An introduction to 3D user interfaces

Dr Joe LaViola, one of the authors of the 3D UI bible “3D User Interfaces, Theory and Practice” has just released an article in Gamasutra to teach the basics of 3D UI to the game designers/programmers crowd.

If you haven’t read the book, shame on you, but you can now read this very nice introduction and get an accelerated 3D UI course!


What is a 3D spatial interaction anyway? As starting point, we can say that a 3D user interface (3D spatial interaction) is a UI that involves human computer interaction where the user’s tasks are carried out in a 3D spatial context with 3D input devices or 2D input devices with direct mappings to 3D. In other words, 3D UIs involve input devices and interaction techniques for effectively controlling highly dynamic 3D computer-generated content, and there’s no exception when it comes to video games.

There are essentially four basic 3D interaction tasks that are found in most complex 3D applications. Actually, there is a fifth task called symbolic input — the ability to enter alphanumeric characters in a 3D environment — but we will not discuss it here. Obviously, there are other tasks which are specific to an application domain, but these basic building blocks can often be combined to let users perform more complex tasks. These tasks include navigation, selection, manipulation, and system control.

It’s a really interesting move. The gamers are already using a lot of 3DUI but the developpers probably don’t know much about the research in this field. Let’s do the same with VR !

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