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VWC Viewpoints March 2008

Real Gestures for Virtual Movement

Even the most dedicated virtual-worlds enthusiast cannot deny that today's virtual-worlds user interfaces are poor. Basic gestures and facial expressions are constrained by predefined lists—imagine if human communication were as limited! Further, these gestures and expressions are often out of sync with communication because users add them after they have finished typing text or speaking. Similarly, in-world musical performances using canned animations appear unrealistic and can even overrun—so that the avatar continues playing after the performance has finished. Controlling eyes and movement separately is also difficult. In real life, people can easily walk forward while looking from left to right, but in many virtual worlds this activity is surprisingly difficult.

Manipulating objects in virtual worlds, from picking them up to building with them, is far from intuitive and could be dramatically improved by new user interface devices. Perhaps most important, moving via cursors is, for many people, an unnatural, awkward, and limited experience. If virtual worlds are ever going to meet the needs of mainstream consumers, who have little patience for complex technologies, then virtual-worlds developers need to create better user interfaces. So could "natural-motion" controls create the transformation that virtual-worlds user interfaces need?

Download the report here:
Real Gestures for Virtual Movement