Section: Research Program
Designing targeted interaction techniques
In the previous section, we focused on the input/output interaction space, which is closely related to hardware components. In this part, we focus on the design of interaction techniques, which we define here as the means through which a user will complete an interaction task in a given interaction space. Even if this is naturally also linked to the underlying hardware components, the research conducted in this axis of the project will mainly concern software developments.
Similar to the input/output interaction space, the design of interaction techniques requires focusing on both the motor and the sensory components. Thus, in our 3D spatial context, the challenges will be to find good mappings between the available input and the DOF that need to be controlled in the 3D environment, and to provide relevant feedback to users so that they can understand well what they are doing.
The design of interaction techniques should be strongly guided by the targeted end-users. For example, a 3D UI dedicated to an expert user will not suit a novice user, and the converse is also true. In Potioc, where the final goal is to open 3D digital worlds to anyone, we will concentrate on the general public, specialists that are not 3D experts, and people with impairments.
3D UIs have mainly been designed for professional use. For example, modeling tools require expertize to be used correctly and, consequently, they exclude the general public from the process of creating 3D content. Similarly, immersive technologies have been dedicated to professional users for a long time. Therefore, immersive 3D interaction techniques have generally been thought for trained users, and they may not fit well with a general public context. In Potioc, an important motivation will be to re-invent 3D UIs to adapt them to the general public. This motivation will guide us towards new approaches that have been little explored until now. In particular, to reach our objective, we will give a strong importance to the following criteria:
In addition, we will keep connected with societal and technological factors surrounding the general public. For example, [multi]touch-screens have become very popular these past few years, and everyone tends to be familiar with a standard gesture vocabulary (e.g. pinch gestures and flicking gestures). We will rely on these commonly acquired ways-of-interact to optimize the acceptability of the 3D UIs we will design. In this part of the project the challenge will be to conceive 3D UIs that offer a high degree of interactivity, while ensuring an easy access to technology, as well as a wide adherence.
General public will be one of the main targets of Potioc for the design of 3D UIs. However, we do not exclude specialists, who have little experience with 3D interaction. These specialists can be for example artists, archaeologists, or architects. In any case, we are convinced that 3D digital worlds could benefit to such categories of users if we propose dedicated 3D UIs that allow them to better understand, communicate, or create, with their respective skills. Because such specialists will gain expertize while interacting with 3D content, it will be necessary to design 3D UIs that can adapt to their evolving level of expertize. In particular, the UIs should be easy to use and attractive enough to encourage new users. At the same time, they should provide advanced features that the specialist can discover while gaining expertize.
People with impairments
While the general public has been only scarcely considered as a potential target audience for 3D digital worlds, another category of users is even more neglected: people with impairments. Indeed, such people, in particular those with motor impairments, are unable to use classical input devices, since they have been designed for healthy users. People with motor impairment have to use dedicated input devices, adapted to their disabilities, such as a single switch. Since such input devices usually have much fewer degrees of freedom than classical devices, it is necessary to come up with appropriate interaction techniques in order to efficiently use this limited number of DOF to still enable the user to perform complex tasks in the 3D environment. In Potioc, our focus will be on the use of BCI to enable motor impaired users to interact with 3D environment for learning, creation and entertainment. Indeed, BCI enable a user to interact without any motor movement.