BBC Future AR badges

Self-expression has grown in importance substantially in the last decades, especially among younger generations. However, as self-expression values are increasing, the mediums for self-expression are changing, with a rise in the use of different media platforms. This raises the critical question of whether people can sufficiently express themselves in such contexts.
My team worked on the brief prepared by the BBC for D&AD New Blood Awards:
1. A digital product or service for the BBC that serves as an interface between physical and digital.
2. A solution with the potential to tell stories, provide information and improve our every day by using it as content matter in a safe and responsible way.
3. A concept that encourages positive data usage, deliver a positive experience and have a key tie into the BBC.
BBC D&AD New Blood Awards Brief 2020 →
UX/UI design
Product thinking
Video editing
Project management
Design with Data course students at the University of Edinburgh
Adobe CC
Cinema 4D
Jan – Apr 2020
Our team has developed a new tool for self-expression, a physical badge serving as the trigger for AR content based on the BBC Future data.

Activating the badge will require installing the BBC Future iOS app and choosing the category from the topics such as LGBTQ+ rights, environmental protection, well-being, politics, etc.

We see the future where, instead of using data only to become more efficient, we will all use data to better understand each other. Also, the significance of digital storytelling through AR manifests in its potential to engage people disengaged from traditional news.
Target group
Based on the brief
16-24-year-olds who are experiencing the true implications of this data footprint. They are the biggest consumers of online media and channels and have grown up as true digital natives.
Market research (a survey)
50 sincere responses from students
Using the online survey as our primary method, we researched the market to identify users’ needs. An online survey can gather many participants, which means large sample sizes. Also, it can efficiently reach people from all over the world as it is online and offers an easy way to visualise gathered data.

We learned that most participants (55%) use augmented reality filters in social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat), 35% of participants for games (Pokémon Go, Ingress) and the rest (10%) for navigation in Google maps.

Also, we found out that participants prefer to get informed about the topics of interest in mobile applications, with a percentage of 56%. They use BBC services only “sometimes” (69%), but almost all participants (98%) believe that the BBC is a trustworthy source of information.
Truth, facts and science are essential elements of the BBC Future articles. Users will be able to find stories on almost every topic that matters. Moreover, many online survey participants (68%) mentioned the beauty of articles' images and collages, so there is a probability that the article's content may be chosen to display in AR.
A screenshot of the BBC website
Project management
The project has been carefully divided into five parts: research, design, implementation, user testing and submissions. The roles were allocated to every member based on individual skills.
Our Trello board
I encouraged my team to join a design competition and managed all aspects of the project by using Trello. Although my primary responsibilities included UX/UI design, badge patterns design and video post-production.
My design review of our 3D designer's contribution to the project
Concept tests
During first brainstorm sessions, we created some basic badge prototypes to trigger test AR experiences. We used simple materials (paper, cardboard, stickers) to create diverse patterns (AR trackers) and to launch our tests faster.
It was a crucial step to reflect on the connection between the complexity of patterns and AR tracking process. Our tests proved that the iPhone X camera could easily scan even small design differences.
Final badges craft
Patterns are isometric to highlight three-dimensional user experience of the project. Inspired by futuristic fashion, I carefully integrated the BBC logo into geometric shapes. I wanted to keep advertising function without strong focus on letters. Based on my illustrations, other team members created both physical prototypes and 3D models.
UX & UI design
Effective mobile navigation has to tell three main things to a user:
1. Where am I?
2. Where else can I go?
3. What will I find when I get there?

The tab bar fulfils all these requirements. It is visible on every screen and therefore, always gives users visual orientation. It shows where in the information architecture the users are (active tab highlighting), where users can go (other tabs) and what they will find there (icons and descriptive labels).
BBC Future app's navigation.
A user can assign elements to one of the four slots (highlighted text, images, 3D objects or charts). If users find a passage that particularly resonates with them, they can highlight it to show in AR. Highlights feature gives users a more granular way to engage with each piece of content.

All our design decisions are based on the needs and wants of our users:
a desire to express themselves creatively;
an interest in reading fresh BBC Future ideas;
a need to enhance communication.
BBC Future badge customisation process.
Video recording
Our concept required strong visualisation. We decided to use the filming camera and to overlay video frames with 3D elements during post-production.
Our video before 3D animations upgrade
Video post-production
In the end, I had the task to unite all project's elements in one video: three videos, 3D animations, several background sounds and text animations.

First seconds of a video can make a huge difference. Therefore, I added the BBC Future introduction video keeping in mind its possible usage in an advertising campaign on TV.
A screenshot of my animation process in Adobe After Effects
A screenshot of our final video merging process in Adobe Premier Rush
Finished concept
The BBC is eager to have a positive impact on the world and people’s awareness of global issues. We contributed to the BBC’s aspirations by combining activism and a future of digital fashion.
Further development
Our concept app is a new, unusual way to interact with BBC content in the context of one article. For example, an environmental activist can select 3D animation with water drops and display it in AR.

However, what will be if a user can unite elements from different articles? It creates a new unseen room for creativity. For instance, a user can select the 3D animation with a rainbow and merge it with text about psychology, nature or fashion trends. In all cases, AR visualisation will be perceived differently.
Gratitude to team
Warm thanks to Chen Chen, Kun Wang, Lambros Theodorou, Alex Reid and Veranika Bandarovich for perseverance and desire to generate innovative ideas.