Asymmetric interfaces

Just because you can be in VR doesn’t mean you should be in VR. As our lab is getting serious about working together in virtual worlds, we are appreciating the power of asymmetric interfaces.

Some things work incredibly well in virtual reality. For example, it’s far easier to walk around a 3D environment while selecting and gathering things if you are completely immersed in a virtual world.

But some things are simply easier with an old fashioned screen and keyboard. Typing, for example. Why try to reimagine typing text when there is already an incredibly efficient way of doing it?

So we are starting to think in terms of team members who are seeing and interacting with the same virtual world through very different lenses. Some might be wearing VR glasses, others might be sitting at a laptop computer and typing away. Still others might be walking around holding an iPad and using multitouch gestures to make things happen.

The whole paradigm of “one size fits all” is inherently broken. After all, nobody is arguing which is better — an airplane, a bus, a car, a bicycle or walking with your own two feet. Each is best for some transportation tasks, and really bad for others.

Let’s embrace socially shared VR, but also embrace diversity. The future belongs to asymmetric interfaces.

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