Vodafone DesignOps • May 2015 - November 2018
Microsoft. 3D for Everyone
Microsoft was the first tech giant showcasing to the world the potential of spatial computing. With Hololens v1, a new vision for the future was spearheaded and the audience marvelled with the promise of new ways of interacting with computers thanks to holograms and spatial interactions. However, the usability and performances gap to take full advantage of this new technology ware profound. I was lucky to be part of the Microsoft 3D for Everyone project, a monumental initiative aiming to democratize the potential of 3D visualization and share ideas like never before.
Understand the impact of 3D on new generations and define a new design language across devices, including AR\VR headsets, desktops, tablets, and mobile. To elevate the adoption of 3D as a vehicle to better express ideas and enhance productivity.
How can we extend the Paint3D Creation to non-traditional windows devices in a way that feels seamless and intuitive?
DESIGN FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION
MICROSOFT 3D FOR EVERYONE
My Role in the Project
Product Design UI Lead
After just a few months as Senior UX\UI Motion Designer contractor, I was asked to join the team as a permanent UI Lead on Paint3D and Mixed Reality Viewer. Partly as a hands-on designer, I acted as the second arm for the Principal Design Director based in Redmond. In this position, I advocated design thinking and UDC methodologies working in close partnership with the interaction team and provided steers on all the creative output for the mentioned products. I was also fortunate to collaborate side by side with the Remix 3D and Scan teams and influence product development. My role entailed mentoring and inspiring the team and help individuals to think outside the box, come up with new innovative immersive concepts, and create experiences never imagined before. I also liaised with program managers, researchers and engineers to identify customer journeys, define roadmaps and contribute to the broader 3D4E ecosystem development.
The scale of the challenge was massive, and Microsoft set up a monumental program to tackle the matter from different angles. Few departments were created to build a 3D ecosystem and enable global communities to consume 3D content intuitively. 3D for Everyone was made up of four main areas, including Mixed Reality Viewer, Paint 3D, Remix 3D Community and 3D Scan, with additional support for integration on the Office and Minecraft platforms. Each product was powered by entire studios located in London, Vancouver and Redmond, collaborating remotely daily. The 3D4E program was part of Windows NEXT, the most advanced technology wing within Windows, responsible for bringing innovation and original solutions across the Microsoft Windows OS and to more than 900M daily users.
How can we democratize 3D creation and enable our customers to quickly and intuitively consume three-dimensional content and achieve more?
PROGRAM FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION
The Hololens technology was at its infancy and far to be perfect and broadly accessible. The 3D for Everyone project focused on the new generations as the primary target audience, looking to establish a distinctive personality for this new Windows ecosystem. 3D for Everyone tools and products were very compelling. We discovered that these solutions could capture casual people and the most proficient creators outside of the GenZ category. This knowledge pushed us to be inclusive and create products and services that feel part of the Microsoft ecosystem, still giving hints of the future thanks to distinctive experiences and design languages generating differentiation and demand even beyond the already vast Microsoft offering.
As the creative lead for the project and to illustrate the art direction for the experience, its environments and props, I created reference maps and mood boards for all the assets needed for the demo. These documents were instrumental in inspiring and aligning the team and ensuring that all the VR experience elements would work suitably and aligned with the overarching goals.
Since early phases, we explored how the Paint3D user interface could also enable audiences to understand the third dimension. The goal was to convey the notion of depth and space and empower customers with an experience that would start from the desktop and end in the physical space leveraging the Hololens device. My approach was holistic and analytical. I went through deep phases of researches and realized that the simplest spatial interface affordance can determine a clear understanding of the interaction and guide the user through the layout hierarchy layers, still providing great accessibility and usability. I learned how the use of materials, lights, shadows, motion and environment could influence the user in determining the meaning of each UI component, still making sure that the visual treatments would resemble the Windows visual identity.
As a starting point of this adventure with the team, we worked on a video to create a solid vision for product development. We were at the beginning of our journey, and the name wasn't even definitive. We wanted Paint 3D to be comprehensive and bundled with all the platforms and capabilities, later to be split into separate integrated services like Remix 3D and 3D scan. The goal was to describe a digital product that could enable users to create three-dimensional content in few taps and remix existing objects from the community. True to our belief of being compelling to younger generations, we envisioned a young student's journey looking to submit an assignment to a school context. For this video, I provided the design direction and worked side by side with the video team and provided interaction concepts and visual designs for the storytelling. The outcome was presented several times to C-level stakeholders to get buy-in and ultimately influence the engineering teams. Many of the features we envisioned during those days are today a reality in the Paint3D end product, such as "Paint on 3D objects", 3D Doodle, "3D stickers", and "Magic selection".