Bird: a 3D Cursor for 3D Interaction in Virtual Reality

Dana Gretton

Bird is a hand-controlled pointing system that translates a user's finger movements and positions into the motion of a 3D pointer in a virtual space. The name Bird stems from its similarity to a computer mouse, named for an animal occupying the ground, evolved with the addition of a third degree of freedom into an animal occupying the air.  

The Bird is a specific point in 3D space, which always remains some distance in front of the user’s palm. Finger extension moves the Bird away from the hand. As with a 2D computer mouse, the pointer finger is reserved for selecting, and its extension is ignored for tracking. 

The Bird was developed largely in response to an emerging paradigm in virtual reality applications of using ray casting techniques (laser pointers) as the default means of interacting with the environment. While ray cursors are fast and convenient, they struggle to allow a user to disambiguate between objects which both intersect the laser beam, and don't allow for users to easily move objects which are very close to very far away, or objects which are very far away to very close. Ray casting is, in many ways, like a television remote. It's an excellent way to interact with 2D media at a distance. Bird is an exploration of what a more fully 3D interaction technique might look like.  

Research Topics
#virtual reality #interfaces