In a survey with over 50 XR experts, we delved into the key elements shaping positive and negative XR experiences. The standout finding: current systems struggle to accommodate those with significant vision challenges and more broadly, cater to just about half of the general population. Our next step is to undertake a Delphi study (a method for generating consensus amongst experts) to provide guidance on best practices for XR design.
We have been delving deep into the design of Extended Reality (XR) experiences to understand current capabilities and limitations so that we can generate the evidence to inform best practices.
Through an expert-focused survey, we connected with over 50 experts to gather their insights. Our main goal was to identify where XR shines and where it brings real benefits. Our experts noted several successful applications across a range of areas- from entertainment to education and healthcare. For example, in healthcare, XR's immersive features are improving patient experiences while in education, XR has the potential to revolutionize teaching delivery by allowing for more active learning experiences.
However, our research also highlighted challenges, particularly in user experience (UX). The success of XR depends on several factors, such as how user-friendly the technology is, the purpose of the application, and the comfort of the user. Feedback from our survey emphasized these points, suggesting that a well-rounded approach, considering both the technology (from software and hardware) and human factors, is essential for XR to thrive. You can see a word cloud of the themes that emerged from our survey below.
Figure 1: Word Cloud of Survey Responses.
A major concern emerging from the responses to our survey was the issue of accessibility. We asked our experts to rate how accessible they believed current XR technologies are for a range of different demographic groups. The results were striking: our experts believe that those with significant vision issues find it almost impossible to use current XR systems. Additionally, those with certain cognitive impairments or lacking tech skills (digital literacy) also face hurdles (see Figure below). Our respondents suggested that current XR tools might only be suitable for about half of all people, highlighting an urgent need for more inclusive XR designs.
Figure 2: Accessibility of current XR technologies for different demographic groups, as assessed by experts with the least accessible on the left side and the most accessible on the right side.
In conclusion, while XR has shown great potential in several sectors, there's still a lot to tackle. Our next phase involves a Delphi study (a method for generating consensus amongst experts), aiming to gather consensus on the best ways to design XR. Our ultimate goal is to curate a library of XR experiences that embody these best practices to share widely so that we can benefit individuals and the XR industry at large.