project prompt

to design an extended reality platform for people with physical impairments.

initial prompt

to design an extended reality platform for a real estate agency.

Role
ux/ui/xr designer

Timeline
January to April ’23
Duration
11 weeks
Client
ERA algés/miraflores

Tools
figma
ipanorama 360
photoshop
illustrator
spotify

initial briefing

about era

era algés/miraflores is a real estate portuguese franchisee in algés, portugal.

This agency provides clients with solutions for buying, selling, or renting properties – not only located in lisbon, but also in the whole portuguese territory (~45%). This data triggered the need of advertising these listings remotely to their clients through their costumer experience channels:

1. their instore/remote costumer service

2.
their internal/external network of shared real estate consulting

3. their social media platforms

4. their institutional website

5. an online catalogue app

 

Agencies started to advertise property posters on their storefronts. Some years ago, they realised that interactive screens could boost passing-byers engagement.

how can xr technologies help real estate businesses and costumers?

Since always, real estate agencies have used a business model based on a product promotion strategy initially sustained in physical formats, later adapting to the trends and needs of different types of users with the promotion of digital formats (social media, websites, online ads, etc.).

XR technology could be this next step further, allowing for a greater sense of space occupation though your smarthphone, making it easier to access the experience and three-dimensionality of a space remotely: saving considerable time and resources for both the agent and the potential client.

On the other hand, accessing a space online in three dimensions allows greater accessibility to potential clients with physical disabilities, whether due to circumstance or physical impairments.

process

undoubtfully i felt this project could have a positive impact in a group of costumers of this particular agency. however, i realised that it could only be possible with a yet inceptive tool with lots of technical, perhaps ethical and even financial restrictions.

so an extensive research was necessary: to understand what is known & used nowadays about the xr technology scope, to understand different kind of users within real estate relations, competitive audits and to understand what technology should be used and how it would successfully impact users with special concerns, business relations and user experience/interaction.

In this project, I opted to develop a deep quantitative research to integrate the state-of-the-art of the xr technologies in order to develop a product that could be used by all generations in their mobile phones.

research

began this journey with a dive In the deep scope of xr technologies, to understand better its variations: understood then that virtual reality (vr), augmented reality (ar) and mixed reality (mr) aim to blend the physical and digital worlds in different ways, concepts and tools:

1. virtual reality
Fully immerses users in a computer-generated, isolated virtual environment, typically experienced through headsets or vr glasses.

2. augmented reality
Overlays digital content onto the real world, blending virtual elements with the user's physical surroundings through devices like smartphones or ar glasses.

3. mixed reality
Combines elements of both vr and ar, allowing digital and real-world elements to coexist and interact within the user's environment.

then, it was necessary to frame these technologies on the current real estate market in the us – the world’s most developed real estate market. how is xr impacting the real estate businesses there? what can we predict in portugal in some years? what’s the impact on users with physical disabilities?

0 bn

XR market value by 2030

0 %

Increase of conversions that simple XR innovations like 3D content can outcome

0 %

Distribution of the XR market area in the real estate market in 2022

0 %

of customers now expect retailers to offer at least an XR experience

0 %

Brand awareness increases by up to 70% with the use of creative ar for customer engagement

0 /5

Almost 1 in 5 US consumers have used a vr product in 2020

0 %

of customers say they would shop more if they had access to AR

0 %

would definitely choose to shop with a store that has VR over one that doesn’t.

0 %

customers revealed they were already using augmented reality as part of their shopping experience in 2020.

strenghts
1. service streamlining
2. immersive user experience
3. better product awareness
4. market differentiation
5. accessibility features for physical impairments
6. general costs reducing

opportunities
1. space customization (a.r.)
2. interaction features for user engagement

weaknesses
1. motion sickness, eye strain, fatigue,
physical injuries through misuse of vr headsets
2. high costs of development implementation
3. high costs of gear acquisition (vr headsets, etc.)
4. reduced social engagement

threats
1. cyber-hacking (general and data's)
2. misuse of data
3. invasion of physical personal space

weaknesses and threats reconversion

after laying down the weaknesses and threats of xr technologies, I realised that strenght and opportunities could be translated into current xr tools in order to funnel the ‘ux define’ phase. 

high costs of gear acquisition (vr headsets, etc.)

motion sickness, eye strain, fatigue, physical injuries through misuse of VR headsets

use of mobile/desktop 360 panoramic product instead of headset virtual platforms.

property misrepresentation

high costs of development implementation

use of actual 360 photos from the existent properties instead of designed virtual representations.

cyber-hacking (general and data's)

misuse of data

concerns handled to the developer.

invasion of physical personal space

concern handled to the service agent.

user research

after defining what the ideal xr technology to be used, it was studied how it would impact user needs. So, two personas were then defined:

  1. the client
  2. the agent

meet the client
carlos santos

62 yo retired civil engineer, has lipedema for 10 years, making it really difficult to walk.
Born and lives in bragança.

frustrations
1. feels his disease profoundly impacts his mode of living, specially his motion.
2. doesn't trust intermediary services and wants to closely supervise the whole process.
3. feels that his health problems may negatively influence the process of purchasing a new home.

goals
1. to move to the portuguese sea coast;
2. to find a more quiet and private space to live in;
3. to directly be involved through his smartphone in a real estate process of acquiring his life dream property, despite his motion problems;

carlos wants a clear and streamlined process of purchasing his new home.

meet the agent
josé castilho

48 yo Real Estate founder at a small agency. Lives in Lisbon with his wife and kids.

frustrations
1. feels it is harder to deal with intermediary services
2. thinks photography services are too expensive and outdated;
3. knows that vr/ar/xr are the future of real estate services;
4. feels that it is difficult to differentiate from the competition.

goals
1. to set a direct communication model with his clients overseas
2. to make a statement in the real estate business.

josé wants to integrate xr technologies to streamline his daily work and flexible schedule.

pain point I
real estate agents often work long hours and have to juggle multiple tasks at once.

pain point II
the real estate industry is highly competitive, and agents need to be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

pain point III
clients find difficult to trust in intermediary services and in some cases to remotely recognize the value of a property they are investing money in.

pain point Iv
costumers costumers with motion health problems find hard to visit a large number of property listings and to directly talk with different real estate agents/agencies.

define

defining the platform structure

it was clear to me that autonomy from the user to navigate through a product to visualize properties and to get to know more about their features, specially if it has the capability of avoiding most of the threats that were numbered above.

From this point, it was also clear to me that this product would be design in a shape of an online virtual catalog that would contain:

  1. a front page with sections in the shape of an online store.
  2. a property page, where the users may know more about a certain property;
  3. a virtual tour, embed in the app or displayed through an external web link, that leads to a CTA/contact section.
ideate

Some rapid ideas were drawn in order to speed-idealize what could the user flow help on interacting with a XR visualization of a property.

visualization of how virtual tour guidance with the use of headsets would work for user with physical impairments/or without much knowlegdge on using devices in a daily basis.
visualization of how virtual tour guidance through distance web calls would work for user with physical impairments/or without much knowlegdge on using devices in a daily basis.
speed-idealization of the virtual tour guidance with full autonomy through the use of an app with different properties and locations. Integration of tooltips to present information and special features.
design

wireframing & lo-fi

homepage

property page

homepage

property page

xr design

Enabling direct mouse interaction on desktop or finger interaction on mobile devices — including actions like clicking, hovering, and dragging — was a deliberate choice. This approach not only enhances the user experience but also offers feedback, instills a sense of control, and enhances overall usability. Integrating interactive elements into a website contributes to a more engaging and immersive experience, fostering a connection that goes beyond passive browsing.

wide array & zoom in/out
makes visual content immersive increases product understanding creates user control provides experience autonomy

mouse hover
provides visual feedback improves user engagement helps guide user behavior enhances user experience

product tooltips/hotspots
increases product understanding improves usability reduces cognitive load provides additional information

high-fidelity prototype

homepage

property page

accessibility

finger design for
the left-handed

the design for the left hand thumb interaction was considered, easing the experience for the left-handed and for situational touch (ex: broken right arm)

colour contrast display
in order to organize the multiple static and sticky elements, a #F5F5F5 background colour was joint with three additional contrast colours. e

permanent & situational mobility
the essence of this project aims primarly to access virtually properties through a device.

final considerations

next steps

In the short term, my focus lies on refining the user experience for various devices. I will develop prototypes tailored for tablets, desktops, and storefront televisions to ensure a seamless online catalog experience across different screens. This iteration aims to enhance accessibility and usability, catering to users who prefer diverse devices for their real estate exploration.

Looking towards the medium to long term, I am committed to inclusivity in our online catalog design. Investment in features like screen reader compatibility, catering to users with visual impairments. Additionally, I will develop ways to enhance the experience for users with impairments related to hearing and proprioception, ensuring that 360 walkthroughs are not only visually engaging but also accessible to a broader audience. By incorporating these iterations, I will towards creating an inclusive and immersive online catalog for real estate agencies, setting the stage for a more accessible and user-friendly future.

what i learned

This project had been truly pleasing to approach once I feel that XR is an exciting new technology still in a state-of-the art progress. I have been feeling that this is a tool that enhances the costumer experience and demands a lot of technical knowledge and constant iteration to be successfully applied particularly in the real estate market.

thank you!