A few months ago, our office updated the meeting room signage. Having encountered issues with meeting rooms in the past, I figured the new signs would be great image targets for a navigation and room management experiment.

The finished prototype.

Imagine this…

You need to be in Meeting Room 10 at 10am, in a building new to you.

In the current world, you exit the lift where you may see a map displaying meeting rooms. It might have some form of wayfinding and you need to decide whether turning left or right will be the quickest path. As you pass a side corridor, you wonder whether you should turn down it (it’s probably just where the printers are) or keep going. Maybe the rooms are in obviously numerical order, maybe not.

You’ve passed Room 9. Now you’re standing in front of Room 11. And it’s 10.01am.

OR… You’re on your feet with some team members and need a room with a whiteboard quickly. You see an empty room but aren’t sure if you’ll be kicked out of it, and you could encounter a similar problem if you go to the next vacant room.

OR… You’re responsible for fitting out meeting rooms in your building with devices displaying their booking times. Aside from the cost of the devices, you need to think of how to secure them and wire them to power, considering OH&S and fire safety standards. And what if one day they need to be replaced or removed?

How might a personal app help?

Technologies like AR and IoT (the Internet of Things) could help through:

  • Directions: An app that knows your location and the location of your destination can display information over the real world to guide you.
  • Contextual Information: Augmented reality gives you more information about whatever you’re looking at. Example situations could be; wondering if the meeting room is free, where other available meeting rooms are, and the facilities of meeting rooms you’re investigating.
  • Cost: The acquisition and installation of hardware is expensive in time and money. Image and object targets are what an augmented reality app uses to trigger its features. Examples could be anything from a poster to an aircraft engine. Whatever it is, the target exists in the real world, so wouldn’t be considered part of the cost. Any app enhancements could be managed through software updates.
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From the initial problem and opportunity areas, flows and sketches were worked up to communicate the experience. In parallel, the technology behind linking Unity and C# to the Google Calendar API was investigated. Unity was necessary to implement buttons to trigger interactions as well as the navigation UI. Image targets were managed through Vuforia. Transitions produced in After Effects were also explored.

The prototype was a successful way to communicate how to solve issues of navigation and accessing information about a room, and also showing that augmented reality is a technology within reach today.

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Quick flows and sketches during ideation. Game design wayfinding was a great reference for navigation UI.

Next Steps

Having put together a working prototype, the inevitable question was “what about [insert feature here]?” Helping a user understand where they are across a multilevel floorplan is now in progress through experimenting with 3D space interaction, usability, and IoT.

Testing out 3D interaction to navigate between levels.

Matt Alishah

UX Principal,Sydney

Matt Alishah

UX Principal,Sydney