FlowMatic: An Immersive Authoring Tool for Creating Interactive Scenes in Virtual Reality

Immersive authoring is a paradigm where users create Virtual Reality (VR) content directly while situated in the immersive virtual environment. Immersive authoring tools can enable an intuitive developer workflow by enabling programming primitives to be modified through direct manipulation while providing immediate feedback. However, state-of-the-art immersive authoring tools are not expressive enough to build complex interactive scenes. We present FlowMatic, an immersive authoring tool that allows novices to create fully interactive VR scenes comparable to real-world VR applications. Using a visual dataflow notation, FlowMatic allows users to declaratively specify the behaviors of virtual objects based on a set of operators. FlowMatic also includes a set of novel interaction techniques of directly manipulating programming primitives in a way that can leverage our innate spatial reasoning skills. We demonstrate the usability and advantages of FlowMatic through our preliminary user study compared with a 2D desktop-based authoring tool. We also demonstrate the expressiveness of FlowMatic through several complex interactive examples that would be impossible to implement using prior immersive authoring tools. By combining a visual program representation with expressive programming primitives and a natural User Interface (UI) for authoring programs, FlowMatic shows how programmers can build fully interactive virtual experiences with immersive authoring in the future.