Interactive Virtual Reality

By its nature, virtual reality creates an immersive environment by allowing users to move their gaze to explore all 360 degrees of a scene and focus on what they find most compelling. But as virtual reality matures and evolves, there has been a push to create interactive virtual reality experiences to help increase engagement and immersion.

What is Interactive Virtual Reality?

Interactive virtual reality allows users to manipulate a virtual environment in some way. This manipulation can occur either through a handheld controller or through hands-free gaze controls. The goal of interactive virtual reality is to promote engagement and immersion in a virtual reality experience.

The development of interactive virtual reality is important because it creates more immersive experiences—and will help promote the adoption of this new technology. Current virtual reality experiences are robust, allowing people to see what is happening around them, but lack some amount of choice. As more and more people experience this type of virtual reality, and as the initial “wow factor” of VR diminishes, it will be important for developers to create interactive virtual reality experiences.

Examples of Interactive Virtual Reality

Two examples of interactive virtual reality are “hotspots” and “waypoints.”

When viewing a virtual reality experience that contains hotspots, you can interact with digital elements to see additional content. This content might include traditional 2D media such as videos, photographs, and text elements.

The benefit of hotspots is that you can consume additional media inside a virtual reality experience, in the way you want to consume them. For example, picture that you are viewing an interactive virtual reality experience of a fashion show. With hotspots, you could select specific elements to consume additional media; this might be a 2D video of a designer explaining the inspiration for a dress or it might be text that lets you read a short biography of a model.

A significant reason waypoints exist is for seamless immersion. A virtual reality creator’s goal is to create a sense of presence. However, in many cases when a virtual reality experience ends, you need to navigate back to a selection screen to choose another experience. Waypoints eliminates this navigation problem, while also making an experience significantly more engaging, by empowering you to choose how you view the content.

Interactive virtual reality experiences that have waypoints allow you to seamlessly navigate to new VR experiences. Imagine you are viewing a virtual reality experience of a fashion show that is comprised of multiple designers’ works. Without waypoints you would either have to watch the whole virtual reality experience in a predetermined order or navigate back to the selection screen to choose what designer’s show to view next. Both cases limit immersion.

Virtual reality experiences that include waypoints, however, provide you with the ability to view individual pieces of content in the order you want. In our fashion show example, this means you could move through each designer’s collection in the order you want, without having to leave the experience. This increases immersion and engagement by giving you more control of the virtual reality experience.

The Future is Interactive Virtual Reality

So much of what has ignited people’s excitement about virtual reality is its ability to make people feel as if they are being transported to an actual place or event. But as the virtual reality grows in popularity, it will no longer be enough to provide people with passive experiences. Virtual reality creators will need to add ways to consume multiple forms of media and choice. This is interactive virtual reality.