UX/UI • RESEARCH
YouTube Mixed Reality
YouTube is one of the most popular video streaming platforms on the internet, regularly being used by people of all ages and backgrounds. How do we keep such a prominent brand relevant within a growing technological world and how do we further bring the community together through video sharing? Introducing YouTube Mixed Reality: allowing users to connect with others in a holographic space, even when they’re far apart, and elevating video sharing interaction to an entirely new level.
For my User Experience Design class at Western Washington University, my partner and I were tasked to reboot and elevate a brand of our choice. We chose YouTube and envisioned what it could look like in 5-10 years. This was a 4-week long project.
User / Market Research
Lo-fi and Hi-fi Prototyping
UI & Motion Design
Research & Journey Maps
We started off our project by doing research on YouTube — on its history, mission statements, company goals, and statistical user research. From this, we found that most users (around 70%) watched YouTube on the mobile app, so we originally decided to focus on that.
We created multiple journey maps to understand how users commonly interact with the app — this was one of them.
We realized from our journey maps that since the app is already well established, the pain points that our users experienced were minor.
We then conducted several rounds of interviews and surveys to either confirm or debunk our journey maps. We asked questions both about the YouTube app and about YouTube in general, including:
What they wish they can do on YouTube
What pain points they were experiencing
Their interest in emerging technology such as VR, AI, and AR. This was a rising trend for various media platforms in the market.
User Research Results
The results confirmed our journey map findings — participants did not report any major pain points and were mainly frustrated about things we couldn't address in this project, such as video ads or video algorithms. They did, however, express a lot of interest in…
Being able to watch videos with their friends and family members
Being a part of a community
Seeing new technology on YouTube.
So we decided to really hone in on this.
We researched our main video streaming competitors, Vimeo and Netflix, to see what our brand can do to stand out, and reinforce its company mission. There was a huge opportunity in implementing emerging technology.
Mixed Reality Research
As we went deeper into our research with VR, AR, and AI, we learned about new Mixed Reality technology, such as the Microsoft HoloLens. We saw more opportunity in this compared to VR and AR, because of its ability to combine physical spaces with interactive holographic projections.
We brainstormed possibilities based off of our user needs and wants, and from common user journeys on YouTube we had found during our initial research phase. This included tutorials and game walkthroughs. Here are a couple of those concepts:
What if cooking tutorials could show users step by step holograms in their actual kitchen space, making the process much more seamless?
What if instead of watching a live game walkthrough by your favorite YouTuber, you can experience aspects of the game in your own space? As the YouTuber is moving the game character through a forest, you can see the forest animals and plants right in your own living room, making the game come alive.
Through this, we ran into a lot of questions (mostly technical) about how these ideas could be implemented. We asked how the YouTube content creators themselves could even produce this type of content. These were questions that we couldn’t answer due to current technological limitations, so we did more research.
Virtual Chat Room Research
After doing more research, we discovered Microsoft Holoportation. With this method, sensors are set up in the room, allowing you to create a 3D rendering of yourself and import it into a different user's headset. This showed us that interactive technology does exist, giving us confidence to zone in on a direction for the first step of the design — allowing users to interact with their friends and community. This was also a big mission statement for YouTube: bringing the community together through video sharing.
To connect people around the world through interactive video sharing
We wanted our project to directly address the questions we had at the beginning: How do we keep such a prominent brand relevant in this rising technological world and how do further connect people through video sharing? We zoned in on a “Virtual Watch Party” feature.
Before fleshing out the Virtual Watch Party designs, we first had to develop the basics: how do we even display and interact with the holograms?
Sketches & Wireframes
The black outlines in these wireframes represent your physical space and the red represents interface projections. Since we were starting with basics, we envisioned what it could look to see projections of your favorite YouTubers whenever you go on their channel.
We tested these UI patterns and flows often with our classmates throughout our process. We gave them a list of hand gestures that they can use to interact with the interface. It was clear from our paper and InVision prototypes how big of a learning curve this was for people. We decided we needed something to help them through the learning process.
Toolie is our Artificial Intelligence with a personality. She is there in the onboarding process when you first activate the headset. She introduces you to the new technology and gives you tips along the way. She’s also the one that will respond and carry out tasks when the user uses voice commands.
Iterating and Refining
After creating a foundation for the user interface of the platform, and exploring voice commands and gestures, we started exploring the “Watch Party” concept. This is where users can watch videos with their friends, family members, and far-away loved ones through holographic technology. This allows them to experience the fun of a “watch party” in their own homes, even when people are in different countries.
After this, we went through more rounds of iterations, reviews, testing, and refining. We then evaluated our design solutions against our original user and business needs, finalized it, and created a pitch deck to present to our class.
Our exploration was a foundation for what YouTube could look like in the Mixed Reality space. In the future, I could see this Watch Party concept being fleshed out, along with this technology being implemented for other aspects of YouTube (such as for the various concepts we had brainstormed during the project). If we had more time, I would test this concept with real YouTube users, and refine the concept until we find something that best accomplishes our goal.
Thanks for reading!