Jaunt to Japan
- VR / 360 ° film, Immersive media experiment for Tourism industry -
My Role / UX, UI, 360° filming and editing
About the Project
This short project has two elements:
- Research on how VR has been impacting the travel industry.
- Creation of a short VR experience for the travel industry.
Tools: Unity 3D, Photoshop, illustrator, 3D MAYA, Premiere Pro and 360° camera
Hardware and Platform: Cardboard and android
People do not choose a travel destination just by reading the name of a city or a country on a dictionary or a map. People seek for some sorts of vicarious experience to imagine what’s like to actually be there before they plan a trip. The materials to assist travelers to choose travel destination have evolved from word of mouth, books, paintings, pictures, magazines, movies, TV and the internet. Now, VR which provides more immersive experience than any other mediums, has become more accessible to the user. This powerful medium has a great potential to further enhance the experience of travel destination selection.
Fact / How The travel industry is all about finding the perfect destination or getaway, and VR allows you to explore multiple environments from the comfort of your own home or office,” said Tom Harding, director of VR and immersive products for Samsung Electronics America. “VR is incredibly powerful because it allows travel businesses to intimately showcase their expertise as curators of experience — be it destination options, restaurant suggestions or hidden gems that only the locals know. (How Virtual Reality Is Impacting the Travel Industry)
Data Research shows that approximately two out of three US travelers say they would be influenced by being exposed to VR experiences, according to Caroline Coyle, vice president of brand strategy for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). (How virtual tourism will help enhance real-world travel)
Visit Wales revealed it has awarded £290,000 ( $388,932.) to six VR projects under its Tourism Product Innovation Fund. VR provides ‘Lasting impression’, 85% of people who had watched the VR project responded to a survey saying they would visit Wildlife Trust attractions. (Virtual reality: Tourism firms use VR to attract visitors)
The project provides the user with virtual and immersive travel experience to Japan. This will not replace an actual travel experience but enhances the user’s travel destination choosing. The creative efforts was made more on how to provide information related to the destination within a 360° film environment. The rest of the experience is straightforward to emphasize experiencing the 360° films is the primary purpose of this project.
- The instruction at the starting point explains the benefits of using VR for the travel industry. Once the user starts the tour, s/he will be transported to Experience area and presented with the menus of destinations
- The menu gives the user the names, historical information and images to help her/him make a decision.
- Inside a 360° film, the user has a choice to learn more about the destination by clicking “Info” button.
- Once the user decides to leave the destination, s/he is to simply click “Exit” button that brings s/he back to Experience are and continues the virtual tour.
VR Design Process
- Deploy it in on the phone, test with your choice of VR hardware
- Iteration, repeat until the scale and feel are right, as early and often as possible, what you see on the computer screen does not accurately represent what the experience is like in VR
- User Testing
- Iteration, repeat if needed
Designing and User Testings with 5 Casual VR users
How menus to be presented
- The menus placed on the ground
- The menus placed at angle of 70 degrees
- The menus placed perpendicular to the ground
- All users found the option 3 the easiest to read, however expressed it was not easy to identify the contents located the furthest. Also the gap between the Kyoto menu and the Tokyo menu forced the user to turn their position which was not ideal. The gap was created to show the entire map of Japan but the users didn’t care because their attention was more drawn to the visibility of the menus. After all, this gap did not enhance the user experience.
- Also the dots that indicate the location of both Kyoto and Tokyo were not effective. Many even didn’t notice they were there or if they did, they didn’t understand what they meant.
How to provide additional Information inside 360° films
Instead of leaving the user alone inside a 360° film, I wanted to give additional information about the destination to enhance their experience. First, I planned to use texts.
- Users were not quite satisfied with the amount of information offered on the screen.
- Users found it cluttered the screen and it was not worth it for the amount of information they were presented with.
- In some areas, the choice of text color worked but not at all in others. That frustrated all users.
Limitation of the real estate on the screen — This limits the amount of information significantly. The texts need to be readable, so further scaling down the font size was not an option.
Obscureness of the view — This project was built for a cardboard, that means the quality is not the best due to the capacities of the current available smartphones. So further compromising the visual elements seemed to be counterproductive.
Readability - Need for accommodating different background colors in 360° anytime — The texts used for information should be clearly readable. However, this was such a difficult task to accomplish since each 360° film has different background colors, quality of lights and so on. Finding a color that would be easy to read in all six 360° films, regardless of where the user looks at was impossible to achieve. Adding a translucent canvas for the text to be placed seemed to be a good idea however this, will further obscure the view. Especially, a product built for cardboard does not offer the best quality, hence adding more strain to the user’s eyes by presenting more reading materials in limited space is not an ideal option.
“Info” and “Exit” CTA buttons
Several versions were created and narrowed down to these two.
- “Info” and “exit” CTA buttons at every 180 degrees (total of 4 buttons), closer to the user
- “Info” and “exit” CTA buttons at every 120 degrees (total of 6 buttons), less close to the user
- Users preferred 2. “Info” and “exit” CTA buttons placed at every 120 degrees option
- Users had hard to time finding CTA buttons sometimes for both 1. and 2. options. The color of CTA buttons didn't work in some area due to the backgrounds.
Unless it’s intentional, don’t make the user to move more The users preferred option 2, because having both “Info” and “Exit” CTA buttons always in their view requires less body movements. Option 1 seemed to be visually less invasive but they’d rather not to remember where those buttons were. This preference may change in the future, once the standard of UX for VR has been established.
The most interesting film was forced to be deleted
Originally I had seven 360° films for this project, including the one taken in Nishiki market in Kyoto. However when I conducted user testings this film caused a mild simulation sickness to some of them. This film was shot with a handheld device while I was exploring the market to show interesting stores and interactions between merchants and customers. The causes of mild simulation sickness are:
- The acceleration was not constant linear. Sometimes I stopped and changed the pace of walking to look at stores.
- The user did not have autonomy of the movements and could not anticipate them. Surprised movement is more likely to induce simulator sickness.
- Also there was nothing visually static for the users to focus on. Hence it did not provide a good user experience. When this film was viewed on a computer as 360° film, it presented no simulation sickness at all, but it did with a cardboard. It was the most interesting film, at least in my opinion and it needed an extra editing that would require significant amount of time and the result was not guaranteed. For that reason, I was forced to delete it from the project.
- The menus are curved and the gap between them was minimized
- The location of both Kyoto and Tokyo were color-coded on the map and they match the title of the menu
- The “Info/audio” and “Exit” CTA buttons are placed in every 120 degree
- The “Info/audio” and “Exit” buttons are color-coded so that the user can easily distinguish one from the other
- The additional information is provided with audio. Each audio clip runs about 1 minute to give historical or other related information of the destination
- The 7th video (Nishiki Market) was deleted
How the User Moves in the project
Details of the menus (Shown in Top Views)
- Explore different UI design options
- Adjust the length of audio
- Create iOS version
- Make it downloadable on this page and get more feedback