Ids Fijen has been a UX designer at Scopic_Labs since April 2023. His drive? Finding digital solutions and continually identifying improvement opportunities. 'I constantly dive into new worlds, which makes the work always challenging.'
UX design revolves around designing user-friendly digital products, such as apps, websites, and virtual reality environments. The interaction between the user and the product is central to this. For the user, it should be as easy as possible to work with the product. Ids: 'Examples include placing interface elements in a way that feels natural in the 3D space, easy navigation, and considering the limitations of users without previous VR experience. As a UX designer, you're constantly tweaking and testing until you've created the best version. Especially in VR, usability is crucial. Many users have never worn a VR headset, let alone know how a controller works. So, you want to make it as accessible as possible for them.'
Ids ended up at Scopic_Labs through connections. 'They were looking for someone to help with a project on diagnosing balance disorders in virtual reality. Scopic_Labs was still in a small office in the center of Amsterdam at that time. I started for one day a week, in combination with an internship at another company. A unique opportunity to delve into the world of VR, which was completely new to me.'
The introduction to Scopic_Labs turned out to be a success. Ids has since completed his Communication & Multimedia studies at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and now works full-time for Scopic_Labs. One of the recent projects he was closely involved in concerned a request from the Dutch police academy.
‘Students at this academy receive a lot of theory in their education. To make this theory stick as well as possible, we were asked to build a VR application. Colleagues, in collaboration with the client, wrote a script. My task was to translate that script into a digital VR product. That’s quite a challenge. The theory not only has to be incorporated, but it also has to be brought to life: it has to feel like you’re really there, something you’re experiencing (VR presence), rather than just something you’re watching. Additionally, you also want to be able to check the choices the student made and see if they performed certain actions. Think of the standard routines for every police officer going out by car, including checking the trunk for the necessary equipment.’
After making test recordings, Ids worked on actually designing the application. 'To do so, I used two tools. Figma is a digital drawing program. The disadvantage is that it's 2D, so a flat screen instead of a spatial representation. That's why I also used ShapesXR, which is specifically designed for designing in VR. I adjusted the design after discussions with colleagues, the police, and the target audience, and will continue to do so until we are satisfied with the final product.'
Ids has since dived into new projects. ‘We always stay involved in previous projects to perform updates and further develop the project. That's the beauty of the collaboration: Scopic_Labs is essentially a co-owner of the production. That's why you maintain a connection with the client. I also find it interesting to dive into new fields continually. For example, at the police, I had to precisely understand their working methods and how they experience what we presented in VR. That's completely different from what I encountered in the medical project.’
Now that he has more experience, Ids is getting involved in projects earlier and earlier. ‘That's very fascinating. VR is still in its infancy, but has a significant impact. It often evokes more intense emotions than other digital experiences do, such as e-learning or a ‘regular’ video. Something not only moves the viewer, but often leads them to want to take action. That's how lifelike VR can be. That’s why it's crucial to carefully consider how you want to use VR. At Scopic_Labs, we lay the foundation for that in collaboration with our clients. It's beautiful to get to contribute to that from my role.’