Extended Reality in User Assistance

Extended Reality in User Assistance

VR, AR, MR, XR, the world is suddenly abuzz with two-letter confusing acronyms and no end to varied interpretations. Before we go into their role in User Assistance (UA), let's get the definitions clear.

On one end of the immersive experience spectrum lies Real Reality (RR), what we live in. The other end of the spectrum is Virtual Reality (VR) where nothing is real. The others fall in between and are collectively called Extended Reality (XR).

Augmented Reality (AR) is imagery supplementing the RR. Mixed Reality (MR) goes one step further by letting the user interact with the added elements. The possible interactions in MR range from basic haptic sensation, to the ability of changing the state of the virtual object.

With these technologies available through apps or headsets, the immediate use in UA will be training. Video is fast replacing the text material for "how-to" and feature demonstration. Augmenting it with interactive XR will take it to the next level, onboarding users in the fastest possible way. Any field that requires visual training such as driving or flying already incorporates simulation and XR will enhance it. Machinery usage and safety training can capitalize on XR for customized and self-paced learning.

Once users are familiar with the product, XR can guide in the detailed task execution. User engagement is always high with audio-visual enhancements to text, and interactive XR elements will make learning much more fun. Various theories have established that hands-on interactive learning has a much better retention and XR will make it easier.

Some product companies have incorporated interactive graphics, chatbots, and help popping in mobile apps when pointed at the screen. Context based XR apps are prompting users to take right action, which machine learning algorithms can use to refine the response next time.

It won't be long before XR becomes commonplace in UA, unleashing the power of technology for the ultimate aim of engaging users effectively.