Tech Report CS-95-05

The Virtual Tricorder

Mathias M. Wloka and Eliot Greenfield

March 1995


We describe a new user-interface metaphor for immersive virtual reality --- the virtual tricorder (named for the Star Trek device). The virtual tricorder visually duplicates an actual six-degrees-of-freedom input device in the virtual environment. Since we map the input device to the tricorder one-to-one at all times, the user identifies the two. Thus, the resulting interface is visual as well as tactile, programmable, uniform, and based on a tool metaphor.

This new metaphor stimulates user interface research for immersive VR in three ways. First, it makes tactile feedback for user-interface design accessible on inexpensive hardware, second, it unifies existing interaction techniques for immersive VR, and third, it generalizes interaction techniques for use in immersive VR. To demonstrate the tricorder metaphor, we present several immersive interaction techniques.

(complete text in pdf or gzipped postscript)