Is there a list of operations that, when performed using an adapted VR environment (e.g. a custom interface designed for VR), have been proven to be (significantly) more efficient than when performed with normal user interface (e.g. mouse/keyboard/screen) ?

Edit: As David Mulder illustrated, I am looking for things like "Selecting a data point from more than n number of data points is quicker than with a mouse".

  • moving your head..?
    – Aprillion
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 20:54

2 Answers 2


In the following answer I am going to mention a couple of general points I have observed in the VR field over the years. As you're question is pretty broad (probably too broad for UX.SE actually), my answer is going to be a bit all over the place as well, but at least it should give you a solid overview of the various strengths and possibilities.

Strengths of VR

First of all there is the very simple case to be made that VR is better at the operation of immersing a person in an environment. Whether you're thinking about gaming (where the Oculus Rift is popular) or complex psychological research (where VR has already been popular for years).

Next there are a great many situations that aren't necessarily more efficient 1 on 1 compared to having the same environment fully in real life, but are more efficient in terms of practical usage due to the fact that the items that have to be manipulated either don't exist yet or are crazy expensive (e.g. the training center of one of the worlds largest chip makers in the Netherlands uses VR extensively due to this or many medical schools).

Then VR gives advantages in terms of ease to use, for example explaining to a Doctor how to isolate an area in 3D space with a 3D eraser is far easier then explaining the same methodology in a 2D environment for the simple reason that interactions in 3D space feel more natural. I do however have to point out that if the user is experienced with both methodologies a simple mouse setup probably works quicker at the moment (however an even more efficient set up could be achieved in VR given future input devices with greater precision and non-natural interactions like the mouse).

Direct object manipulation and actual standalone operations

Now, when it comes to direct operations stuff becomes more complex and everything depends on the hardware setup. Generally speaking with a good hardware setup hand eye coordination takes quite a hit due to small imperfections and lack of tactile feedback causing a decrease of a factor of 2 or 3. The way VR can 'make up' for this is that in VR additional information can be displayed with the objects and environments. For example, lets say that a VR/AR setup is used to remote control robotic arms in a nuclear plant this can allow for increased efficiency over controlling the robotic arms directly (this is a project that is still ongoing, but they are definitely going to get there at some point).


Either way, if you were hoping for something like: "Selecting a data point from more than n number of data points is quicker than with a mouse" or similar items than I fear there is no such list. In the end right now the majority of operations on their own aren't more efficient, because most if not all tools to interact with VR environments are still in their infancy. It's all about the possibilities of VR itself that makes it so valuable and to make up for all the imperfections it still has. That's not to say that a lot of operations won't get more efficient than their current counterparts, but this will only happen once input devices become better thought through and developed (right now they either are imprecise, lack any form of tactile feedback and/or are only prototypes).

  • I am indeed looking for things like "Selecting a data point from more than n number of data points is quicker than with a mouse", but your answer is very interesting. Thank you!
    – ack__
    Commented Feb 8, 2015 at 14:07

I was part of a team that built a concept game using VR and we found some interesting and unexpected things.

When we placed the HUD or text on the screen in a fixed location the user usually experienced motion sickness because he/she expected the letters to stay attached to the world. When they didn't move the eyes had to quickly adjust which caused the motion sickness.

When the menu or text was attached to the world there was less motion sickness but there was no guarantee that the user was looking in the direction of the menu. This problem can be fixed depending on the experience. For example we fixed our hud and menu experience by attaching the items to the vehicle the user was to drive. That way we were able to assume the user was looking in the direction they needed to in order to view the information.

As far as interacting with a menu we found the best experience was a combination of a game controller and head motion. A user could move their head up or down slightly to highlight a choice and press 'A' on the controller to select the highlighted option.

The problems with using a keyboard with VR is the possibility of pressing the wrong buttons. You simply cannot see anything around you. If you can find the keyboard and you are very familiar with all the keys it is less of a problem but then you are asking your user to remember things which I feel is a poor user experience.

  • Downvoter, can you explain what you dislike about this post? and how it can be improved? Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 20:02
  • Not the downvoter, but this didn't address the question about operation efficiency or the question in the title at all... Commented Feb 7, 2015 at 12:57

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