Thesis Evaluation – Mobile Map Applications Analyse und Evaluation von mobilen Kartendiensten bezüglich Interaction Design und Usability

The master thesis was written to create a catalogue of measures for the app „qando“, a mobile information service of the public transportation provider in Vienna to improve the usability.

Mobile Map Applications –
Analyse und Evaluation von mobilen
Kartendiensten bezüglich Interaction Design und Usability“

University and year of publication
Univerisät Wien, 2014

Level of Design
The design of the work is not really special. It is well organized but the appearance is more like a scientific work and not special designed.

Degree of innovation 
The outcome of the thesis is not an innovation but more a statement about an existing app.

He work is done independence but with the focus on the app “qando”.

Outline and structure
The work is clearly structured and follows a red line. First the current state is defined and also a comparison with another app is done. Afterwards the testing is very well explained and in the end the outcome is written down.

Degree of communication
The structure is clear and easy to understand. The red line is well followed and the different modules with their submodules make the thesis easy to understand.

Scope of the work
It takes 40 pages to talk about qando the first time but then the testing is written in 4 pages. This is a bit short in my opinion and could have been a bit more detailed. But then the outcome is explained very detailed again. In total the work has 131 pages which is quiet a lot.

Orthography and accuracy
Pictures are all explained and sources are named. The language is in German and good, sometimes the sentence are a bit long.

There is a lot of literature uses, some are pretty old (from 1995, 1998) and some newer. There are no internet resources named so it seems like only offline literature is used.

Tilman Franz Harmsen. 2014. 

„Mobile Map Applications –
Analyse und Evaluation von mobilen
Kartendiensten bezüglich Interaction Design und Usability“

Universität Wien

Designing an AR app

The more the app integrates with users environment the more magic the app feels

Start designing without a screen
When designing AR, the object will actually be outside of the phone. At least it should look like. So when thinking about an idea or the design of an AR app, it should be thought outside of the phone too. Watching people interacting with offline things makes it much easier to come up with an idea how AR could help. So google recommends to sketch first the whole environment and the situation happening there. Sketching the analog things the user would or is interacting with. Thinking outside of the phone frame.

Learn the user that he can move around. Since the users are used to 2D applications, it is a whole new world and important to take the users hand ans show him how this works. For example it could be possible to have little arrows on the screen edge, identifying that there is another object somewhere. With moving around the user will be able to see more.

Also make sure at the beginning how much movement is needed and more important how much room is required. It is worse case of a user starts playing a game and at the middle of the game he finds out that his living room is too small to complete it. Also if an application should be used outside, it is important to tell this the user first, before starting to use the application.

Give Feedback
It must be clear for the user what he needs to do and how to interact with the 3D object. For example when coming too close to the object, the user needs to learn that this is not a way to interact. For example if the camera gehts darker or blurred the user knows that this is the wrong way.

Also when placing an Object, it is important to make sure where this object will land or which surface is detected. This can be done for example with having a shadow under the object.

It is helpful to have a darker transparent layer between the camera (background) and the displayed AR elements. This helps to differ between real elements and AR elements, especially at daylight it is helpful to give a better experience.

Less UI is more
There are multiple reasons why you should never overload an app with UI and controls but for AR apps it is even more important! First because the user should focus on the scene and what is happening with the 3D objects and second because it just takes view. The smartphone screens are so little and if there are too many controls the screen for the actual content will shrink and shrink. So only display UI controls if the have a high frequency of use or if they require fast access.

Best practices to design AR applications

AR good examples

When thinking about Augmented Reality most people will probably think about games or entertainment but there are many helpful ways how AR can extend our daily life. In the following I want to show some good examples:

AR in Event Planning
Using a cube which is able to display multiple information about an event.

Information like the conference agenda, sponsors, information about the speakers and so on are displayed and visualized in an interactive a modern way. While reading through a simple flyer would ne far less fun and als much waste as people will likely throw those flyer just away.

Also there are many information that can be displayed because there is no limited space like there would be on a flyer.

AR for education
Basically everything that is printed has one big problem: the space is limited. AR is giving a whole new format to this. Because with the digitalization space is not a point to talk about anymore. This is also a big thing when thinking about education. While we had our books with images in when we went to school, AR apps can support those images in a three dimensional way. Things can be discovered and even interactive or showing a change of a state with animations. Also this means that education becomes cheaper and more accessible.

This way of education also engages the user and makes discovering and learning way more fun.

Especially at times like these where distance learning is a bigger topic than ever before, this is a helpful way to make learning at home more interesting and also support the teachers which cannot be in place to show certain things. There even can be animated person or tutors which help the user to explain the topic in an interactive way.

AR can also be used to engage the users while using gamification like the video shows below. The user can help to keep the ocean clean while buying this product. To make it more tangible there is a game coming up when scanning the product which wants you to clean the beach while wiping over your smart phone screen.

Using the space on a product
Even if there are just some small animations shown you can use AR for transfering your product into a display where many informations can be shown. So you can keep your printed pagaging style simple and clean but still be able to show all the informations a user wants to see.

More advantages:

Another big advantage is that since the AR apps using internet they run on realtime or better said if there is any reason to change something, it is just needed to update the app. As soon as it is update, everybody will get the new features or changes.

Higher customer propaganda
The already showed label of wine “19 crimes” where you can scan the label and a prisoner will tell you his story increased their social media interactions for about 2100% with not the campain but just having scannable labels.


Ar App


A very big issue of todays state of AR applications is the variety of many applications and application providers. Almost for every AR experience in connection with a certain product you need to download an own app.

The combination of web(sites) and AR makes webAR to a big topic for accessibility of AR applications. For this only the web browser on a tablet or smartphone is needed. WebAR uses new web technologies like A-Frame and WebGL for displaying 3D objects in web browsers.

How this works

1. You need to scan a QR code which leads you to a website
2. Give access to camera
3. Scan the object with your camera. This object can be a physical product, a photo or a flyer

Users do not need to download a new app for every campaign. This is especially for sales application a big advantage. No time gets wasted, it only takes a minute to have the AR experience run.

Also sharing is very easy, as there are only links that need to be sent to other people. It makes spreading the app on social media or in generell very handy and easy.

Also it is cheaper to develope webapplications since only one version is needed and no developement for multiple platforms (AppStore, PlayStore,..) is required.

But as everywhere there are also disadvantages like apps with high complexity level. It is not so easy to garantee a stable connection when the app has too many functions or complex interactions.

Also since WebAR is very new, it might not work on older phones.

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UI of AR applications

When thinking about all the endless posibillities when creating a AR app, it is very important to keep the user experience in focus. Even if there are excellent functions and fun features developed within the app, it is the same than with common software or digital products: if it is not user friendly, nobody will use it.

Especially when the AR app is used for marketing purposes it is important to show the values of your company with the app. Giving the potential customers a app that is not stable and very complicated, useres will transfer this experience on the product and this can end bad.

This can be avoided by taking the app as a serious product and taking it through the whole process of app design. Starting with defining the users need and the goals which should be reached by the app. Who is the target group and who should use the product later? This group also be the users of the AR app.
Also when should the user use the app? In the shop or on the fly? At home in a confortable zone or in the train? How long does he has time at this point?

Next step would be to define the features which should be part of the app. Only the best features should be developed and rather limeted than overloaded.

A good example regarding this is the IKEA Place app. With just few very easy functions and interactions a well experience is gained.

AR is supposed to make our lifes easier and more fun. This should be kept in mind. To make sure the clients think the same than the developer of the app, multiple tests during the process of the app should be part of the development.

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AR Bottle labels examples

There is barely a product found in the supermarket which is as demanding as wine and about which can be told so many stories. Just one label is limited space on a bottle of wine which is very hard to bring all the information on the label that need to be told. So AR would especially for wine labels a good and helpful solution the show more details.

Yet AR is use for wine labels or beverages in general but more as a entertainmet application. Here are some examples.

Statistics: AR for product information

Advantages for retailer

While in 2020 only 1% of retailers said that they are using Augmented Reality (according to a report from Mobile Maketers) many of them did not realize yet that there are not only a chance of higher sales when using this technology to sell their products, there is also a lot of infomation the company can get from those application.
Much user data can be collected by analyzing the use of the app and seeing which products are used in which environment.

Still 52% of retailers say that they are not prepared to integrate AR into their retail. They are mostly scared or simply don’t have time for the 3D modeling and photography which is needed to display the products in the application.

The growth of conversions with AR is high. To be exact it is arount 40%. It gives the user the confidence to buy with more conviction which means the return rate dicreases and also the satisfaction after the buy is higher.

Advantages for customer

On the other hand for the customer, it is made way easier to get to know new products in a realistic way. The customer can see if his expectations match witht he products which leads to higher post-purchase satisfaction.

To buy a product, a customer needs to be convinced of the product. 71% of the consumers say they would shop more often if they used AR.. Reasons for that are that they get a more detailed overview of the product and can imagine the product in use in a better way. They feel better and saver in ther buying decisions and are satisfayed longer.

When the customer shops in stores they have multiple more aspects and senses they can use to discover a new product than they have when online. They can see, touche and feel the product. But nevertheless customers shop more and more online because it is easier, they don’t need to leave the house and especially at Corona times it is way easier to shop from home. Those people will do online shopping and you probably can’t stop them. So why don’t give them a realistic and good experience at home?

At the same time, it is important to give customers in the shop a special experience as well to stop onlineshopping by everybody. If there is a better user experience in shops too, not that much stress as it is right now and having more individual consulation, there is a chance that more people will come back to the shops to buy there products there again. 66% of consumers in Japan want offline stores to offer AR experience.

How important it is for the user to get good information about a product is seen by another survey of Mobile Marketers where 40% of consumers said that they would pay more for a product that can be customized with AR.

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AR for product information

The product is the basis and often the only connection from a brand to their customer. This is why it is important to give the user the best experience with or while using the product. But before that, the user needs to buy the product and especially he needs reasons to buy it.
In the best case, this is reached by convincing the user because he feels he need this certain product. Design Thinkers would say, you need to create a whole user experience about the product to make your clients happy.

This usere experience starts by collecting information about the product. Why does the consumer need it and what does it have to offer?
While typical medium for this steps were the seller with a personal service, the internet or friends and acquaintance, Augmented Reality is a new way to give the user a excellent and individual experience to gain information about the product.

This kind of experience can be handled by many ways. No matter if the custumers smartphone, glasses or a headset is used to give this experience, no matter if it can be used at home, on a website or even at a shop, this will bring the product information to a next level. And not only in a fun way but also giving the feeling of being a advanced, forward-looking and competently brand or company.

Also most of the new technology poduct information medium are tending the user to buy online. Thinking of the internet where you can read blogs or recommandations for mostly all products, buying the product aferwards with only one click is very confertable but also a big issue for our local shops and the economy of small brands and companys. With giving them a digital experience via AR but in the shop, it will probably make them coming to the shops and trying out this nice and fun experience. Obviously there is a high chance of buying the product in locally in the shop afterwards.

A nice example for this is the Toyota AR experience of 2019 where they presented their new C-HR model by a AR app. It gave the customer a experience of the inner systems of the car as they where overlayed on a real ohysical car. Additional to that, the customer could even interact with the car to get more information about motor, battery and fuel tank.

Toyota – vehicle demo

Thinking one step further, this kind of information about the product can also fix problems in future. If there are light problems with your products, the AR app could offer solutions while scanning the product and offer the customer a guid for fixing. This could not only optimze the service time but also saves costs for the customer and time for the brand.

The goal about product information with AR
When doing just a small research about this topic now, there are many and more applications which already ofer some kind of information about a product already. But this can also go in the wrong direction. A customer who is taking out his smartphone, maybe even downloading an app and scanning the product then will be dissappointet by just getting informations about the product which he could find out without scanning the product as well. Thinking of a food product which shows if the product is gluten free or diary free but with also having exactly this labels on the pagage already will make the user being frustrated and not using it any more. In the worse case the user would even not buying the product because of that.

Also sending the user to a social media platform or something like this is fun for the first time but would not make the user use it regularly.

Also for products where many information could be given but the surface on the pagaging is limited – for example when thinking of wine bottles – AR is a great way, to give as many information als needed to convince the customer to buy the bottle.

Regarding the current situation while touching a product in a supermarket which could have been touched before by others is the thing you absolutly want to avoid, those AR product informations become a new relevance.

So COVID 19 could have a big impact for using AR to present your product and information about it while using your own smartphone.

Product information with Augmented Reality
Smarter product information with augmented reality
Augmented Reality (AR) for holographic product information in times of COVID19

AR with social media

Especially young people are tempting to use new, unknown technology as they are more familiar with current things and more open for new things. Even if it is not true any more that social media is only used by young people, the majority is still According to a survey by Gfk, 45% of 19- to 28-year-old and 49% of 29 -to 38-year-old asked people said they would visit a retrail store which offers AR or VR experiences than one which does not. At the same time only 31% of 39- to 53-year-olds said the same.

If a AR application is well realized, a realistic effect can be reached, used for example to try new lifestyle products like clothing or make uo products.

Since late 2018 Facebook and Instagram started to offer a AR experience to their cunsumers by few selected brands. For the first experience, the consumers were able to try on different products like make up, lipstick or sungalsses directly on their newsfeed.
Through a simple Call-to-action button consumers are able to start the AR-ad – provided by Facebooks own AR application Spark AR.

While Snapchat set their focus from day one on a mobile social network with a big selection of virtual sticker and soon also the posibility of interaction with augmented reality objects. Now a days, Snapchat couldn’t be thinken of without its filters which lay on your face and being interactive when chanching your face expression.
To be exact, already 2015 Snapchat presented the new feature “Lens” which made consumers able to take snaps with the technology of face recognition. While everybody started to send snaps of pictures while throwing up rainbows when opening the mouth, nobody know that days how far this will go.

Release of Snapchat Lens 2015

Only two years later, in april 2017 Snapchat released the feature “World Lenses” which brought 3D rendered objects to live. Now useres were able to build a little character of themself, a so called Bitmoji or simply use sticker or other objects and with help of AR they started to move, act and dance.

Release of Snapchat World Lenses 2017
3D Bitmoji

But those fun features of Snapchat were just the begining. The businesspart of this AR hype is the so called Shoppable AR which is a feature that makes consumers able to bring digital ads to life or even try out new products and buy it streight away.
The marketing strategy about this feature is to discover products of brands in a fun way with not having the ad in the focus but the fun of interacting with the products. Because of high fun level, the consumer is tempting to send snaps with even those filters with product placement to friends and becoming kind of a brand representative.

Shoppable AR

Goals of AR-ads in social media
Many reasons could be exist to choose AR for your ad but on social media there are for example following goals to be reached:

• brand awareness
• traffic
• conversions
• rage

Some say social media was the main part why AR established this fast and well. For sure the target groupe on social media is perfect to use this new technology to find out its potential.

Since Zuckerberg described the AR features in Facebook “phase one” we can be sure there is more coming up. We will see what the future of AR and social media brings.

Facebook has made AR ads available to all marketers through its ad manager
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Using AR for ads

The first AR application used as marketing campaign was in 2008 when BMW designed their first AR advertisement for a Mini model.
The advertisement consisted of a printed magazine which created a digital 3D model of the Mini model when it was held in front of a computer’s camera.
The user was able to control the perspective of the car by tilting and rotating the magazin.

Only 10 years later 272 AR applications could be found in the Android app store tagged with “Shopping”.

That 49.4% of 60 668 german user of the internet are interested in AR technologies in combintion with furnishings was the reslut of a survey in 2013.
Also in 2018 52.2% of 1 008 asked person at the age of 18 – 69 years could imagine to install one to five apps for digital support with AR while shopping. A extraordinary high interest was noticed for information about products (77.8%) and special offers (64.8%).

Why can AR improve the shopping experience?
With AR the shopping experience gets
• more effective
• richer
• more entertaining
• more informative

So the shopping experience gets influenced in a positive way. This leads to more mouth to mouth propaganda, a better recognition of the product and also increase purchase intent.
On the other hand the customer can feel unsave with is privacy because of using a digital app.

While for many people Augmented Reality is still a pretty new thing, companies which are working with AR, no metter in which field, will be defined as modern an progressive business. As long as it is not standard to use such new technology for advertisement or marketing in general, the recognision is very high and the connection to the brand deep emotional. The number of mobile AR users is predicted to reach 200 million within 2021. So we will surely be in contact with much more AR interactions.

Examples of more AR ads

Burger King
The campagne “After all, flamed grilled is always better” (2019) of Burger King was about burning down the ads of competition in Brazil. The user could scan and ad of the competition with the app and burn the ad virtual down. The best of the campagne: it is not only fun for the user but they also get one free whopper by using the burning feature.

Burger King – Burn That Ad

Adidas – more virtual sneakers
In 2018 Adidas created an AR lenese the allow customers to preview its new Ultraboost 19 sneakers. With using the Snapchat app, the user was able to unbox and learn more about the shoes by tap on the Adidas logo.

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