Ambiens & BMW M2 Mixed Reality – XR Products

What is XR (Extended Reality).?

Imagine being fully immersed in a design or experiencing a new product before its being build. Or meeting a friend face to face when they are really across the world. Extended reality or XR encompasses around virtual reality, Augmented reality, and mixed reality.

VR is an experience of fully entering into an environment to interact with virtual objects instead of viewing an interface and only imagining it.

AR Alternatively is an experience in which virtual elements are added to the real world rather than a person being immersed in a virtual world. These elements are integrated to fit appropriately in real spaces.
MR is a mix of these experiences with Virtual and Real-world elements interacting within one environment. These forms of XR are made possible with an array of devices including Mobile and VR Headsets.

Extended Reality (XR) is nothing, but an umbrella term comprises of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR).

Extended Reality XR

There could be endless applications of XR, following are a few of the major domains: –

  • Entertainment & Gaming
  • Healthcare
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Food
  • eCommerce and Retails
  • Education
  • Real State
  • Workspace
  • Defense
  • Travel and Tourism

Among them, two applications excite me the most as their practical implementations are productive and have a huge scope for further development for the betterment of the world. These two products are: –

  1. Ambiens
  2. BMW M2 Mixed Reality

1. Ambiens XR Viewer

These days, professional Architects, and real estate professionals face difficulties in explaining their projects to clients or potential investors. Convincing someone without any imagination is quite difficult, to overcome this issue, Ambiens (A Tech Creative Company) came up with an XR visualization and simulation solution where the entire house is simulated using AR and is being presented to the customer as if they can feel the actual house. Their architects and designers go to the site and create a plan of how the place will look after the construction and the same is provided to the XR developer. Now, with the help of Augmented Reality, he created a virtual design and saves its link into a bar code, and that bar code is placed at that location. So, when the customer arrives, he just scans the barcode with his mobile phone and can observe the final product in that empty space.

Ambiens XR Viewer Application

Features of Ambiens

In the field of Real States, Ambiens provides some features of Realistic Visualizations advantages as follows: –

  • High-definition Rendering
  • Video Tour
  • 3-D Interactive Model and Maquette
  • Augmented Reality
  • 360° Interactive and Immersive Navigations

This product helps the customer to connect with Architecture and Designer’s thoughts and can make required changes as per the requirement, moreover, can feel the changes without any confusion.

Ambiens XR Viewer demonstration

Scope of Improvement

It’s a well-developed product but there are a few key points missing out there which adds a huge difference with the cost of any real-state property. Such as – “View from the Balcony”, and “Sunlight entering through the window”. Which could be added to this project if a responsive VR Simulation could have been created.

Suppose: –  

  1. In that product, while seeing the house, you go to the balcony and see a beautiful sight of a beach or some forest. This way, customers can feel like they are physically observing the property and that mesmerizing sight makes them buy the property that instant.
  2. Some people like natural light and the breeze entering the house through the windows. This can’t be presented with an AR demonstration. But in a Metaverse, it can. Based on the customer’s requirements, the builder can make necessary changes.

2. BMW M2 Mixed Reality

BMW proposed a gamic experience for those customers who want to be a part of a car race with the motto of “drive the change – change to drive”. Though this concept is still not available to the public but has the potential to change the way of traditional Car Race. In this, BMW used Mixed Reality where the driver drives a real car on a real track/road but what he views is not a real-world entity. He is basically taken into a Virtual Environment of his favorite car racing game, where this gadget demonstrates himself as a gaming car racer on a racing track and exciting music. This gadget creates the racing track on the basis of the road and obstacle of the real world and maps it into a virtual world with some additional gamic graphics and sound effects. There is also a virtual reality headset, which the driver of the aforementioned BMW M2 must wear. Inside this virtual reality headset is a virtual world that is programmed by BMW M to represent something called ‘M Town’.

BMW M2 Mixed Reality Complete Setup

They have also installed a “SmartTrack” by ART which is an integrated tracking system inside the car to track the driver’s head movement. It has 2 wind-angle cameras and a controller integrated into a single housing with the compatibility to sync with other devices. Which overall corresponds to increasing the frequency and decreasing the latency for the VR application, hence resulting in more accuracy.

BMW M2 Mixed Reality experience

Features of BMW M2 Mixed Reality

Team BMW tried to provide: –

  • Gamic and sporty experience with real motion, which in turn have negligible motion sickness.
  • Used SmartTrack for more accuracy
  • Provided 360° Navigation
  • High-Definition Rendering

Scope of Improvement

It could have been implemented in a real-world traffic scenario keeping all the traffic rules and regulations in mind. Moreover, a smart, and intelligent systems can detect all roadside signposts and modify the game scenario based on that making car driving more fun and relaxing. In this way, after a long and hectic working day, one can enjoy the ride back home with a gaming experience. Moreover, the Smart system will try to make the driving experience more comfortable, safe, and enjoyable.


The possibilities of XR are endless so what does the future hold for extended reality? It’s expected to improve with sophisticated and more affordable hardware, faster rendering, and more detailed modeling. More industries will implement XR in more areas including education, hobbies, health, sports, and work. Eventually, people may move into a mixed reality environment in an interconnected metaverse. This might include working together with innovators, production entities, and offices everywhere to increase knowledge, invent intelligently, implement resources intelligently, and solve more intricate problems. XR extends reality in many ways. Increasing understanding of the real world and inviting people to move beyond the edges of it into something previously unimaginable.


  1. SmartTracker – “” and “”
  2. Ambiens XR Viewer – “”
  3. BMW M2 Mixed Reality – “” and “” and “”

Explore the Mona Lisa in Virtual Reality (VR)

Introduction of Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass

In 2019, the Louvre launched its first virtual reality experience, Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass, during the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition. Through the immersive experience, the audience would be able to appreciate the famous art piece at a close distance and learn the details behind it. This is an application of VR in the fields of both education and tourism.

Why do I like it?

I physically visited the Louvre in 2018, and have seen the Mona Lisa with my own eyes. However, about 30,000 tourists come to visit the Mona Lisa every day from around the world, and undoubtedly I was only able to take a quick look at the famous art piece from meters away in the crowd. The presence of Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass provides me with a brand-new experience of visiting the painting virtually, which allows me to closely study the painting and explore the mysteries of the Mona Lisa in no hurry. As the audience, I love the interactive design of the application and I appreciate its educational value. With this application, more people would be able to “visit” Mona Lisa and learn more about this great masterpiece.

Why is it engaging?

The understanding of art should not only be learned by explanations, but by experience as well.

The design of this application is interactive, with sound, images, and animations. The virtual experience follows a storytelling style. The story of the Mona Lisa is told during the virtual tour, and the details of the painting are presented to the audience with clear explanations. Different sides of the Mona Lisa are presented to the audience so that the audience can understand the painting in more aspects.

What features are well done?             

One amazing feature of the application is that the audience is able to see how the look of the painting changes over the years in the virtual space. It is what the audience cannot see in the real world, but this virtual application gives the audience the chance to view history. It is also amazing that a 3D model of Mona Lisa is built into the application, so the audience can see the woman in 360 degrees and watch her elegant moves.

What features can be improved?

From my own perspective, this is a rather perfect application and it is an art piece itself. If I have to give some advice for improvements, I would suggest that maybe the view of the landscape of the painting at the end of the virtual tour can be presented in a more real-world view instead of in a painting style, so the experience can be more genuine to the audience.


Remarkerable Beat Saber, from an 8-year music player’s view

I’ve been a music game player for more than 8 years, supposed to be picky enough about them. But I still could not forget the shock brought to me by the first sight of Beat Saber, so that whenever VR comes to my mind, Beat Saber comes up. And the first thing I did after switching to a 2060 PC, was to buy a VR device to play it.

Dance Monkey • Expert • Beat Saber • Mixed Reality [1]

Published since 2018, Beat Saber is now still a widely praised VR Game on Steam. The content of Beat Saber is good, but it couldn’t achieve such a huge success without VR. On my first sight of it, a player was like a brave warrior, wielding two fantastic red and blue swords, like sword-dance, nimbly avoiding the oncoming light wall, with gorgeous light effect and epic BGM sound effect. This sums up why Beat Saber is so enaging: the strong visual impact brought by VR, the wonderful interactive UI, and the sense of engaging rooted in a music game.

Immersive VR’s application

Too many wonderful music games I’ve tried, so that I won’t cast a glance at average ones. However, in Beat Saber, it differs. Vivid music blocks, FLY onto your face, and you waving your awesome lightswords, like dancing to the beat, especially in a unacquainted wonderland. What an impressive experience! And it’s what VR can offer, a fictional world full of fancy.

Less is more. Simple UI but a multisensory interation.

[Beat Saber] YOASOBI – Racing into the Night (Yoru ni Kakeru) Collaboration with MASO [2]

On the first sight of Beat Saber, you can find there are few words in it. Instead, you are embraced by a new music world where there are many instructions hiding in the properties of objects, from sight, hearing to touch. For example, the red/blue sword is to split red/blue blocks, arrows on blocks tell you in which direction to split them, feedback like an electric shock tell you bombs and walls are to elude, and etc. All of these make the game are easy to play, like you are born to know.

Sense of engaging rooted in a music game

Hearing plays an important in our life. Even without sight, simply a piece of music can make one feel sense of engaging. In some extend, “VR in sound” is the earlist and mature technology in VR developmenyt. As a music game, Beat Saber’s sound effect is no doubt excellent. In my opinion, when a VR application is able to offer me wonderful sight and hearing experience, it’s praisable enough.

Limitations of nowadays VR interation

Not just Beat Saber, nowadays many VR applications’ interation is limited to 6 DoF VR Controller. However, due to the limited technology of the current spatial positioning equipment, the interaction between the base station and the headset VR controller will cause disorder after the user moves his/her body greatly. During the game involving movement of entire body, users may find themselves gradually move to a direction where VR controllers don’t work well.

What’ more, space is much more expensive than VR equipments. These kinds of VR applications equire a lot of space, and in small rooms, such as bedrooms, it is difficult to play, likely to hit the furniture in the room. As a result, the highest cost of this game is to have a wide room rather than a VR device, which will make such kind of VR applications not applicable.


In a conclusion, nowadays a successful VR application, in my opinion, should be a VR+X application. Only VR doesn’t work. When it combine with a good content, in this article, a wonder music game, it may be potential to gain a success.


[1] Dance Monkey • Expert • Beat Saber • Mixed Reality, xoxobluff, Youtube

[2] [Beat Saber] YOASOBI – Racing into the Night (Yoru ni Kakeru) Collaboration with MASO, Artemisblue, Youtube

Hololy – The AR app that brings your idol to the real world.

Hololy is an Augmented Reality (AR) application that allows you to project 3d anime girls into the real world through your phone. The application allows you to choose from a selection of models, poses as well as dances that allows your AR model to appear as if they are right where you are.

How it works.

The main attraction of the application is the ability to use your creativity to bring the 2D world into the 3D world and make interesting pictures as well as videos. First, the application identifies a flat piece of area where the model can be suitably placed, this prevents the model from floating in thin air. This piece of area will be a reference point where the model is. After confirming the location, you can then place the model and rotate around. Moving the camera around will show different perspectives of the model, as if the model itself was really in said area. From then, the user can choose poses, expressions and dance moves to make the model look as if it were alive in the place.

What makes it fun?

The idea that you can see something usually seen in the 2d world, whether it be from a cartoon or game, in a 3d sense is pretty amazing. Usually we see 3d models and animation through a 2d screen, and hence your perspective is locked through that screen. Though perspective may change, the user is glued at the same spot. Through this AR app, the user can see and feel, how we can see a model in different ways and how it fits in with the environment. The idea that you can position your model to sit on a chair, or let them dance in your room allows a lot of wacky photos to be taken.

Things to improve on

The first glaring thing upon using the app is that the 3d models are lighted in a consistent way. Thus, it conflicts with how the lighting is at the environment. There will be shadows appearing on sides where it is clearly lighted in the scene. If the app could allow tracking of light through machine learning it could enhance the immersion as it would fit more into the picture.

The second thing was the identification of a base to stand on was not very accurate. At times the model would seem like it’s floating in the air. Also, restricting the reference point to standing actions limits the creativity of poses. For example, they could do sitting or leaning poses where the reference point would be on furniture. This would enhance the experience as standing straight up in someone’s house isn’t the most natural pose to be in.


Hololy is a decent app for AR immersion, especially for fans of the anime characters. It allows you to utilize your creativity along with the AR powers of the application to create memorable photos and videos. However, there is plenty of room for improvement as the model does not really fit in with the 3d world.


[2022/23S2 CS4240 VAR] XR – Ikea Kreativ


Ikea Kreativ is a Virtual Reality (VR) design tool to help customers visualise how furniture will look like in their room. Powered by VR and AI-technology, home redesign/renovation is made easy, helping customers to visualise their ideas into their home. Features include:

  1. Scanning of users’ room using iPhone camera to accurate capture room dimensions.
  2. Remove of existing furniture and placing virtual furniture in its place to see its fit.
  3. Availability of more than 50 virtual showrooms for users to place furniture in.
  4. Includes more than thousands of furniture and decorations for users to interact with.
Figure- Ikea Kreativ

What do I like it?

Ikea Kreativ provides the convenience and hassle-free of redesigning space, skipping the process of measuring furniture, space and provides users the ability to imagine their space not just in their mind but right in front of their eyes.

It also provides good variety of customisability, with over thousands of furniture, decoration, and accessories, allowing user to customise their space with. The ability to select items to remove in the room further provides greater customisability for users who wish to integrate new items into the space containing existing items.

Why is it engaging?

I found the application engaging because of the good degree of freedom it provides. Ikea Kreativ allows user to adjust Ikea items with ease, through rotation and movement around the space, just like how user would move their items in real life.

What features are done well?

Ikea’s furniture into the virtual space/room does a good job in allowing users to picture the proportion of the furniture to the room. With Ikea Kreativ’s VR element, it helps to visualise how items would look like in users’ space, skipping the hassle of having to measure the dimensions of furniture and room.

The wide selection of items and showroom also does a good job replicating Ikea’s real-life stores, allowing users to browse through item selections, without comprising the experience users get from real-life stores.

What features could be improved and how?

Though marked as a selling point, the erasing tool is not perfect. For example, when removing existing items, the software does not perfectly understand how to fill in the empty space. On this note, this can be improved by feeding the software more data to learn. Nonetheless, it does not obstruct users in adding Ikea’s furniture into the space. Afterall, the eraser tool is a new feature and I believe Ikea will continue to improve it to make a better user experience.

Another feature I think could be improved on is the degree of freedom to navigate around the room. This would require more devices, such as head-mounted display and tracker, allowing users to “feel” its surrounding space and the ambience the new environment (new environment here refers to the space after user completes with setting up the space) creates.


Porter, J. (22, June 22). Ikea’s new virtual design tool deletes your furniture and replaces it with Ikea’s. Retrieved from The Verge:

Wilson, M. (2022, June 22). Ikea’s new app deletes your living room furniture so you can buy even more. Retrieved from Fast Company:

IKEA Launches AI-Powered “Kreativ” Mixed Reality App. (2022, June 22). Retrieved from Hypebeast:

An Immersive Shopping Experience with Shopify AR


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic over the past few years, the use of AR in the retail sector grew rapidly. It is even estimated that by the year 2025, up to 4.3 billion people would be using AR on a frequent basis. Top reasons cited by more than 40% of global consumers for not shopping online are — not being able to see products in-person and not being able to try things out before making a purchase. With AR and VR, fit uncertainty can be reduced, increasing confidence in purchase by providing a more immersive shopping experience.

Shopify AR

An example of how consumers can use Shopify AR

Shopify is an e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sales systems. It allows retailers to set up online stores and provides many different services and solutions for the convenience of both retailers and consumers. One of the services Shopify provides is Shopify AR, bringing a new dimension to customer service with the Augmented Reality (AR) experience. 

Introduced in 2018, Shopify AR allows retailers to create interactive and personal AR experiences for their consumers on iOS devices, where products can be viewed from all angles and scale via the web browser, Safari.

Immersive Shopping Experience

According to a research conducted, the four broad uses of AR technologies utilised in the retail settings – to entertain customers, educate customers, help customers evaluate product fit, and enhance their post-purchase consumption experience. Shopify AR has use cases at every stage of the customer journey that retailers can leverage on.

Rebeca Minkoff shoppers can virtually ‘place’ 3D models in their environment with AR

One of the features is showcasing the product from different angles and scales via any iOS device with a camera and Safari. The consumer would also be able to place the object in their environment using AR technology, to visualise how the product would look and feel like if it were there. This simple feature entertains customers, due to its ability to transform inanimate 2-dimensional objects into 3-dimensional, animated and interactive objects, which creates fresh experiences that entertain and captivates customers. Additionally, by having the physical environment as a background to the virtual products, consumers can visualise how products would appear in their actual environment and context, helping consumers to give a more accurate evaluation about the given product. The brand, Reveba Minkoff also reported that there are 65% more likely to purchase when they utilised this feature on their website.

A traditional retail display reimagined in AR.

Shopify AR allows retailers to go beyond showcasing their products and having the consumers place them in their environment. Firstly, Retailers can choose to recreate a traditional retail displayed in the virtual setting. There would be no need to consider the physical restraints of space and inventory, and consumers would be able to explore the virtual space and products from the comforts of their home. Being a rather new technology, engaging AR displays would also be an avenue to enhance marketing campaigns and product launches.

Secondly, retailers can also create their own immersive local AR experience to enhance the shopping experiences of customers. For example, in a collaboration between the Jordan Brand, Snapchat, Shopify, and Darkstore for a pre-release sneaker during the NBA All-Star game in February of 2018, customers invited to the exclusive event were prompted to scan a mobile Snap code that reveals the new sneakers. The sneakers can then be purchased and delivered to them on the same day.

Demonstration of how a Gramovox floating record player is installed using AR animation.

Lastly, the platform can also be utilised to enhance consumers’ post-purchase experience. It can help to put products into context and provide more valuable and personalised information with clear and simple graphics. For instance, after a customer receives a product, an interactive tour can show them how to assemble and install the product they just purchased. In the video above, each part of the installation process is slowly animated to add a new, 3D visual that helps customers better understand the instruction manual included.

If brands and retailers can offer this post-purchase experience, customers could get more immediate and long-term value from the product, which improves their purchase experience and general satisfaction.

Why do you like this XR application?

As an avid online shopper, having the added AR experience would greatly enhance my online shopping experience. On most e-commerce platforms, only 2D pictures are shown, in much better lighting and it would usually be placed in environments that I may not be using them in. Hence, the product images shown may not be an accurate depiction of the product itself. Due to prior experiences of receiving products that are not the same as what was depicted, even with the simplest feature of being able to look at the product from all angles, zooming in to take a look at product texture and details would be of great help. I would also be more likely to make a purchase if I could see how the product would look like where I would like to use them, especially for furniture and larger items.

Object View
AR view

The feature is also easy to use, as I could easy switch between the AR and object mode with the click of a button. If I need to move the object, all I had to do was pinch it with 2 fingers and I could move it as I desired. The AR mode as shown in the image allows me to imagine the product in my own space and interact with it. If I find that it is a right fit, I would also be more likely to make a purchase, as compared to not having the AR experience. If I like how the product fits in my space, I can also take a picture using the button on the right to save the image.

What features are well done?

In general, Shopify AR has a simple interface and is easy to use. As mentioned earlier, the feature that consumers can use to switch between AR and the object has a simple interface. Both the AR and object functions fits the mental model of how these functions would behave and does not have any other functions that may confuse the user. This makes it intuitive to use, with little to no affordance.

The barrier to entry for retailers to use the simple AR functions are low, as they can easily embed the feature in their own website. Hence, it makes it much easier for smaller scale retailers to integrate simple AR features onto their own websites, without having to invest the time and effort to create their own applications (e.g. Ikea Place).

It is also easy for consumers to use it, since Safari and an iOS device is all that are needed, and additional downloads or installs are not required.

Potential Improvements

While Shopify AR greatly enhances the customer experience, there is still room for improvement.

Firstly, Shopify could try to include beauty categories, providing users with the option to see how they look like in different hair colours, hair styles, makeup and nails.

Secondly, Shopify could also provide templates to lower the barrier to entry for retailers of smaller scale to create their own virtual shops and spaces. I have observed that most retailers that have collaborated with Shopify for virtual or virtual-local experiences are those of larger brands, as they have the resources to create these spaces for their potential consumers. However, smaller retailers tend to not have AR experiences, or simply opt for the simplest features, discounting potential customers of their full immersive shopping experience.

Thirdly, if Shopify AR could to be integrated with e-commerce platforms with large user bases like Shopee and Lazada, it would benefit both sellers and buyers on the platform. The simplest features of Shopify AR would provide consumers with a much better shopping experience, especially for larger items like furniture. This could also potentially reduce the need for customers to return furniture of the wrong size, increasing customer satisfaction.

Lastly, Shopify could extend this feature to non iOS devices and other web browsers. Since 71.8% of mobile phone users use the Android operating system, while only 27% are iOS users. By extending this feature to accommodate Android systems, the Shopify AR user base would rapidly increase, which allows the retailers to reach out to more potential consumers, and consumers would also have a better shopping experience.


The rise of Augmented Reality technology, sped up by the pandemic over the past few years, presents great potential for AR technology to be used in the retail industry. While there is room for improvement, the user experience of Shopify AR has been great in enhancing user’s shopping experience. More research can be conducted to find out more about the impact of AR technology on various aspects of consumer behaviour, to further improve on the usage of AR technology in the retail sector.


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Laricchia, F. (2023, January 17). Global Mobile OS Market Share 2022. Retrieved January 20, 2023, from,the%20mobile%20operating%20system%20market.

TAN, Yong Chin; CHANDUKALA, Sandeep R.; and REDDY, Srinivas K.. Augmented reality in retail and its
impact on sales. (2022). Journal of Marketing. 86, (1), 48-66. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.

XR Application – Richie’s Plank Experience

A screenshot of the street view of the virtual city in Richie’s Plank


Richie’s Plank Experience is a VR experience that clones the real-life environment of walking on a single plank from an elevator on the 80th floor of a skyscraper. First released in 2016, it became widely popular for its realistic graphics and heartstopping experience for users. Beyond the psychological experience, it also offers 4 bonus modes:

  1. Fire Deck – Users get to fly around the virtual city like a superhero with the controllers to fly around the virtual city and extinguish fires with a fire hose and rocket hands.
  2. Sky Brush – Users can write and draw the sky in different colors using rocket hands as a paintbrush.
  3. Nightmare Mode – By pressing 666 on the panel on the left, users will experience the plank with spooky additions.
  4. Santa Simulator – Reindeer will pick the user up in Santa’s sleigh such that users can deliver presents into chimneys.

Video gameplay of all modes of Richie’s Plank Experience

Why they are engaging?

From seeing many gameplay videos of Richie’s Plank, many users seem to be very immersed and engaged in the experience that the application offers as they react realistically. As Slater (2009) put together, there are 2 orthogonal components that contribute to users being engaged realistically in VR: place illusion (PI) or presence, and plausibility illusion (Psi). I believe that Richie’s Plank has very effectively fulfilled the two criteria, and therefore can engage audiences very well. 

Richie’s Plank Experience Trailer

Firstly, it is able to provide the illusion of presence, specifically the illusion of being in a stable spacial place and physical interaction. This is done through the hyperrealistic portrayal of the urban city landscape with moving vehicles and tall buildings. Coupled with the dynamic lighting and effective usage of perceptive illusion to depict spacial distances make the environment look realistic (See 0:02 to 0:10 of video). This is further amplified by how players are able to manipulate some parts of the virtual environment in a way that mirrors the physical environment. 

Secondly, it is able to trick users to believe that what is in front of them is really happening even though they know it is not real, which is a plausibility illusion (Psi). In order to achieve that, there have to be “correlations between external events not directly caused by the participant and his/her own sensations (both exteroceptive and interoceptive)” (Slater, 2009). How Richie’s Plank does this is by involving multiple sensory receptors to provide understanding to the players such as using elevator music in the lift and also having the ambient sound of wind and birds while on the 80th storey. 

Why do you like this XR application?

I like this XR application as it is very unique in how it has relatively simple mechanics and functions, it is able to become very engaging, so much so that when users engage with the application, they show similar reactions as if the things they are seeing in the VR application is happening for real. I am very amazed by how this is initially developed by a team of husband and wife before expanding to form a full team. 

I also like how there are different modes to the experience, which are all very creative ideas that use the landscape and do things that are not possible for humans to do. For instance, with Fire Deck mode, users can fly around with rocket hands and put out fires, which is definitely not possible under the laws of physics. Sky Brush also allows artistic individuals to enjoy the VR experience and fulfilling probably many children’s dreams of being able to paint the sky. These fun touches make the application more interesting. Notably, I did not see anyone complain about vertigo or other ‘VR illness’, despite allowing users to fly around. 

What features are well done?

The modeling of the virtual city environment is definitely a very well-done feature of the application. A lot of work is placed into making sure that the look and feel of the city landscape are as realistic and beautiful as possible such that they can provide users with the best experience. This is also why this experience is so well-known for being able to engage its audience and evoke realistic reactions. The picture below shows how the view from the plank changed as the application got developed – from the early access version to the final version that is on the market today. 

View from the plank changed from the early access version to the final version

It is also very interesting how the developers of the application encouraged the audience to use a real plank – making use of an additional sense of touch – to make the experience more ‘authentic’. It brings this VR experience somewhat closer to Hyper-VR, where the virtual plank now feels like an actual plank below one’s feet.

What features can be improved and how?

I think that Richie’s Plank can further enhance the illusion of presence to users through the usage of giving users a false sense of embodiment of a body. It is quite a waste that there is no feet tracking that is working well for this game. When the audience can see their feet while walking on the plank, they will have a stronger sense that they are physically there in the VR. Although there have been attempts at trying to attach sensors onto feet so that when the player looks down, it is not fully integrated. Though expensive, there are now shoe accessories specially made for VR so that feet movement can be tracked naturally. One such example is the Cybershoes, as seen in the picture below. 

Old sensor-attached shoes


Furthermore, the player, when interacting, sees the joystick instead of some form of a hand to indicate that they are currently a form of character instead of a pair of floating joysticks. There was feasibility testing done for hand tracking on Occulus but unfortunately there has been no update from the developers since 3 years ago. Actually, the developers don’t have to achieve extremely accurate hand movement. There are only a few actions that are performed by the hand, and therefore simply having an iconic representation of a hand would be a great start to better representational fidelity in my opinion.

Picture of Feasibility test for hand-tracking in Richie’s Plank

Last but not least, I think that this application last replayability. While the developers have highlighted that this is not a game but an experience, I feel like there are a lot of things one can do with the premise set up with such nicely done models. For instance, players can be given the opportunity to explore the city and perhaps even have the power to customize the city. In the future, it can even grow to be like Minecraft but in VR.


In conclusion, Richie’s Plank Experience is a good example of a VR experience and suitable for entry into VR with its simple mechanics and realistic modeling. While it is not perfect, it is certainly very engaging to the audience. 

While researching the XR application, it is noteworthy that Richie’s Plank Experience is not only played for fun but used in research. Surprisingly, it is not only VR research that uses the application. It is also used for investigation into acrophobia (fear of heights) (Hu, 2018) and mental dissociation (Caulfield, 2022). Therefore, it is an interesting angle to look into how VR can help to further research into human behavior sciences and mental health as it is able to offer experiences that will trigger realistic physical and bodily reactions with less harm (as it is not actually happening to the participants) and less cost (as physical venue and activity constraints are now not a problem). 


  1. Caulfield, N. M., Karnick, A. T., & Capron, D. W. (2022). Exploring dissociation as a facilitator of suicide risk: A translational investigation using virtual reality. Journal of affective disorders, 297, 517-524.
  2. Cybershoes US – Shoes made for walking in VR. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from 
  3. Hu, F., Wang, H., Chen, J., & Gong, J. (2018, August). Research on the characteristics of acrophobia in virtual altitude environment. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Safety for Robotics (ISR) (pp. 238-243). IEEE.
  4. Reddit – Dive into anything. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from 
  5. Richie’s Plank Experience on Steam. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2023, from Slater, M. (2009). Place illusion and plausibility can lead to realistic behaviour in immersive virtual environments. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1535), 3549-3557.
  6. Todorov, D. (n.d.). Richie’s Plank Experience. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from 

IKEA Place: Try Before Buying

Interior designing and buying furniture have been a struggle for a lot of people due to measurements issue and whether the product will actually fit in their place. It would be too much of a hassle for us when we have to go and return a large furniture just because it does not fit in our room. With the advanced development of technology, especially in the XR world, some companies, IKEA being one of them, start to see the opportunities on how this technology can solve their problems and benefit their business.

What is IKEA Place?

In 2017, the mega furniture company IKEA, published IKEA Place is an AR application which let users to test their desired furniture/products virtually in their own rooms/house. This application allow users to browse IKEA’s catalogue from their remotely and immediately try them out in their room by pointing their camera to the room. Immediately during the first year of its launch, IKEA Place gain their high popularity and become one of the most popular AR apps for non-gaming category.

What makes it so successful?

Simple and Straightforward

When using it for the first time, users are presented with an onboarding process on the available features and how to use the technology. This feature is extremely useful for those who have no prior experience in using XR applications. Moreover, with the classic and simple UI, it is relatively easy for users to navigate through the features in the app.

High Accuracy

Although some AR applications still seem ‘unreal’ in a sense that it does not blend really well with the physical world, the IKEA Place is not one of them. This app claims to have 98% scaling accuracy which is truly reflected when using the app. After selecting the item that you want to place, it will automatically adjust the size and dimension of the room and surroundings, even when you try to move the camera and the object around. Therefore, you don’t have to worry of the product not being able to fit your room!

Save Place Feature

Save Place Feature in IKEA Place

One of the design principles in UX design of an application is related to memory, how to make user able to recognize something instead of having to recall some information. With the “Save Place” feature, users are able to save their room design after placing all their desired products. Hence, when users want to go for a purchase, they do not need to remember all the products that they have put, instead, they can go to the “Saved Place” and see what products are used.

Find Similar Product Feature

IKEA has more than 10.000 catalogues which can be overwhelming for users to scroll through and search for a product that they want. With this feature, users are able to take a picture of their desired looking product, and the app will search similar products and present it to the users. This enhance the users’ experience since they do not need to spend so much time in browsing the catalogue.

Possible Future Developments

Despite all the benefits of the application mentioned above, surely there are still room for improvement that can be done to further improve the user experience.

In-App Purchase/Checkout

As of the current features, after users plan out their desired room settings using the IKEA products’ catalogue, users will still need to go to their website or the physical store to purchase the items. This can be quite a hassle since users will then search for the products again in another platform. Therefore, it will be helpful if users can directly purchase all the products after saving a design into a saved place.

Product Recommendation

Another possible future implementation is a product recommendation that can suggest additional furniture that can enhance the room. One of the example is by recognizing the type of available furniture, color scheme, and the dimension of the room.

Room Design Template/Recommendation

For some people, it might be difficult to design a room from scratch and they would need some inspiration. Therefore, it would useful if there are collections of room design templates that users can refer to based on the dimension of the room. This feature can also involve IKEA interior designers/consultants that can assist users in designing their room, whether it is by sending their scanned room, or via live call.


IKEA Place is one of the technological breakthrough in the shopping world by being one of the first companies that uses AR technology for users to ‘Try before Buy’. Overall, the user experience of the app is relatively simple and easy to grasp even for beginners. Also, there are some interesting features that are very useful in assisting users in choosing their desired product. Although there are still room for improvement to better streamline the user experience, this app still gives a pleasant experience for the users.


Virtual Reality in Medical Training

There are multiple areas where Virtual Reality (VR) can contribute to healthcare. These includes mental well-being, physiotherapy, pharmaceutical development, and education for professionals and patients. In particular, we will take a look at education for professionals.

The need for accurate medical illustrations for education is undeniable. Since the nineteenth century, textbooks such as Gray’s Anatomy (1858), which is a reference book of human anatomy, gave medical professionals insights into the complex human body. 3D technology was then incorporated to allow for better visualization. Now, VR is the next iteration of such medical educational tools to improve the learning and understanding process of our bodies. VR is able to provide users with real-world simulations through dynamic visuals and more importantly, a risk-free and realistic training ground.

VR in surgical training
VR is especially useful in surgical training. It comes in handy since taking away experienced surgeons from treating patients to train students is expensive and may have adverse impacts on their patients. VR training beats learning from textbooks and watching videos which do not provide the required hands-on experience. In addition, students can use virtually created models of medical equipment that are not easily accessible and perform procedures without risking any lives.

Why VR in medical training is engaging
There is always demand for competent medical professionals. The application of VR in the medicine field intrigues me as technology has long been used for the application of medicine, and not the education of medical professionals. VR can serve as a mean to reduce the chance of human errors through simulation training. Users can build muscle memory for certain procedures and hone their psychomotor skills. A meta-analysis of the relationship between medical error and simulation training has revealed that simulation can reduce medical error and prevent some risks related to medical treatment (Sarfati 2019)

What is next for VR in medical training
Indisputably, VR aids medical training through detailed imagery which shows the inner workings of the complex human body. The hands-on experience provided is indispensable to the education of medical professionals. Perhaps, future development may focus on collaboration in the simulations. Much of the medical applications are team-based so such developments may help users familiarize with their counterparts in training.

Sarfati, Laura, et al. “Human‐simulation‐based learning to prevent medication error: A systematic review.” Journal of evaluation in clinical practice 25.1 (2019): 11-20.

Terracotta Warriors and XR


Qin Shi Huang’s Tomb is China’s first grand, well-laid, well-preserved imperial tomb. The terracotta warriors preserved in the tomb were buried with Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor. In 1987, the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and the pit of Terracotta Warriors were approved by UNESCO to be inscribed on the World Heritage List, known as the “eighth wonder of the world”.

The application of XR technology enables people to get closer to the terracotta warriors, and even restores the original colors of the terracotta warriors, making them seem to come to life. At the same time, XR technology also recreates the scenes of ancient craftsmen building terracotta warriors.

Why the XR application is engaging

Before the application of XR technology, visitors could only look at the terracotta warriors in the pit from a distance while standing on a high platform. People can only see the general appearance of the terracotta warriors, and they cannot carefully view the details of the artworks, such as the decoration on the armor and the appearance of the terracotta warriors.

With the application of XR technology, visitors can scan the QR code with their mobile phones and watch different types of terracotta warriors on their phones. By rotating the terracotta warriors on the screen, visitors can watch the front and back of terracotta warriors, their faces, weapons, horses, and so on. It gives people an insight into the history of the First Emperor’s reign and the details of the crafting of these terracotta warriors.

Additionally, people can also wear VR devices to see the artworks in a more immersive way. Although mobile phones allow people to see the terracotta warriors in more detail, the images are flat graphics. VR devices make the terracotta warriors three-dimensional, and the size of the terracotta warriors in VR glasses is the same as the real ones. In addition to allowing people to take a closer look at the terracotta warriors, visitors can watch how the terracotta warriors were created step by step in ancient times.

Features that can be improved

Interact with users

Although people can see these terracotta warriors more clearly now, I think if we can make these terracotta warriors move through animation technology, so that they can do some simple actions such as walking, squatting, shooting, or riding, it will significantly improve the interaction with tourists. In addition, technicians can add a voice interaction function, so that they can talk with visitors.

Internal structure

I think VR technology can help tourists have a deeper understanding of the internal structure of these terra-cotta warriors. For example, a terracotta warrior can be broken down into small parts and assembled by tourists themselves, or the process of making terra-cotta warriors can be turned into a game of passing through the customs. Tourists can fire their own terra-cotta warriors.