Designing a New Reality | Chatbots & VR | Adobe Design Evangelist Val Head
So. Like you just said I do a lot of work around, like, UI animation, and all those things you've probably heard me talk about it a lot I decided. Years ago my job was to be annoying and make designers think about animation. But. Today I wanted to talk about some other things that I think are super interesting, and some places where I see, not, a lot a lot of design discussion, but a lot of design opportunities. So. All of these things like VRA our chat pods voice UI all of those things most. Of the conversations, I ever hear about these are all about the tech side of stuff it's all about like the hardware the fancy. New GPU stuff all the all the super super tech things and it's rarely about design, which. Is kind of like oh but, I'm a designer so hey, and. There's, there's a couple things these all have in common all of these different technologies they've all been suggested, to be like the next big thing we've all heard that like a RvR voice UI or just you've put a thing in there it's, in that big next big thing they've also been accused of being gimmicky, and like not having a killer app yet which, is like oh that's kind of sad and I really believe that design is gonna play a huge role in how these things take shape how they become part of our lives if they become part of their lives and whatever, those killer apps are gonna be design, is gonna be part of it. You. Know these all of these new technologies these new mediums there's a huge opportunity to apply design, principles, and Design Thinking to make them better and usable, and all of those things and. Then in a more selfish way when, I think when I look at some of these things it's like there's so much opportunity for interesting, design challenges, and solving, really like meaty, and deep design, problems, which is like that's. Pretty great I mean that's the kind of stuff we want to work on so the, things I think that design can really bring to to these these technologies, is it's a sense of humaneness a sense of empathy and, I think all of that week we talked about that and screen design - what, it changes so much when we're talking about like other realities, or things that work with voice you. Know like finding some actual design solutions, I'm sure we've all seen like some voice apps or some AR apps where you're like why does this exists the, answer is probably no, reason no one thought of a reason you, can think of reasons good, reasons there's so much this technology, could do to solve actual, problems, and I feel like designers are gonna be the driving force but five, not a man also this idea of connecting contacts, because if you have a product if you have a brand that exists, unlike a mobile app on the internet also it's gonna have to exist like in some sort of chat bot or voice UI or in VR and AR all, of those things need to be connected in some way there has to be a story that touches all those points if you're gonna be in all of those places and do it well and I know a lot of designers are pretty good at that too so, let's talk about some of the specific, tech stuff and we're gonna start with chat bots and voice UI it, sounds cooler if we call it vu I don't know how you'd say that as a word I did.
A Little experiment recently, where I made myself spend. A whole week dealing with as many chat BOTS as possible. That. Was interesting book, chat bots let us do things like talk to Flo from progressive and, facebook Messenger and you, know she gets confused pretty easily but she's got a lot of personality um you can also talk to the Aflac duck which disappointingly. Says words other than Aflac, over and over I know. Right it tried to like answer my questions I'm like no just quack at me oh I, have, strange expectations. We can also text things like this is one that Capital One has it, would just you know you can text this, little bot about your account, and all those sorts of things and do. All that kind of stuff with it and I've noticed that there's some really interesting things, around these these bots a lot, of them are trying to be like customer, support bots which, to me feels like doing, plays on the radio right like they're basically the chat bot version of like please. Pay attention as all our options have recently, changed um or if you're really lucky it's one of the ones that's like a chat bot version of like in, a few words please describe the problem you would like help with, you. Always know when people are talking to those things they start yelling they're like operator. Human. And. Then like we don't like those I don't, think it translated, do, more than that with chat BOTS and I think a really big thing about them is this idea that they, need to have personality, like. If we're talking to a thing even if we know it's a thing and not a person, we, expect it to have personality, we look for those things and if your robot doesn't have personality, if you haven't designed a personality, it gets weird and feels kind of flat um booking.com, wrote, a bit about that when they were talking about how they've discovered, that if they didn't give their bot personality, and they were making a customer support bot but that's okay looking you know we can we can pay attention just half the thing here, they. You, know they found that if they didn't give it a personality their customers, still made one up and they're like oh let's. Yeah. So giving it a personality knowing, what it's all about I, think. Another thing that makes chatbots really useful or it makes them more interesting and more like a thing you enjoy, working with it's, giving them some kind of specialty like. These sort of like, just. Sort of like, general purpose, like. Support BOTS those are like they don't you don't know what you can ask them they have like a strange kind of way to interact with them and they can't know everything and it can feel really weird like if you were like my computer's not working and you're like texting with a bot it's just never so just not a great setup um, these. Chat BOTS and things that have a very special specialty, purpose that are like a very narrow area, of expertise, seems to just feel a lot better to work with for, example on this is a bot I've been texting with quite a bit it's. The one that like helps me save money basically it's, digit, you, can like text the little, robot it sends you gifts of robots and it is a robot ah. The. Best part you can even sign it emoji, which I'm like there's, humans, I text with that don't send me gifts and I can't send them emoji, so. It's like that very like, the way this is this particular, one is built, in such a way that it's like has a very narrow area of expertise, but, it makes sense because it is a bot that's gonna help you save money so you talk to it about like the balance of how much you've saved and all those kinds of things which makes it a lot easier for that narrow interaction, to make sense and still feel like a genuine, interaction. Let's. Move on to voice things, everyone, loves voice UI their, fancy cylindrical, friends that stay in our living room, that's. What I like to call them oh and, I feel like in a lot of ways we haven't quite figured out what to do with these yet I don't know if you have any of these or how they work in your house but generally, for me we ask things like hey Alexa can you set a timer for five minutes, and Alexa. Is very helpful and it's like sure five, minutes, Stoney no there's. Not there's really no timer she's not here. Or. That's the second most common actually I'm pretending. It's the second most common but really the most common thing that gets Alexa could ask for in my house is like Alexa, can you reorder some milk bones. Based. On valves order history, I found Milk Bone Marrow snacks, dog treats for, all sized dogs, 40-ounce, it's. Seven dollars and seventy five cents, total including tax would.
You Like to buy it the. Only answer is yes I mean. You can't, not order your dog mow trees so, I think it's very funny in a way that we have this fancy like voice assistant, thing in the person or I'm sorry the being that benefits, most from it is the dog, there's, probably so much you can learn from that but, the thing about these is like there's some things that are easier to do with voice even, in those two interactions setting, a timer super, easy to do with voice me, being like hey Alexa set a timer for whatever way, faster than me digging around my phone we fast wasn't even setting one on this like that gets, me there much faster I get a timer I can bake my cookies and everything is good. Things, like you know even reordering, a thing I've bought before maybe isn't easier on voice like, she kind of went on for an uncomfortably, long time when I'm just like just order the maro snacks the dog is hungry Oh like. I could have done that faster by just pulling out my phone or pulling at my laptop and just been like you know like one-click purchase on Amazon or whatever I do and, the. Kind of the things that, are easier in voice like those are the things we should be looking at to create like voice driven. Apps to solve problems for things, like when you're in the car and all of those things where those, of that voice makes it easier and saves you time and like actually address as a problem and of course that changes with context, like that buying stuff reordering, things for me I'm like I could have pulled out my computer faster but, I'm a person who, has a you know lives in a house where there is a phone or a laptop or some other iPad thing within reach at all times that's, not, actually normal, just, so we all, know that, we're. Like what if I had any sort of like and I'm also like a perfectly, like a fully. Able body person that can walk over to that laptop and whatever and I can see things that I have good vision like there's so many cases where that might not be the case where actually even, though for me that, voice interaction takes longer for many other people it might actually be faster and a convenience, they would like to have where they would choose to have, the. One other thing that convinces me that maybe we haven't quite figured out what to do with all these voice assistants, yet is that until, very recently and one of the top apps on the Alexus skill store was. A fart app. If. You have children, do not tell them this please. For. Your own sakes. A lot, has been done and I took this screenshot a couple of months ago so to, their credit they've done a lot to kind of better curate the Alexus skills store but, there's still a lot of very repetitive skills, and I just kept every time I see it I can't help but wonder like could we use this to solve some more interesting problems, some more like real design problems, I mean I'm not to discredit anyone here who's made a fart app I mean that's how the iPhone app started right fart apps and flashlights so, if, you do want to like dig around some voice stuff they, recently put out this blueprint, for Ella Alexa.
And They, actually kind of give you these stages you can kind of fill in the blanks it's like Madlib voice bots it's. Pretty cool and it's really interesting to see the structure they lay out for you and then to try like writing, words that are gonna sound right to, interact with when there's read out loud it changes, everything even if you're like a content strategist or write all the time writing, words to be spoken out loud is so different and super interesting I made, one for my pet sitter because again. Alexa is all for my dog, one. Day if she can ever like understand, barking or growls I'm in so much trouble I. Hope. Someone's working on that someone here tell me you're working on that all right so let's dig into things that are they a little bit more out there and maybe even a little bit more kind of like thought of as it's like a gimmicky, fad thing let's, start with augmented reality which. I find this one super, super interesting because before. Doing this talk I thought I'd like ask just kind of do some really an unscientific, surveys. Essentially, and asked some of my non tech friends and family because, I still do have a few of those left, to. Ask them like have you used augmented, reality I actually asked what they used augmented reality or if they used VR and augmented, reality they, almost all said no they're like oh no I've never used that I don't know why they talk weird but um there's like no no I haven't used that I'm like oh really have you never backed up a car and. Like. For all of the bones that don't drive weird like I haven't backed up a car I'm like I know you've done this like I've seen you do this so. People, are using augmented reality on, their phones and like not even necessarily, completely, connecting, that they're using augmented reality which. Is super, super interesting, from a design perspective it's, like for, somehow along, the last few years it's become totally, natural to like pick up your phone and point, it out to, the world or point at yourself and have stuff like superimposed. On it and like, that's okay to do that's, that's a pretty big change um. Of. Course a lot of the kind of augmented, reality acts. Augmented. Reality apps, we see our kind of gimmicky and silly and maybe just kind of like feel like a place for silly games and not much more but, I think there's a lot of opportunity, here to make things that are a little bit more meaningful and kind of address some specific problems, for. Example anything that has like a spatial, aspect. To a problem like, will furniture, fit in my room how, big of a box do I need to mail things how, far away is that person over there like, those sorts of things can be very very useful augmented reality very useful for and. They can really like decrease the interaction, cost of stuff like that instead, of having to like go find a measuring tape go find it figure out where it is walk back to the thing I want to measure I could just use my fancy, pocket computer phone and. And just measure it right there like that's pretty, cool and futuristic, and there's, just there's a lot of places where that could help another, place where I'm going to reality can even like make the UX of attacks tasks, even easier it's like when you can minimize those attention, switches you, can hold up a phone and have it superimpose, things over like the reality you can still actually see like for example like wayfinding, or something but you don't have to like pull, up a map and then look at where you are or any of those things you could just have it all right there in those various layers that. Is super interesting there's so many places, where that could be useful, some. Examples of AR apps that I think are doing of doing stuff really well um there's the IKEA place app last, night I decided my hotel room definitely, needed, another side table I mean that.
Giant, Space what else you gonna do with that I'm just taking that key a table in it that's what I'm gonna do, specifically. Not that one this one I don't. You have to scroll through them even if you're gonna pick the first option and. It. Mostly found the floor and it dropped it and I can move it around and like you know just kind of redecorate. The hotel mat just the couch actually I don't know if you noticed that, picked. It very very purposefully. Another. One that does that you kind of really solved that spatial of, spatial problems are things like the eBay app they, released. Recently only for Android though where you're like what kind of box would my stuff fit in that I want to sell to this person who bought it that, sized box pretty. Cool couldn't, do a video this one don't have an Android phone with me that's okay plus I also haven't, sold anything on eBay and many that's okay. So they're like that's a nice so a couple of apps that are solving some very interesting spatial, problems that would be actually a lot harder to do without AR and this really saves you that whole idea of the context switching it makes that task so much simpler you can do it right there, you're, like useful. Awesome so. Some things that get interesting, about AR is we, essentially have to create like almost think more like game designers, we need this sort of like heads-up display we need like these controls, we also still need to see reality and, the reality part is actually the part we care more about but we still want to be able to take action on things so, like that separation, of the realness and the and the actual interface, are very different than when we're dealing with screens and 2d we. Need to be way more realistic on your animations, and this. Is the thing I'm really picky about obviously based on the other stuff I obsess about but, like you. Know if that table if if, it didn't have that like bounce animation if I could like push it through the floor or something it suddenly the realness is lost and we're not really going to suspend our disbelief quite, that far, haptic. Feedback is also really useful because, right now the biggest, like most popular way we're using AR is holding up our phones we, have this like literal, piece of glass between us and the like. The reality we're trying to augment when. We so we end up doing things like we're always kind of pushing against the glass or like sliding and and there's, no like wait to these objects, right so a little haptic feedback when, you like drop, that table or whatever it makes it feel like it has weight even, though we, know it's on the table we know it's pretend it's just our brains new magical fun things so. To kind of look at that a little more carefully like things like you, know this bounce this, look kind of hit on the floor and it's maybe not super accurate for the weight of that particular, table and honestly all of the elements these the same animation to hit the floor but that's okay I'm not being picky or anything. But. The fact that it does that that it's like this is floor the floor is solid, it's like an agreement between you and this AR stuff that you're looking at that like yes the floor is solid tables go on the floor and you, know it's, there's all of these things that become on these, little fine details become even more important, because we know how things work in reality and on 2d screens we can kind of like fudge it around a little bit and just sort of like suggest, real physics, approximate. Real physics when, we're saying this object is actually in reality with us we, need to be like way more exact.
And Way more specific, and way more here it is how objects, really move so, all the things around the shadow around that little like circle of where it was going to be placed, all of those things are super important, to make that experience good. And. A lot of the time we're doing augmented, reality on our films like I said we can also do it in things like webcams with little markers and this is a little experiment, Estela has been doing she does some really amazing VR paintings you should check out her stuff and she, was working to try out some VR things to see if she could get her her. A are things to get her VR paintings in AR and, it's pretty interesting so it's not just necessarily on phone we can have those markers and do it on webcams because, the reason we can do AR on our phones is because we have all those fancy-pants, sensors and those, don't exist in all the cameras we have on hand, so. There's also a lot of opportunities, around inclusivity, like inclusive design with AR like, at, Google i/o they just announced a thing I believe that was called look up or, like basically an AR app for blind people it will announce what's around you how cool is that like there's so much we can do with, these tools in the in these technologies to like make life easier for people that are very different from us or maybe people, we interact, with all the time so. If you think a AR sounds like a cool thing and you want to sound smart while talking about AR my, coworker Bushra she's also a fellow Canadian so you know she's super smart she. Wrote a whole series I believe it's up to four parts now all about like how to talk about AR all. The things you need to know to sound like a smart person when you're in those AR conversations, and that, the things you need to think about while you're designing for them in talking to engineers and that sort of thing so really really useful stuff it's a great series you should check it out. So. Let's talk about some. Virtual reality next because of course if we've gone to augmented reality the, next step is clearly virtual, reality virtual.
Reality. Just. Kidding that's not what it looks like anymore, this. Is 90s virtual reality aren't you glad we're not in the 90s I would. Not know I would not wear any of those things, um VR. Today looks a little bit more like this and, we sort of have kind of like two categories, of VR right now we, have headsets. Sort of like this Google daydream and the some sort of gear VR one and the other side which. Are basically give us like three, degrees of freedom so it's this for standing in place and the world is all around us and we can like turn around and, like look around and do all of these things but we can't like navigate. This space so it's kind of like it's in a big dome around you I recently, heard someone referred to these kinds of that's as fone toasters, and I'm gonna use that word as much as I possibly can. Random. Aside please do not put your phone in a toaster that does not make well, I mean actually that could be interesting never, mind so, we have those sorts of headsets and for the most part those involves taking your phone and a thing though, recently we've just had a couple of headsets come out like the oculus go that's, are, these about, three degrees of freedom headsets you can just pick up and stick on your head and in be and VR and like literally a couple of seconds really. Kind of changes the game then. We have VR. That's a little bit more like room VR that's a little bit more like you can actually with six degrees of freedom you can walk around a space and those usually have some like two controllers instead of one there's usually a bunch of wires hanging out the back though that is changing, pretty rapidly -. And these, VR, all of these VR headsets essentially, try to take you out of reality and into a different space this is a little clip from a tilt brush and. If, you haven't tried VR before you essentially just like go into this big blank space where you can put anything around you and you can draw fiery, lions, I like, personally I prefer to draw glitter and tilt brush but that's okay I mean clearly. This commercial has a better artist than me in it and these these realities, these kind of this place we take people when, we put on these VR headsets despite the fact that like we're not it like the highest resolution we could ever be like you can still see pixels in VR it's still we, know it's not actually real we, can put things in these VR headsets on these screens and that. Seemed real enough I'm so, real that we have to remind people not to sit on fake couches. If. You get a VR headset like the vibe for the oculus there is actually a pamphlet another tells you like hey don't sit on fake things, also, make sure real things are out of your way there's. Even a whole paragraph about don't step on your cats, these. Are real problems, it's. True though it's like it takes you out of reality so much and even though it's not perfect it's, very convincing, that's. Why I think VR is a really interesting place for things, like inclusivity, and empathy we, can convince people through, VR they. Are someone else that they can experience things from a different person's, perspective that, is so powerful like you have so many possible, uses we. Can like give people ways to create spaces think, of all the things that require like like, even just like decorating, a house you're like oh what would a table look like over there we, could make a perhaps, storytelling.
Super-super. A lot, of opportunities, there in VR of just telling a story and it might sound like 360, video you're like oh whatever a 360, video who cares it, really, is so much more compelling than just like video on a 2d screen I was one of those people I'm like I'm not gonna watch a silly story I'm like ooh this is interesting. I. Was, convinced, and also things around our well-being if we can take people out of reality we, can make that space be a calm or more beneficial, space for them like our daily lives are super super stressful, and for, some reason there's like just not a whole lot of like VR meditation, apps but I feel like that's like just the tip of the iceberg of the ways we can take people out of reality we're way simple like an increase, our improved their well-being and make them just healthier, humans overall so. We have lots of things like stories this is one that I did pretty recently I went through um you follow this girl and her dad and then. Some goats and you float around on this balloon to follow the story, we'll, afraid of heights this is a slightly too convincing for me, but. You know this is this participation, when the story is so much different than just watching a video, it. Just makes things so, much more you're just become part of it in a way, um. The whole idea of like making this, taking, people out of reality and seeming, to like view things from someone else's experience allows. The stuff like there's the whole a whole, industry, or maybe not industry but a whole area of research around, VR, for therapy, and I know it's hard to read because they really do not have a good type color choice oh that's okay they do BR not type, but. People can do VR for like getting over phobias, and stuff like you can have people in a virtual like theater to help get over there like fears of speaking. To crowds of a fear of heights and all of those things VR, is convincing, enough that we can like help people get over their fears in these very safe environments.
Kind. Of further on that well-being science there's also things like this project that frog did for, burn victims they created a virtual, reality like, experience, to, help people like deal with pain because. Be, getting treated for burns really, really sucks and hurts a lot and there's not a lot they can do with like medication, to like. Treat that but, you, know frog design try to give, people an experience to take them away from reality away from that pain just temporarily, and it actually made people feel like feel less pain during those painful. Procedures, there's, a lot of power here that I feel like we're just getting, to harness there's. Also a really interesting article if you're into all of this on those out on the New York or a couple of weekends ago and the headline makes it sound like it's about something else really. What it what it documents, is one reporters kind. Of experience. Working with some of these researchers, and trying out some of the technology, they've been doing in VR that, makes you feel like you're embodying, another person's body therefore, becoming like seeing, experiences, from their side, of things which, is super super interesting I think like, we can do that oh my goodness there's so much I mean there's also some bad I'm, some negative implications, there too right like if you can convince someone that things are really really real what. Like you, could make them do you could actually like hurt them too right like you could make them believe they did something horrible and they, would have that experience and that same thing as if it was real which that, becomes a little bit more of a thing a little. Bit more of a different thing rather so. One of the things I find really exciting about, VR and that makes me think that VR might actually stick, around is there, such thing as Web VR like a lot of people are like oh we tried VR in the 90s it didn't work the headsets to look weird so it's just not gonna happen, but. Things are a little different from from, them right now besides the fact that that was like decades. Ago other. Things have changed, we can make AR or. VR rather with a frame sorry starts with a it's very confusing for me I've limited, vocabulary here. We. Can we can make VR, with HTML, and CSS in a browser the stuff you make like webpages with it's the same stuff you made your live journal with back in the day you, can make VR with how, cool is that, going. One step better in Mozilla is also starting a recently, started on this new project which, is called web AR our web XR it's. Funny when you see letters on screen and you say different ones that's, a terrible terrible habit, but, they're working on this idea of web XR which is essentially, the thing they're trying to address here is like hey we, have all of this hardware we have like computers, that can do like the 2d stuff we can do AR we have things that can do VR what, if there is a way to like have things that are viewable across all of those various, bits of hardware all of those various capabilities, what, if VR and AR could be like a progressive. Enhancement of, like your website which. Is a very, very interesting. And this article here is looking at exactly that they're like hey you could have the 2d website version then, the like you know like the XR, vr version where you can explore some space or the ER version where you can like stick the pyramid, thingy on your actual desk like there's a lot of interesting things in that space so I think this is one to definitely watch and web. VR is also a nice place if you want to just kind of like dip your toes into making VR things a-frame is super easy you can get some very simple shapes up and like make a VR thing in just a few minutes and it's really cool to see your own stuff and VR.
The. VR is a thing you're interested, in on there's a really nice guide here on medium called the comprehensive guide to getting started in virtual reality it, is actually, exactly what it says it is which is sometimes odd for a medium article. You've. Read some of those too or the headline you're like yes and then you're reading you're like no. This. One delivers, it is very comprehensive and a huge list of resources that, way all. The things you might need to know and do to get into VR and and, you know like start thinking of it from a design perspective, so. I really, encourage you when these things come up when they come up at work or wherever else and you know try to get, this conversation around design instead of just the technology talk, about the problems that can solve the, design, things we can do with it the way we can take the design thinking we do every day and actually, apply it to these new things I think the more we explore these possibilities of what this like what this these technologies, can offer the, more we treated is the design thing the better things will be able to create and I'm really excited to see what, designers do with all of this new technology so. Thanks so much for listening and I'll be here all day and tomorrow to talk more about this.