#443: Five Universal Tasks of 3D User Interfaces with Doug Bowman

In 1968, Douglas Engelbart gave “The Mother of All Demos” where he gave the first public demonstration of a mouse as a computer control device. For the last 48 years, the mouse and keyboard have remained the primary input devices for Human Computer Interaction. Virtual and augmented reality represent a new immersive computing paradigm where the equivalent 3D user interfaces are being continually refined as there is a burst of innovation with new input devices.

doug-bowmanDoug Bowman has been one of the leading researchers in 3DUI as the Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, and the co-author of the 2004 book titled “3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice.” The second edition is due to come out in early 2017, and is available in early release.

I had a chance to catch up with Doug at the 2015 3DUI conference that was co-located with IEEE VR in Arles France to talk about the five universal tasks in 3DUI including navigation, selection, manipulation, system control, and text input. We talk about the open problems of 3DUI, the uncanny valley of VR locomotion, and the strengths and weaknesses of academia when it comes to comparing different approaches individually and then within the context of a larger application. I also recount some of the big innovations in input devices since this was originally recorded in spring of 2015.


Here’s the moment when Douglas Engelbart and Bill Paxton publicly demonstrate the mouse for the first time at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco:

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Music: Fatality & Summer Trip