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Natural and Playful Interaction for 3D Digital Content Creation

PhD-Thesis of Thomas Fröhlich (2020)

The creation of 3D content for visualizations, games, or virtual environments is often done with tools like Blender or Maya. While these applications are very powerful, they are also hard to learn and require domain-specific knowledge in order to create appealing results. This can be challenging for beginners and non-technical users who want to create 3D content in a fast and easy way. With the rise of 3D environments and technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, easy-to-learn development tools such as Swift Playgrounds for programming and Unity for the development of games and interactive applications have reduced the barrier for non-technical users. In the field of 3D content creation applications often lack accessibility for non-technical users and beginners, so their ability of expressing themselves in the form of 3D content is limited.

However, interacting with 3D content can be easy and fast-to-learn when the appropriate input technology and interaction design is used. Playful approaches to 3D interaction promise high motivation and enjoyable experiences that reduce the seriousness of the 3D creation task, providing room for experimentation and creative freedom. Further, natural user interfaces incorporate novel input technology such as motion tracking, gesture recognition, direct manipulation, or reality-based interaction. Research has shown that playful and natural interaction can benefit 3D tasks and can result in pleasurable experiences for beginners and non-technical users.

The goal and leading research question for this thesis is to explore how playful and natural interaction concepts can be used to facilitate 3D content creation for beginners and non-technical users. This thesis aims to further democratize the field of 3D content creation, making it available to a larger audience. It presents three systems that center around the concept of playful interaction and three systems incorporating the natural interaction paradigm for digital content creation. These systems were evaluated in user studies in order to answer the research question.

The results show that both playful and natural interaction can benefit content creation tasks, improving fun, captivation and attractiveness towards 3D creation tasks whereas complexity and learning effort is decreased, indicating the usefulness of playful and natural interaction for digital content creation as a starting point for 3D creation tasks.

Thesis online