Research VR Podcast - The Science & Design of Virtual Reality

010 - User Interface and Interaction

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For those of you joining us for the first time, ResearchVR is a weekly podcast dedicated to breaking down years of Virtual Reality Research into a digestible form, and discussing the current economic trends of the industry around the world. In today’s episode:

We tackle the new field of 3D User Interfaces and Interactions. We discuss the current UI trends that are arising, and where we see things going for interactions.


Traditional UI

  • Non-diagetic

    • Getting away from Skeuomorphic design

      • Abstract concepts are well known amongst most users
    • distance from camera

Understanding Depth Cues

  • binocular disparity

    • Stereoscopic vision
    • Convergence of eyes
  • Accommodation

    • Inner Eye Lens changing form to accommodate variable focusing distance per eye
  • Occlusion

    • Object blocking each other.
    • Parallax
    • More important for depth past a couple of meters


Canvas UI (hybrid)

  • Raycasting

    • Gaze pointers
    • Handheld Laser pointer
  • Touch

    • Fingers going through buttons

Diegetic UI

  • UI elements placed on corresponding objects

    • Good for sustained focal point
  • Arm HUD

User Interface Design:

  • Oculus guidelines

    • approximately 2-3 meters away from the viewer

      • 1/3rd of the user’s viewing area
      • Otherwise use head rotation
    • Be wary of Scrolling large walls of text

      • Can cause motion sickness
    • Ok for wide but not tall text field

    • Dont make it too wide
      • Interacting with buttons changing things out of FOV can lead to confusion
  • Flat panel in front of you

  • Curved panel
    • Better than flat IMHO
    • Good for convergence

Accommodation Vergence Issue

  • DK2 Fixed focal distance of 1.3 meters away
    • Object of Interest (menus) 0.75 and 3.5 meters away.
    • Playing with Depth of Field effects to help focus, depth perception, and attention.

Random thoughts to cover

First Time User Experience vs Mastery

  • Finding the balance between the two

Skeuomorphic design vs abstract/minimal

  • After certain amount of time, trends will arise. Common icons, buttons, actions. What will they be?

Links and References

Hovercast menu:

Mike Alger’s UI:

Leap Motion:



VR Creators network:

Shibata, T., Kim, J., Hoffman, D.M., Banks, M.S. (2011). The zone of comfort: Predicting visual discomfort with stereo displays. Journal of Vision, 11(8), 1-29.


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About this podcast

The Podcast behind the Science and Design of Virtual Reality and Spatial Computing.

By combining our background in Cognitive Science and VR Research, we break down important Neuroscience to extract Design principles.

Each week, we feature the companies, founders, and researchers that are shapers of this Immersive Tech Industry.

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This podcast is produced by

by Azad Balabanian & Petr Legkov



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