VR UX: Ubiquitous Interactivity

This episode looks at ubiquitous interactivity: the perception and expectation that all objects in a VR space can be interacted with.


I'm Seth Schneider, and this is VR UX. This week, we give you tips on how to best meet user's expectations once they enter your VR space. This is called ubiquitous interactivity.

Ubiquitous interactivity is the perception that all objects in a VR space can be interacted with. Users who enter a VR environment often expect to be able to interact with everything around them. Many developers falsely assume that a VR environment and a video game are similar because it is common for some objects to be dynamic and interactive while others are static.

The expectations users have when entering a VR world for the first time supersedes this assumption. They have the expectation that everything set in the world is designed with intention and has purpose. For this reason, their natural curiosity leads them to turn things upside down and throw objects just because they can.

In addition, user studies have shown that the heightened reality of VR environments lead them to try to touch, pick up, or examine the objects around them for the simple reason that everything seems so real.

Part of ubiquitous inner activity is the idea of sufficiency. Not only should the content be consistently interactive, but there should be enough content to keep the user's interest. Because VR is a highly sensory experience, successful titles will strike a balance in providing enough content without becoming overwhelming.

Engaging VR software is designed to make the most of VR capabilities. It's easy to imagine activities that might use VR in interesting but superficial ways. One example might be a reading app that requires the users to walk through rows of library books and select a book before sitting down to read. In this case, the interactions might be novel, but over time they can start to feel like window dressing's that just get in the way of the main activity.

By contrast, software that emphasizes the unique capabilities of VR and puts them to use in the primary interactions will be much more effective in sustaining the user's interest. Jeremy Bailenson, Director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, said that you can determine a good fit for VR by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is the experience rare?
  • Does the activity happen so infrequently that it is impractical to do in real life?
  • Is the experience impossible?
  • Is it imaginary or does it violate the laws of physics in such a way that it simply cannot be done?
  • Is the experience dangerous?
  • Is injury or worse likely to happen if you carry out the activity?
  • Is the experience expensive?
  • Does it cost too much money for most people to reasonably do?

If the answer to at least one of these questions is yes, the activity could be a good candidate for a VR experience. These situations are ideal to simulate activities that most people would never be able to experience otherwise.

If you follow these suggestions to optimize ubiquitous interactivity in your VR world, users will want to keep coming back to the experience you design for them. Thanks for watching. Please comment below with topics you would like to see explored, and don't forget to like this video and subscribe to the Intel® Software YouTube* channel. And we will see you next week for more VR UX.