Augmented Reality Hardware and Software
Augmented reality can extend our senses and transform how we see and interact with the world around us. Designing hardware, interaction techniques, and user interfaces for this domain is equal parts exploration, anticipation, and research-driven validation… responding to shifts in how people work and the technologies their organizations employ. I am extremely thankful and privileged to work in this space and shape its future.
Lead Hardware UX Designer
Human Factors Engineer
Software UX Designer
YEAR 2018 - Present
Lead Compute & Accessories UX Designer
Human Factors Engineer
Software UX Designer
YEAR 2019 - Present
During my time at Lenovo, I have provided broad coverage of our ThinkReality product solutions. Due to the nature of our delivery schedules and bandwidth, my coverage has been and continues to be comprehensive in scope, touching nearly every aspect of our solutions including conceptual hardware and software wireframes and mockups, information architecture planning, interaction design direction, production redlining, anthropometric measurement, research and testing, firmware specification, print materials, carrying case design, accessories, packaging direction, and competitive assessment, among other things.
Very shortly after Lenovo opted to pursue head-worn augmented reality in the commercial sector, I was tagged with providing hardware UX/HF support for the design of what would become the ThinkReality A6, Lenovo’s first enterprise-centric headset. I was able to leverage much of what I was exposed to in my graduate program and apply those learnings to our offering. I engaged with industrial design and development abroad in formative conceptualization of the headset, accessories, and extended compute device. With an acute focus on our targeted wearer demographics and anthropometry, workplace environments, ancillary helmets, clothing and tools – I provided design solutions and recommendations that would work to accommodate the sheer variability persistent across commercial use cases. I studied and provided anthropometric measures and ranges as it pertained to the human head, body girth, height, and hands among other metrics. I also conceptualized elements that made our product versatile and accommodating for a large range of anthropometric variation and industrial-worn accessories. More specially, I introduced a sliding mechanism near the temples of the device to allow for concentrated fit adjustment and accelerated donning and doffing of the device, allowing it to be placed and tightened without additional touchpoints. This design also affords the wearer the ability to wear the headset overhead when idle – similar to a pair of sunglasses or a lifted baseball cap. I introduced a textured rear-band to accommodate a variety of hairstyles and skin behaviors like the emergence of sweat, dirt and debris. However, its rear opening was not only implemented to accommodate these features, but also uniquely tailored to adapt to existing hardhats – providing ample space for existing tightening dials to fit through and remain reachable and operable. Accessories and the extended compute pack were designed in tandem with the headset resulting in quite a frenetic work pace. Components as subjective and nuanced as button actuator height, cable material, battery bay door removal affordances, and many more were carefully observed and refined throughout the development process. I also focused my attention on firmware, where I provided specifications for thermal performance, button behaviors, and LED states, among other things. Being an integral part of the hardware design was incredible and I took away many learnings. As the hardware matured and entered development gates, I began supporting the design of our software solutions.
Software design is my passion, and more specifically interaction design. As you might imagine, as much as I loved co-designing the ThinkReality A6 headset, I was even more ecstatic to get into the software. As I mentioned earlier, it can often be incredibly difficult to anticipate the wide range of capabilities the wearer-base will have when they don the headset for the first time. I constantly keep at the forefront of my thoughts and creative decision making, how might we design certain foundational elements from both a UI and interaction level to ensure we are accommodating for novice and veteran users. There is so much to share about the team and I’s creative journey through the often-daunting task of designing an entire ecosystem of software experiences and interaction behaviors from the ground up; I'll share some highlights here. I focused primarily on our selection behaviors and how we mitigate accidental selections across a myriad of input methods, most notably gaze and dwell – a timed-selection input method dependent of your head gaze position. To ensure a true hands-free selection environment without the capabilities of eye-tracking, I explored 2-step methodologies that would be naturally designed into existing UI architectures. In the form of drop-down drawers and extensible trays, selections were not as uneasily immediate and elements of the UI could be removed from the highest level, reducing complexity and visual clutter in the designs. I also led the creative visioning of our home menu’s information architecture; compartmentalizing content and features of the design into more easily understood zones within the UI. More exciting, is the team’s continued design exploration of augmented keyboards and editing tools to better accommodate gazed-based selection. There is so much more to share but for now stay tuned for announcements throughout the year. Look back for updates. Cheers!