Designing for Spatial Computing: Casual Connect London 2018

On stage at Casual Connect 2018, Magic Leap's Brian Schwab and Aleissia Laidacker shared tidbits and big ideas that will be helpful as people embark on their own journeys in spatial computing.

As we prepare to launch Magic Leap One™, Creator Edition later this year, we are rolling out resources to help developers and creators, as well as sending our in-house experts to industry events to share best practices. Recently, Brian Schwab and Aleissia Laidacker were in London, England, for Casual Connect 2018. On stage, Brian and Aleissia shared big ideas around design that will be helpful as developers embark on their own journeys in spatial computing. From inputs and interactions, to characters and AI, they discussed what to keep in mind when developing spatial computing experiences.

Key features of Magic Leap One, such as Digital Lightfield technology, environment mapping, precision tracking and soundfield audio, allow developers to build almost limitless experiences without screens, a major design shift that requires a different approach than traditional gaming.

Respect for the real world: Interactions

The seamless interaction between digital and physical worlds made possible by Magic Leap One means developers have to respect the player’s space, both from an interaction and design perspective. In a spatial computing-powered experience where a digital actor is in your environment (in your house, for example), the character needs to be responsive to your world. If the phone rings, and you go to answer it, the character should respect that and stop talking. If a digital-created box appears through a portal in the wall, designers should consider whether the law of gravity applies to that object, to convey a realness, that this object is part of the same world as the user. The content, interactions, and user touchpoints must all be responsive in spatial computing, regardless of the space, allowing for new and exciting experiences.

Mixed Reality Graphic01 (1)

Another important concept to become familiar with is proceduralism, the thought that expression is found primarily in the player's experience as it results from interaction with the game's mechanics and dynamics, and less so in their visual, auditory, and textual aspects. Developers can harness real-world spaces and use the unknown to their advantage. Similarly, using systemic frameworks in spatial computing offers developers more opportunities to surprise and delight players with unique experiences based on their unique environments and interactions.

Beyond Buttons: Inputs

Magic Leap One will also offer developers a very wide range of potential inputs. Traditional button taps will still be there for those who want to take advantage of them, but with the range of sensor information available to devs, the user’s headpose, hand gestures, voice commands, and even blinks can be recognized as inputs. And, depending on the experience you want to create — say, a murder-mystery — rapid breathing, subtle eye movements, even a racing heartbeat can impact how the Magic Leap One experience reacts to the user.

All of these new design parameters are nothing without a compelling story and characters. In mixed reality experiences, it is particularly important to have characters that are contextually aware; characters that don’t properly interact with the player and their environment is the next “uncanny valley.”

These considerations for development in spatial computing just scratch the surface of learnings that we’d like to share with you. In future posts, watch for more from Brian and Aleissia on connected experiences and multi-user support, persistence of content across multiple sessions, and much more. And if there is a topic you would particularly like our experts to address, please join us over in the Creator Portal, and pose your questions in our forums.