The journey for an ideal see-through Augmented Reality (AR) system design has captured lots of attention of both small startups and major corporations, driving extensive research and development efforts in recent years. Despite these efforts, achieving success in this market is still uncertain. Drawing upon our 20 years of experience in AR and VR optical systems, we present our approach to Augmented Reality system development and challenge the limitations of conventional one-size-fits-all approaches. Our proposed solution revolves around a user-centric Optical Requirements Formation process, tailored to the specific needs and preferences of individual users.
Developing a universal AR system intended to cover a variety of different users and use cases often results in compromised designs. The assumption that a singular solution can meet the varied requirements of medical professionals, industrial workers, and gaming users lacks the nuanced demands of each segment. Customization may be a key success factor for different applications, where precision and specificity are mandatory.
User-Centric Optical AR System Development Requirements Formation Process
To overcome the limitations of the conventional approach, our methodology suggests the implementation of a user-centric Optical Requirements Formation process. This systematic methodology emphasizes understanding user needs and tasks, encourages a productive dialogue between users and engineers, and translates user requirements into optical engineering terms.
Key Elements of the Optical Requirements Formation Process:
1. User Identification and Role
Identifying target users is crucial for tailoring the AR system to their characteristics, preferences, constraints and tasks. Custom optical design plays a pivotal role in meeting different user needs.
2. Purpose and Usage
Defining the primary purpose and usage scenarios of the AR system provides a clear focus for development, especially in custom lens design for specific applications.
3. User Expectations and Added Value
Recognizing users' expectations and the added value they anticipate guides the creation of a system that resonates with their needs, a crucial aspect in optical system design.
4. System Interactions and User Actions
Understanding the sequence of interactions users will have with the system is essential for designing a user-friendly interface, optimizing the workflow, and engineering user-friendly optic systems.
5. User Environment and Context
Considering the physical, social, and situational aspects of the user environment ensures seamless functionality in real-world scenarios, especially in optical system engineering.
6. User Willingness to Pay
Recognizing users' budgetary expectations is vital for aligning the system's features and quality with economic considerations, a critical factor in the engineering of optical systems.
Creating an Engineering Requirement Specification
The answers to these initial inquiries above aid in understanding the primary requirements outlined by both the user and stakeholders. They not only form the foundation for constructing an engineering specification for the system but also enable us to effectively translate user insights into a comprehensive list of optical and technical requirements. Each requirement is designated with its appropriate level of significance and priority. This specification serves as the guiding framework for developing a tailored Augmented Reality optical system precisely built to the user's unique requirements, context, and desired outcomes. For additional details and illustrative examples of optical requirements, please consult the optical terms library section in our blog.
Case Study: Development of a User-Centric AR Optical System for Medical use
A leading medical technology company approached us with a vision to enhance surgical procedures using Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Our task was to develop a specialized AR optical system that could provide real-time visual overlays, precise guidance, and an intuitive interface to surgeons. To ensure a comprehensive understanding of user expectations, we conducted in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, including managers within the medical devices company, marketing professionals, engineers, and medical advisors. Furthermore, we engaged in discussions with surgeons and procurement specialists in various hospitals. These guidelines served as the main framework for both optical and system development processes.
Implementation of the Optical Requirements Formation Process
User Identification and Role: Surgeons and medical professionals were identified as the target users, and the system was tailored to their specific needs through custom optical design.
Purpose and Usage: The AR system was designed for surgical procedures, with a focus on custom lens design for applications in a sterile surgical environment.
User Expectations and Added Value: Understanding surgeons' expectations guided the creation of a system that prioritized the comfort of the user, considering that surgeons wore the headset for extended periods. The optical design inputs added a significant effort to lightweight optics and carefully managed the center of gravity of the optical system. This approach was crucial to enhance the overall ergonomic experience for the surgeons during prolonged use.
Furthermore, the customer's personalized fitting methodology had implications for the actual eye box needed to accommodate a broad spectrum of potential users. This had a significant impact on the optical design.
System Interactions and User Actions: A user-friendly interface and optimized workflow were engineered to seamlessly integrate with surgical procedures.
User Environment and Context: Consideration of the surgical environment ensured the system's optimal functionality in an operation room taking into account different background illumination levels and colors to achieve high visibility of the display at any scenario.
User Willingness to Pay: Budgetary expectations of Procurement in hospitals were recognized, influencing decisions on system features and quality.
The AR optical system, a product of collaborative efforts within a multidisciplinary team, effectively met surgeons' expectations. It provided comfort and presented a practical technology customized for surgery rooms. Notably, it displayed exceptional image quality, highlighting its ability to enhance surgical precision, potentially leading to reduced operation times and exceeding patient satisfaction through improved surgical accuracy.
In conclusion, the user-centric Optical Requirements Formation process ensures that optical systems, particularly in AR development, are designed with precision and customization in mind. By integrating user-centric insights into the engineering process, companies can create solutions that align with user expectations, maximize usability, and enhance the overall user experience.