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A Prototype for Text Input in Virtual Reality with a Swype-like Process Using a Hand-tracking Device


Text input in virtual reality (VR) is a problem that does not currently have a widely accepted standard method. As VR headsets have become more commonplace, text input has also become more of a need. Using a physical keyboard is not possible with a head-mounted display that blocks the user's visual field. The two most popular solutions for text input in VR today are a virtual keyboard interfacing with VR controllers and voice recognition. However, they either require a handheld controller or a quiet environment. 3D-tracked controllers with a virtual keyboard can simulate a real keyboard to an extent, but they suffer from a lack of tactile feedback that makes typing slow and unintuitive. A more intuitive solution is a Swype or SwiftKey-like algorithm, where the path that the user`s finger travels is used as input, as opposed to individually pressing each key. I have implemented a prototype with the Oculus Rift and the LEAP Motion Controller that combines a novel Swype-like backend with hand gestures to demonstrate an all-purpose, intuitive method of text input. To compare it to state-of-the-art VR keyboard input, I implemented the virtual keyboard approach for hand-directed typing and head gaze typing.

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