The first time & visual cues
In rare occassions when you have a new and awesome gadget, the obvious first thing is to have your family members try it out. I saw how my family and friends reacted to VR with touch controllers. I saw the first time when they used a completely new tool to work. What I saw and learned is worthwhile to write down.
Every time I put someone into VR with controllers, and it was first time for her, the following happens:
- She waits for several minutes looking around. So long that I wanted to urge them to hurry.
- Even inside the tutorial it takes several minutes for her to figure out how to use the hand controllers.
- It takes several minutes to learn the next control scheme. No matter how it has been derived.
The person learning doesn't notice this herself. The effect is only visible if you observe bunch of people through the same task.
It's easy to recognize these effects at this point because VR interfaces are new to everyone. Lot of aspects about this set of problems are palpable now.
This all reminded me of an UI concept called cues. A graphic, visual, symbol, indicator or anything else that proposes some set of actions can proceed.
A good cue gives a hint of what happens if the person takes a certain action. And this doesn't really limit to user interfaces in strict sense: For example a title and summary of a blogpost is a cue that hints what you get back from reading.
VR is interesting in this sense because it allows you to use all physical cues. And if you don't use those cues people will start to discard them.
It is not obvious that people go into physical cues in VR though. They are aware that they see a virtual space and do not expect the same things from it.
Desktop applications have a limit on how many cues they can pass before the application becomes intolerable for professionals, but in VR there doesn't seem to be such limit. In VR you can pass in lot of cues before it starts to hamper usability.
"If I knew nothing about this, how would I figure out how does it work?"