We identify usability challenges facing consumers adopting Virtual Reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs) in a survey of 108 VR HMD users. Users reported significant issues in interacting with, and being aware of their real-world context when using a HMD. Building upon existing work on blending real and virtual environments, we performed three design studies to address these usability concerns. In a typing study, we show that augmenting VR with a view of reality significantly corrected the performance impairment of typing in VR. We then investigated how much reality should be incorporated and when, so as to preserve users’ sense of presence in VR. For interaction with objects and peripherals, we found that selectively presenting reality as users engaged with it was optimal in terms of performance and users’ sense of presence. Finally, we investigated how this selective, engagement-dependent approach could be applied in social environments, to support the user’s awareness of the proximity and presence of others.
Publication: A Dose of Reality: Overcoming Usability Challenges in VR Head-Mounted Displays, 2015. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '15). April 18 – 23, 2015, Seoul, Korea DOI Link