Mario Kart study performed worse
than traditional techniques. Highly
natural turning, aiming, and firing
methods in the FPS studies were very
successful, but the moderately natural
human joystick approach was difficult
to use and hard to understand even
after instruction and practice. Simply
increasing the level of interaction fidelity does not seem to be sufficient
in all cases to ensure usability and
performance; naturalism is most effective when very high levels of fidelity
can be achieved, and when the resulting interface is familiar to users.
If they are well designed, techniques based on the hyper-natural,
magic design approach can feel natural and familiar, while avoiding some
of the unwanted side effects of replicating the real world exactly, and providing users with enhanced abilities
that improve performance and usability. For example, the Go-Go and HOMER techniques performed well in the
6-DOF manipulation study, allowing
the users to feel they were directly manipulating the virtual objects in their
hands but without requiring them
to travel within reach of the objects
to do so. But these enhancements
are not without a cost: in the case of
Go-Go and HOMER, scaling of hand
motions is used to allow flexibility
of placement, which reduces precision. The human joystick technique
allows long-distance travel without
fatigue, but is harder to control than
real walking would be. Techniques
like scaled HOMER, however, show
the potential to design hyper-natural
techniques that feel familiar and provide enhancements without sacrificing precision.
Overall, the literature and our stud-
ies suggest designers’ instinct to strive
for natural interaction has merit. Natu-
ral UIs are, well, natural, and they come
easily even for novice users. For cer-
tain tasks, like pointing, turning, and
6-DOF manipulation, humans have
finely honed abilities that are hard to
beat with any other interaction style,
as long as the tracking system delivers
high-quality data. For certain applica-
tions, such as training, using a natural
UI helps ensure the training will trans-
fer to the real world. Even when a task
would be hard to perform in the real
world, hyper-natural UIs can mitigate
the difficult aspects of the task while
maintaining a natural feel.
There is still much to be learned about
the influence of natural interaction in
3D UIs. Many additional tasks and application contexts must be explored
before we can definitively answer questions about the merits of high interaction fidelity.
One important issue is that inter-
action fidelity is not binary. It would
be erroneous to simply say one UI is
natural and another is not. Rather, as
we have done in this article, we should
speak of a continuum of interaction
fidelity, with parts of an interface (spe-
cific interaction techniques) falling at
different locations on the interaction
The authors thank members of the
3D Interaction Group for their contributions to this work, the Visual Computing group at Virginia Tech for its
support, and Rachael Brady at Duke
University for graciously allowing us to
use the DiVE.
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