Interaction Fidelity: The Uncanny Valley of Virtual Reality Interactions

  • Ryan P. McMahanEmail author
  • Chengyuan Lai
  • Swaroop K. Pal
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9740)


Interaction designers often strive to create more-realistic and natural interactions for virtual reality (VR) applications. However, due to hardware and system limitations, they often settle for semi-natural interaction techniques. Using the concept of interaction fidelity and the Framework for Interaction Fidelity Analysis (FIFA), we present several case studies that provide empirical evidence that semi-natural interactions are worse for user performance than low-fidelity interactions that do not resemble real-world actions and high-fidelity interactions that do. We discuss these case studies and how interaction fidelity generally acts as the uncanny valley of VR interactions in terms of user performance. We also consider different reasons for this phenomenon and conclude with a guideline to avoid designing semi-natural interaction techniques that lack similarities to established techniques or real-world actions.


Virtual reality Interaction fidelity Uncanny valley 


  1. 1.
    Bowman, D.A., McMahan, R.P., Ragan, E.: Questioning naturalism in 3D user interfaces. Commun. ACM 55, 78–88 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    McMahan, R.P., Bowman, D.A., Zielinski, D.J., Brady, R.B.: Evaluating display fidelity and interaction fidelity in a virtual reality game. IEEE Trans. Vis. Comput. Graph. (TVCG) 18, 626–633 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    McMahan, R.P.: Exploring the Effects of Higher-Fidelity Display and Interaction for Virtual Reality Games. Computer Science, vol. Ph.D. Dissertation. Virginia Tech (2011)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Mori, M.: The uncanny valley. Energy 7, 33–35 (1970)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Nabiyouni, M., Saktheeswaran, A., Bowman, D.A., Karanth, A.: Comparing the performance of natural, semi-natural, and non-natural locomotion techniques in virtual reality. In: IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces, pp. 3–10 (2015)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lai, C., McMahan, R.P., Hall, J.: March-and-reach: a realistic ladder climbing technique. In: IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), pp. 15–18 (2015)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bowman, D.A., Kruijff, E., LaViola Jr., J.J., Poupyrev, I.: 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice. Addison-Wesley, Redwood City (2005)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Usoh, M., Arthur, K., Whitton, M.C., Bastos, R., Steed, A., Slater, M., Brooks Jr., F.P.: Walking > walking-in-place > flying, in virtual environments. In: Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH), pp. 359–364. ACM Press (1999)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mine, M.R., Brooks Jr., F.P., Sequin, C.H.: Moving objects in space: Exploiting proprioception in virtual-environment interaction. In: Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH), pp. 19–26. ACM Press (1997)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ware, C., Rose, J.: Rotating virtual objects with real handles. ACM Trans. Comput. Hum. Interact. (TOCHI) 6, 162–180 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pausch, R., Proffitt, D., Williams, G.: Quantifying immersion in virtual reality. In: 24th Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH), pp. 13–18. ACM Press (1997)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    McMahan, R.P., Alon, A.J.D., Lazem, S., Beaton, R.J., Machaj, D., Schaefer, M., Silva, M.G., Leal, A., Hagan, R., Bowman, D.A.: Evaluating natural interaction techniques in video games. In: IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), pp. 11–14. (2010)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Zhai, S., Milgram, P.: Human performance evaluation of manipulation schemes in virtual environments. In: IEEE Virtual Reality Annual International Symposium (VRAIS), pp. 155–161 (1993)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pal, S.K., Khan, M., McMahan, R.P.: The benefits of rotational head tracking. In: IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), Greenville, SC (2016)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Peck, T.C., Fuchs, H., Whitton, M.C.: An evaluation of navigational ability comparing Redirected Free Exploration with Distractors to Walking-in-Place and joystick locomotio interfaces. In: IEEE Virtual Reality Conference (VR), pp. 55–62 (2011)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan P. McMahan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chengyuan Lai
    • 1
  • Swaroop K. Pal
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

Personalised recommendations