Designing interactions for ambient computers is an emergent discipline. The focus for Shield AR, a concept product, was to design something that offered a mixed reality experience based on feasible technology in the near future. As a concept product, the purpose is to inspire ideation around the interaction modalities and interfaces that may be desirable for this technology domain.

Technical Specifications

Shield AR is a mixed reality device that attaches to most kinds of glasses. Once secured, the projection overlays the interface on the user's lenses. 

The physical specifications of this device were designed around maintaining a certain angle to project onto the user's lenses while fitting a wide array of popular frame styles. 

With some photonics research and speaking to Arman Klein(1), an electrical engineer – technology would be feasible.  

Like many people, fashion is an important part of how I think of myself and therefore move through the world. Being a best friend to your clothes is a notion that informed this project– one centered around the intersection of emergent technology and eyewear. 

Unlike mixed reality frames with embedded hardware, Shield AR allows for mixed reality experiences to continue seamlessly from prescription glasses, blue-light lenses, and sunglasses. 

The focus is to connect the wearer to the analog world through machine learning that recognizes the objects and environments they engage with. 
Interestingly, the modular approach was simply the result of exploring the idea of creating a fashionable only to stumble on the theory of enclothed cognition. The modular structural uniqueness of this device led to many positive implications around accessibility, environmental sustainability, social acceptability, and use cases. 

The term “enclothed cognition” describes the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes.

The term was the result of experiments in which people performed the same tasks wearing the same garment they were asked to wear; but performed better when the same coat was called a lab coat instead of a painter's coat. 

So,  we can consider how the form factor of a  wearable can signal a symbolic meaning- changing a wearable device from a gadget to a high-value fashion accessory. 

So, I spoke to subject matter experts in fashion design, fashion marketing, and XR design, and all agreed that symbolic meaning plays a role in our attire.

My findings around enclothed cognition validated my initial hypothesis for the problem I was solving for. 
 Wearables are computers we move through the world with. Yet their aesthetics and form factors often feel disconnected from the rest of our attire. 
So, the constraint I maintained from the start of this project was to design fashion metier 
which was the lens for 
social acceptability, potential use cases and modality, and environmental sustainability
I researched different kinds of wearables, from smart watches to smart yoga pants. Only to come across interesting findings around mixed reality glasses.   
The first – just about all head-up display AR glasses look like electronics, which signal their presence to others.
The second finding was a product that did, in fact, look like regular glass. Seen here on the right are the OQmented glasses. Although this product is in development, it received considerable funding from Sharp this March. 

At this time, in March 2023, I was conducting surveys and experiments incorporating frame prototypes. However, learning about the OQmented tech generated an interest in conceptualizing how this tech could be part of a more fashion-forward device. 

The attachment had to look like a real fashion item.
Being familiar with generative models in Fusion 360 and working with clay, I found the embodied knowledge of working with clay to be better suited.  
Although I successfully created a one-size-fits-most design, it didn't follow a fashionable design language. 
So the fidelity of the prototypes had to actually feel like a sunglasses texture such as 
tortoiseshell, marble, limestone, and even alge.
UI Applications

The Adaptive Field is a proprietary application for Shield AR that allows users to block out certain parts of their environment to then hone in on the areas of focus. Through object recognition, users can identify the areas and objects they wish to leave unobscured for a focused experience. The appearance of the vignettes is based on color schemes that support focus. More on the research of these interfaces is in the Naturalist section of this case study. 

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