For new computing technologies to realize their full potential they need new user interfaces. The most essential interactions in virtual spaces are grounded in direct physical manipulations like pinching and grabbing, as these are universally accessible. However, the team at Leap Motion has also investigated more exotic and exciting interface paradigms from arm HUDs and digital wearables, to deployable widgets containing buttons, sliders, and even 3D trackballs and color pickers.
Guest Article by Barrett Fox & Martin Schubert
Barrett is the Lead VR Interactive Engineer for Leap Motion. Through a mix of prototyping, tools and workflow building with a user driven feedback loop, Barrett has been pushing, prodding, lunging, and poking at the boundaries of computer interaction.
Martin is Lead Virtual Reality Designer and Evangelist for Leap Motion. He has created multiple experiences such as Weightless, Geometric, and Mirrors, and is currently exploring how to make the virtual feel more tangible.
Barrett and Martin are part of the elite Leap Motion team presenting substantive work in VR/AR UX in innovative and engaging ways.
As we move from casual VR applications to deeper and longer sessions, design priorities naturally shift toward productivity and ergonomics. One of the most critical areas of interaction design that comes up is mode switching and shortcuts.
Today we use keyboard shortcuts so often that it’s difficult to imagine using a computer without them. Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V are foundational to the efficiency of keyboard and mouse input. Most of you reading this have committed these to muscle memory.
In VR we’ve seen controller inputs adopt this shortcut paradigm relatively easily by remapping commands to buttons, triggers, trackpads, and analog sticks. To increase or decrease the brush size in Tilt Brush you swipe right or left on the trackpad of your brush hand.
But what happens when we think about one-handed rapid selections for bare-handed input? This requires a different kind of thinking, as we don’t have buttons or other mechanical inputs to lean on. In our previous work, we’ve mapped these kinds of commands to either world-space user interfaces (e.g. control panels) or wearable interfaces that use the palette paradigm, where one hand acts as a collection of options while the other acts as a picker.
But if we could mode switch or modify a currently active tool with just one hand instead of two we would see gains in speed, focus, and comfort that would add up over time. We could even design an embodied and spatial shortcut system without the need to look at our hands,