So you want to build an AR project…

This week we had residents Ilana and Terrick talk to us about building out AR/VR projects for thesis. Since I hope to explore the AR route potentially as well as for Magic Windows class wanted to note some of the points here too. Office hours this week with thesis advisor Sarah was also an assignment was two fold:

1: to play with and dissect as many AR apps as possible – what’s working and what’s not?

2: to stark making and that playing with quick AR creation tools like EyeJack will help get at what interactions for my quilt feel successful verses not.

We also talked about the target audience of kids and connecting them to local ecology through plant identification.


Think about an AR/VR project?

In the thesis presentation from the residents they raised some good consideration points. The importance of content and design, concept first and the tech to then help lift it up.

  • Why is AR the right medium for your project?
  • Content First and Design
  • Technology “second”
  • Understand what your project is about
    • consider – is it the right medium? if yes, why?
  • Look for references and understand what they did right/wrong
    • what platforms did they use? what is the scale of the project?

Some AR References

Anna Ridler – Wikileaks: A Love Story (2016)



Zach Lieberman – Weird Type App (2019)


Planeta – David Bowie Is – AR exhibition App  (2018)


Wonderscope (2018)



What is your minimal MVP (Minimal Viable Product)?

  • What are your goals / MVP? 
    • Playing off of what we talked about in thesis class last week, always check back in with yourself about what your MVP is – A version of your final thesis output that has jus enough features to satisfy your benchmarks and provide feedback for future product development? Remember that the ITP thesis is more of a “Proof of Concept” prototype that you can then apply to grants, residencies, etc for incubation / final productions
  • Think about Content and Design, A lot! 
    • “According to what your project goal and MVP is, understand what is the right content to present, interactions you will need to create and aesthetics. This will guide you to decide on the tech.”
  • Sketch your experience and think about the user 
    • “When/where will people use it? How easy/hard should it be for people to access it?”
  • Think about the aesthetic you aim to create 


Advice for project builds

Terrick gave us a great breakdown of his learnings from his VR thesis and Ilana of her AR thesis. Both offered great advice for building out projects:

  1. Don’t underestimate the planning stage
  2. Users won’t always do what you want them to
  3. Photorealism isn’t always the best approach to creating believable experiences
  4. Spend ample time on sound


  1. Users are not used to have their mobile cameras as a ‘portal’. People still see it only as a docummenting tool. So keep in mind you will have to educate the user all the time.
  2. Create Gaze cues.
  3. Play with scale.
  4. Make a great Onboarding. Assume people won’t realize things by themselves and test.
  5. Understand that you have two spaces: the 2D UI and the 3D space. Design for both.
  6. Consider also that you have two spaces for gathering user input. Take advantage of that.
  7. Don’t forget about sound.



Define your project – Is it:

  • functional product
  • gaming
  • storytelling
  • experiment / artistic


PossibleAR tech: 


Tech Learnings 

From Ilana:

  1. Building takes time. A lot. With that the development process is super slow, mainly when you think about geolocation projects. So plan accordingly.
  2. To scale things accurately, you will be building in your device and testing all the time. A good tip is to build a system in the UI that will be only for your development process.
  3. If you are working with geolocation, don’t expect things to be in the exact coordinates in real space that you place them in your code. Our phone’s GPS is not accurate.
  4. This is a fast paced tech environment. Things change, versions get updated and sometimes, if you are working with different libraries and SDKs, at some point they may not work together anymore. So always have your MVP in mind and goals to prioritize.
  5. If you plan on putting your app on the AppStore, make sure to test it on multiple devices.
  6. It is a new medium and there is not a lot of people doing projects with this technology. Send e-mails, participate in communities and meetups. People will be excited to talk to you and share experiences.
  7. Just user test a lot. Don’t assume anything will work well until it does.


From Terrick:

  1. Not everyone knows what VR is. Onboarding is important!
  2. It’s very easy to cause motion sickness.
  3. Try to use existing assets when you can.
  4. Know the version of your project!

From both – User Test a Lot


Some AR tools:

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