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// Zach Kinstner

Boom! The white globe in front of you explodes into an array of color and light. A fraction of a second later – whoosh! – glowing stars streak past your head, leaving you in their colorful wake.

Reaching toward the holographic interface, with the motion of a single finger, you take control of time itself. The firework slows. Stops. Then it begins to recede back to the center. You slow time again as the stars ease past you, watching as the firework surrounds you. Entropy turns on its head again, and the firework calmly implodes into a single white globe.

But how would this firework look in orange and yellow? Exploding in a spiral pattern? You casually switch between holographic menu panels to make some changes. You’re about to find out.

Menu interfaces are a vital aspect of most software applications. For well-established input methods – mouse, keyboard, game controller, touch – there are a variety of options and accepted standards for menu systems. For the array of new 3D input devices, especially in virtual reality, the lack of options and standards can create significant development challenges.

Yesterday, I introduced you to Hovercast – a hand-controlled menu interface for virtual reality environments. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the development process behind Hovercast, including some insights on usability and design for virtual reality.

Hovercast is a menu interface for virtual reality environments. Built as a tool for developers, it’s highly customizable, and can include many nested levels of selectors, toggles, triggers, and sliders. All menu actions – including navigation between levels – are controlled by simple hand movements and reliable gestures.

With input from a Leap Motion Controller, Hovercast radiates from the palm of your hand – becoming a powerful, versatile extension of your virtual self. As you rotate your palm toward your eyes, the Hovercast menu fades into view. A wide arc of menu items extends just beyond your fingertips, and follows your hand’s every movement. You can interact with menu items using the index finger of your opposite hand. To select an item, simply move your fingertip (the cursor) nearby, and hover there for a short time.