I´m analysing various VR apps and I found Tvori, and I love how it handles the different actions that can be done, because instead of using interface elements such as icons or buttons, it uses real objects, such as cameras, brushes, light bulbs, spotlights, and I'm pretty much convinced that how the actions are represented makes their use more intuitive, since the gestures that are made to use them are natural, and also, the behavior that they have can be intuited by the operation of these objects in the real world, which makes it more intuitive. For example, if I want to insert an ambient light, i would choose a lightbulb and I can turn it on and off, or I can choose a pencil to draw from the tip, and erase with the bottom part.

As I say, I am practically convinced that using real objects is more intuitive, but I do not find research about this aspect of the user experience and I would be happy to confirm whether or not I am right.

I wanted to ask if someone knew any source that could deal with this topic in order to go deeper. Maybe the source does not prevent from VR but from other paradigms. Also, if you have any opinion about this topic it will be well received.

Thank you so much in advance!

  • 3
    Thank you for your contribution to UXSE. It is an interesting question and I think the initial interface design for VR has been limited to the maturity of the technology and our understanding of how VR works. I am hoping to see more information about user research in this space, and hopefully there are a few people lucky enough to have worked in this area to answer your question :)
    – Michael Lai
    Apr 6 '19 at 2:24

I am practically convinced that using real objects is more intuitive...

The power of computers comes from abstraction. Computers are glorified calculators. Everything in them is in bits, but because of abstraction, they can do much more than just add or subtract.

  • Does anyone's desk look like a computer "Desktop" with items arranged in a grid? Would anyone want their "Desktop" to look like their desk? I'd never be able to find anything. And how would I perform a search with a "real" object? Would I have to physically do the search myself? No. Thank you.

  • There's no real "Trash" or "Recycle Bin" in the computer. It's a metaphor, and it works well enough. Would associating the actions with a real trashcan make it any better? It would be worse because I'd have to find a real trashcan every time I wanted to delete or recover a file.

  • Touchscreens don't work too well on laptops. It's tiring holding one's hand up to the screen for prolonged periods of time. So we still use the mouse or touchpad. We are not literally "pointing" at the screen. We move a "cursor" around by waving our hands around somewhere else. It may not be as "intuitive" as directly touching a screen, but it doesn't take anyone long to learn.

Overly literal interfaces don't work well because they prevent the necessary abstraction that makes computers useful. I vaguely recall other examples, but can't find them right now. This should be enough though.

Microsoft Bob

Please click the up arrow before you run away screaming.

  • Thanks for your response. I'm understanding that you are referring specifically to screen interfaces that we all know at the moment and not talking about VR where things are not plane like a computer. Assuming you were using the computer example as a methafor for applying that to VR, you think that using plane interfaces like holograms are better that having a lot of objects distributed around the scene right? Is there a possibility of having both at the same time or that could cause incoherence? May 16 '19 at 15:49
  • 1
    Abstraction is a necessity to do useful computing. Whether you're dragging control points on a screen or goggles makes no difference. You're still manipulating control points with digital tools that don't exist in the real world. A successful VR environment for general computing will utilize abstraction. I don't know what that looks like because there is currently no such environment, but it won't be using "real" objects to do stuff. In the Tvori environment, it looks like you have to carry around a little VR computer. How is using a VR computer more intuitive than using a real life computer?
    – 習約塔
    May 16 '19 at 16:10

As I say, I am practically convinced that using real objects is more intuitive, but I do not find research about this aspect of the user experience and I would be happy to confirm whether or not I am right.

Absolutely yes!

The very idea is very intuitive. Humans remember by linking things and association of things with each other. When we look at things, the memories associated with the object are very likely to surface. Therefore, the experience of functionality of the object will be triggered and the user is most likely to understand.

Clarity of UI

However, it assumes that the user has experienced the functionality depicted by the object. For somebody who hasn't the UI will be mysterious. Also, the same can be said about plain text as someone who does not understand what the word means find the UI difficult to use. (I do)

Contradictory symbols

However, symbols may be contradictory. For example, if we implemented the symbol UI in Photoshop where I saw such a bulb. The bulb could increase brightness or colour or hue. Such ambiguities can be resolved only using plain text to reflect functionality.

Symbols are not complete

Take for example your toilet flush. I really cannot think of an appropriate symbol for depicting flush without taking away the simplicity, especially after seeing the automated toilets that are available which provide additional functionality. The example may be gross, but it is informative.

Hope it is helpful.

  • Happy to find someone that thinks that! Thanks for your response. It's important that labels are always present even in real objects because not everybody, as you said, will understand the functionality of the object. It would be interesting to find a good label style that can coexist with virtual object's that keeps the realism May 16 '19 at 15:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.