Types of Interfaces and Visual Design

Types of Interfaces and Context

There is an incredibly large mental shift not just from the perspective of the user, but also in the capabilities of VR/AR as a platform for developers to showcase games to the user. Not only are we changing the potential scale of interfaces, but because the environment is spatial, our interfaces are too. This means that our interfaces can be located anywhere within the environment, at any distance, and contain a variability of information.

Visual Design Spectrum of Relativity

When thinking about your interfaces and the content within your VR/AR environment, consider multiple options of how to convey information to your user. As previously stated, not every piece of content has to be 3D, especially within the context of interfaces. You can use a multitude of visuals and information as interfaces that includes 2D objects in these 3D worlds. This leads us down to the spectrum of relativity in visual design, where our interfaces could take on a multitude of properties.

Flat Design is iconographic or pictographic in it’s representation. It has a significant lack of shadows, gradients, or textures as well as simplistic coloring.

Material Design is still iconographic but incorporates shadows, gradients, textures, and coloring. It focuses on adding layers to convince users of depth and meaning. It plays on subtle patterns and textures that a user can focus on to understand placement in space. Skeuomorphic Design is a digital simplification of a physical object that evokes the relationship of the user to the physical object with layers of complexity for easy identification. Hyper-realistic Design is specific to VR/AR as it is just a digital replication of a physical object that evokes the exact same representation, often with the same functionality.

Everything is an Interface

When every spatialized object has the potential to be an interface, the concept of where designers start and end can seem daunting, but a lot of content in the real world has already addressed these problems in contexts like urban planning and even theatre production. Keeping this in mind, there are considerations that we need to decide upon in order for our users to have a positive user experience.


When thinking about the interface within the VR/AR environment, we must consider how that user interface information appears to the user. The dimensionality of the object can be 2D (content that instantiates itself only on two planes) or 3D (content that instantiates itself on three planes).


When thinking about the interface within the AR/VR environment, we must consider where the user interface is relative to the device. The location of the objects can be spatial or meta. A spatial interface can be any object rendered in the device’s 3D environment. A common term for β€˜meta’ in VR/AR is actually β€˜fixed’ UI, as content will be fixed to the device itself. This is seen the most in head pose reticle systems as they will be stuck to the center of FOV.

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