The typing options on a smartphone are sufficient for entering search terms or typing a brief message, but they are woefully inadequate for writing a novel. For professionals who current sit in front of keyboards to write reports, computer programs, newspaper articles, and so on, what kind of interfaces are needed to entice them to work in VR?
One option is to track a real keyboard and mouse, making them visible VR. Tracking of fingertips may also be needed to provide visual feedback. This enables a system to be developed that magically transforms the desk and surrounding environment into anything. Much like the use of a background image on a desktop system, a relaxing panoramic image or video could envelop the user while she works. For the actual work part, rather than having one screen in front of the user, a number of screens or windows could appear all around and at different depths.
It is easy to borrow interface concepts from existing desktop windowing systems, but much research remains to design and evaluate completely novel interfaces for improved productivity and comfort while writing. What could word processing look like in VR? What could an integrated development environment (IDE) for writing and debugging software look like? If the keyboard and mouse are replaced by other interfaces, then the user might not even need to sit at a desk to work. One challenge would be to get users to learn a method that offers text entry speeds that are comparable to a using keyboard, but enables them to work more comfortably.
Steven M LaValle 2016-12-31