At Lightflows, we’ve always been early adopters, eagerly exploring and embracing new technologies that push the boundaries of what’s possible. With the raft of amazing new technology and devices that are being released, including the Apple Vision Pro – the boundaries of what is possible in design are changing. The coming years present an exciting opportunity to explore new mediums, deliver new products and experiences.

In this article, we embark on an exciting journey through the emerging concepts of spatial design and Extended Reality (XR). These groundbreaking approaches are reshaping the way we interact with the digital world and sit slap-bang at the forefront of our exploration. Dive deep with us into the immersive landscapes of spatial design and XR, how they interact and the challenges that crop up in the process. In the spirit of staying ahead of the curve, we’ll also explore the transformative potential of technologies like the Apple Vision Pro headset, which is paving the way for extraordinary XR experiences.

What is spatial design and Extended Reality (XR)?

Spatial design involves arranging digital spaces for functionality and aesthetics, while Extended Reality (XR) encompasses immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). XR blends the physical and digital worlds, providing interactive experiences in various fields. Spatial design is pivotal in crafting user-friendly and visually appealing XR environments, where both real and virtual elements coexist and engage users across industries such as gaming, education, healthcare and architecture.

An umbrella term for Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality

Extended Reality (XR) isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a transformative force reshaping our digital experiences. XR is the umbrella term that covers Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), each offering its unique blend of immersive encounters. Let’s delve into the distinct characteristics of these technologies and explore their diverse applications.

A picture of a mixed reality experience, a music library can be seen overlaid onto a person's living room

Different types of XR technologies and what they all mean

Extended Reality (XR) encompasses a spectrum of immersive technologies, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). VR creates entirely digital environments for immersive experiences (like Thomas Cook’s Try Before You Fly in-store virtual reality sneak peek at certain destinations), while AR overlays digital content onto the real world, enhancing the user’s surroundings. Think Pokemon Go. MR combines elements of both to blend digital and physical elements seamlessly – Instagram and TikTok filters are a great example. XR technologies are revolutionising industries by offering new ways to interact with digital information and environments, making them increasingly relevant in various fields.

What is Augmented Reality(AR)?

Augmented Reality (AR) has evolved from a novelty into an essential player in spatial design within the extended reality (XR) landscape. With AR, we can seamlessly overlay digital elements, such as virtual objects, onto real spaces. The significance of AR in spatial design is that it allows us to visualise objects and even redefine spaces in applications for interior design. For instance, designers can overlay virtual furniture or decor onto a physical room, allowing clients to visualise how their space will look before making a decision.

The key difference between AR and VR lies in their immersion levels. While AR enhances the real world with digital elements, VR completely immerses users in a fully digital environment, isolating them from their physical surroundings. AR integrates with and enhances the real world, making it ideal for applications where interaction with both virtual and real elements is essential.

Augmented reality (AR) enhances our view of the real world by overlaying what we see with computer-generated information.

In the realm of architectural design, AR’s transformative capabilities are on full display. Architects and designers now harness the power of AR to visualise complex designs in three dimensions, rigorously test functionality and craft interactive presentations that breathe life into blueprints. This game-changing tech offers a host of advantages, from streamlining the design process to fostering innovation in building projects, making AR an indispensable tool for the modern architect.

Real-world AR applications

Augmented Reality technology has transcended the realm of theory to become a transformative tool in various real-world applications. A notable case study demonstrating the successful application of AR is the “IKEA Place” app. IKEA, the Swedish furniture retail giant, introduced this AR application to help customers visualise how their furniture would look in their homes before making a purchase. Users can simply point their smartphones or tablets at a space in their home and the app superimposes 3D models of IKEA furniture items in real time, taking into account the room’s dimensions and lighting conditions. This AR solution has revolutionised furniture shopping by addressing a common challenge of purchasing furniture online – uncertainty about how it will fit or match with existing decor. The “IKEA Place” app not only enhances the customer shopping experience but also reduces returns and increases customer satisfaction, making it a prime example of the practical and successful application of Augmented Reality.

Smart glasses

Everyone’s seen smart glasses, from the now defunct Google Glass to RayBan’s pair, and most want to try them. But they’re more than just a gimmick. These innovative wearables have emerged as a game-changer within the realm of extended reality (XR) technologies. They take augmented reality (AR) to new heights by overlaying computer-generated information onto the real world in front of your very eyes, creating a captivating blend of the digital and physical in a tangible way. Smart glasses, like other XR devices, deliver immersive experiences that redefine how we interact with our surroundings.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is a captivating technology that has the power to transport users into entirely computer-generated worlds, replacing their physical surroundings with immersive digital environments. With VR headsets like Apple Vision Pro, HTC Vive, Meta Quest (previously the Oculus Quest) and Playstation VR, users can step into these alternate realms and interact with them as if they were actually there. The intricate setup of a VR Lab further enhances the experience, incorporating degrees of freedom platforms, haptic devices and virtual production projection mapping systems to create a truly holistic VR adventure.

‘Virtual reality (VR) completely replaces a user’s view, immersing them within a computer-generated virtual environment.’

Real-world VR applications

To realise VR’s impact, we have to look at successful case studies that are setting the standard for how these technologies should be implemented and play a pivotal role in conveying their unique potential. The one that springs to mind for us is the groundbreaking case study of the Virtual Reality RIGPr Simulation Training Technology, developed in collaboration with the Royal Navy and Novatech. This remarkable project harnessed VR technology to create immersive training simulations for naval personnel, such as tackling the challenges of unpredictable ocean conditions for Royal Navy RHIB coxswains by creating realistic simulations of various scenarios, from calm seas to rough waters. This safe and controlled environment allowed coxswains to practise navigating in different conditions, make mistakes and build their skills through repetition. By utilising VR headsets, trainees could virtually navigate complex rigging procedures, gaining invaluable hands-on experience in a safe environment and mitigating the risks associated with real-world sea trials. This example highlights how XR technologies, including AR, VR and MR, are transforming traditional training methods, providing immersive and realistic scenarios for learning, offering cost-effective and highly engaging solutions in high-stakes industries like maritime and defence.

VR headsets, from Oculus Quest 3 to Apple Vision Pro

A picture of Apple's Vision Pro headset

Several VR headset options have emerged in recent years, each offering unique features and capabilities in the context of VR design apps. The Meta Quest 3, known for its affordability and portability, provides users with a wireless and all-in-one VR experience, making it suitable for design applications where freedom of movement is essential.  The recently arrive Apple Vision Pro headset is new kid on the block, with it’s $3500 price tag, it’s pushing the limits of what is possibly with this new technology as it seamlessly blends AR and VR.

These VR headsets immerse users in virtual reality experiences by incorporating design elements like controllers and VR glasses, enabling users to interact intuitively with their virtual environment. Features such as 3D object selection and repositioning enhance precision and ease of use for design tasks, allowing designers to manipulate virtual objects as if they were physical. The ability to create and fine-tune environmental details and animations within these VR design apps is crucial for crafting immersive and realistic virtual spaces, ensuring that the end-user experiences a seamless and captivating VR design. These advancements in VR technology, as exemplified by Meta Quest 3, Meta and the potential of Apple Vision Pro, are shaping the future of design by providing powerful tools and immersive environments for creative professionals. They’re helping to push the boundaries of design.

What is Mixed Reality?

Mixed Reality (MR) stands at a fascinating crossroads between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), offering a unique blend that seamlessly merges the tangible with the digital. In MR, the real and virtual worlds converge, creating a dynamic experience such as walking through and interacting with a virtual representation of a building within the context of its real-world location. This way, architects and designers can interact with virtual elements while maintaining a presence in the physical environment. This creates a profound sense of spatial understanding and allows architects to assess how the design fits into its surroundings, including factors like lighting, scale and context. MR design reviews unlock a whole load of advantages, from enhancing communication of ideas to clients and stakeholders, as they can visually demonstrate design concepts in an immersive manner, to facilitating rapid iteration of design concepts and informed decision-making.

MR sits somewhere between AR and VR, as it merges the real and virtual worlds.

Real-world MR applications

Pokemon Go stands as a pioneering example of Mixed Reality (MR) technology, seamlessly blending the realms of reality and virtuality. This groundbreaking mobile app invites users to embark on a captivating journey where they interact with virtual creatures, all while navigating the real world. Powered by augmented reality (AR) technology, Pokemon Go has not only captured the hearts of millions but has also left an indelible mark on the gaming industry. Its widespread popularity has introduced the masses to the world of spatial design and immersive experiences, forever changing the way we perceive and engage with our surroundings.

Spatial design and its significance in XR technologies

Spatial design involves the meticulous crafting of interactive and immersive environments, where every element, from scale and proportion to lighting, sound and narrative components, plays a pivotal role. Spatial design breathes life into XR technologies, transforming them from mere digital constructs into dynamic and captivating worlds that users can explore and engage with. Spatial design is a fundamental piece of the XR puzzle.

Elevating environments: spatial design in architecture

Spatial design defines how spaces look, feel and function. Its relationship to architecture is clear in the way it’s not concerned with just aesthetics, but also optimising user experiences.

In the context of extended reality (XR) technologies, spatial design takes on an even more important role. Whether crafting virtual realms that mirror real spaces or conjuring entirely new dimensions, it connects both the physical and the virtual, guiding the creation of immersive experiences and enhancing our understanding of how we can use space.

A picture of someone using a VR headset in a home office

How spatial design should be considered when working with XR

Spatial design is a critical consideration when working with extended reality (XR) technologies, as it forms the foundation of immersive environments and experiences. And spatial designers, in a pivotal role, are the architects of digital realms. By meticulously designing elements, considering scale, proportion, lighting and sound, designers craft environments that engage users entirely. This section delves into the art and science of spatial design and its significance in the XR landscape.

UI design

For extended reality (XR) technologies, UI design is paramount. It profoundly influences the user experience, serving as the bridge between the real and virtual worlds. Effective UI design, including elements like app icons, typography, layout and focus feedback, ensures that users can navigate immersive environments seamlessly. It not only enhances accessibility and legibility but also guides users in interacting with virtual content, ultimately determining the success of XR applications by fostering engagement and usability.

App icons: their power in XR realms

App icons serve as the portal to immersive experiences. These small visual cues are like gateways to expansive virtual realms, making their design and functionality integral to the overall user experience. Well-designed app icons are the linchpin of responsive apps that seamlessly adapt to VR/AR environments, offering users visible advantages by providing intuitive access to XR content. With interior design, VR design apps take it a step further, applying augmented reality tools like Vuforia and ARKit to help users transform spaces.

Materials: the canvas of XR architectural design

Materials are the canvas upon which architectural dreams come to life. XR revolutionises the way architects engage with materials, giving them the tools to visualise and select suitable materials by overlaying virtual representations onto physical surfaces. Textures play a massive role in this immersion, contributing to the hyper-realistic representations that allow architects to perfect their visions.

Typography: the silent conductor of XR spatial design

Typography for extended reality (XR) technologies intuitively guides users through immersive landscapes. It’s easily overlooked, but cleverly contributes to the overall XR experience. When selecting typography for XR applications, it’s important to consider legibility, style and hierarchy, so users can easily navigate and engage with the content.

Vibrancy: a symphony of elements

Vibrancy in spatial design is the heartbeat of immersive experiences in XR technologies. It’s the art of infusing life, energy and allure into virtual environments. Vibrancy is a symphony of elements — lighting, colour and materials — all orchestrated to captivate users. Through the harmonious interplay of these factors, XR spaces come alive, evoking emotions and blurring the line between the real and the virtual.

Colours: the palette of XR spatial design

Colours in spatial design for extended reality (XR) technologies are silent storytellers, setting the tone and mood and enhancing the user’s journey. Selecting colours in XR spatial design isn’t just about how things look; it delves into the psychological impact of colours, seeking to achieve the perfect immersive experience.


It’s possible to elevate creativity further through XR layouts. Immersive environments offer unprecedented opportunities for visualising and refining designs, reshaping the creative process. Layout design in XR requires a deep consideration of user experience, ergonomics and intuitive interaction. With powerful tools like Blender, Figma, Sketchfab, Tvori and Adobe Aero, designers can craft prototypes that push the boundaries of what’s possible, ushering in a new era of spatial design.

Ergonomics: a comfortable reality

Ergonomics is all about the human experience. From the placement of furniture and accessories to experimenting with colours and materials, ergonomic factors are seamlessly woven into XR design. The result? A comfortable and intuitive user experience.

Sizing: the key to XR spatial realism

Correctly sizing virtual objects and spaces is vital to crafting a believable user experience. Yet this aspect comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Designers have to strike a delicate balance between digital precision and real-world perceptions.

Focus feedback

Focus feedback is the subtle art of guiding users’ attention, enhancing their experience and fine-tuning spatial design within XR technologies. Employing techniques like visual cues, sound effects or haptics, focus feedback is a huge help in striving to make XR experiences as engaging and brilliant as they can possibly be.

What are the challenges and considerations of spatial design in XR technologies?

Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines give us useful insights into navigating the XR design landscape. An enlightening video within the guidelines delves into the profound impact of spatial design on user experiences, unveiling the multifaceted elements that demand careful consideration. We’re talking UI design, materials, colours, layout and more. This invaluable resource equips designers with the knowledge and tools to tackle the complexities of XR design.

Adjusting UX design

Crafting a user experience requires a lot of delicate adjustments. Designers need to juggle the creation of spatial environments, ensuring user comfort, respecting hardware limitations for optimisation and effectively using cues to guide user interactions. Enter the object-oriented UX methodology, which models digital interactions around objects, their properties and behaviours. It’s a powerful tool for designing with precision and addressing the unique design challenges within the XR landscape.

A person demonstrating a Meta Quest device and handsets

What should a designer’s job look like when working with a developer on XR tech?

When collaborating with developers on XR (Extended Reality) technology, a designer’s role is multifaceted. They conceive the initial vision, design the user interface and user experience, and consider spatial elements within the virtual environment. Designers create 3D assets, conduct prototyping and user testing, and work closely with developers to bring their vision to life while addressing technical constraints. Communication and collaboration are vital and designers often iterate on their designs based on user feedback and performance considerations. Ultimately, the designer’s goal is to ensure an immersive and user-centred XR experience that balances creativity with practicality.

What technology do we use that can support spatial design?

Designers and developers unite! When it comes to XR technology, the arsenal at your disposal includes industry standard tools and platforms like Blender, Figma, Sketchfab, Tvori, Adobe Aero, UE4 and Unity. These give you the means to visualise, prototype, test ideas and weave immersive environments into reality, laying the foundation for unforgettable spatial experiences.


Unity takes centre stage in the world of XR technologies, providing essential support for spatial design. It allows creative designers to craft immersive environments that captivate users’ senses. In fact, we can say with certainty that Unity is ushering in a new era of design possibilities within the XR domain.

Web GL/Web 3D

Web GL and Web 3D technologies facilitate interactive and real-time rendering, enabling the creation of highly realistic 3D models and immersive environments. These cutting-edge tools not only fuel the creative process but also bring designers working within XR one step closer to their visionary spatial experiences.

From a design perspective, how can XR technologies enhance the creative process?

XR technologies offer valuable enhancements to the creative process. These technologies incorporate design elements such as spatial experiences, interactive interfaces and immersive environments, providing designers with innovative tools to explore. XR introduces fresh perspectives, enabling real-time prototyping and fostering collaboration among designers. It brings so many benefits, from visualising and materialising ideas to improving comprehension of size and proportions. Even better, XR helps to discover design issues that might have gone unnoticed in traditional processes, contributing to a more enriched and refined creative workflow.

Why has Extended Reality (XR) recently become more common in the business world?

The growing prevalence of extended reality (XR) technologies in the business landscape can be put down to several factors. This immersive technology has found its way into business applications, transforming how companies operate and interact with customers. Its adoption brings enhanced training and education, improved product design and visualisation and more engaging marketing campaigns. Let’s explore more below.

  • Enhanced training and education: XR technologies provide immersive and hands-on training experiences, allowing employees to acquire new skills and knowledge more effectively. This is particularly valuable in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing and aviation.
  • Remote collaboration: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work and collaboration tools. XR technologies enable teams to collaborate in virtual spaces, fostering creativity and productivity even when working from different locations.
  • Product design and prototyping: Businesses can use XR to create virtual prototypes of products and test their functionality before physical production. This saves time and resources and reduces the risk of design flaws.
  • Marketing and sales: AR and VR offer interactive and engaging ways to showcase products and services. Businesses use these technologies for virtual showrooms, product demonstrations and immersive marketing campaigns.
  • Customer engagement: XR enhances customer experiences by offering immersive content and personalised interactions. This can lead to increased customer engagement and loyalty.
  • Data visualisation: Complex data can be visualised in 3D and explored in virtual environments, aiding decision-making processes across various industries, including finance and analytics.
  • Real estate and architecture: As discussed throughout, XR enables virtual property tours and interactive architectural designs, allowing clients to experience spaces before construction or purchase.
  • Healthcare: XR has applications in medical training, telemedicine and patient education, improving the quality of care and accessibility of healthcare services.
  • Gaming and entertainment: While primarily recreational, XR technologies have business implications, such as in the gaming industry, which generates substantial revenue.
  • Cost savings: Over time, XR can reduce costs related to travel, physical prototyping and training, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to optimise their operations.

Ultimately, businesses are increasingly recognising the potential of XR to revolutionise their operations and stay ahead in a competitive market.


Extended Reality (XR) is revolutionising architecture and spatial design by offering architects and designers powerful tools for visualising and creating immersive environments. XR technologies, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), allow architects to explore designs in 3D, make real-time adjustments and present their concepts more effectively to clients and stakeholders. This transformative approach enhances the design process, fosters better communication and results in more innovative and efficient architectural solutions.

Spatial designers decorate XR environments by carefully curating virtual spaces and elements to create immersive and engaging experiences. They consider factors such as scale, proportion, lighting, colour, textures and user interactions to craft virtual worlds that align with the desired aesthetic and functionality. This approach ensures that XR applications provide users with visually captivating and cohesive spatial experiences.


At Lightflows, we can help you harness the full potential of XR technologies for your project. Our expertise in XR design and development allows us to create immersive, interactive and visually stunning XR experiences tailored to your specific needs. Whether you require XR solutions for architectural visualisation, education, gaming or other applications, we have the knowledge and tools to bring your ideas to life.

Context is king. A good immersive experience is characterised by its ability to immerse users in a virtual environment that is contextually relevant and engaging. Context plays a crucial role in defining the quality of immersion. It ensures that the virtual world aligns with the user’s goals, interests and expectations. To create a good immersive experience, developers must consider the context in which the experience will be used and design accordingly.

Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of immersive technologies, including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR). XR blurs the lines between the physical and digital worlds, offering users interactive and immersive experiences. AR overlays digital information onto the real world, VR replaces the real world with a virtual one and MR combines aspects of both to create seamless interactions between the real and virtual environments.

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the real world, enhancing it with digital elements. Virtual Reality (VR) replaces the real world with a completely virtual environment. Mixed Reality (MR) merges digital and physical worlds, allowing virtual and real objects to interact seamlessly. Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term encompassing AR, VR, and MR, emphasising the continuum of immersive experiences available.

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the real world, enhancing it with digital elements. Virtual Reality (VR) replaces the real world with a completely virtual environment. Mixed Reality (MR) merges digital and physical worlds, allowing virtual and real objects to interact seamlessly. Extended Reality (XR) is an umbrella term encompassing AR, VR, and MR, emphasising the continuum of immersive experiences available.

Augmented Reality (AR) is transforming architectural design by enabling architects to visualise and interact with 3D models and designs in real-world contexts. AR apps and devices allow architects to superimpose digital building plans onto physical construction sites, making it easier to assess designs, detect errors and communicate ideas to clients and construction teams. This technology streamlines the design and construction process, resulting in more efficient and accurate architectural projects.

Interactive design is a design approach that focuses on creating user-centred and engaging digital experiences. It involves designing interfaces, websites, apps or XR applications that encourage user interaction and participation. Interactive design considers usability, user feedback and the user journey to create interfaces and experiences that are intuitive, enjoyable and effective.

XR is used in education to enhance learning experiences through immersive and interactive content. In educational settings, XR technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) enable students to explore complex subjects in a more engaging and hands-on manner. XR applications range from virtual field trips and anatomy lessons in VR to AR-based historical simulations and interactive science experiments, providing educators with innovative tools to improve learning outcomes.

XR (Extended Reality) is a broad term encompassing technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). Immersive learning refers to the educational use of immersive technologies like VR and AR to create engaging and interactive learning experiences. While XR is the overarching concept, immersive learning specifically focuses on leveraging VR and AR to enhance education by providing learners with immersive and memorable educational content and experiences.

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