ABSTRACT     Augmented  Reality  is  one  of  the  hottest  trends  in  mobile  media,  yet  there  is  a   substantial  lack  of  user  studies  within  this  field  of  research.  The  purpose  of  this   study  is  to  evaluate  the  value  of  mobile  augmented  reality  as  a  vehicle  for   information  delivery  on  the  basis  of  a  usability  and  design  analysis.  Using  a  multi-­‐ dimensional  qualitative  method,  this  study  examines  the  impressions  of  users  and   designers  regarding  mobile  augmented  reality,  along  with  a  heuristic  evaluation  of   select  mobile  applications.  This  analysis  finds  that  (1)  users  believe  mobile  


augmented  reality  offers  great  promise  as  a  medium  for  visual  communication,  and   (2)  it’s  current  execution  is  limited  by  technical  restraints,  design  flaws  and  a  lack  of   compelling  content.  It  is  concluded  that  mobile  augmented  reality  will  one  day   revolutionize  how  consumers  engage  geographical  and  time-­‐based  information.  Yet,   like  all  new  technologies,  mobile  augmented  reality  needs  time  to  mature  in  order  to   address  these  limitations.  Finally,  based  on  the  findings  of  this  study,  this  thesis   offers  suggested  guidelines  for  future  developments  in  this  medium.                


  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS     A  great  deal  of  thanks  is  due  to  my  thesis  committee.  My  advisor,  Jennifer  


George-­‐Palilonis  provided  invaluable  guidance  and  support  toward  the  completion   of  this  study.  Her  passion  for  excellence  and  unwavering  support  she  shows  toward   her  students  has  profoundly  influenced  my  professional  career.  I  would  also  like  to   thank  James  Chesebro  and  Michael  Holmes  who  routinely  challenged  me  to  examine   my  work  with  acute  criticism  and  curiosity.  Their  constructive  feedback  was  both   invaluable  and  enlightening.   Special  thanks  is  also  due  to  my  colleagues  at  the  Center  for  Media  Design,   particularly  Michelle  Prieb  and  Jennifer  Milks  who  graciously  allowed  me  the   opportunity  to  bounce  methodological  ideas  off  them  when  this  study  first  took   shape.  Thanks  are  also  due  to  Angie  Faller  and  Shawna  Pierson  for  assisting  with  the   videography  and  documentation  of  the  focus  groups  and  field  research.     Finally,  I  thank  my  participants  for  taking  the  time  to  share  their  experiences.




Abstract    .........................................................................................................................................................  ii     Acknowledgements    .................................................................................................................................   iii     Chapter  1:  Introduction    ..........................................................................................................................  1     Defining  Augmented  Reality    ..................................................................................................  5   Research  Questions    ................................................................................................................  11   Significance  to  the  Field    ........................................................................................................  11     Chapter  2:  Review  of  the  Literature    ...............................................................................................  12     History    ..........................................................................................................................................  13   Consumer  Mobile  Augmented  Reality  Applications  ..................................................  15   Development  Concerns  and  Limitations  ........................................................................  17   The  current  state  of  user  research  and  evaluations    .................................................  20   A  potential  solution  .................................................................................................................  21     Chapter  3:  Research  Methods    ...........................................................................................................  26     Data  Collection  and  Procedures  .........................................................................................  31   Ethical  Considerations    ..........................................................................................................  34     Chapter  4:  Results    ..................................................................................................................................  35     First  Impressions  ......................................................................................................................  36   User  Experiences  and  Feedback  ........................................................................................  41   Heuristic  Evaluations  ..............................................................................................................  47     Chapter  5:  Discussion    ...........................................................................................................................  58     Guidelines  for  Future  Mobile  Augmented  Reality  Applications    ..........................  63   Limitations    .................................................................................................................................  65   Recommendations  for  Future  Research    ........................................................................  67     References    .................................................................................................................................................  71     Appendix  A:  Focus  Group  Discussion  Guide  Protocol    ............................................................  75     Appendix  B:  Designer  Perceptions  Questionnaire    ..................................................................  77     Appendix  C:  Heuristic  Evaluation  Protocol    ...............................................................................    78


        CHAPTER  1:  INTRODUCTION       Mobile  augmented  reality  is  a  disruptive  technology  that  is  redefining  how   people  perceive  data  by  transforming  the  visual  environment  into  an  immersive,   information-­‐based  ecosystem.  By  blending  our  world  with  virtuality,  augmented   reality  can  enhance  the  perception  of  one’s  personal  space  by  overlaying  digital   information  in  the  form  of  text,  video,  audio  and  other  forms  of  imagery.   Geographical  and  time-­‐based  information  has  been  made  relevant  to  the  unique   perspective  of  individual  users,  simply  through  the  push  of  a  button  on  one’s  cell   phone.   However,  in  order  to  realize  the  full  potential  of  mobile  augmented  reality,   there  is  fundamental  need  for  understanding  how  users  engage  and  perceive   augmented  reality  content.  Most  research  within  the  field  is  currently  focused  on   the  technological  state  of  the  art,  in  contrast  to  substantial  user  studies.   Furthermore,  a  valuable  means  for  evaluating  the  effectiveness  of  mobile   augmented  reality  applications  ability  to  deliver  information  in  a  clear  and  concise   way  is  also  required.   To  that  end,  a  concise  understanding  of  how  information  should  be  designed   for  an  augmented  reality  system  is  paramount  for  creating  a  desirable  user   experience.  If  augmented  reality  is  to  become  a  commercial  success,  designers  and   developers  alike  need  to  understand  the  needs  of  their  user  bases  and  establish  

  fundamental  design  principles  in  order  to  prove  value  for  displaying  information   over  more  traditional  means.  


This  thesis  posits  that  a  usability  and  design  analysis  of  augmented  reality  is   both  feasible  and  useful,  and  perhaps  provides  a  conception  of  value  for  mobile   augmented  reality  as  a  vehicle  for  the  visual  communication  of  personally  relevant   information.     Statement  of  the  Problem   Mobile  Augmented  Reality  is  struggling  to  find  its  niche.  Marketers  are   banking  on  its  hype  by  fusing  this  new  technology  with  trading  cards,  cereal  boxes   and  movie  posters  while  dozens  of  mobile  developers  are  investing  on  their  hopes   that  augmented  reality  app  will  become  the  “next  big  thing”  (Hurley,  2009;  Husson,   2010).  Yet,  mobile  augmented  reality  has  many  problems  to  overcome  if  it  is  to   become  a  commercial  success.  Technical  issues  such  as  slow  network  speeds  and   information  display  errors  continue  to  plague  users  (Haller,  Billinghurst  &  Thomas,   p.  26).  It  also  remains  to  be  seen  how  augmented  reality  can  be  used  to  solve  real-­‐ world  problems  rather  than  serve  simply  as  a  marketing  gimmick.  If  solutions  to   technical  constraints  and  practical  benefits  for  consumers  are  not  realized,   augmented  reality  could  meet  the  same  fate  as  other  overhyped  technologies,  such   as  virtual  reality  worlds  like  Second  Life  (Wen,  2010).  While  augmented  reality  may   be  “next  big  thing”  just  as  virtual  worlds  once  were,  tomorrow  it  could  fade  into   obscurity  due  to  a  lack  of  consumer  interest.  


  Nevertheless,  the  commercial  sector  sees  potential  business  in  augmented  


reality.  According  to  market  projections  by  Juniper  Research,  revenues  from  mobile   augmented  reality  applications  will  reach  $732  million  by  2014.  However,  the   current  user  base  consists  primarily  of  “early  adopters,”  a  demographic  consisting  of   “trendsetters”  who  are  eager  to  try  out  new  technologies  before  their  peers,  despite   existing  limitations  (Rogers,  1962).  Additionally,  this  user  pool  is  rather  small   considering  the  number  of  existing  smartphone  users.  According  to,   of  the  83%  of  Americans  who  own  a  cell  phone,  only  25%  are  smartphone  users   (Schroder,  2010).  Furthermore,  according  to  research  by  Nielson,  a  third  of  all  smart   phone  users  do  not  subscribe  to  a  data  plan,  which  is  a  necessary  requirement  for   operating  augmented  reality  based  apps  (Nielson,  2010).   Furthermore,  the  most  popular  augmented  reality  apps  have  only  realized   limited  is  distribution.  As  of  2010,  the  most  downloaded  augmented  reality  app,   Layar  has  a  user  base  of  one  million  active  users.  Meaio’s  Junaio  is  a  distant  second,   having  been  downloaded  only  half  a  million  times  (Bryne,  2010).   Not  only  are  there  a  limited  number  of  users;  we  also  know  little  about  them.   Most  research  within  the  industry  is  focused  on  the  advancement  of  augmented   reality  technologies  and  software  applications,  rather  than  on  the  user  experience.   In  academia,  understanding  the  problem  of  how  users  perceive  augmented  reality   content  has  been  virtually  ignored.  As  of  2010,  only  a  handful  of  usability  tests  have   been  conducted,  most  of  which  have  been  informal.  (Schmalstieg  et  al.)  Nor  have  the  


  opinions  of  users  on  the  desirability  and  viability  of  existing  mobile  augmented   reality  applications  been  addressed.  


This  lack  of  user  research,  combined  with  technological  limitations  of  current   augmented  reality  systems,  is  providing  unique  challenges  for  content  designers  and   developers  alike.  Peter  Meier,  CTO  of  Metaio  explained  in  a  2010  interview  with   Veture  Beat,  that  current  user  experience  needs  improvement  and  a  greater   emphasis  must  be  placed  on  design.  Claire  Boonstra,  co-­‐founder  of  Layar,  also  tells   Venture  Beat  that  mobile  augmented  reality  is  moving  from  “functional  AR  to   experience  AR.”  If  the  mobile  augmented  reality  industry  is  to  move  forward,   developers  must  convert  the  existing  hype  into  engaging  user  experiences  for  larger   audiences  (Bryne,  2010).     Moving  forward,  mobile  augmented  reality’s  greatest  strength  over  prior  

digital  technologies  is  its  ability  to  localize  geographic  and  time-­‐based  information   within  the  perspective  of  the  user’s  personal  environment  (Rutledge,  2010).  Yet,   most  companies  are  struggling  to  make  this  work  (Husson,  2010).  In  addition  to  a   lack  of  user  research,  there  are  also  few  options  for  evaluating  the  ability  of  mobile   augmented  reality  applications  to  display  information  effectively  (Schmalstieg,  et   al.).  Effective  information  design  is  increasingly  important  when  users  will  navigate   a  complex  information  ecosystem  (Baer,  2008).          


  Defining  Augmented  Reality  


Unlike  virtual  reality,  augmented  reality  attempts  to  enhance  one’s  personal   environment,  rather  than  replace  it.  By  employing  a  technological  lens  that  allows  a   user  to  see  and  interact  with  the  information  that  surrounds  us,  mobile  augmented   reality  allows  users  to  interact  with  data  on  a  more  personal  level.  New  technologies   and  applications  are  rapidly  emerging  in  the  areas  of  information  search,   entertainment,  gaming  and  location-­‐based  services  such  as  tourism  and  directional   mapping.     Defining  augmented  reality:  Although  many  researchers  have  broadened  the  

definition  and  scope  of  augmented  reality,  the  most  commonly  accepted  defining   criteria  were  conceived  by  Ronald  Azuma  in  1997  (Zhou,  2008).  Azuma  states  that   augmented  reality  systems  share  the  following  three  characteristics:   1. Combines  real  and  virtual  objects  in  the  real  world.   2. Possesses  interactivity  and  is  presented  in  real-­‐time.   3. Registers  and  aligns  virtual  and  physical  objects  with  each  other  in  3-­‐D.   The  rationale  for  these  criteria  is  to  avoid  limiting  augmented  reality  to  specific   technologies.  Prior  to  Azuma,  researchers  had  primarily  defined  augmented  reality   through  the  use  of  head-­‐mounted  displays,  an  approach  unable  to  distinguish  some   AR  and  VR  applications.  These  new  criteria  expand  the  applications  of  augmented   reality  to  handheld  mobile  devices  such  as  smartphones  and  monitor-­‐based  systems   that  read  specialized  coded  tags  that  can  present  augmented  reality  information  on   a  stationary  computer  screen  (Azuma,  1997).  




Augmented  reality  vs.  virtual  reality:  Augmented  reality  is  often  looked  upon  

as  a  “middle  ground”  between  virtual  reality  and  the  physical  environment   (Milgram,  1994).  In  contrast  to  augmented  reality  and  the  physical  world,  the  realm   of  virtual  reality  lies  entirely  within  the  synthetic.  Virtual  reality  can  be  defined  as,   “a  computer  generated,  interactive,  three-­‐dimensional  environment  in  which  a   person  is  immersed”  (Aukstakalnis  &  Blatner,  1992).  Virtual  realities,  such  as  those   found  in  computer  games  like  World  of  Warcraft  and  Second  Life,  are  experienced  by   the  player  through  control  of  an  avatar  in  a  computer-­‐generated  environment   presented  on  a  computer  screen.  Users  may  also  experience  virtual  environments  by   wearing  head-­‐mounted  displays  such  as  those  are  commonly  used  by  the  military   for  training  purposes.     The  fundamental  difference  between  virtual  and  augmented  realities  lies  in  

the  user  perspective  and  immersion  methods  employed  by  each  system.  Virtual   reality  systems  strive  to  be  a  completely  immersive  experience,  similar  to  the  level   of  immersion  users  experience  with  everyday  living.  In  contrast,  augmented  reality   distinguishes  itself  as  a  “mixed  reality”  between  two  worlds  by  blending  virtual   elements  within  a  real-­‐world  environment  (Milgram,  1994).     Paul  Milgram  expanded  upon  this  concept  with  his  “Reality-­‐Virtuality  

continuum”  (Figure  1).  Milgram  argues  that  augmented  reality  is  a  “mixed  reality”,   sharing  characteristics  of  both  real  and  virtual  environments.  Milgram’s  “virtuality   continuum”  visualizes  the  degree  of  user  immersion  and  classes  of  objects  displayed   within  a  specific  reality.  For  example,  a  user  in  a  virtual  world  is  completely  


1 Introduction For many decades researchers have been trying to blend Reality and Virtual Reality in interesting ways to create intuitive computer interfaces. For example, in the area of Tangible Interfaces real objects are used   as interface widgets [Ishii 97], researchers 7   in Augmented Reality (AR) overlay three-dimensional virtual imagery onto the real world [Feiner 93], while in Virtual Reality (VR) interfaces the real world is replaced entirely immersed  within  an  artificial  environment  consisting  entirely  of  synthetic  artifacts,   with a computer-generated environment. As Milgram points out [Milgram 94], these types of computer interfaces can be placed while  an  augmented  reality  environment  mixes  the  real  world  with  virtual  elements.   along a continuum according to how much of the users environment is computer generated (figure 1). On this Reality-Virtuality line Tangible Interfaces lie far to the left, In  contrast,  augmented  virtuality  is  the  merging  of  real  world  objects  into  virtual   immersive Virtual Environments are placed at the rightmost extreme, while Augmented Reality and Augmented Virtuality interfaces occupy the middle ground. To encompass environments  (Milgram,  1994).       this broad range of interfaces Milgram coined the term “Mixed Reality”.

Real Environment

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Virtuality (AV)

Virtual Environment


Figure  1.    Milgram’s  reality-­‐virtuality  continuum  model.   Figure 1: Milgram’s Reality-Virtuality Continuum  


In thisMobile  aof the tutorial we describe factors that should be rtaken into account when section ugmented  reality:  A  typical  mobile  augmented   eality  system   developing Mixed Reality usability studies and promising areas of research where usability irtual   could be o  the  user   As verlaying  data  and  visuals  o shown there presents  vstudieselements  tconducted. by  othe previous presenters have ver  a  real   has been a wide range of user studies conducted in immersive Virtual Reality. However, there have by  e fewer experiments presented in the wider context of Mixed environment  beenmploying  either  a  handheld  or  wearable  display  device  equipped   or Augmented Reality. It is in the areas outside of immersive VR on the Reality-Virtuality continuum that we are interested in, and particularly in Augmented Reality interfaces. with  a  camera  and  position/orientation  tracking  system.  The  two  most  common   In many ways AR interfaces may have more near term application, so it is important that rigorous users studies are conducted in this area. augmented  reality  display  technologies  are  head-­‐worn  devices  and  smart  phones.   2 Types of User Studies most  immersive  augmented  reality  experience,  since  the   A  HWD  provides  the   In general user studies in Augmented and Mixed Reality can fall into one or more of the following categories: visual  information  is  directly  tied  to  the  view  of  the  user.  The  device  can  be  as  small   Perception: How do users perceive virtual information overlaid on the real world? What perceptual cues can be used to from  established  e real and virtual content? as  a  pair  of  sunglasses,  which  are  available  distinguish betweenlectronic  companies   Interaction: How do users interact with virtual information overlaid on the real world? How can real world objects be used to augmented   eality  visuals  in  two   such  as  Minolta  and  Sony.  HWD  devices  can  display  interact withraugmented content? Collaboration: How can MR / AR interfaces be used to enhance face-to-face and remote collaboration? ways:  through  a  mounted  video  display,  or  through  an  opaque  AR  overlay  while  the  
  user  can  still  see  his  surroundings  through  a  transparent  display  device  (Azuma   2001).     Smart  phones  work  along  the  same  principles  as  HWDs  but  they  are  held  

instead  of  worn.  Typically,  the  user  points  the  device  in  the  direction  of  an  item  of  


  interest,  and  the  camera  output  will  augment  the  display  with  additional   information  about  the  environment  (Gotow,  2010).  Due  to  the  portable  nature  of   smart  phones,  mobile  augmented  reality  devices  have  become  the  most  widely   deployed  consumer  augmented  reality  display  device  and  show  promise  for   becoming  the  first  commercial  success  for  augmented  reality  technologies.       Additionally,  augmented  reality  graphical  information  can  be  presented  


through  the  use  of  wearable  spatial-­‐display  devices  that  project  visuals  on  top  of   physical  objects.  At  a  TED  conference  in  February  2009,  Pattie  Maes  and  Pranav   Mistry  presented  SixthSense,  a  gestural  AR  interface  that  is  worn  around  the  neck.   The  device  itself  consists  of  a  camera,  projector,  smart  phone  and  mirror,  which  is   able  to  project  an  image  on  any  nearby  surface  such  as  a  hand  or  a  wall.  The  user   also  wears  four  colored  caps  on  the  fingers,  which  are  used  by  the  AR  unit  to  detect   hand  gestures  made  by  the  wearer  to  interact  with  the  projected  images  (TED,   2009).     An  augmented  reality  system  must  be  able  to  recognize  what  users  are  

looking  at,  acquire  the  appropriate  virtual  graphics,  and  register  them  in  the  correct   position  on  the  display  device:   1.  Recognition:  Mobile  AR  applications  are  able  to  recognize  what  a  user  is   looking  at  by  triangulating  its  location  by  means  of  information  provided  by   GPS,  cell-­‐phone  towers,  or  Wi-­‐Fi  hotspots.  Another  approach  used  by   augmented  reality  developers  is  to  use  physical  markers,  or  ARTags,  which   can  appear  alone  or  appear  on  objects  such  as  an  advertisement  in  a  


  magazine.  A  mobile  phone  equipped  with  augmented  reality  software  and  a  


camera  will  recognize  the  marker  and  accurately  overlay  a  3D  graphic  image   in  the  real  world  on  screen.     2.  Registration:  In  addition  to  recognizing  what  a  user  is  looking  at,  an   augmented  reality  device  must  be  able  to  accurately  align  and  register  virtual   objects  over  the  existing  ones  in  physical  surroundings.  Augmented  reality   display  technologies  are  able  to  accomplish  this  through  landmark   recognition  by  utilizing  images  of  the  surrounding  area  stored  on  websites   such  as  Google,  Bing,  and  Flickr  (Vaughan-­‐Nichols,  2009).  The  system  is  able   to  accurately  pinpoint  the  exact  position  of  the  artifact  through  the  camera’s   level  of  focus  and  image-­‐recognition  software  (Saite,  1996).   3.  Image  acquisition:  Once  the  augmented  reality  system  accurately   recognizes  and  registers  a  fixed  location  in  the  real  world,  it  will  pull  in  the   correct  data  and  images  to  overlay  on  screen  from  the  Internet  (Vaughan-­‐ Nichols,  2009).     Uses:  Mobile  augmented  Reality  is  used  in  a  variety  of  disciplines  ranging  

from  military  training  programs  and  architectural  surveys,  to  aiding  surgeons   during  medical  procedures  or  replacing  engineering  technical  manuals  in  the   manufacturing  and  repair  sectors.  Consumer-­‐based  applications  have  recently   emerged  in  the  form  of  games,  information  browsers  and  immersive  storytelling   experiences.      


  Purpose  of  Study  


As  augmented  reality  continues  to  mature  as  a  communication  medium  for   information  design,  there  is  a  need  to  explore  the  advantages,  potential  uses  and   limitations  of  this  immersive  technology  for  smart  phone  users  and  content   developers.  This  research  will  investigate  (1)  the  perceptions  held  by  first-­‐time   mobile  augmented  reality  users,  (2)  the  opinions  of  digital  content  developers  about   potential  applications  of  augmented  reality  in  information  design  and  visual   storytelling.    Another  aim  of  this  research  is  to  establish  a  paradigm  for  effective   information  design  when  applied  to  mobile  augmented  reality.     In  this  study,  the  researcher  will  explore  users'  impressions  of  this   technology  and  how  they  interact  with  smart-­‐phone  based  augmented  reality   content.  Additionally,  this  study  will  explore  designers'  and  content  developers’   ideas  about  how  augmented  reality  can  be  used  as  a  medium  for  information  design   and  interactive  storytelling  experiences.  The  combination  of  user  and  designer   perspectives,  along  with  an  evaluation  of  existing  mobile  applications  will  provide  a   comprehensive  perspective  on  augmented  reality  design.  This  research  will  help  us   understand:   • • Users'  first  impressions  of  mobile  augmented  reality  applications.   The  desirability  of  augmented  reality  as  a  delivery  model  for  interactive   content.   • Perceived  limitations  of  augmented  reality  design  as  seen  by  users  and   content  developers.  


  • Potential  applications  of  augmented  reality  when  applied  to  digital   storytelling  and  information  design.     Research  Questions    


RQ1:  What  are  mobile  augmented  reality  users'  impressions  of  the  technology   before  and  after  using  it  for  the  first  time?     RQ2:  What  do  users  and  content  developers  see  as  current  advantages  and   limitations  of  mobile  augmented  reality?   RQ3:  Do  current  information  design  principles  need  to  be  revised  in  order  to  apply   them  to  augmented  reality  experiences?     Significance  to  the  Field   The  power  of  augmented  reality  lies  in  its  ability  to  place  the  world  in  context  to  the   needs  of  the  consumer.  Combined  with  mobile  devices,  this  technology  can  filter   massive  amounts  of  data  in  relation  to  the  time  and  space  on  an  individual  user.    The   market  has  recognized  mobile  augmented  reality’s  potential  for  redefining   information  distribution  and  is  banking  heavily  on  its  success.  To  that  end,  it  is   paramount  that  developers  understand  how  users  perceive  augmented  reality   content  and  define  the  best  practices  for  information  design  for  this  medium.    Doing   so  will  be  the  first-­‐step  in  ensuring  mobile  augmented  reality’s  commercial  success


      CHAPTER  2:  REVIEW  OF  THE  LITERATURE       Consumer  applications  of  mobile  augmented  reality  are  still  in  their  infancy,  

yet  the  technology  itself  is  decades  old.    Only  recently  has  augmented  reality  gained   popularity  due  to  the  convergence  of  smartphones,  faster  networks  and  cloud   computing  (Hurley,  2009).  Yet  many  problems  continue  to  plague  mobile   augmented  reality  as  the  field  struggles  to  find  its  niche.    Most  research  within  the   field  is  focused  on  developing  better  tools,  while  few  researchers  have  looked  at   how  users  perceive  this  technology.  This  gap  in  empirical  user  research  represents  a   need  for  understanding  how  to  create  a  better  user  experience.     Such  knowledge  would  benefit  developers  as  their  struggle  to  move  past  mobile   augmented  reality’s  initial  “wow  factor,”  and  avoid  the  stigma  of  being  a  victim  of   marketing  hype  (Bryne,  2010).     This  literature  review  will  provide  a  brief  overview  of  augmented  reality  

advancements,  including  a  survey  of  existing  applications  and  development   limitations.  Additionally,  the  current  state  of  user  research  and  application   evaluation  methods  will  be  addressed.  Finally,  the  last  section  will  discuss  using   prior  research  in  the  field  of  information  design  as  a  basis  for  evaluating  augmented   reality  applications.        

  A  brief  history    


Although  augmented  reality  is  currently  one  of  the  hottest  trends  in  mobile  

media,  the  technology  itself  is  not  new.  The  earliest  example  of  rudimentary   augmented  reality  can  be  traced  back  to  the  first  heads-­‐up  display  employed  by  the   British  Royal  Air  Force  during  World  War  II.    A  radar  screen  superimposed  on  a   pilot’s  windshield  would  display  information  about  nearby  aircraft,  including  the   identities  of  enemy  targets  (Vaughn-­‐Nichols,  2009).     In  1968,  Ivan  Sutherland  created  the  first  modern  example  of  an  augmented  

reality  system  that  fulfills  the  modern  definition  by  Azuma  and  Milgram  (see   Chapter  1).  Sutherland  invented  a  head-­‐mounted  display  device  capable  of   displaying  wireframe  3D  graphics,  which  moved  as  the  wearer  turned  his  head.  By   1992,  Tom  Caudwell  was  the  first  to  coin  the  term  “augmented  reality”  when  he   designed  a  head-­‐mounted  device  for  Boeing  to  assist  engineers  wire  an  airplane   during  the  manufacturing  process.  His  system  displayed  the  aircraft’s  schematics  on   the  factory  floor  (Zhou,  2008).     Hirokazu  Kato  and  Mark  Billinghurst  introduced  the  first  computer  vision-­‐

tracking  library,  called  ARToolKit  (Kato  &  Billinghurst,  1999).  Virtual  imagery  could   now  be  overlaid  in  the  real  world  through  digital  markers  called  ARTags  that  could   be  read  by  desktop  computers  equipped  with  cameras.  When  held  in  front  of  a   camera,  printed  ARTags  are  recognized  by  the  system  and  a  3D  image  is   superimposed  in  its  place  on  a  computer  screen.  Today,  advertisers  and  magazines   commonly  use  ARTags  as  a  way  to  bring  interactivity  to  a  printed  product.  




The  December  2009  issue  of  Esquire  magazine  demonstrated  how  print  and  

digital  content  could  be  merged  through  the  employment  of  ARTags.  After   downloading  augmented  reality  software  from  the  Esquire  website,  readers  could   use  their  computer’s  webcam  to  view  the  magazine’s  digital  features.  This  issue   includes  the  cover  featuring  Robert  Downey,  Jr.  sitting  on  an  ARTag  that  displays  a   video  promoting  the  film  Sherlock  Homes.  More  than  half  a  dozen  pages  showcased   augmented  reality  content,  including  two  advertisements  from  Lexus  (Esquire,   2009).  Other  marketers  and  publications  have  followed  suit  including  Popular   Mechanics  and  MINI.     Recently,  state  of  the  art  research  in  augmented  reality  has  shifted  toward  

mobile,  hand-­‐held  devices.  Researchers  are  studying  how  portable  devices  can  be   used  to  enhance  vision  through  AR  tracking  (Wagner,  2008),  while  industry   developers  are  employing  directional-­‐based  augmented  reality  experiences  through   mobile  phone  applications.  Early  mobile  AR  during  the  1990s  relied  on  Head-­‐Worn   Devices  controlled  by  wearable  “backpack  systems”  and  later  expanded  to  PDAs  and   cell  phones  (Azuma  2001,  Schmalstieg  et  al., 2011).  With  the  advent  of  powerful   smartphones  equipped  with  GPS  systems,  faster  processing  speeds  and  data   transfer,  and  larger  displays,  today’s  mobile  augmented  reality  devices  are  capable   of  overlaying  virtual  information  on  a  smartphone's  camera  output  in  real-­‐time.       Combined  with  the  popular  iPhone  and  Android  mobile  platforms,  mobile  

augmented  reality  has  moved  beyond  its  traditional  military  and  industry   applications  and  has  begun  to  enter  the  hands  of  consumers.  A  variety  of  


  applications  have  been  introduced,  such  as:  information  browsers,  educational   tools,  and  games.         Consumer  mobile  augmented  reality  applications     Consumer-­‐based  mobile  augmented  reality  application  development  has  


seen  tremendous  growth  over  the  past  few  years.    According  to  Augmented  Planet,   as  of  June  2010  there  were  396  applications  listed  in  Apple’s  iTunes  store  with   descriptions  listing  augmented  reality  as  a  feature.  1  As  of  March  2011,  there  were   630  iPhone  applications  matching  the  same  description3.  The  applications  range   from  information  services  and  navigational  tools  to  games  and  entertainment.       Table  2.1  Mobile  Augmented  Reality  Categories   Information  Browsers   Informational  point  of  interest  overlaid  within  a       smartphone  camera’s  field  of  vision.  Users  can  find     local  points  of  interest,  restaurants,  photos,  and     social  media  content.     Social  Networking   Shares  and  displays  geo-­‐tagged  social  networking   content   Tourism   City  guides  and  sightseeing  applications   Entertainment  and  Games   360-­‐degree  shooters,  virtual  scavenger  hunts,   virtual  pets  and  puzzle  cheat  overlays.   Education   Learning  based  applications  such  as  satellite  finders   or  constellation  identifiers.       Shopping   Virtually  try  out  products  and  or  shop  for   merchandise  by  using  image  or  bar  code  scanners   Navigation   Assist  users  with  navigating  to  a  fixed  location  such   as  a  local  restaurant  or  bus  stop.   Utilities   Compasses,  head  up  displays  and  overlays  such  as   color  identifiers,  rulers  or  assembly  instructions.   Translation   Dynamically  translates  text  in  images  from  a   camera’s  perspective  into  one’s  native  language.                                                                                                                      

1  Figure  determined  by  an  information  search  using  the  term  “augmented  reality”  in  iTunes  App  

Store.   3  Updated  figures  based  on  search  based  on  same  terminology  by  the  researcher  on  March  1,  2011  


      The  most  popular  and  largest  application  category  to  date  is  information  


browsers.  Mobile  augmented  reality  browsers  display  data  points  of  interest  within   a  mobile  phone  camera’s  field  of  vision.  They  are  used  to  find  local  points  of  interest   such  as  landmarks,  public  transportation,  restaurants  or  retail  outlets.     In  2009,  SPRX  mobile  created  Layar,  the  first  mobile  augmented  reality  

browser.  The  application  offers  several  options  for  overlaying  digital  information   relating  to  brands,  services  and  social  networking.    When  a  user  searches  for  local   restaurants  or  businesses,  Layar  will  overlay  navigational  information  directing  the   user  toward  the  nearest  location.    There  are  over  1,500  “layers”  to  choose  from   including:    Wikipedia  entries,  restaurant  guides,  games  and  social  networking   integration.  Additionally,  Layar  is  an  open  platform,  which  encourages  other   developers  and  content  providers  to  create  additional  layers  showcasing  their   information  or  services.       Other  competitors  have  surfaced  in  the  browser  category.  Junaio,  a  general-­‐

purpose  browser  similar  to  Layar,  is  the  first  augmented  reality  application  to   employ  LLA  (latitude,  longitude,  altitude)  markers.  LAA  markers  are  considered  to   be  a  more  accurate  location  system  when  employed  indoors,  which  tends  to  be   problematic  under  GPS-­‐based  systems  (Junaio,  2011)  due  to  the  difficulty  of  indoor   reception  of  GPS  satellite  signals.         Other  information  browsers  employ  more  targeted  functions.  These  can  

include  city  guides,  subway  locators,  or  wikis.  For  example,  Zagat  To  Go,  based  on  


  the  popular  Zagat  Dining  guide,  directs  diners  to  the  nearest  fine  dining  locations.   Wikitude  World  Browser  is  a  smart  phone  travel  guide  application  that   superimposes  information  about  historical  landmarks  or  other  points  of  interest   from  Wikipedia.       In  addition  to  information-­‐based  services,  mobile  augmented  reality  has  


become  integrated  into  new  forms  of  social  networking,  shopping  and  games.   Integrating  social  networking  has  been  a  popular  trend.  It  can  appear  either   integrated  into  a  larger  application  or  as  a  separate  mobile  application.  Social   networking  applications  such  as  TwittAround  allow  augmented  reality  users  to   virtually  geo-­‐tag  their  tweets,  which  can  be  visualized  in  real  time  on  a  mobile   display  for  others  to  see.  Shopping  apps  such  as  Red  Laser  by  Occiptal  can  read   labels  and  bar  codes  in  order  to  compare  prices  and  discover  discounts  and  sale   items.  Mobile  augmented  reality  is  also  delivering  new  gaming  experiences.   Smartphone  gamers  can  participate  in  the  virtual  scavenger  hunt  game,  Crimsonfox   (Toto,  2010)  or  play  a  360  degree  shooter  like  Sky  Siege,  in  which  the  user  shoots   down  enemy  aircraft  flying  around  their  living  room  or  office.     Development  Concerns  and  Limitations     Augmented  Reality  is  far  from  the  point  at  which  consumers  and  developers  

universally  accept  it  as  a  viable  technology.  While  most  people  have  seen  examples   of  how  augmented  reality  works  in  the  news  or  other  popular  culture  sources,  few   people  have  experienced  AR  first  hand  due  to  access  barriers  and  limited  adoption   of  AR-­‐ready  smart  phones.  Significant  advances  have  been  made  over  the  last  15  




years  in  AR  display  devices,  especially  in  mobile  media.  However,  mobile  augmented   reality  still  faces  significant  hardware  and  software  limitations.  Additionally,   developers  must  deal  with  a  lack  of  open  standards  and  a  growing  concern  over   user  privacy  and  security.     Tobias  Höllerer,  an  associate  professor  of  computer  science  at  UC  Santa  

Barbara,  has  said  in  a  interview:     Augmented  reality  is  stifled  by  limitations  in  software  and  hardware,  he   explained.  Cell  phones  require  superb  battery  life,  computational  power,   cameras  and  tracking  sensors.  For  software,  augmented  reality  requires   a  much  more  sophisticated  artificial  intelligence  and  3D  modeling   applications.  And  above  all,  this  technology  must  become  affordable  to   consumers.  The  best  possible  technology  that  is  available  today  would   nearly  cost  $100,000  for  a  solid  augmented-­‐reality  device.  (Chen,  2009)     Smart  phones  also  provide  limited  screen  space  for  displaying  augmented  

information.  Registration  problems  continue  to  plague  augmented  reality  systems,   since  GPS  is  only  accurate  to  within  30  feet  and  does  not  work  well  indoors  (Metz,   2009).    Registration  errors  are  considered  the  most  significant  limitation  of  mobile   augmented  reality  systems.  They  are  often  the  result  of  tracking  and  alignment   issues  caused  by  sensor  and/or  camera  calibration  errors  and  network  latency   (Haller,  Billinghurst  &  Thomas,  p.  26).  Registration  errors  are  of  particular  concern   in  the  scope  of  information  design  as  misaligned  visual  representation  of  data  leads  




to  inaccurate  reporting  of  information.  Furthermore,  it  hinders  the  viability  of  the   application  by  diminishing  user  satisfaction.     Interoperability  and  open  standards  will  also  be  necessary  to  encourage  

content  developers  to  adopt  augmented  reality.  Currently,  users  are  required  to   access  content  data  through  a  specific  application.  For  example,  the  only  way  to   access  Wikitude  data  is  to  use  the  Wikitude  mobile  application.  Lack  of  cross-­‐ platform  interoperability  could  result  in  “AR  wars”  similar  to  the  web  browser  wars   of  the  1990s  (Kirkpatrick,  2009).  If  augmented  reality  development  is  to  become   mainstream,  standardized  data  formats,  are  necessary.  Concurrently,  application   developers  also  lack  easy  to  use  authoring  tools  for  creating  mobile  augmented   reality  content  (Schmalstieg,  et  al.,  2011).     In  addition  to  these  technological  limitations,  augmented  reality  has  several  

image  and  security  concerns.  Science-­‐fiction  author  and  renowned  augmented   reality  critic  Bruce  Sterling  discussed  the  issues  the  augmented  reality  industry  is   facing  in  his  keynote  address,  “At  the  Dawn  of  the  Augmented  Reality  Industry.”   According  to  Sterling,  augmented  reality  is  an  exciting  technology  with  tremendous   promise,  yet  it  still  has  a  sleazy,  gimmicky  feel  to  it  (2009).  Sterling  also  warned  that   security  and  spam  could  be  potential  problems  in  the  future  as  porn  and   pharmaceutical  companies  and  hackers  attempt  to  crowd  the  augmented  view  with   unwanted  spam.  In  addition,  augmented  reality  adopters  can  potentially  face   information  overload  or  dependence,  similar  to  Internet  addiction.  


    Moving  forward,  the  mobile  augmented  reality  industry  must  address  the  


monetary  and  technical  limitations  of  existing  display  systems  if  this  technology  is   to  achieve  any  significant  market  penetration.  Furthermore,  open  development   standards  must  be  realized  if  the  industry  wishes  to  attract  developers  for  creating   new  mobile  augmented  reality  content.     The  current  state  of  user  research  and  evaluations     The  majority  of  published  research  in  the  field  of  augmented  reality  has   focused  on  the  development  of  new  technologies  and  application  prototypes.  Few   studies  have  addressed  user  experience  and  mobile  application  evaluation.  Studies   that  have  focused  on  users  have  been  informal  and  under  structured  testing  setups   (Schmalstieg,  et  al.).  According  to  a  2005  literature  survey  by  Swann  et  al.  (2005)   reviewing  all  augmented  reality  literature  published  in  leading  journals  and   conferences,  less  than  8%  had  any  reference  to  formal  user  evaluations.  The  HIT  Lab   NZ  conducted  a  similar  study  in  2008  and  found  that  only  29%  of  published   augmented  reality  articles  in  major  computer  science  journals  included  references   to  user  research.  As  of  2011  according  to  scholarly  reference  searches  conducted  by   this  researcher,  no  published  research  studies  address  perceptions  and  experiences   of  consumers  using  mobile  augmented  reality  applications.   If  mobile  augmented  reality  is  to  become  a  viable  medium  for  delivering   visual  information,  empirical  research  must  be  conducted  that  seeks  to  discover   how  commercially  available  applications  are  perceived  and  employed.  According  to   Schmalstieg,  et  al.,  if  mobile  augmented  reality  applications  are  to  become  




commonplace,    attention  must  be  devoted  to  user  studies.  There  is  a  need  for  novel   approaches  to  evaluating  application  interfaces  and  the  consumers  that  use  them.   Research  gaps  in  this  area  can  be  found  in  the  evaluation  of  mobile  applications  that   employ  social  networking  and  location-­‐based  user  collaborations  (p.  33);  These   features  are  commonly  employed  by  information-­‐  bowser  application  such  as  Layar.       A  potential  solution     Mobile  augmented  reality’s  potential  lies  in  its  ability  to  make  location-­‐based  

information  contextually  relevant  to  the  perception  of  the  individual  user.  The   amount  of  available  data  is  limitless.  The  Internet  has  brought  worldwide  access  to   data  sources  including  news,  information  services,  shopping  and  social  networking.   However,  the  problem  lies  in  how  the  end-­‐user  wades  through  the  exorbitant   amount  of  data.    A  way  to  make  sense  of  this  data  from  one’s  personal  point  of  view   is  needed.  Paul  Saffo,  a  technology  forecaster  and  analyst  states:   “’Point  of  view’  is  that  quintessentially  human  solution  to  information   overload,  and  intuitive  process  of  reducing  things  to  an  essential   relevant  and  manageable  minimum…  In  a  world  of  hyperabundant   content,  point  of  view  will  become  the  scarcest  of  resources.”  (Baer,   18)   The  principles  of  information  design,  combined  with  the  technological   advantages  offered  by  mobile  augmented  reality  displays,  can  be  a  filtering  lens  that   brings  order  to  this  chaos.  Information  design  is  a  framework  for  clear   communication  of  data.  It  is  employed  as  an  organization  and  presentation  method  




designed  to  bring  meaning  to  unstructured  data.  Data  alone  is  considered  worthless   without  user  context  (Shedroff,  270).  Through  effective  information  design,  one  can   create  value  by  defining  filtering  constraints  that  communicate  data  in  such  a  way   that  carries  both  meaning  and  purpose  in  context  to  the  user's  point  of  view  (Dervin,   43;  Shedroff,  270).     The  presentation  of  a  tailored  information  scheme  is  important  for  mobile   augmented  reality  since  it  relies  on  the  placement  of  visual  artifacts  within  the   user's  environment.  Additionally,  the  aesthetics  of  information  design  are  closely   related  to  graphic  design,  where  principles  of  visual  communication  are  applied  to   the  delivery  of  information.  Foremost  among  information  visualizers  is  Edward   Tufte,  the  leading  authority  on  the  visual  presentation  of  data  (AIGA,  2004).  Tufte  is   a  pioneer  in  the  field  who  established  the  general  principles  of  information  design,   using  visual  language  as  a  means  to  enhance  the  delivery  and  clarity  of  information   (Horn,  20).    In  his  three  books,  The  Visual  Display  of  Quantitative  Information  (1983),   Envisioning  Information  (1990),  and  Visual  Explanations  (1997),  Tufte  describes  his   general  principles  of  information  design.  These  principles  are  a  means  for  enabling   users  to  understand  and  “envision”  information.    The  foundational  principle  is   avoidance  of  visual  overload,  a  condition  Tufte  refers  to  as  “chartjunk.”  Tufte  defines   chartjunk  as  any  frivolous  visual  elements  not  required  for  the  comprehension  of   information,  or  distracting  the  viewer  from  said  information  (1983).  This  is   significant  for  the  design  of  mobile  augmented  reality  applications.  Designers  must  


  take  into  account  competing  environmental  elements  within  the  users  field  of   vision,  which  the  designer  has  no  control  over.  To  counter  this,  designers  and   mobile  application  developers  can  look  to  Tufte’s  information  design  principles:   micro/macro  design,  layering  and  separation,  small  multiples,  color  and   information,  and  the  integration  of  words  and  images.   Micro/Macro  Design:  Tufte  describes  Micro/Macro  compositions  as   visualizations  that  contain  large  amounts  of  detail,  yet  within  which  patterns   emerge.    "Micro"  refers  to  the  smaller  details  that  make  up  the  greater  whole  


(macro),  thus  creating  structure    (Tufte,  1990,  p.  33).  Tufte  argues  that  macro/micro   design  is  both  a  critical  and  valuable  method  for  displaying  information  in  ways  that   readers  can  understand  the  complexities  of  the  “big  picture,”  yet  also  place  the   smaller  details  in  context  (1990,  p.  50).   Layering  and  Separation:  By  layering  information,  one  can  establish  a  visual   hierarchy  that  emphasizes  content  important  to  the  reader  and  deemphasizes   what’s  not.    By  creating  salience  through  design,  Tufte  argues  that  the  reader  can   easily  navigate  through  a  structured,  organized  construct  for  presenting   information.   The  separation  of  data  categories  is  equally  as  important  as  hierarchal   presentation  structures.  According  to  Tufte,  Designers  should  separate  layers  of   information  by  means  of  weight,  shape,  size,  value  or  color.  Failure  to  do  so  results   in  “jumbled  up,  blurry,  incoherent,  [and]  chaotic”  designs  (1990,  p.  58).  




Small  Multiples:  A  small  multiple  is  a  single  design  element,  repeated  multiple   times  in  order  to  show  variations  of  a  theme.  It  is  a  reliable  method  for  allowing   users  to  see  changes  and  differences  among  similar  objects  (1990,  p.  67).  Through   the  principle  of  small  multiples,  Tufte  argues  one  can  create  contrast  in  detail,  yet   maintain  context  without  the  need  for  changing  the  design  (1983,  p.  170).  Designers   often  employ  this  method  to  create  a  sense  of  unity  by  using  similar  colors  and   typefaces,  yet  may  use  larger  type  for  headlines  or  categories  to  visualize   significance.     Color  and  Information:  The  principle  of  applying  color  to  information  is  a  

means  to  label  categories,  quantify  intensity,  imitate  reality,  and  to  enliven  or   beautify  data  (1990,  p.  81).  When  using  color,  Tufte  suggests  that  strong,  darker   tones  should  be  used  sparingly  since  they  are  both  “loud”  and  “disruptive”  and  can   distort  one’s  visual  field,  thus  creating  unpleasant  effects.  Secondly,  using  light  and   brighter  colors  next  to  each  other  can  also  cause  visual  distortions  (1990,  p.  83).   Instead,  Tufte  suggests  that  designers  use  earth  tones,  and  lighter  shades  of  blue,   yellow  and  grey  (1990,  p.  90).   Integrating  words  and  images:  Words  and  images  are  the  fundamental   building  blocks  of  information  design.  Designers  employ  this  principle  in  order  to   present  information  in  story  form.  Tufte  argues  that  words  and  images  should  never   be  separated,  as  it  would  burden  the  reader  with  the  task  of  having  to  cognitively   associate  the  separate  elements.  Designers  who  effectively  integrate  text  and  images  


  can  control  the  navigation  and  flow  of  the  reader’s  experience  to  facilitate   understanding  (1990,  p.  116).  


Although  these  principles  were  originally  conceptualized  with  print  in  mind,   Tufte  and  information  designers  consider  these  principles  to  be  “timeless”  and   applicable  to  any  medium.  Tufte  argues  his  principles  of  information  design  “are   universal-­‐like  mathematics  and  are  not  tied  to  unique  features  of  a  particular   language  or  culture”  (1990,  p.  10)  Tufte’s  influence  has  expanded  into  web  design   and  other  forms  of  information  interfaces,  including  the  iPhone  (Tufte,  2008).   This  point  has  also  been  proven  through  academic  research.  Beverly   Zimmerman  of  Brigham  Young  University  conducted  a  study  in  1997  to  test  if   Tufte’s  principles  of  information  design  could  be  applied  to  effective  web  design.   The  study  used  Tufte’s  principles  to  evaluate  the  design  effectiveness  of  two   websites.  Her  results  indicated  Tufte’s  principles  are  applicable  to  interactive  media   like  the  web,  and  can  also  serve  as  a  measurement  tool  for  evaluating  the   effectiveness  of  a  web  page  in  conveying  information  (Zimmerman,  1997).  This   research  is  relevant  to  mobile  augmented  reality  since  there  is  a  need  for  effective   measurement  of  the  effectiveness  of  mobile  augmented  reality  application  designs.   Edward  Tufte’s  principles  could  potentially  fill  this  need.    



  Evaluating  a  new  communication  medium  such  as  mobile  augmented  reality   requires  a  multi-­‐dimensional  qualitative  method  that  takes  into  account  both  user   and  design  perspectives,  along  with  an  evaluation  of  existing  applications.  This   study  implemented  a  qualitative  thematic  analysis  and  heuristic  evaluations  in   order  to  answer  the  following:   RQ1:  What  are  mobile  augmented  reality  users'  impressions  of  the   technology  before  and  after  using  it  for  the  first  time?     RQ2:  What  do  users  and  content  developers  see  as  the  advantages  and   limitations  of  mobile  augmented  reality?   RQ3:  Do  information  design  principles  need  to  be  revised  in  order  to  apply   them  to  augmented  reality  experiences?     This  study  describes  the  initial  perceptions  of  college  students  before  and  

after  they  engaged  with  a  mobile  augmented  reality  application  for  the  first  time.   Additionally,  a  small  number  of  questionnaires  were  conducted  to  explore  the   problem  from  the  perspective  of  augmented  reality  designers  and  content   developers.  Focus  groups  and  questionnaires  were  used  to  collect  data  in  the  areas   of  usability  and  desirability  as  well  as  the  advantages  and  disadvantages  of  the   medium.  The  primary  goal  of  this  research  is  to  evaluate  the  viability  of  mobile  

  augmented  reality  applications  as  a  vehicle  for  information  design.  The  narrative   data  was  transcribed,  coded  and  categorized  into  main  themes  related  to  RQ  1-­‐2.       To  answer  RQ  3,  the  researcher  conducted  a  heuristic  evaluation  of  Junaio  


and  Layar,  the  two  most  popular  information-­‐based  mobile  augmented  reality   applications  available  at  the  time  of  this  study.  A  heuristic  evaluation  is  an  effective   method  for  identifying  the  strengths  and  limitations  of  an  interactive  system,  based   on  accepted  standards  of  practice.  For  this  study,  evaluative  criteria  were  derived   from  established  principles  of  information  design.         Methods  overview     Thematic  analysis:  This  study  relied  on  thematic  analysis  to  identify  user  

perceptions  of  mobile  augmented  reality  application  and  the  designers  who  create   them.    Braun  and  Clark  (2006)  define  thematic  analysis  as  “method  for  identifying,   analyzing  and  reporting  patterns  (themes)  within  data”  (p.  79).  A  themes,  as  defined   by  Boyatiz  (1998),  is:     “...a  pattern  found  in  the  information  that  at  the  minimum  describes  and   organizes  possible  observations  or  at  the  maximum  interprets  aspects  of  the   phenomenon.  Themes  can  be  generated  inductively  from  raw  data  sets,  or   deducted  through  the  use  of  theory  and  prior  research.”  (p.  161)   A  theme  may  be  identified  at  the  manifest  level  (directly  observable  in  the   information)  or  at  the  latent  level  (categorizing  issues  underlying  the  phenomenon)   (p.  9).  




The  advantage  to  using  thematic  analysis  is  that  it  is  a  flexible  methodology  

used  to  quickly  highlight  similarities  and  differences  within  a  data  set  (Braun  and   Clark,  p.  97).  Thematic  analysis  is  sound  way  to  compare  and  contrast  the  strengths   and  weaknesses  of  mobile  augmented  reality  when  applied  to  information  design   from  the  perspective  of  users  and  designers.  Furthermore,  this  method  can  be  used   to  categorize  problems  found  in  usability  tests,  such  as  heuristic  evaluations.   Researchers  often  employ  a  thematic  analysis  when  data  focuses  on  experiences,   practices  or  compliance-­‐oriented  evaluations.     Heuristic  Evaluation:  Heuristic  Evaluation  is  a  common  tool  for  interaction  

design  analysis  .  It  is  an  easy  and  inexpensive  way  to  evaluate  the  viability  of  a   design,  such  as  a  mobile  phone  application  (Unger  &  Chandler,  2009,  p.  71).  Rogers,   et  al.  (2007)  define  heuristic  evaluation  as,  “an  approach  to  evaluation  in  which   knowledge  of  typical  users  is  applied,  often  guided  by  heuristics,  to  identify  usability   problems“  (p.  590).  Heuristics  are  principles  based  on  common-­‐sense  knowledge,  or   rules  of  thumb  and  design  usability  guidelines.  A  key  feature  of  this  method  is  that   does  not  require  the  presence  of  users  and  can  be  conducted  by  an  expert  reviewer   (Nielsen  &  Tahir,  2002).     For  the  purpose  of  this  study,  the  heuristics  used  in  the  evaluation  of  smart   phone  applications  are  based  on  the  principles  of  information  design  derived  from   the  works  of  Edward  Tufte.  Described  by  The  New  York  Times  as  “The  Leonardo  Da   Vinci  of  data,”  Tufte  is  considered  the  leading  authority  on  the  visual  presentation  of   data.  (AIGA,  2004)  His  principles  are  regarded  as  “universal”  across  all  forms  of  


  media.  For  this  reason,  Tufte’s  guidelines  are  the  ideal  criterion  for  evaluating   information  design  practices  on  mobile  augmented  reality  platforms.     Setting     This  study  was  conducted  at  Ball  State  University,  a  mid-­‐sized  university  


located  in  Muncie,  Indiana.    Participants  were  selected  from  a  population  of  22,000   students.    Additional  field  research  was  conducted  in  Indianapolis,  for  the  purpose   of  heuristically  evaluating  mobile  augmented  reality  applications  usage  within  a   metropolitan  environment.     Participants   First-­‐time  users:  The  researcher  employed  convenience  sampling  to  collect   subjects  for  Test  Group  1.    Selection  of  participants  was  restricted  to  undergraduate   and  graduate  students  currently  enrolled  at  Ball  State  University.  Participants  were   also  selected  because  they  currently  owned  an  iPhone  or  android-­‐based  smartphone   and  had  no  prior  experience  using  mobile  augmented  reality  applications.  Six  non-­‐ design  students  were  chosen  at  random  to  participate.     The  participants  in  the  study  represented  a  variety  of  majors  and   departments  within  the  University.  Four  students  were  male;  two  were  female.  Two   of  the  four  male  students  were  graduate  students  while  the  rest  of  the  participants   were  undergraduates.  All  student  participants  were  in  their  early  to  mid-­‐twenties.       Designers  and  content  developers:    Two  participants  were  identified  and   selected  to  complete  questionnaires  by  the  researcher  through  Internet  searches  


  and  recommendations.  Participants  were  selected  based  on  their  skills  and   experience  in  mobile  augmented  reality  development,  along  with  a  visual   communication  background  in  one  or  more  of  the  following  areas:  information   design,  visual  storytelling,  multimedia  graphics,  mobile  platforms,  and  or  art  


direction.  Both  participants  have  been  recognized  as  leaders  in  their  field,  based  on   their  publication  and  presentation  records.     Research  Instruments     Focus  group:  A  focus  group  explored  initial  user  perceptions  of  augmented  

reality,  before  and  after  using  a  mobile  augmented  reality  application  for  the  first   time.  The  focus  group  met  for  two  sessions,  both  lasting  one  and  a  half  hours  in   length.  Sessions  were  separated  by  a  seven-­‐day  period  during  which  participants   were  asked  to  complete  an  assigned  task  with  an  AR  application.  The  total  time   commitment  for  participants  was  five  hours  (see  Appendix  A).   I. Session  One:    Participants  were  presented  two  short  videos  introducing  the   concept  of  augmented  reality  and  the  Layar  mobile  application.  Both  of  these   videos  were  produced  by  Layar  and  demonstrate  the  application’s  purpose,   along  with  a  preview  of  its  information,  social  media  and  gaming  features.   Following  the  videos,  subjects  were  asked  to  discuss  their  first  impressions,   how  they  might  use  the  application,  whether  they  found  it  desirable,  and/or   potential  concerns.  At  the  conclusion  of  the  session,  the  participants  were   instructed  to  download  the  Layar  application  onto  their  personal  smart  




phone  and  to  use  it  to  complete  an  assigned  task.  The  task  was  to  try  out  and   evaluate  the  Layar  application  for  at  least  two  hours  over  a  seven-­‐day  period.   II. Session  Two:  Students  reconvened  to  discuss  their  experiences  using  the   Layar  application.  Discussion  probes  covered  usability,  viability  as  a  medium   for  information  delivery,  features,  suggestions  for  future  applications,   problems  and  concerns,  desirability,  and  willingness  to  use  the  application  in   the  future.     Questionnaires:    Perceptions  about  mobile  augmented  design  and  its   implications  in  communicating  information  were  measured  by  questionnaires   completed  by  two  design  professionals.  Questions  explored  respondents  opinions   about  how  augmented  reality  can  be  used  to  advance  information  design  and   interactive  storytelling,  including  its  advantages  and  disadvantages  relative  to  other   communication  mediums  (see  Appendix  B).   Heuristic  Evaluations:  An  evaluation  checklist  was  devised  using  judging   protocols  derived  from  the  information  design  principles  written  by  Edward  Tufte   in  his  books:  The  Visual  Display  of  Quantitative  Information  (1983),  Envisioning   Information  (1990)  and  Visual  Explanations  (1997).  Problems  and  instances  are   noted  for  each  applied  principle  on  the  basis  of  structure,  presentation  and   dynamics  in  the  application  design  (see  Appendix  C).     Data  Collection  and  Procedures     Data  was  collected  through  moderated  focus  groups,  surveys  and  heuristic  



  I. Focus  groups:  Data  was  collected  through  interactive  group  discussion,   moderated  by  the  researcher.  The  focus  groups  were  conducted  under   natural  settings  using  a  discussion  guide  protocol  (see  Appendix  A).   Discussions  took  place  on  campus  at  Ball  State  University,  where  all  


participants  were  currently  registered  students.  The  researcher  guided  the   group’s  discussion  through  predefined  probes  (see  Appendix  A)  and  asked   follow-­‐up  questions  based  on  participant  responses.  The  data  collection   process  took  place  during  two  focus  group  sessions  conducted  over  a  two-­‐ week  period,  totaling  three  hours  of  discussion  time.  Each  session  was  video-­‐ recorded  for  accuracy  and  lasted  one-­‐and-­‐a-­‐half  hours.   II. Surveys:    An  open-­‐ended  questionnaire  (see  Appendix  B)  that  consisted  of   unstructured  and  sentence  completion  type  questions  were  sent  to   participating  design  experts,  along  with  instructions  for  how  to  complete  and   submit  the  survey  by  e-­‐mail.  Participants  completed  the  questionnaires  at   home  or  work  on  their  own  time.   III. Heuristic  Evaluation:  The  researcher  evaluated  two  mobile  augmented   reality  applications,  Layar  and  Junaio  by  using  an  evaluation  checklist  based   on  heuristics  derived  from  the  following    information  design  principles  by   Edward  Tufte:  micro/macro  design,  layering  and  separation,  small  multiples,   effective  use  of  color  and  integration  of  words  and  images.  The  evaluation   was  conducted  by  testing  the  mobile  applications  at  Ball  State  University’s   main  campus  and  its  surrounding  neighborhoods  in  Muncie,  Indiana.  Every  




function  was  tested  twice  for  reliability,  and  all  problems  were  documented   for  further  analysis.  Additional  field  research  was  also  conducted  in   Indianapolis  to  provide  contrast  regarding  how  the  applications  preformed   in  a  metropolitan  environment  versus  rural  area.  Observations  were   recorded  on  the  heuristics  scorecard  during  a  one-­‐week  period,  totaling  six   hours  of  evaluation  time.           Data  Analysis     The  collected  narrative  data  from  the  user  focus  groups  and  designer  surveys  

were  transcribed  and  categorized  by  thematic  analysis.    Subject  responses  were   categorized  into  themes  applicable  to  answering  the  research  questions.  The   researcher  used  a  coding  method  to  organize  collect  data  into  themes  that   illuminated  the  key  concepts  of  this  study.    Additionally,  interview  responses  from   designers  were  used  to  provide  supplemental  evidence  in  support  of  user  responses       The  applications  Layar  and  Junaio  were  analyzed  in  accordance  with  the  

information  design  principles  defined  on  the  heuristic  evaluation  scorecard  (see   Appendix  C).  A  thematic  analysis  was  applied  to  categorize  the  strengths  and   weaknesses  of  the  applications  in  accordance  with  the  design  principles  to  establish   a  paradigm  for  information-­‐based  augmented  reality  design.  Emergent  themes  from   the  heuristic  evaluations  were  cross-­‐referenced  and  validated  by  the  narrative  data   sets.      


  Ethical  Considerations     As  this  study  required  the  participation  of  human  subjects,  ethical  issues  


were  addressed  to  protect  the  privacy  and  safety  of  all  participants.  The  most   significant  issues  considered  during  this  study  were  informed  consent  and   confidentiality.  Prior  to  participation,  each  subject  was  fully  informed  of  all-­‐ important  aspects  of  the  study,  including  its  aim  and  purpose.  Furthermore,   participants  were  advised  of  their  right  to  withdraw  from  the  study  at  any  time.   Subject  confidentiality  was  ensured  by  not  disclosing  their  names  or  personal   information  in  the  research.  Only  relevant  data  pertinent  to  answering  the  research   questions  were  included.       Conclusion     This  study  employed  a  qualitative  method  to  answer  the  three  stated  

research  questions.  Data  collected  from  focus  groups,  questionnaires  and   evaluations  of  existing  augmented  reality  applications  were  thematically  analyzed   to  gauge  the  viability  of  mobile  augmented  reality  as  a  medium  for  visual   information  communication.                          



CHAPTER  4:  RESULTS   This  study  employed  a  qualitative  methodology  to  (1)  discover  and  identify  

the  initial  perceptions  of  first  time  augmented  reality  users  and  (2)  identify  the   advantages  and  limitations  of  mobile  augmented  reality  systems  from  a  design   perspective.  Focus  groups  were  used  to  collect  data  in  the  areas  of  usability  and   desirability,  along  with  the  perceived  advantages  and  disadvantages  of  using  mobile   augmented  reality  as  a  medium  for  information  delivery.  Additionally,   questionnaires  submitted  by  two  professional  designers  with  experience  in  the  field   provided  supplemental  insights  into  mobile  augmented  reality  from  a  designer’s   perspective.  Finally,  a  heuristic  evaluation  was  conducted  to  evaluate  how  existing   mobile  augmented  reality  applications  conform  to  established  information  design   principles.   A  thematic  analysis  revealed  that  mobile  augmented  reality  is  struggling  to   find  its  niche  among  consumers.  Themes  derived  from  participant  responses  were   problematic  technical  limitations  and  a  lack  of  compelling  content  and  user   experiences.  Additionally,  a  heuristic  evaluation  of  two  augmented  reality   applications  discovered  limitations  in  how  augmented  reality  content  is  displayed   on  mobile  devices.    

    First  Impressions     Focus  group  discussions  provided  insight  into  how  participants  perceived  


the  technology  before  using  it  for  the  first  time.  Prior  to  discussion,  participants   watched  two  short  videos  (totaling  10  minutes  in  length)  that  introduced  the   concepts  of  mobile  augmented  reality  and  the  Layar  application.  Both  videos   demonstrated  Layar  and  the  social  media,  gaming  and  information-­‐delivery   capabilities  of  mobile  augmented  reality.  Following  this  brief  overview,  the   researcher  facilitated  discussion  by  asking  participants  to  share  their  initial   thoughts  and  opinions  based  on  the  introductory  videos.  Additional  questions   explored  how  they  might  use  the  application,  its  desirability  and/or  potential   concerns.  Although  the  discussions  were  structured,  participants  were  encouraged   to  speak  freely  about  their  thoughts  and  opinions.  In  addition  to  the  group’s  first   impressions,  two  themes  emerged  from  the  patterns  of  discussion:  perceived  uses   with  an  emphasis  on  information-­‐based  services  and  a  potential  invasion  of  user   privacy.     First  impressions:  Initial  judgments  about  mobile  augmented  reality  were  

generally  positive,  with  most  participants  viewing  mobile  augmented  reality  as   potentially  useful.    The  entire  group  was  in  agreement  that  this  was  an  application   they  would  be  willing  to  try  out  for  themselves.  Participants  described  the   application  as  a  potential  tool  they  could  use  for  socializing  with  friends  or  as  an   immersive  information  guide  they  could  employ  when  exploring  a  new  city.  Some  


  participants  viewed  mobile  augmented  reality  as  the  next  evolution  of  virtual   spaces:   “(Mobile  Augmented  Reality)  Almost  seems  like  a  cross  between   second  life  and  reality.  You  are  meeting  in  a  virtual  space,  but  you  are   actually  meeting  in  the  same  space.  It's  kind  of  like  Second  Life  2.0,  the   evolution  of  second  life.  Instead  of  trying  and  take  everything  that  is   reality  and  make  it  virtual,  it  creates  the  best  of  both  worlds.”  


Perceived  information-­‐based  uses:  When  participants  were  asked  to  describe   how  they  might  use  an  augmented  reality  application  such  as  Layar,  each  person   described  a  function  or  use  relating  to  information  based  services.  The  most   common  responses  could  be  subdivided  into  information-­‐based  searches,   navigation,  tourism  and  shopping.    Social  networking  and  gaming  were  also   mentioned  as  potentially  valuable  reasons  for  using  mobile  augmented  reality.   However,  all  participants  considered  these  to  be  secondary.   Being  able  to  point  your  mobile  phone  at  an  artifact  within  one’s  own   surroundings  was  of  particular  interest  to  these  potential  mobile  augmented  reality   users.  They  were  intrigued  by  the  possibility  of  being  able  to  use  their  mobile   devices  to  discover  additional  information,  such  as  a  restaurant’s  hours  of   operations  or  the  historical  significance  of  a  local  landmark.  A  common  idea  among   all  participants  was  to  use  this  technology  within  a  museum  as  a  personal  tour  guide   for  learning  more  about  artifacts  on  display:  


  “I  would  use  AR  for  information  purposes.  Like  if  I  was  going  to  a   museum,  finding  out  about  the  artifacts  that  I'm  looking  at.  If  you  put   the  phone  over  the  art,  it  gives  you  information  about  the  piece  and   it's  history.  I  recently  went  over  to  the  Air  Force  museum  in  Dayton   over  spring  break.  They  have  some  of  the  stations  have  podcasts,  but  I   think  an  augmented  reality  would  be  a  better  suited  since  it  could  feed   more  content.”     Participants  recognized  tourism-­‐based  information  as  one  of  the  most  


potentially  useful  applications  of  mobile  augmented  reality.  Everyone  in  the  focus   group  saw  this  as  a  tool  they  would  want  to  take  with  them  on  their  next  vacation  or   use  to  explore  an  unknown  destination  or  city.  Paired  with  the  built  in  navigational   features  of  a  smart  phone,  several  participants  described  mobile  augmented  reality   as  a  “personal  tour  guide:”   “I  like  the  idea  of  having  a  device  like  this  when  I  was  traveling  last   year.  I  had  never  been  to  the  place,  and  it  would  have  been  great  to   have  a  guided  tour  that  continually  updates  live  information  like   traffic  flow,  highlights  in  the  city,  that  sort  of  thing.”     This  concept  of  using  mobile  augmented  reality  as  a  personal  tour  guide  was  

also  used  as  a  metaphor  for  describing  how  this  technology  could  be  employed  as  a   personal  shopping  guide:   “If  you  tell  the  app  what  you  want,  and  the  app  points  out  a  route  for   you...  so  as  you  are  walking  through  the  store,  telling  you  where  the  


  items  are  located.  A  guided  experience,  like  walking  through  IKEA...  A   virtual  tour  guide  as  you  are  looking  for  your  products.”     Being  able  to  use  a  mobile  phone  as  a  shopping  guide  was  conceived  as  a  


valuable  tool  for  both  consumers  and  marketers.  Participants  envisioned  using   mobile  augmented  reality  for  comparative  shopping,  virtually  trying  out   merchandise  and  researching  additional  information  about  a  product  by  simply   pointing  the  cell  phone’s  camera  at  the  item  of  interest.  Many  also  recognized  the   value  to  marketers  and  companies  who  could  use  the  application  to  attract   customers  by  offering  special  deals  to  mobile  augmented  reality  users.     Other  uses:  In  addition  to  information-­‐based  services,  several  focus  group  

members  were  also  attracted  to  the  notion  of  using  mobile  augmented  reality  for   social  networking  and  gaming.  Students  expressed  how  essential  social  networking   tools  such  as  Twitter  and  Facebook  are  to  how  they  communicate  with  their  peers.   Participants  conceptualized  using  mobile  augmented  reality  as  a  way  to  virtually   communicate  and/or  meet  new  people  in  their  immediate  surroundings.   Participants  suggested  they  would  want  to  use  this  technology  as  a  means  for   communicating  anonymously  with  others  on  their  daily  commute  to  class  or  work.   They  saw  this  as  an  innovative  way  for  connecting  to  new  people  in  their   communities.     Gaming  was  also  mentioned  both  as  an  extension  of  social  networking  and  as  

a  potentially  attractive  feature  of  mobile  augmented  reality.  Younger  students,  who   did  not  own  a  car  and/or  had  limited  spending  money,  saw  mobile  augmented  


  reality  games  as  a  cheap  and  entertaining  way  to  socialize  with  friends.  Other  


participants  described  mobile  augmented  reality  gaming  as  a  “virtual  theme  park”  in   which  children  could  play  within  the  confinements  of  their  own  backyards.     Privacy  Risks:  The  perceived  risk  of  privacy  when  operating  a  mobile  

augmented  reality  application  was  of  significant  concern  to  many  of  the  subjects.   Participants  feared  that  their  actions  and  locations  could  potentially  be  tracked   through  location-­‐based  technologies:   “I  have  issues  with  privacy;  I  don't  use  any  applications  that  are   location-­‐based  because  I  don't  want  people  following  me.  Not  that  I'm   afraid  of  a  ‘Big  Brother’  idea.  But  at  the  same  time,  I  like  having  some   anonymity  of  where  I’m  at.  I  don't  think  it’s  really  relevant  that  people   know  my  whereabouts.  With  augmented  reality,  it's  obvious  that   people  would  know  where  I  or  other  people  are  located.”     The  majority  of  participants  in  this  study  made  clear  that  they  want  direct  

control  over  what  information  may  potentially  be  shared:   “I  do  want  control.  All  of  the  stories  that  have  come  out  in  the  news   about  these  privacy  issues  are  causing  me  to  trust  these  entities  less   and  less.    Privacy  controls  absolutely  need  to  be  involved.  You  need  to   be  able  to  have  the  option  to  turn  off  your  location,  because  if  you   don't  you  are  going  to  get  people  who  don't  understand  the  risks   involved.”  




Although  the  majority  of  students  had  concerns  about  potential  privacy  risks,  

a  few  members  of  this  study  considered  it  a  non-­‐issue.  Those  who  were  concerned   however,  also  recognized  that  a  minimum  amount  of  personal  information  sharing   would  be  necessary.  Otherwise,  the  user  experience  could  be  significantly  crippled.       User  Experiences  and  Feedback     Following  the  group’s  sharing  of  their  first  impressions  about  mobile  

augmented  reality,  the  research  subjects  were  instructed  to  try  out  the  Layar   application  on  their  own  and  report  back  in  one  week  to  discuss  their  experience.   Participants  were  asked  to  discuss  what  they  liked  and  disliked  about  the   application,  any  problems  they  incurred,  suggestions  for  improvement,  and  their   desire  and  willingness  to  use  the  application  in  the  future.      After  having  a  chance  to  use  the  application  for  the  first  time,  a  majority  of  

the  participants  reported  that  they  had  “mixed  feelings”  about  their  experiences.   Although  they  liked  the  concept  of  mobile  augmented  reality,  in  practice  the   application  left  much  to  be  desired.    Participants  pointed  out  design,  contextual  and   technical  limitations  which  hindered  their  experience.  Additionally,  several  of  the   features  they  reported  trying  did  not  work  as  expected  (or  at  all),  while  those  that   did  were  not  considered  to  be  intuitive:   “I  feel  it’s  not  incredibly  intuitive.  It  took  a  lot  of  poking  around  to   figure  out  exactly  what  I  was  actually  doing.  I  considered  at  many  


  points  to  go  online  to  look  up  what  I  was  doing  and  try  to  find  a  ‘How   To’  guide.”   Other  students  shared  this  same  sentiment  and  suggested  that  an  in-­‐ application  help  guide  would  be  both  helpful  and  necessary,  since  the  types  of   interfaces  used  for  mobile  augmented  reality  applications  are  likely  unfamiliar  to   most  new  users.    “A  tutorial  would  be  good,  just  like  a  lot  of  mobile  phone  games  have   a  tutorial  option.  The  same  thing  would  work  here.  This  is  what  you   can  do....  even  if  your  first  screen  options  are  asking  what  do  you  want   to  do,  and  list  specific  options  ...  you  tap  that....  then  it  guides  you   through  that  process.”  


Understanding  how  to  use  the  application  was  not  the  only  concern.  By  far,   user  interface  and  information  design  problems  were  the  most  significant   complaints  among  all  participating  users.  Analysis  of  the  responses  revealed  that   information  overload  and  a  lack  of  hierarchy  between  displayed  elements  caused   the  greatest  hindrance  to  usability  as  a  result  of  the  application’s  design.  Other   notable  factors  included  technological  constraints,  a  lack  of  content  in  rural  areas,   and  a  general  lack  of  compelling  content.       Design  concerns:  Participants  were  dismayed  by  how  the  application  

displayed  augmented  reality  content.  Although  they  found  the  aesthetics  of  the   interface  to  be  visually  pleasing,  they  also  found  it  difficult  to  differentiate  between   the  multiple  data  points  displayed  on  screen.  The  larger  the  pool  of  content  


  available  within  the  user’s  vicinity,  the  harder  it  was  to  navigate  through  the   information  displayed  on  screen.  Content  was  continually  overlapping,  making  it  


nearly  impossible  to  see  or  access  the  information  that  was  covered  up.  Most  of  the   subjects  described  the  situation  as  “overwhelming,”  especially  within  larger   metropolitan  areas.  As  one  student  describes:   “I  went  downtown  to  Indianapolis  circle  and  the  application  was   throwing  hits  from  every  store  in  the  mall.  The  screen  on  my  phone   was  overloaded  and  I  wasn’t  even  in  the  mall!”   Even  limiting  the  distance  parameters  within  the  application  did  not  improve   the  experience.  Another  subject  explained:   “I  don't  know  what's  the  best  way  to  go  about  solving  that  issue,  I  did   mess  with  the  parameters  a  bit,  it  helped  some,  but  at  the  same  time   on  the  lowest  area  in  a  heavy  populated  area,  you  are  going  to  get   overlap.”   Participants  also  suggested  they  would  like  to  see  options  for  hiding  content,   such  as  a  particular  user’s  tweets  or  a  retail  location  tag  they  are  not  interested  in.   They  said  this  might  serve  as  a  means  for  combating  the  application’s  display  issues.   Additionally,  many  participants  considered  that  it  may  be  valuable  to  add  “like”  and   “dislike”  buttons  as  a  way  for  the  application  to  learn  what  types  of  content  a  user   might  be  interested  in  and  filter  out  any  irrelevant  data.     Technological  constraints:  Most  subjects  reported  that  the  quality  of  the  

application’s  performance  on  their  smartphones  was  less  than  adequate.  Several  


  issues  were  raised,  including  slower  processing  speeds  when  running  the  


application  and  detrimental  effects  on  battery  life.  Several  subjects  described  their   experiences  as  “glitchy”  and  often  reported  the  incorrect  location  of  data.  A  subject   describes  his  experience:   “My  phone  wouldn't  calibrate  proper  north  and  south.  I  tried  it  out  a   couple  different  times  and  it  would  tell  me  that  Thai  Smile  was  ‘that   way’,  while  I'm  standing  right  there  staring  at  it.  I  don't  know,  I  really   hate  things  that  are  glitchy,  so  I'm  really  hesitant  to  use  it  again.”   Subjects  suggested  that  a  “lite”  version  of  the  Layar  application  should  be   released.  They  said  they  are  willing  to  accept  fewer  features  in  return  for  better   hardware  performance  and  battery  life.  The  participants  were  also  in  agreement   that  the  screen  size  of  a  typical  smartphone  is  inadequate  for  an  application  of  this   nature.  One  of  the  subjects  commented,  “I  think  the  screen  size  is  too  small  to  cram   so  much  information  into  it.”  Others  suggested  that  the  larger  screens  employed  by   tablet  devices  such  as  the  iPad  would  be  a  more  suitable  medium  for  displaying   augmented  reality  content.   The  design  respondents  shared  this  same  sentiment.  Smaller  screens,   in  combination  with  limited  tracking  systems  and  a  lack  of  computing  power,   diminish  a  designer’s  ability  to  create  immersive,  three-­‐dimensional   experiences.  Instead,  designers  are  limited  to  developing  two-­‐dimensional   overlays  in  a  three-­‐dimensional  environment,  which  designers  and  end-­‐users   find  to  be  limiting.  Display  technologies  must  evolve  to  the  point  that  a  


  seamless  presentation  of  augmented  reality  content  becomes  possible  within   a  physical  space.  As  one  designer  stated,  “3D  content  is  really  what  works   best  for  an  augmented  reality  application.”      


Furthermore,  both  designers  argued  that  today’s  display  technologies  offer  

more  of  a  “forced”  experience,  rather  than  an  immersive  one.  The  user  is  limited  by   what  they  see  and  is  forced  to  experience  augmented  reality  through  the   perspective  of  a  hand-­‐held  device,  rather  than  through  the  user’s  own  eyes.  As  one   designer  explained:   “When  you  are  looking  around  through  your  device,  you  are  always   being  mediated  through  something.  You  are  always  looking  through   the  screen.    The  point  of  focus  is  always  the  device.  You're  not  really   experience  augmented  reality,  you  are  experiencing  a  trick  on  your   mobile  phone.”   In  one  designer’s  opinion,  head-­‐worn  display  devices  will  eventually   mature  to  the  point  that  they  will  usurp  smartphones  and  the  leading  display   device  for  mobile  augmented  reality  content.  A  head-­‐worn  display  device   would  be  able  to  provide  a  seamless,  immersive  viewing  experience  and   open  the  door  to  new  forms  of  interactivity  based  on  physical  movement,   rather  than  a  touchscreen  interface.     Lack  of  content  in  rural  areas:  In  contrast  to  the  “information  overload”  

concerns  many  of  the  participants  had,  several  subjects  felt  that  the  amount  of   content  available  within  smaller  communities  was  significantly  lacking.  Although  


  most  of  the  subjects  had  the  opportunity  to  try  the  application  in  larger   metropolitan  cities,  nearly  all  of  them  reside  in  a  smaller  mid-­‐western  city  with   approximately  70,000  citizens.4  Subjects  argued  they  would  be  less  likely  to   regularly  use  the  application  in  their  own  neighborhoods  if  local  content  was   limited.        


Lack  of  compelling  content:  At  the  conclusion  of  the  study,  participants  were   asked  if  they  intended  to  use  Layar  in  the  future.  Each  stated  they  would  either   seldom  use  the  application,  or  not  at  all.  Despite  its  glitches,  the  students  argued   that  the  application  itself  offers  little  compelling  content  to  warrant  repeated  use.   Rather  than  focusing  on  static  content  such  as  location-­‐based  information,  the   subjects  said  they  would  be  more  interested  in  seeing  non-­‐static  content  such  as   local  news,  events  such  as  concerts  and  sports,  or  current  specials  run  by  local   business.     Likewise,  the  design  respondents  agreed  that  existing  applications   have  little  to  offer.  They  blame  this  lack  of  quality  content  on  an  existing  top-­‐ down  application  development  cycle  where  corporate  objectives  overshadow   the  need  for  a  compelling  user  experience.  In  their  opinion,  most  mobile   applications  are  being  employed  as  marketing  tools,  which  can  be  seen  as   overhyped  and  gimmicky.  A  culture  driven  by  content  developers  is   necessary  to  support  the  maturation  of  this  new  form  of  interaction  and  


4  Population  count  as  reported  by  2010  census.    


  presentation.  In  the  meantime,  as  one  designer  laments:  “Augmented  reality   is  going  to  be  a  really  gimmicky  field  for  a  very  long  time.”     Heuristic  Evaluations     In  order  to  validate  the  design  limitations  raised  by  the  focus  group,  this  


study  employed  a  heuristic  evaluation  process  to  appraise  mobile  augmented  reality   applications  on  their  ability  to  effectively  present  information.  The  evaluation  was   conducted  by  the  researcher  using  information  design  standards  as  evaluative   criteria.  A  set  of  heuristics  was  devised  from  Edward  Tufte’s  principles  of   information  design  to  appraise  the  mobile  applications  Layar  and  Junaio  on  the   basis  of  structure,  presentation  and  dynamics  in  the  applications’  information   design  (Appendix  C).     For  this  study,  five  heuristics  were  used  to  examine  how  Layar  and  Junaio  

present  augmented  reality  content  within  a  smartphone  camera’s  view.  The   research  compared  how  each  application  displayed  Twitter  and  Wikipedia  content.   The  purpose  of  this  evaluation  was  to  identify  major  information  design  flaws   within  Layar  and  Juniao  through  the  application  of  five  heuristics:   1. Presents  individual  data  points  within  a  framework  relating  to  a  larger   context;   2. Effectively  layers  and  separates  information  to  emphasize  hierarchy  and   structure;   3. Employs  small  multiples  as  a  means  of  comparing  differences  between   related  data;  


  4. Effectively  uses  color  for  information  display  purposes;   5. Integrates  words  and  images  effectively.   Although  usability  is  an  important  component  of  interactive  information  


design,  a  usability  evaluation  is  beyond  the  scope  of  this  study.  Usability  studies  are   standard  practice  for  any  interaction  design  project  prior  to  deployment.  Instead,   this  study  examines  the  unique  problems  mobile  augmented  reality  faces  when   visually  presenting  information.     After  the  evaluation  was  complete,  10  problem  areas  were  identified  as   violations  of  established  information  design  principles  and  rated  according  to   severity:   1  —  Design  problem  that  occurs  infrequently  and/or  with  minor  user  hindrance.   2  —  Moderate  design  problem  that  occurs  occasionally  and  may  result  in   readability  issues.   3  —  Severe  design  flaws  that  occurs  frequently  and  damages  the  readability  of   data.     Issue  1:  Oversized  icons  cover  up  the  background  (camera  view)  and  other  data   points.       #   Problem   Severity     Rating   3   Heuristic   Number   1,  2   Broad  Heuristic   Micro  design  elements  should   not  overshadow  the  main   view.  

  Application:  Layar  

Oversized  icons  cover  up   the  background  (camera   1   view)  and  other  data   points.  




    Problem:  Although  this  problem  does  not  occur  within  the  Twitter  and  Wikipedia   components  in  the  application,  it  is  worth  mentioning  since  it  severely  affects  other   layers  within  the  application  such  as  Livespot  (See  image  4.1).  By  covering  up  the   entire  screen,  the  application  violates  the  micro/macro  design  principle.  The  minor   detail  (restaurant  icon)  overshadows  the  macro  view  by  failing  to  display  its   location  in  context  to  the  user’s  visual  perception  of  the  environment  as  seen   through  the  smartphone’s  camera.  It  is  also  problematic  when  content  completely   covers  and  eliminates  access  to  other  points  of  interest;  this  is  a  violation  of  Tufte’s   layering  and  separation  principle.    

                                                     Image  4.1:  Livespot  on  Layar                                  Image  4.2:  Layar’s  “Bird’s  Eye”  view      

                     Image  4.3:  Reality  view  on  Layar                                              Image  4.4:  Twitter  on  Layar  





    Issue  2:  Oversized  icons  cover  up  the  background  (camera  view)  and  other  data   points.         Severity     Heuristic     #   Problem   Broad  Heuristic   Rating   Number     “Bird’s  eye”  view  feature     Data  should  be  appropriately     2   results  in  data  point   2   2   layered  in  proximity  to  the   overlap  and  diminishes     user’s  location   location-­‐based  context.             Application:  Layar             Problem:  Layar  offers  two  options  for  viewing  augmented  reality  data  in  camera   mode:  “Reality”  view  and  “Bird’s  Eye”  view.  The  reality  view  (Image  4.3)  employs   the  layering  and  separation  principle  by  presenting  data  points  in  a  visual  hierarchy   according  to  its  geographical  proximity  to  the  user.  Closer  points  of  interest  appear   closer  in  the  foreground,  while  distant  location  points  are  placed  further  back.   Additionally,  the  subtle,  yet  noticeable  changes  in  dot  sizes  are  an  effective   execution  of  the  small  multiples  rule.  The  size  differences  between  the  dots   represent  their  relative  distance  to  the  user,  thus  maintaining  an  accurate  visual   perspective.  In  contrast,  the  “bird’s  eye”  view  (Image  4.2)  fails  to  layer  information   points  appropriately  in  addition  to  stripping  much  of  its  location-­‐based  context  in   relation  to  the  user’s  position.  Furthermore,  large  data  sets,  such  as  the  one  depicted   in  image  4.1,  can  result  in  unnecessary  data  point  overlapping.  This  can  lead  to   usability  issues  since  information  can  be  missed  or  difficult  to  access.    


    Issue  3:  Difficult  to  recognize  which  tweet  is  currently  selected.         Severity     Heuristic   Problem   Broad  Heuristic     #   Rating   Number   Difficult  to  recognize   Selected  objects  should  be     3   which  tweet  is  currently   2   2,  3   highlighted.  Icons  should  be     selected   simple,  and  consistent.         Application:  Layar           Problem:  As  seen  in  image  4.4,  Layar  uses  Twitter  avatars  to  represent    


  geographically  tagged  tweets  within  the  camera  view.    While  this  method  offers  the     benefit  of  placing  tweets  in  context  with  its  creator,  it  does  create  confusion  for  the     user.  The  only  way  to  determine  which  tweet  is  currently  being  viewed  is  the  small     arrow  connected  to  the  corresponding  dialog  box  and  the  identical  avatar  image   located  within.  This  is  the  result  of  a  lack  of  separation  between  other  displayed   avatar  images.  A  better  approach  would  be  to  model  it  after  the  Wikipedia  layer   (Image  4.3),  which  represents  Wikipedia  entries  as  consistent  visual  icons,  while   separating  selected  data  points  by  a  change  in  color.         Issue  4:  A  visual  disconnect  exists  between  data  points  and  their  related  text  and/or   images.       Severity     Heuristic     #   Problem   Broad  Heuristic   Rating   Number     A  visual  disconnect  exists     Data  points  should  have     4   between  data  points  and   2   5   strong  visual  associations  with   their  related  text  and/or     related  images  and  text.   images                    

    Application:  Layar    


Problem:  Layar  loosely  presents  text  and  images  relating  to  a  point  of  interest  by   means  of  a  static  dialog  box  located  always  at  the  bottom  of  the  screen.  Content   appearing  inside  the  box  is  dependent  on  which  data  point  is  currently  being   viewed.  The  application  employs  a  small  arrow  that  points  at  the  highlighted  dot  to   create  a  visual  association.  (images  4.3,  4.4)  Although  this  presentation  form  loosely   adheres  to  the  integrating  words  and  images  principle,  it  does  create  an   unnecessary  burden  for  the  user  who  is  tasked  to  associate  related  content  by   means  of  a  subtle  visual  clue.  This  problem  is  particularly  troublesome  when  it   occurs  in  conjunction  with  issue  3.    

                             Image  4.5:  Layar  (4.0)  dialog  box                                    Image  4.6:  Layar  (3.0)  dialog  box                                                     Issue  5:  Large  text  boxes  take  up  a  considerable  amount  of  screen  real  estate.     #   Problem   Severity     Rating   2   Heuristic   Number   1,  2   Broad  Heuristic   The  display  of  secondary   content  should  not  overpower   the  framework  of  the  bigger   scene.      

Large  text  boxes  take  up   5   a  considerable  amount   of  screen  real  estate.    


  Application:  Layar     Problem:  Dialog  boxes  in  Layar  (version  4.0)  take  up  one-­‐third  of  the  available   screen  real  estate,  thus  diminishing  the  environmental  view.  Tufte’s  layering  and  


separation  principle  suggests  this  content  requires  additional  visual  emphasis  since   it  takes  priority  over  other  content  on  screen.  However,  this  execution  unnecessarily   obscures  the  user’s  view  by  covering  up  other  data  points  and  their  surroundings.   Furthermore,  the  information  presented  with  the  dialog  box  is  poorly  laid  out,   resulting  in  a  waste  of  precious  space  on  the  small  screen.  Earlier  versions  of  Layar   were  more  conservative  in  the  dialog  box  design.    Version  3.0  dialog  box  designs   (Image  4.6)  presented  only  basic  identification  information  in  one-­‐sixth  of  the   available  screen  space.  If  a  user  wanted  more  information,  she  could  open  an   expanded  dialog  box  that  overlays  on  top  of  the  camera  view.  This  display  option   appropriates  layered  content  to  establish  visual  dominance  by  dimming  the   background.     Issue  6:  White  text  on  bright  colored  backgrounds  difficult  to  read.     #   Problem   Severity     Rating   1   Heuristic   Number   4   Broad  Heuristic   Poor  color  selection  and  lack   of  contrast.  

    Application:  Layar    

White  text  on  bright   6   colored  backgrounds   difficult  to  read.  




Problem:  Brightly  colored  backgrounds  can  make  white  type  illegible.  This  is  not  a   consistent  problem  within  the  Layar  application,  since  each  layer  employs  different   visual  styles.  However,  when  it  does  occur,  the  small  type  size,  combined  with  a  lack   of  contrast  with  the  background,  makes  the  text  especially  hard  to  read.  Tufte   suggests  that  designers  avoid  brightly  colored  backgrounds  for  this  very  reason,   since  it  causes  too  much  visual  distortion.  Instead,  designers  should  use  earth  tones   such  as  lighter  colors  of  blue,  yellow  and  gray  with  black  type.         Issue  7:  User-­‐interface  controls  do  not  orient  correctly  when  viewing  in  landscape   mode.       Severity     Heuristic     #   Problem   Broad  Heuristic   Rating   Number     User-­‐interface  controls     User  interface  should  be     7   do  not  orient  correctly   3   3   consistent  throughout  the   when  viewing  in     application.   landscape  mode.           Application:  Junaio         Problem:  When  switching  from  portrait  to  landscape  mode,  the  navigational   interface  elements  do  not  reorient  to  conform  to  the  new  view  (image  4.7).  This  is   more  of  a  usability  issue,  but  it  also  presents  a  flaw  in  the  information  design  as  it   hinders  the  readability  of  presented  information.  The  small  multiples  principle   suggests  that  repeated  navigational  devices  such  as  links,  arrows,  or  icons  should   maintain  a  consistent  design.  Failing  to  orient  navigational  elements  correctly  is   both  visually  unappealing  and  unnecessarily  burdens  the  user.  




          Image  4.7:  Junaio  


  Issue  8:  User-­‐interface  controls  do  not  orient  correctly  when  viewing  in  landscape   mode.       Severity     Heuristic     #   Problem   Broad  Heuristic   Rating   Number     Expanded  dialog  boxes     Text  presented  sideways  is     8   are  presented  sideways   3   5   when  using  application   difficult  to  read.     in  landscape  mode.         Application:  Junaio         Problem:  When  operating  the  application  in  landscape  mode,  expanded  dialog   boxes  display  text  sideways.  This  problem  is  the  result  of  the  same  design  flaw  as   issue  7.  In  this  instance,  the  poor  alignment  of  text  creates  significant  readability  




issues,  thus  breaking  the  principle  of  integrating  words  effectively.  Large  amounts  of   copy  should  never  be  oriented  on  its  side,  as  it  makes  the  text  difficult  to  read.     Issue  9:  Radar  size  is  inadequate  for  presenting  surrounding  information  in  360   degrees.     #   Problem   Severity     Rating   2   Heuristic   Number   3   Broad  Heuristic   Difficult  to  separate  content   effectively  on  a  smaller  scale.  

  Application:  Junaio    

Radar  size  is  inadequate   for  presenting   9   surrounding  information   in  360  degrees.  

Problem:  The  radar  graphic  (see  image  4.7)  used  to  display  nearby  points  of   interest  within  a  360-­‐degree  radius  of  the  user  is  too  small.  There  is  not  enough   separation  between  elements  to  adequately  gauge  the  distance  between  them.   Layar’s  execution  of  the  radar  navigational  element  would  be  more  appropriately   size  (image  4.4).       Issue  10:  Text  displayed  within  individual  data  points  is  difficult  to  read.     #   Problem   Severity     Heuristic   Rating   Number   1   4   Broad  Heuristic   Reversing  type  out  of  dark   backgrounds  requires  strong   color  contrast  and  larger  type   sizes.  

Text  displayed  within   10   individual  data  points  is   difficult  to  read.       Application:  Junaio  




Problem:  In  contrast  to  Layar,  the  Junaio  application  employs  a  tighter  integration   of  words  and  images  using  the  dialog  boxes  themselves  as  geographically  pinned   data.  This  execution  offers  many  advantages  over  Layar  since  it  does  not   unnecessarily  burden  the  reader  with  having  to  visually  associate  separate   components.  However,  the  execution  could  use  refinement  of  the  color  of  the  text.   White  text,  instead  of  gray  over  the  dark  translucent  background  would  provide   greater  contrast,  thereby  making  the  text  easier  to  read.     Conclusion   According  to  the  respondents,  mobile  augmented  reality  is  a  compelling   medium  for  displaying  visual  information.  Participants  in  this  study  see  mobile   augmented  reality  as  an  immersive  tool  for  engaging  everyday  information  in  a   more  personal  context.  However  in  its  present  form,  mobile  augmented  reality  is   lacking  in  functionality  and  desirability.  User  studies  and  design  evaluations  suggest   that  mobile  augmented  reality  is  limited  by  poor  information  display  factors  and   technological  limitations  of  mobile  devices.    Furthermore,  there  is  a  lack  of   compelling  content  and  an  overhyped  push  by  corporations  and  marketers.     Despite  these  limitations,  the  participants  in  this  study  agreed  that  mobile   augmented  reality  has  potential.  However,  it  needs  time  to  mature.    As  one  student   concluded,  “I  see  potential  in  this,  but  it's  just  like  anything  else,  it's  just  going  to   take  time  before  it  finds  its  niche.”


        CHAPTER  5:  DISCUSSION       This  thesis  postulated  that  a  usability  and  design  analysis  is  a  feasible  and   useful  method  for  comprehending  the  value  of  mobile  augmented  reality  as  a  vehicle   for  the  visual  communication  of  personally  relevant  information.  To  ascertain  this   theory,  the  following  questions  were  posed  and  answered  by  means  of  user  studies,   questionnaires  and  application  evaluations.     RQ1:  What  are  mobile  augmented  reality  users'  impressions  of  the  technology   before  and  after  using  it  for  the  first  time?     Users  welcome  the  idea  of  mobile  augmented  reality  with  open  arms.  They   recognize  its  potential  for  revolutionizing  social  media  and  information  services  by   connecting  with  content  on  a  more  personal  level.  In  their  opinions,  mobile   augmented  reality  applications  could  be  employed  as  immersive  tour  guides  for   exploring  one’s  community  or  to  interact  with  neighbors  whom  they  are  unlikely  to   meet  by  conventional  means  in  a  face-­‐to-­‐face  reality.     Additionally,  these  same  users  perceive  mobile  augmented  as  a  new  tool  for  

marketers  and  companies  to  employ  as  immersive  advertising  and  shopping   experiences.    Commercial  applications  of  mobile  augmented  reality  could  offer  

  guided  tours  through  shops,  comparative  pricing  tools  or  bargains  tailored   specifically  for  mobile  users.      


These  same  users  were  less  optimistic  after  using  a  mobile  augmented  reality   application  for  the  first  time.  Participants  reported  that  their  experience  was   hindered  by  design,  contextual  and  technical  limitations.  Oftentimes  the  test   application,  Layar,  would  perform  erratically  and  failed  to  operate  as  expected.   Subjects  frequently  complained  about  information  overload  due  to  the  small  size  of   mobile  phones.  Additionally,  users  were  dismayed  by  a  general  lack  of  compelling   content.  Participants  were  more  interested  in  seeing  non-­‐static  content  such  as  local   news  and  social  media,  rather  than  commercially  based  information.         Although  mobile  augmented  reality  users  are  open  to  using  such  

applications,  they  are  weary  of  the  privacy  risks  that  come  with  sharing  their   personal  information,  particularly  their  current  locations.  Prior  to  using  any  mobile   augmented  reality  service,  users  want  direct  control  over  what  information  they  are   sharing  and  or  receiving  from  content  providers.       RQ2:  What  do  users  and  content  developers  see  as  current  advantages  and   limitations  of  mobile  augmented  reality?     Mobile  augmented  reality  currently  offers  little  value  for  smartphone  users  

and  content  designers.  Technical  limitations  and  a  lack  of  compelling  features  are   the  leading  factors  for  a  poor  user  experience.  Consumers  frequently  complained   that  the  test  application  Layar  was  plagued  by  slow  operating  speeds,  data  


  inaccuracies  and  detrimental  effects  on  battery  life.  Additionally,  smaller  screens   were  found  to  be  inadequate  for  displaying  augmented  reality  content.    Smaller   screens  forcibly  burden  the  user  by  requiring  the  use  of  a  hand  held  device  as  a  


point  of  visual  perception  when  displaying  augmented  reality  content.  Furthermore,   using  the  application  within  heavily  populated  areas  may  result  in  information   overload  for  the  user  since  there  are  limits  to  how  much  information  can  be   efficiently  displayed  on  a  smaller  screen  at  one  time.     These  same  technical  limitations  have  constrained  the  potential  for   developing  content  by  designers  as  well.    Mobile  phone  technologies  have  not  yet   advanced  to  the  point  in  which  they  can  accurately  and  efficiently  display  three-­‐ dimensional  visualizations.    Instead,  designers  are  limited  to  creating  mobile   applications  that  provide  geographically  tagged,  augmented  reality  content  within  a   two-­‐dimensional  overlay  on  a  camera  screen.   Designers  consider  these  limitations  to  be  frustrating  and  as  a  result,  are   finding  that  mobile  augmented  reality  has  yet  to  live  up  to  its  expectations.  Current   applications  are  being  viewed  as  limited  and  boring,  while  consumers  are  left   wanting.  Instead  of  geographically  tagging  information  one  could  easily  find  in  the   yellow  pages,  consumers  are  more  interested  in  seeing  dynamic  content  such  as   local  news  and  events  or  daily  specials  currently  offered  by  local  business.     Mobile  augmented  reality  does  have  a  potential  advantage  over  other   communication  technologies  in  that  it  offers  an  immersive  experience  by  merging   the  physical  and  virtual  worlds.  However,  this  advantage  has  yet  to  be  realized.  Both  


  designers  and  consumers  foresee  mobile  augmented  reality  having  a  major   influence  on  how  we  play  games  or  access  information  in  the  future.  But  due  its   limitations,  it  remains  an  underdeveloped  technology.  


  RQ3:  Do  current  information  design  principles  need  to  be  revised  in  order  to  apply   them  to  augmented  reality  experiences?       A  heuristic  evaluation  of  two  mobile  augmented  reality  applications  revealed  

the  traditional  principles  of  information  design  remain  applicable  for  augmented   reality  content  displayed  on  hand  held  devices.  Furthermore,  these  principles  can   also  serve  as  an  effective  benchmark  for  measuring  the  viability  of  mobile   augmented  reality  as  a  medium  for  presenting  visual  information  from  a  user’s   geographical  context.     Using  Edward  Tufte’s  principles  of  information  design  for  print  and  

multimedia  as  judging  criteria,  several  presentation  issues  were  noted  ranging  from   poor  color  usage  to  a  failure  to  properly  separate  and  layer  visual  information.   Furthermore,  the  identified  limitations  were  validated  by  prior  focus  group   responses  pertaining  to  the  same  issues.  Many  of  these  problems  are  a  result  of   limited  screen  space  offered  by  the  mobile  device.  To  rectify  this,  a  conservative   approach  is  required  where  only  the  minimum  amount  of  detail  is  presented   without  loosing  context.  Tufte  refers  to  this  concept  as  the  “Data-­‐Ink  ratio,”  where   the  largest  use  of  ink  (or  pixels)  should  present  data-­‐information.  Everything  else  is   expendable  (Tufte,  1983).  Oversized  icons  and  wasted  space  in  dialog  boxes  take  up  




valuable  screen  real  estate,  which  often  conceals  other  sets  of  information.  This  is   especially  problematic  in  larger  populated  areas  where  the  amount  of  augmented   reality  content  available  outpaces  the  visual  limitations  of  the  small  screen.  The   resulting  effect  is  information  overload  for  the  user.     It  is  evident  applications  designers  have  attempted  to  make  the  best  

presentation  decisions  possible  within  the  technical  limitations.  By  following  the   suggestions  mentioned  above,  designers  can  improve  the  presentation  of   information  and  create  a  better  experience  for  the  user.  However,  this  will  not  solve   the  underlying  problem  presented  by  all  mobile  augmented  reality  applications:  The   ineffective  use  of  a  two-­‐dimensional  content  overlay  within  a  three-­‐dimensional   space.     Augmented  reality  content  is  often  displayed  within  a  location-­‐based  context,  

and  current  mobile  applications  are  failing  in  this  regard.  Simply  overlaying  a  dot  on   screen  to  signify  a  location  provides  no  context  to  distance  or  relative  proximity  to   any  nearby  points  of  interest.  It  merely  provides  a  compass  direction.  This  may   work  if  there  are  only  one  or  two  information  points  displayed,  but  when  there  are   several  present,  the  metaphor  is  less  effective.    Tufte’s  micro/macro  design  principle   states  that  the  smaller  details  must  be  visualized  in  context  to  the  greater  whole.   When  applied  to  augmented  reality,  it’s  not  enough  to  place  individual  location   markers  in  context  with  other  data  points,  since  it  shares  a  direct  relationship  with   its  environment  as  well.      




The  user’s  environment  displayed  on  screen  is  visual  information  that  also  

needs  to  be  taken  into  account  when  it’s  augmented  with  supplemental  information.   The  principle  of  layering  and  separation  states  that  a  visual  hierarchy  should  be   established  to  emphasize  which  content  is  most  important  to  the  reader,  while   deemphasizing  what  is  not.    For  the  user,  this  means  distinguishing  which  content  is   in  close  proximity  in  relation  to  physical  objects  in  their  surroundings.  The  optimum   way  to  accomplish  this  is  to  spatially  display  data  points  within  three  dimensions.   However,  this  option  is  not  yet  feasible  due  to  the  technical  limitations  of  modern   mobile  technology.     Guidelines  for  Future  Mobile  Augmented  Reality  Applications     While  this  study  has  highlighted  the  shortcomings  of  mobile  augmented  

reality,  it  also  recognized  potential  areas  for  improvement.  Based  on  user  feedback   and  heuristic  design  evaluations  of  current  applications,  the  following  guidelines   would  serve  to  improve  the  design  and  user  experience  of  future  applications:   Applications  should  implement  navigational  controls  that  are  both  intuitive   and  easy  to  use.  User  controls  should  be  easy  to  navigate  with  minimum  instruction   or  prompting.  Users  find  multiple  viewing  options  confusing  and  would  prefer  a   single  modular  interface.  Additionally,  users  would  also  benefit  from  a  simple  visual   cue  that  highlights  the  central  viewpoint  on  their  mobile  devices.  By  employing  a   small  box  or  cross  hairs  in  the  middle  of  the  screen,  users  would  better  gauge  the   geographical  location  of  mobile  augmented  reality  content.  This  implementation  




would  effectively  work  in  concert  with  the  existing  practice  of  highlighting  selected   data  points  for  separation  purposes.   Augmented  content  should  be  spatially  oriented  in  3D.  Mobile  display   technologies  will  eventually  mature  to  the  point  that  they  can  accurately  display   augmented  reality  content  in  3D.  When  this  occurs,  developers  should  move  beyond   the  magic  mirror  approach  and  seek  to  seamlessly  place  points  of  interest  within  the   users  environment.  Such  implementations  would  offer  significant  advantages  over   traditional  2D  overlays  since  it  presents  an  accurate  representation  of  geophysical   locations.     Augmented  reality  content  should  be  filtered  on  the  basis  of  user  interests  and   proximity.  Information  overload  is  a  significant  usability  hindrance  of  existing   applications  due  to  the  limited  screen  space  afforded  by  mobile  phones.  Developers   must  understand  these  limitations  and  design  around  them.  Existing  applications   are  currently  addressing  this  issue  by  filtering  content  based  on  user  proximity.   Filtering  content  based  on  user  interests  could  strengthen  this  system,  thus   reducing  the  risk  of  information  overload.  Participants  in  this  study  expressed  their   desire  for  a  filtering  features  that  hiding  uninteresting  or  non-­‐applicable   information.  A  progressive  approach  would  be  to  devise  an  educated  filter  that   learns  by  means  of  users  marking  content  as  “liked”  or  “disliked.”   Applications  should  emphasize  social  bonding  and  sharing  of  information  to   create  compelling  user  experiences.  Social  media  has  taken  a  central  role  in  how   people  communicate  today.  Applications  like  Facebook  and  Twitter  have  


  strengthened  social  bonds  while  offering  new  ways  of  connecting  to  new  people.  


The  participants  of  this  study  have  noted  that  social  media  is  an  important  part  of   their  lives  and  expect  mobile  augmented  reality  applications  to  take  advantage  of   this.  Furthermore,  these  same  users  are  also  interested  in  seeing  local  content  that   is  both  dynamic  and  useful  such  as  restaurant  specials  or  community  events.  If  this   content  is  both  useful  and  engaging,  users  are  more  likely  to  share  it  with  friends,   thus  expanding  an  application’s  active  user  base.   Information  should  be  interoperable  between  all  applications.  If  augmented   reality  is  to  become  a  successful  medium  for  information  delivery,  there  needs  to  be   open  standards  for  sharing  content  among  all  applications.  This  current  lack  of   interoperability  burdens  content  developers,  as  they  must  reformat  information  for   multiple  augmented  reality  applications.  It’s  especially  problematic  when   formatting  dynamic  content  that  must  be  updated  on  a  regular  basis.  Consumers   would  also  benefit  from  standardization.  In  the  future,  users  will  be  the  driving  force   in  generating  new  augmented  reality  content  by  means  of  geographically  tagging   social  media  and  personally  relevant  content.  These  users  will  be  able  to  reach  a   wider  audience  if  tagged  information  can  be  shared  between  multiple  applications.     Limitations     Although  this  research  helps  to  explain  how  users  and  designers  perceive  

mobile  augmented  reality,  there  were  several  limitations.  The  first  was  related  to   the  participant  sample  for  the  user  focus  groups.  Participants  in  this  study  were   pooled  from  a  smaller  audience  (college  students)  rather  than  addressing  all  




demographics  representing  smart  phone  users.    A  second  limitation  was  that  while   student  participants  tested  the  Layar  application  in  both  rural  and  urban  settings,   the  primary  testing  location  was  in  a  smaller  community.    Since  the  analysis  of  this   study  suggests  that  population  density  has  a  direct  effect  on  the  user  experience,  a   second  sample  derived  from  residents  in  a  metropolitan  area  would  have  been   beneficial.       Additional  limitations  were  related  to  the  implementation  of  the  heuristic  

evaluation  of  the  Layar  and  Junaio  applications.  Ideally,  multiple  expert  reviewers   are  employed  to  access  and  document  the  limitations  of  an  application  when   applying  the  heuristic  evaluation  method.  Due  to  time  and  financial  constraints,  the   evaluation  was  limited  to  the  findings  and  opinions  of  a  single  researcher.  Although   the  final  analysis  has  merit,  multiple  evaluators  could  have  further  validated  the   results.       Furthermore,  Edward  Tufte’s  information  design  principles  required  

modification  in  order  to  apply  them  to  mobile  augmented  reality.  While  Tufte’s   principles  are  applicable  to  this  medium,  they  were  originally  intended  for  print  or   static  mediums.  In  his  original  works,  Tufte  never  addressed  interactivity  or  spatial   design  within  a  3D  environment.  While  Tufte’s  guideline  for  presenting  information   within  a  3D  projection  presented  in  2D  proved  applicable  to  augmented  reality,  it’s   meaning  had  to  be  inferred  when  applied  to  spatial  environments.            


  Recommendations  for  Future  Research      


As  mobile  augmented  reality  is  relatively  young,  there  are  many  avenues  for  

future  research  in  this  area.  New  applications  are  introduced  on  a  weekly  basis  and   mobile  technologies  continue  to  improve  every  year.  Future  studies  would  benefit   by  examining  how  users  perceive  and  interact  with  other  forms  of  mobile   augmented  reality  applications  besides  information  browsers.    Applications  in  social   media,  gaming  and  navigation  are  worthy  of  a  closer  look.  Furthermore,  as   augmented  reality  applications  are  refitted  for  tablet  computers,  it  would  be   valuable  to  reassess  the  limitations  found  in  this  study’s  analysis  in  context  to   mobile  phones  to  see  if  they  still  apply.     Finally,  it  would  be  advantageous  to  expand  the  designer’s  perspective  

component  into  a  full  research  study.  The  initial  research  in  this  area  suggests  that   designers  have  a  central  role  in  defining  the  direction  mobile  augmented  reality   takes.  Their  thoughts  and  opinions  would  be  valuable  to  future  studies  exploring   mobile  augmented  reality  content.     Conclusion     Mobile  augmented  reality  is  on  the  cusp  of  revolutionizing  how  people  

interact  with  digital  information  in  their  daily  lives.  Content  will  no  longer  be  tied  to   a  specific  medium  such  as  print  or  the  web;  rather  it  will  seamlessly  blend  with   one’s  surroundings.  This  disruptive  technology  will  soon  redefine  how  consumers   engage  with  news,  entertainment,  and  other  forms  of  data  on  a  daily  basis.  In  all  


  respects,  mobile  augmented  reality  may  one  day  become  the  ultimate  immersive   user  experience.     Nevertheless,  mobile  augmented  reality  requires  time  to  mature.  Just  as  


every  disruptive  technology  that  has  come  before,  mobile  augmented  reality  must   address  its  initial  flaws  and  limitations  if  it’s  to  become  a  commercial  success.  While   augmented  reality  has  demonstrated  that  it  can  be  an  innovative  medium  for   displaying  information,  it’s  mobile  counterpart  has  yet  to  create  a  sense  of  “need”   for  consumers.  Further  advancements  in  content  development  are  necessary  in   order  to  generate  universal  acceptance  and  demand  and  to  shed  the  “gimmicky”   perceptions  that  users  and  content  designers  have  about  this  technology.     Additionally,  mobile  technologies  and  applications  have  not  advanced  to  the  

point  in  which  they  can  deliver  on  augmented  reality’s  promise  of  immersive   information  delivery.    Despite  the  hype  generated  by  marketers  and  corporations,   current  hand-­‐held  devices  are  incapable  of  displaying  pure  augmented  reality   experiences.  By  definition,  augmented  reality  systems  must  be  able  to  register  and   align  virtual  and  physical  objects  in  relation  to  each  other  within  a  3D  space.  Current   mobile  offerings  such  as  Layar  or  Junaio  fail  to  meet  this  criterion,  as  they  instead   rely  on  visual  trickery  by  employing  a  two-­‐dimensional  overlay  on  top  of  a   smartphone  camera-­‐viewfinder.  To  that  end,  consumers  are  left  with  a  “magic   mirror,”  which  plasters  virtual  content  over  their  small  screens  rather  than  fully   integrating  within  the  user’s  surroundings.    




Although  mobile  augmented  reality  has  been  limited  by  technical  constraints,  

the  recent  arrival  of  faster  processers  and  larger  displays  will  have  a  profound   impact  on  the  depth  and  viability  of  future  applications.  Tablet  computers  such  as   the  iPad  are  beginning  to  redefine  how  developers  approach  augmented  reality   content.  These  devices  are  equipped  with  powerful  3D  graphics  hardware  and   larger  screens,  which  move  beyond  the  limitations  of  mobile  phone  displays.   However,  tablet  and  mobile  devices  are  only  the  next  evolution,  not  the  final  step  in   mobile  augmented  reality’s  development.  Most  designers  and  users  find  using  a   hand-­‐held  device  to  be  cumbersome  since  it  restrains  their  visual  perception  to  the   device’s  limited  perspective.  Eventually  head-­‐worn  displays  such  as  augmented   reality  glasses  will  become  the  standard.  Users  will  gain  unparalleled  access  to   content  from  a  first-­‐person  viewpoint,  thus  eliminating  the  need  for  employing   hand-­‐held  displays  as  windows  for  viewing  augmented  reality  content.   Furthermore,  augmented  reality  systems  will  expand  to  allow  users  to  interact  with   virtual  content  in  the  same  way  they  would  use  physical  objects  by  means  of   gestural  interfaces.         Once  mobile  augmented  reality  moves  beyond  its  limitations,  the  potential  

benefits  for  information  delivery  and  entertainment  are  enormous.  Mobile   augmented  reality  could  be  used  to  hyper-­‐localize  content  such  as  dining  reviews  or   present  statistical  overlays  during  live  sporting  events.  Additionally,  the  immersive   nature  of  augmented  reality  could  also  be  used  to  pull  gamers  and  readers  into   stories  by  interacting  with  virtual  characters  in  their  own  space  in  real  time.  The  




opportunities  for  content  designers  and  users  alike  are  potentially  limitless.  Unlike   overhyped  technologies  of  the  past,  mobile  augmented  reality  has  the  greatest   potential  for  redefining  how  consumers  view  the  world  by  merging  the  physical  and   virtual  into  a  single  reality.        




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Session  1     Introduction  (10  minutes)   Explanation  of  Focus  Group:  Today  I  am  going  to  be  introducing  to  you  a   mobile  augmented  reality  application  called  Layar.  Over  the  next  1  ½  hours  we  are   going  to  be  discussing,  sometimes  individually,  and  other  times  as  a  whole  group   your  thoughts  about  augmented  reality  and  the  Layar  application.     To  begin,  we’re  going  to  introduce  ourselves.  If  you  would,  please  state  your   name,  major,  year  in  school  and  a  little  bit  about  the  types  of  mobile  apps  you   typically  use.       Activity:  Presentation  of  Augmented  Reality  and  Layar  concept  videos         (15  minutes)       Participants  will  be  presented  with  two  videos  about  augmented  reality  and   the  Layar  mobile  application,  produced  by  Layar.     Video  1:     Video  2:   After  watching  the  video  clips,  the  moderator  will  open  the  floor  to   discussion  asking  participants  what  do  they  think  of  augmented  reality  and  the   Layar  app  based  on  what  they  just  watched.       Discussion:    First  impressions  of  mobile  augmented  reality      (40  minutes)   The  moderator  will  facilitate  discussion  about  the  participants  first   impressions  about  mobile  augmented  reality  and  the  application,  Layar  by  utilizing   the  following  probing  questions:       • Does  Layar  seem  like  an  application  you  would  be  interested  in  trying  out  for   yourself?    Why  or  Why  not?   • • • How  do  you  think  you  might  use  this  application?   Are  you  more  likely  to  use  Layar  for  tourism,  social  networking,  shopping,  or   games?    Why  did  you  choose  that  category?   Can  you  think  of  any  other  potential  augmented  reality  applications  you  would   like  to  see?    How  would  they  work,  and  why  would  you  want  to  use  it?  


  • Can  you  think  of  reasons  why  you  would  not  use  an  application  like  Layar?    


  Assignment:    Testing  out  the  Layar  application        (10  minutes)   Participants  will  be  provided  directions  on  how  to  download  the  Layar   application  to  their  smart  phone,  and  asked  to  try  out  the  application  for  a  period  of   at  least  two  hours  over  the  next  week.    The  focus  group  will  reconvene  a  week  from   today.         Session  2     Introduction  (5  minutes)   Explanation  of  Focus  Group:  Today  we  are  going  to  share  and  discuss  your   experiences  using  the  Layar  mobile  reality  application.  What  I’m  interested  in   hearing  from  you  are  you’re  your  likes  and  dislikes  about  the  app,  how  you  used  the   app,  and  whether  or  not  you  intend  to  continue  using  this  app  in  the  future.     Discussion:    First  impressions  of  mobile  augmented  reality      (70  minutes)   The  moderator  will  facilitate  discussion  about  the  participants’  first  experiences   using  a  mobile  augmented  reality  application,  by  utilizing  the  following  probing   questions:       • So,  what  did  you  think  of  the  Layar  application  now  that  you  have  had  a  chance   to  try  it  out?   • • • • • •     Did  the  application  work  as  you  expected  it  to?    If  not,  what  surprised  you?   Did  you  have  any  problems  using  the  application?  If  so,  what  were  they?   If  you  could  change  one  aspect  of  the  application  or  add  one  feature,  what  would   it  be?   Please  fill  in  the  blank.  It  would  be  really  cool  if  an  augmented  reality  application   could  do  __________.   If  you  were  to  recommend  Layar  to  a  friend?    Who  would  it  be,  and  why  do  you   think  they  would  like  using  it?   Do  you  plan  to  continue  using  this  application  in  the  future?  If  not,  why?  




Name:     Occupation:         1.  What  types  of  content  do  you  think  works  best  in  an  augmented  reality   application?     2.  How  do  you  utilize  mobile  augmented  reality  as  a  medium  for  content  creation?   What  are  your  current  plans  on  using  augmented  reality  in  the  future?   3.  Please  fill  in  the  blank.  It  would  be  really  cool  if  an  augmented  reality  application   could  do  __________.   4.  How  is  the  design  process  for  creating  augmented  reality  applications  different   from  other  forms  of  interactive  media?   5.  What  do  you  see  as  the  advantages  and  limitations  to  developing  augmented   reality  information  and  storytelling  based  applications?   6.  What  are  the  must  have  elements  to  every  augmented  reality  design?   7.  What  do  you  think  are  mobile  augmented  reality’s  greatest  design  challenges?   8.  In  what  direction  do  you  see  augmented  reality  taking  information  design  and   digital  storytelling  in  the  future?                                    




APPENDIX  C:  HEURISTIC  EVALUATION  PROTOCOL       This  document  provides  a  detailed  analysis  of  the  heuristic  evaluation  of  two   mobile  augmented  reality  applications:  Layar  and  Junaio.    Evaluation  criteria  were   derived  from  established  principles  of  information  design  written  by  Edward  Tufte   in  his  books:  The  Visual  Display  of  Quantitative  Information  (1983),  Envisioning   Information  (1990)  and  Visual  Explanations  (1997).  Problems  and  instances  are   noted  for  each  applied  principle  on  the  basis  of  structure,  presentation  and   dynamics  in  the  application  design.       Evaluative  heuristics     1. Individual  elements  are  presented  within  a  framework  relating  to  a  larger   context   2. Effectively  layers  and  separates  information  to  emphasize  hierarchy  and   structure   3. Employs  small  multiples  as  a  means  of  comparing  differences  between   related  data   4. Effectively  uses  color  for  information  display  purposes   5. Integrates  words  and  images  effectively     Severity  rankings   1  —  Minimum  design  problem  that  occurs  infrequently  and/or  with  minor  user   hindrance.   2  —  Moderate  design  problem  that  occurs  occasionally  and  may  result  in  readability   issues.   3  —  Severe  design  flaws  that  occurs  frequently  and  damages  the  readability  of  data.    





Evaluation  1:  Layar  
  #   Problem   Severity     Heuristic   Rating   Number   3   1,  2   Broad  Heuristic   Micro  design  elements   should  not  overshadow  the   main  view.     Data  should  be   appropriately  layered  in   proximity  to  the  user’s   location   Selected  objects  should  be   highlighted.  Icons  should  be   simple  and  consistent.   Data  points  should  have   strong  visual  associations   with  related  images  and   text.   The  display  of  secondary   content  should  not   overpower  the  framework  of   the  bigger  scene.       Poor  color  selection  and  lack   of  contrast.  

Oversized  icons  cover  up   1   the  background  (camera   view)  and  other  data  points.   “Bird’s  eye”  view  feature   results  in  data  point  overlap   2   and  diminishes  location-­‐ based  context.   3   Difficult  to  recognize  which   tweet  is  currently  selected  




2,  3  

A  visual  disconnect  exists   between  data  points  and   4   their  related  text  and/or   images   Large  text  boxes  take  up  a   5   considerable  amount  of   screen  real  estate.     White  text  on  bright  colored   6   backgrounds  difficult  to   read.        











Evaluation  2:  Junaio    
#   Problem   Severity     Heuristic   Rating   Number   3   3   Broad  Heuristic   User  interface  should  be   consistent  throughout  the   application.   Text  presented  sideways  is   difficult  to  read.   Difficult  to  separate  content   effectively  on  a  smaller   scale.   Reversing  type  out  of  dark   backgrounds  requires  strong   color  contrast  and  larger   type  sizes.   User  interface  controls  do   not  orient  correctly  when   7   viewing  in  landscape   mode   Expanded  dialog  boxes  are   presented  sideways  when   8   using  application  in   landscape  mode   Radar  size  is  inadequate   for  presenting  surrounding   9   information  in  360   degrees.   Text  displayed  within   10   individual  data  points  is   difficult  to  read