UX and IxD issues in VR.

In our research, we have examined and detailed diverse categories around interactive narratives, within the context of user engagement through technology.

One of the topics that I consider essential but we could not develop in depth is the design of environments in virtual reality (VR). This is imperative in the current state of VR, where there are no realistic tactile simulations yet; and even when technology allows to experience the sense of touch, the logic of the simulated environments leads into a new paradigm of user interface design and user experiences. These issues will often determine the agency; that is to say, “the ability to act in any given environment.” (WizardofAz and Balabanian, 2016). In other words, they define who is the user within the virtual reality.

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(Source: Archive.org Image by NASA)

The most important question that arises is, in a VR design where users interact with an object that does not exist in the physical world, how we apply the principles of design. How do we construct affordances or constraints on objects that can not be touched? Or how we interact with an impalpable thing? From the design point of view seems very challenging.“If an object appears intangible, people have no mental model for it, and will not be able to reliably interact with it.” : (Motion, 2016).

This leads us to think the interaction in a further complex way, realising that other elements could improve or enhance the user experience, and compels us to consider how some principles of design can be changed within these virtual environments. For example in VR is being very common the use of audio to reinforce the possibilities of virtual objects. Similarly, the designers are modifying certain characteristics of the objects, such as colour or size, to improve the functionality, they also are transforming the visual perspective to delimit the potentialities of the experience. Even in some cases, we are seeing variations on physical laws; for instance, heavy objects appear lighter, or gravity could alter; thus to raise and strengthen the usability of the interactive systems.

These new relationships, not only affect the paradigms of design but also establish new semantic links, finding new meanings and possibilities in the virtual storytelling. In VR “seeing is doing”.  (In this regard is interesting the research “the Embodied Montage in VR.” Tortum, 2016). These issues highlight the need to think VR as a new medium, reconsidering the User Centred Design (UCD) approach within the context of VR.

References:

-Motion, L. (2016) Designing physical interactions for objects that do not exist. Available at: http://blog.leapmotion.com/designing-physical-interactions-for-objects-that-dont-exist/ (Accessed: 11 February 2017).
-WizardofAz and Balabanian, A. (2016) Cause & Effect- VR’s essential interaction. Available at: https://medium.com/@WizardofAz/cause-effect-vr-s-essential-interaction-efff0471b470#.lflqoon7w (Accessed: 11 February 2017).
-Tortum, H., (2016) Embodied Montage: Reconsidering Immediacy in Virtual Reality. Available at: http://cmsw.mit.edu/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/326754928-Deniz-Tortum-Embodied-Montage-Reconsidering-Immediacy-in-Virtual-Reality.pdf (Accessed: 11 February 2017).
-NASA, VR, viewed 11 February 2017, <https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/b5/66/6e/b5666eef4287f92456492e618a28f04e.jpg&gt;.
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