‘The 2018 Source Code’: Monotype Gets Real About AR/VR

Vivek Vadakkuppattu

Product Management Director at Monotype

A new year always seems to bring new opportunities for talented developers. To help our dev community hit the ground running in 2018, we’ve mined insights from some of the industry’s brightest minds for The 2018 Source Code: A Dev’s Guide. In this first Q&A, Vivek Vadakkuppattu, Product Management Director at Monotype, creator of the popular app FlipFont, discusses trends he’s seeing in the world of AR/VR development while sharing his predictions for the upcoming year.With all types of AR/VR devices on the market, what’s the common thread to maintain smooth performance while making efficient use of computing resources?

When looking at computing resources, runtime performance has a major impact on streaming and WebVR. With this in mind, there are two approaches to building and rendering AR/VR content that will ensure smooth performance, not just across the plethora of devices, but also across use cases and environments. There is currently work happening on both these fronts. First is compression of assets – for example, fonts – so that the size of the app is reduced. The second is rendering optimization to lower resolution in sections of the experience that users don’t focus on.

What are your tips for AR/VR developers on app scalability?

Developers will see the most value by focusing on creating AR/VR apps the “right” way. For example, when implementing text in AR/VR experiences, one common approach is to use bitmaps for text, instead of actual vectors, as a quick, simple way to get a UI up and running. Consequently, the text is often of poor quality or requires a lot of manual manipulation, is difficult to localize, or isn’t optimized for the device at hand, thereby limiting scalability.

Today, however, there are new technologies that enable rendering for high-quality text that can be localized for the user and customized for the device’s screen resolution at hand – all done more efficiently from a resource standpoint. Using this technology – and text as vectors – apps can be scaled across devices and geographies more easily than traditional, manual means.

Fonts that work nicely for websites or print don’t always perform as well in the world of AR/VR. Why?

AR and VR are immersive, stereoscopic environments where depth plays a major role. Therefore, fonts must be chosen carefully to match the tone and genre of the content to enhance the experience without distracting the user. Legibility is arguably more important for AR/VR than other mediums. While the aesthetics of fonts are important, choosing highly legible fonts can help mitigate nausea by fostering a more pleasant, comfortable user experience, and enhance readability by letting the user process the text with minimal effort, time or strain.

How does Monotype’s AR/VR beta solution help with the testing process for font implementation?

The Monotype AR/VR Beta solution makes it easier for developers to create AR/VR experiences with text that is highly legible, localized, customizable (in terms of appearance) and resource optimized. The native support for localization assists with scaling across geographies, and the dynamic customization and resource optimization helps create experiences that scale across devices and platforms. From a font standpoint, we have also identified fonts that offer high legibility, providing developers a resource to find fonts that perform especially well in AR/VR environments.

What’s the one big trend that (AR/VR) developers should keep their eyes on in 2018?

WebVR is a big trend that developers should follow. A major challenge to developing for VR has been the limited footprint of devices in addition to fragmentation of devices and platforms. WebVR will democratize VR by making it easier to build scalable content that’s accessible to a wider audience.

Other trends we’re keeping tabs on are foveated rendering, additional sensory information like smell and touch, and a consolidation of development platforms.

Thank you to Vivek for sharing his thoughts. In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking to more industry experts on what developers need to know moving into 2018, so be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so you don’t miss an installment of The 2018 Source Code: A Dev’s Guide.