Design patterns for Immersive Tech

Augmented Reality patterns

Attention directors

User goal or problem this is trying to solve

  • Re-direct the user’s attention to where it is needed


One design challenge we face with immersive tech is that we are dealing with a 360 degree overall field of play and menus can in theory appear anywhere. The user can also at any point move or turn around, so even if a menu opens directly in front, they may have moved away from it. So we need to consider a few tricks to help redirect the user’s attention:

  1. Arrows, dotted lines and trails that the user can follow from their current focal point to where the user needs to be looking
  2. Spatial sound
  3. Light rays
  4. Contextual prompts


Contextual prompts:

These are used by Facebook Spaces to alert first time users to information or interactions they may otherwise miss, such as looking at the contextual arm menu.

The contextual prompt is attached to the main object of focus, e.g. an item the user has picked up, is moving or is just in the middle of the view.

Once the user sees the prompt, it instructs them to look elsewhere, where there are relevant commands and features available, such as looking down, to the sides or at the arms.

Thought bubbles and tendrils:

These are used by Microsoft Hololens to avoid interfering with the current field of view. The user’s attention is directed towards the information of interest, rather than simply bringing that information right in front of the user, which can feel disruptive.

The user is guided towards the information using tendrils (dotted lines).

The tendrils pulse towards the information, implying a sense of direction.