Exploring the Depths of UX and Immersive Design

17 Dec 2020 • The Studio


UX Design Manager Anthony Pond looks ahead at the future of design and the challenge of delivering high-quality user experiences in the most effective and memorable ways.

Anthony Pond is working to translate and deliver complex design challenges to clients at Territory Studio in San Francisco. Before arriving in Silicon Valley, Anthony was Lead Designer at Montaag, creating and building experiences for industries such as technology and robotics, consumer electronics, and automotive. 

“My background has been focused on strategy and user experience from a practical and holistic standpoint,” Anthony explains. “Now my role extends to embrace visual and motion design, adding deeper value to UX in new and disruptive ways.”

Anthony’s work includes the development of new HMI paradigms, making UI feel tangible and realistic, as well as visualizing and communicating the value of big data insights. Recent work for ServiceNow highlights the importance of visuals to communicate the company’s unique offering. 

“ServiceNow automates business data to bring efficiency to the workplace,” Anthony says. “After examining its value proposition we created a desktop app that gathers data from multiple departments, presenting complex information to clients in a very powerful way. It was a difficult design challenge to see and interpret this data from so many different angles, building something that relies on big data to create a compelling visual experience, and something that allows ServiceNow to stand out proud from its competitors.”

Discussing design for brand interaction in more detail, Anthony notes that it’s not something tactile, not something you can hold in your hand: “The UX will be different for each brand,” he outlines. “Apple has a philosophy embracing poetry, creativity, and simplicity while Microsoft is more focused on mobility, business, and productivity. Each requires a different user experience because of differing expectations. UX needs to align directly with a brand’s personality. Your experience with a brand is what makes or breaks that relationship. This requires UI and UX motion design visualization specialists who can strengthen the potential of a brand’s offering.”


So, how is the right idea implemented to further augment the user experience? “Sometimes you need to rewind and figure out what you are using and why you are using it,” Anthony answers. “You stop and go back to the foundations.”

“It reminds me of drones designed to deliver one pizza at a time. It’s not economically viable, but this idea led to companies such as Pizza Hut who are revolutionizing pizza delivery by turning it over to robots inside prototype vehicles with a “kitchen” to cook pizza en route to the customer. Suddenly you realize that you don’t need a pizza restaurant…what you need is an oven on wheels. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you, both in choosing and implementing the right idea and technology. You just have to keep on thinking about it in different ways.”

Source: Toyota Motor

With HMI design planned for an upcoming fleet of Cadillac EVs, Anthony is excited by future prospects in electric mobility and autonomy, but also believes that the Internal Combustion Engine will still have its devout followers. 

“Look at steam trains,” he posits. “There is huge enthusiasm around the historical value of them, and kids just love steam engines. Traditional ICE cars will be the same, with all that noise and smell that touches the senses in a very different way than electric vehicles.”

While the studio operates in an evolving world of emerging technology that often feels like the wild, wild west, Anthony explains that some cutting-edge developments today will no longer be required in the future. For example, head’s up displays (HUDs) quickly lose their significance in a fully autonomous age.

“HUD is currently in development for improved safety, and something that we continue to work on, but what value does it hold when we are no longer driving? Maybe it can be developed for other uses such as discovery, projecting information on windows while passing places of significance? Or will HUD be used in emergencies when we need to take over control of the vehicle?” 

Meanwhile, work using Real Time 3D Engines have played an increasingly important role in the development of projects in the automotive space, real-time technology that is becoming a more integral part of the UX equation.

Source: Faraday Future

“Clients such as General Motors are embracing the future of real-time technology, allowing us to design for functional objects that have a bigger role to play in the world than apps and games,” says Anthony. “Real Time 3D Engines beautify, but we also need to discover benefits for the end-user in the process. It’s not just about pretty pictures.”

“We are moving away from the touch screen to embrace the 3D experience inside the vehicle, animating and lighting to communicate in a much more effective and productive way. This allows for less friction between user and object, a reduction of cognitive load while driving, and it sets the tone for an entire trip while allowing for a more luxurious experience. The automobile is becoming an exciting design space for us where everything operates with far less friction.”

Gaming also fascinates Anthony, an industry he believes can build on the potential of UX design. “A lot of nuances go into the design process for games that are truly remarkable,” he explains. “Look at eSports. It’s a massive global industry.”

“It is such an immersive experience. Even the tiniest of things, like communicating that a character is tired via small beads of sweat, work absolute wonders. These elements can be taken and used in real environments where a utility is needed.”


Meanwhile, as immersive and real-time technology become increasingly effective brands are seeking to optimize experiences using fancy new tech. “It used to be that we’d go to film as the inspiration around what new technology will look like,” Anthony says. “Brands see our future sci-fi tech work and aspire to have it, but our designs on-screen are there to enhance the storyline.”

“Technology is racing ahead with VR, AR, touchscreens, real-time 3D, and more, but we have to step back and ask questions before we embrace it. How can it be used in a practical and efficient way? How does the use of this particular technology translate into a memorable brand experience? It’s a fascinating journey to find these answers and see where technology is taking us, and learning how we can use technology in positive and beneficial ways.”

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