6 ways to take full advantage of 3D space in Augmented Reality

6 ways to take full advantage of 3D space in Augmented Reality

6 ways to take full advantage of 3D space in Augmented Reality 5312 2988 Use Design

Welcome back to the article series “AR design challenges and best practices”.
As a reminder, this series showcases several best practices and UI solutions to tackle Augmented reality design challenges.

In today’s article, we will address the issue on “6 ways to take full advantage of a 3D space in Augmented Reality”.

👉 You can check the complete series here.


Nowadays and for most of us, AR is primarily viewed through a 2D screen such as a tablet or a Smartphone. Thus, in content design, the designer must maintain the illusion of a three-dimensional virtual space that extends beyond the 2D screen.

Indeed, Augmented reality is a 3D and highly interactive medium. If the layout and content are “physically” flat, then the AR experience will feel dull and pointless.
To enable AR to really shine through, designers need to take advantage of what makes it so special — “moving in 3D space”.
While navigating a 3D environment, the user can move around to view objects through different angles. The so-called “play area” or “experience area”, allows him/her to discover new virtual content and fun ways to interact with the environment.
To take full advantage of the immersive feeling that AR provides, the experience should encourage the user to move around the “play area”.

So, to spur your creativity, here are some interesting solutions on how to encourage people to explore the virtual scenery.

1- Elevate It or Conceal It

In “Conduct AR” (an AR train simulation game), the terrains have purposely been elevated to hide certain areas, left to be discovered by the viewer.
This favors an exploration mode, pushing the viewers into discovering all the intricacies that
the terrain has to offer.

Source: Conduct Ar

2 – Use Nudges

Google suggests the use of visual cues that emphasize the 3D’ness of the scene.
For instance, in the image below, the frog is half hidden by the mushroom standing in front of it. This frog is acting as a nudge. Its purpose is to trigger the user’s curiosity and entice them to move around the 3D space to view the entire frog.

Source: Google AR Blog

3 – Scale it up

By upscaling the objects to a life-size scale or by making sure the scenery extends beyond the field of view, the user will be tempted to move his screen around to explore the rest of the scenery.

Source: A&E® Crime Scene: AR

4 – Animate it

By animating an object flying through or moving around the scene, the user will be tempted to follow it and appreciate the extent of the virtual environment.

Source: Google Guideline

5 – Scatter it

In “A&E ® Crime Scene AR” (a mobile crime scene investigation game) the clues are scattered around the scene. This pushes the user to search and examine the entire virtual environment in hopes to find the clues.

Source: A&E® Crime Scene: AR

6 – Reveal it

We could also consider using the proximity of the viewer’s physical position from an object to reveal new unexpected elements.
This would encourage the viewer to seek these triggers and explore the virtual scenery.
Below is an example of a text fading in and a shoe animating upwards once the user gets closer to it.
The user’s distance from the shoe acts as a trigger into revealing additional content. This favors a playful interaction that pushes the viewers into interacting with all the other shoes in the scene.


Source: Daniel Beauchamp – from Shopify

Key takeaways

AR is an interactive and 3D medium. If the content does not convey a feeling of immersiveness brought by the third-dimension, then it is not being used at its full potential.
We can use AR wisely by making some adjustments to amplify the 3D’ness of the scenery, which will reinforce the feeling of presence and immersion.

In all, to entice the viewer to wander around our virtual space, we can

  • Play with the height of the elements and terrain details.
  • Overlap elements to suggest the three-dimensionality of the scene
  • Upscale the elements beyond the field of view.
  • Animate moving objects.
  • Scatter interactive content, all around the scene.
  • Reveal content based on the proximity of the viewer’s physical position.

And that’s all for today folks 🙂

So how about you, did you come up with other creative solutions?

Complete AR series by Use Design:
👉 AR design challenges and best practices


Find out more:
Designing For Augmented Reality

Sarra Mamlouk-Sanchez — UX Designer & AR expert @ Use Design, une agence de design à Paris qui donne vie à des stratégies, des produits digitaux et des services innovants.


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