Defining Brand Patterns for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality
In 2017, Volkswagen asked us to develop a consistent, brand-specific user experience for all future applications in the areas of virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality and to document it in a pattern library. VW refers to these as “New Realities,” while others call them “Extended Realities.”
Augmented reality was one of the trend topics of 2018, and Volkswagen took on a pioneering role and explicitly developed cross-brand design patterns for these new digital media.
An Agile Design Process
In our design strategy process, we first identified requirements from a brand, business and user perspective, defined the personality of the Volkswagen brand and used this to derive brand filters for the new realities. In the design direction phase, we then elaborated initial VR patterns that were incorporated into a VR prototype for the VW Tiguan. Subsequently, we defined all key design patterns for AR and VR, documented them in a (currently still static) pattern library and edited them for further use. The AR patterns are already being used in an AR app that Razorfish developed for Volkswagen and which was first used in Beijing in March 2018.
Developing Cost-Efficient Future Applications
For the first time, design patterns for VR/AR were developed from within the brand and for all applications of the brand. The collaboration with our client proved to be close and productive. As a result, a pattern library for extended realities was created, which is now being refined in an agile manner and optimized on a regular basis. Not only does this ensure a consistent UX across all Volkswagen applications, but it also reduces the cost of developing new applications in the long term.
The project called for an exciting shift in thinking on the part of our 2D-experienced brand designers, as completely different rules apply particularly in the field of virtual reality. Designing the holistic experience of a virtual world holds special challenges: For example, each parameter has to be defined (from a brand perspective). In addition, aspects such as space, architecture, movement, light and sound, as well as the physical behavior of objects have to be taken into account.
Finally, prototyping of VR and AR applications is especially important. A design pattern that is documented and made available for recurring use must be tested beforehand. We used cardboard-based prototyping for VR, but we also created animated sequences, design patterns and videos.