About this design guidance

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to your design guidance for mixed reality.

This guidance is written by Microsoft designers, developers, program managers, and researchers. Work from our writers spans holographic devices, including HoloLens, immersive devices, andAcer, and HP Windows Mixed Reality headsets. We recommend thinking about this article as a set of topics for Windows head-mounted design.

We're entering a tremendously exciting new era of computing right along with you. Breakthroughs in head-mounted displays, spatial sound, sensors, environmental awareness, input, and 3D graphics lead and challenge us to define new types of experiences. The new frontier is dramatically more personal, intuitive, immersive, and contextual.

Wherever possible, we'll offer actionable design guidance with related code on GitHub. That said, because we're learning right along with you, we can't always offer specific, actionable guidance here. Some of what we share will be in the spirit of ‘lessons we’ve learned’ and ‘avoid going down that path’.

And we know, many innovations will be generated by the larger design community. So, we look forward to hearing from you, learning from you, and working closely with you. We’ll do our best to share our insights, even if they're exploratory and early. Our goal is to help developers and designers with their design thinking, best practices, and the related open-source controls, patterns, and sample apps that you can use directly in your own work.

Overview

Here’s a quick overview of how this design guidance is organized:

  • Overview - Learn about the design process, core concepts, and interaction factors to consider.
  • Core concepts - Learn about comfort, holographic frame, spatial mapping, and other core concepts to consider.
  • Interaction models - This guidance is structured around three primary interaction models.
  • UX elements - Use controls and behaviors as building blocks to create your own application experience.
  • Resources - Jump-start your project with design tools and prototyping options.

For all the above, we aim to deliver the right mix of text, illustrations, and videos. You’ll see us experimenting with different formats and techniques, all with the intent of delivering what you need. And in the months ahead, we’ll expand this taxonomy to include a broader set of design topics. Whenever possible, we’ll give you a heads-up about what is coming next, so keep checking back.

Objectives

Here’s a quick look at some high-level objectives that are guiding this work so you can understand where we’re coming from

Help solve customer challenges

Help solve customer challenges

We wrestle with many of the same issues that you do, and we understand how challenging your work is. It’s exciting to explore and define a new frontier… and it can also be daunting. Old paradigms and practices are being rethought, customers need new experiences, and there's so much potential for innovation. Given that we want this work to be as comprehensive as possible, moving well beyond a style guide. We aim to deliver a comprehensive set of design guidance that covers mixed reality interaction, commanding, navigation, input, and style – all grounded in human behavior and scenarios.

Point the way towards a new, more human way of computing

Point the way towards a new, more human way of computing

While it's important to focus on specific customer problems, we also want to push ourselves to deliver more. We believe great design isn't “just” problem-solving, but also a way to meaningfully activate human evolution. New ways of human behavior, interpersonal relationships, activities, and environments fuel our innovation. We want our guidance to reflect all these more aspirational ways of thinking too.

Meet creators where they are

Meet creators where they are

We hope many audiences find this guidance to be helpful. You have different skillsets (beginning, intermediate, advanced), use different tools (Unity, DirectX, C++, C#, other), are familiar with various platforms (Windows, iOS, Android), come from different backgrounds (mobile, enterprise, gaming), and are working on different size teams (solo, small, medium, large). So, this guidance can be viewed with different perspectives and needs. Whenever possible, we'll try to keep this diversity in mind, and make our guidance as relevant as possible to as many people as possible. We know that many of you're already on GitHub. So, we'll directly link to GitHub repos and forums to meet you where you already are.

Share as much as possible, from experimental to explicit

Share as much as possible, from experimental to explicit

One of the challenges of offering design guidance in this new 3D medium is that we don’t always have definitive guidance to offer. Just like you, we're learning, experimenting, prototyping, problem-solving, and adjusting as we hit obstacles. Rather than wait for some mythical future moment when we've it all figured out, we aim to share our thinking with you in real time, even if it isn't conclusive. Our end goal is to be definitive wherever we can, providing clear, flexible design guidance tied to open-source code, and actionable in Microsoft development and design tools. But getting to that point takes many rounds of iteration and learning. We want to engage with you, and learn with you, along the way. We'll do our best to share as we go, even with our stuff that is experimental.

The right balance of global and local design

The right balance of global and local design

We’ll offer two levels of design guidance: global and local. Our 'global' design guidance is included in the Fluent Design System. Fluent details how we think about fundamentals like light, depth, motion, material, and scale across all Microsoft design--our devices, products, tools, and services. That said, significant device-specific differences exist across this larger system. So, our 'local' design guidance for head-mounted displays describes designing for holographic and immersive devices that often have different input and output methods and different user needs and scenarios. Local design guidance covers topics unique to HMDs. For example: 3D environments and objects; shared environments; the use of sensors, eye tracking, and spatial mapping; and the opportunities of spatial audio. Throughout our guidance, you'll likely see us refer to both these global and the local aspects. Hopefully this will help you ground your work in a larger foundation of design while taking advantage of the design differences between specific devices.

Have a discussion

Have a discussion

Most importantly, we want to engage with you, the community of holographic and immersive designers and developers, to define this exciting new era of design. As mentioned above, we know we don’t have all the answers. That's why we believe many exciting solutions and innovations will come from you. We aim to be open and available to hear about them, and discuss with you online and at events, and add value wherever we can. We are excited to be a part of this amazing design community, embarking on an adventure together.

Dive in

We hope this introductory article provides some meaningful context as you explore our design guidance. Dive in, and let us know your thoughts in the GitHub forums you'll find linked in our articles, or at Microsoft Design on Twitter and Facebook. Let's co-design the future together!