3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice

Joseph J. LaViola / Ernst Kruijff / Ryan P. McMahan / Doug Bowman / Ivan P. Poupyrev  
Total pages
March 2017
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3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice
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3D interaction is suddenly everywhere. But simply using 3D input or displays isn’t enough: 3D interfaces must be carefully designed for optimal user experience. 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition is today’s most comprehensive primary reference to building state-of-the-art 3D user interfaces and interactions. Five pioneering researchers and practitioners cover the full spectrum of emerging applications, techniques, and best practices. The authors combine theoretical foundations, analysis of leading devices, and empirically validated design guidelines. This edition adds two new chapters on human factors and general human-computer interaction—indispensable foundational knowledge for building any 3D user interface. It also demonstrates advanced concepts at work through two running case studies: a first-person VR game and a mobile augmented reality application.

Coverage Includes

  • 3D user interfaces: evolution, elements, and roadmaps
  • Key applications: virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR), mobile/wearable devices
  • What 3D UI designers should know about human sensory systems and cognition ergonomics
  • How proven human-computer interaction techniques apply to 3D UIs
  • 3D UI output hardware for visual, auditory, and haptic/ tactile systems
  • Obtaining 3D position, orientation, and motion data for users in physical space
  • 3D object selection and manipulation
  • Navigation and wayfinding techniques for moving through virtual and physical spaces
  • Changing application state with system control techniques, issuing commands, and enabling other forms of user input
  • Strategies for choosing, developing, and evaluating 3D user interfaces
  • Utilising 2D, “magic,” “natural,” multimodal, and two-handed interaction
  • The future of 3D user interfaces: open research problems and emerging technologies


  • Cutting-edge guidance on designing 3D UIs for optimal user experience, from a team of world-class researchers and practitioners
  • Teaches new techniques and technologies for gaming, mobile augmented reality, tactile and haptic displays, human-robot interaction, tele-operation, remote collaboration, and VR
  • Covers breakthrough devices such as Oculus Rift, Leap Motion, and Kinect - plus emerging advances in brain input, mobile AR, and beyond
  • Now offers deeper practical insight through three complete running case studies

New to this Edition

This extensively updated Second Edition adds coverage of new 3D UI systems, trends, technologies, and advances; and will more consistently cover practical issues by introducing three case studies that run throughout the book. It fully reflects major advances, including new generations of interactive systems that have been introduced throughout consumer, research, and industry sectors.


Moving beyond its earlier strict focus on VR, this edition reflects today's far wider applications of 3D technology. The authors have revisited and extended this book's theoretical sections with new insights, updating the examples, and adding novel areas of research. In particular, they focus on true 3D spatial user interfaces where a user's position and orientation is known, and examines research areas that have rapidly grown since the first edition. These include:

  • Mobile augmented reality
  • Novel tactile and haptic displays
  • Gaming
  • Human-robot interaction and tele-operation
  • Collaborative systems

Table of Contents

  • Part I: Background and Introduction
  • 1. Introduction to 3D Interaction
  • 2. 3D User Interfaces: History and Roadmap
  • Part II: HCI and Human Factors Basics
  • 3. General Principles of Human-Computer Interaction
  • 4. Human Factors Fundamentals
  • Part III: 3D Interaction Technology
  • 5. 3D Output Devices
  • 6. 3D Input Devices
  • Part IV: Interaction Techniques for Common 3D Tasks
  • 7. Selection and Manipulation
  • 8. Navigation
  • 9. System Control 
  • Part V: Designing and Developing 3D User Interfaces
  • 10. Strategies for Designing and Developing 3D User Interfaces
  • 11. Evaluation of 3D User Interfaces 
  • Part V: The Future of 3D User Interfaces
  • 12. The Future of 3D Interfaces


JOSEPH J. LAVIOLA, JR., Associate Professor of Computer Science, directs the Interactive Systems and User Experience Research Cluster of Excellence at the University of Central Florida.

ERNST KRUIJFF, Interim Professor for Computer Graphics and Interactive Systems at the Institute of Visual Computing, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, leads the 3DMi group’s design of multisensory 3D user interfaces.

RYAN P. McMAHAN, Associate Professor of Computer Science at UT Dallas, directs its Future Immersive Virtual Environments (FIVE) Lab.

DOUG A. BOWMAN, Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, directs its 3D Interaction Research Group and Center for Human-Computer Interaction. He is an ACM Distinguished Scientist.

IVAN POUPYREV is Technical Program Lead working on advanced interaction research at Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) division.

Reader Review(s)

“An essential guide for anyone developing interfaces for Virtual and Augmented Reality gaming experiences.”
—Richard Marks, Director of Magic Lab, Sony PlayStation

“An incredible resource for 3D interaction researchers and practitioners, made all the more timely and valuable with today’s renewed interest in Virtual and Augmented reality platforms. Everyone in VR and AR can benefit from the decades of research thoughtfully organized and presented in this updated edition.”
—Andy Wilson, Microsoft Research

“This is an essential book for researchers and developers creating 3D user interfaces. If you're developing Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality experiences, or even mobile and desktop 3D applications, you need to buy this book.”
—Mark Billinghurst, University of South Australia