdana, a sans-serif style font and Cambria, a serif style font. DVG Interactive (2017) propose that the use of serif style font promotes a sense of comfort and respect in the mind of the reader. Following the proposal from DVG Interactive, the Cambria font was selected, continuing the professional design philosophy employed throughout the design process thus far and allowing certain text to stand out such as the headings within the header section of the design and the individual headings that appear in the drink’s menu screen (Lagers, Ciders, etc). Tubik Studio (2016) claim that the use of serif font promotes a look of elegance to the reader on screen, which would suit the clientele visiting the establishment (See Appendices A, C, D and E). To complement the implementation of a serif font for elements that require a unique look to stand out on screen, a sans-serif font, Verdana, was selected to be used generally throughout the design. Bear (2018) and Kole (2013) propose that the use of sans-serif fonts within screen-based design promote a modern and friendly viewing experience and are generally better for use on screen-based designs, due to the much lower rate of dots-per-inch that is present on screens in comparison to printed works.

As the proposed application will be developed using Mixed Reality technologies, the implementation of 3D elements within the design process was essential. To ensure that the proposed 3D elements of the design were designed to current industry standards, the design principles of Apple (2018), Microsoft (2018c), Rizzotto (2017) and Endsley et al. (2017) were considered and implemented where appropriate. Microsoft (2018c) suggest that the user should be able to view the real world in the background and this is implemented within the design, as the application is presented on the table in front of the user when the MR glasses are worn, a view shared by Rizzotto (2017) who claims that the proposed application should blend into the reality of the user.

Within an individual drink’s menu (Lagers, Ciders, etc) the user is presented with the available options and for each option a 3D representation of the item is presented to the user (See Appendices N and X) within the item description panel. A 3D silver platter (See Appendix X) will also be presented to the user slightly above the table, allowing the user to lift the 3D item and place it on the platter, adding the selected item to the current shopping cart. Microsoft (2018c) propose that animations shoulder be short and should appear with slow timing from down, left, right or a fade in, allowing a smooth transition of state for the user to experience. To adhere to this principle, the 3D elements such as drinks or snacks and the service platter within a menu screen will fade in to view for the user over a period of two seconds. The user has the choice of interacting with the application by touch or interaction with 3D representations of the option(s) when selecting a drink or snack to purchase. Providing 3D options to the user to interact with adheres to Rizzotto’s (2017) principle of avoiding the use of 2D assets due to them standing out in a negative light and Apple’s (2018) proposal of transitions providing a sense of depth as the user navigates through the process. One potential issue that could become prominent during the drink or snack purchasing process is the lack of distance between the user and the 3D element in MR, as Rizzotto (2017) and Endsley et al. (2017, p. 2103) infer that for a comfortable user to be obtained, a distance of one meter between the user and the MR element is suggested, as objects that are too close to the user could cause a feeling of discomfort or loss of control. However, as MR could be perceived as a newcomer to the computing market when compared to VR and AR, future technological advancements could render the previous point irrelevant with the research and development that is likely to be undertaken in the near future.

Initially the user is deployed within a single session that no other user at the table has any involvement within. Mixed Reality as Rizzotto (2017) claims, is inherently social and multiplayer capability should always be part of the design and development process. The implementation of games within the application adheres to this proposed concept and the user will be presented with a 2-player game of Battleship or up to 4-player game of Poker where one user will create a game session and invite others from the same table to join. When playing either game the elements are sensibly placed for the user, for example when playing battleship the user has a screen on the table to place their ships at the start of the game and a screen that will transition in at the start of the game, in the center of the table, showing the shots fired at the opposing player and whether the shots hit or miss the opposition ships, conforming to Endsley et al. (2017, p. 2103), proposing that the placement of virtual elements should always make sense in reality. Apple (2018) suggest that when the user has the ability to manipulate onscreen content directly, the user can see immediate, visible results of the action performed, increasing engagement and facilitating understanding of the action performed. Both games incorporated into the design adhere to this rule entirely through the use of virtual 3D elements only that the user interacts with to play either game. Finally, as both games are required to be played on a surface in reality, both games can be played while seated and require minimal physical effort to perform, as Endsley et al. (2017, p. 2103) claim that virtual experiences should not be physically challenging or dangerous for the user to perform.

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Project Details

Client:

Blackpool and The Fylde College

Project Date:

December 16, 2018