Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Computer Science

Advisor 1

Scott Kuhl

Committee Member 1

Keith Vertanen

Committee Member 2

Myounghoon Jeon

Committee Member 3

Robert Pastel

Committee Member 4

Peter Willemsen


The proliferation of consumer-affordable head-mounted displays (HMDs) has brought a rash of entertainment applications for this burgeoning technology, but relatively little research has been devoted to exploring its potential home and office productivity applications. Can the unique characteristics of HMDs be leveraged to improve users’ ability to perform everyday computing tasks? My work strives to explore this question.

One significant obstacle to using HMDs for everyday tasks is the fact that the real world is occluded while wearing them. Physical keyboards remain the most performant devices for text input, yet using a physical keyboard is difficult when the user can’t see it. I developed a system for aiding users typing on physical keyboards while wearing HMDs and performed a user study demonstrating the efficacy of my system.

Building on this foundation, I developed a window manager optimized for use with HMDs and conducted a user survey to gather feedback. This survey provided evidence that HMD-optimized window managers can provide advantages that are difficult or impossible to achieve with standard desktop monitors. Participants also provided suggestions for improvements and extensions to future versions of this window manager.

I explored the issue of distance compression, wherein users tend to underestimate distances in virtual environments relative to the real world, which could be problematic for window managers or other productivity applications seeking to leverage the depth dimension through stereoscopy. I also investigated a mitigation technique for distance compression called minification. I conducted multiple user studies, providing evidence that minification makes users’ distance judgments in HMDs more accurate without causing detrimental perceptual side effects. This work also provided some valuable insight into the human perceptual system.

Taken together, this work represents valuable steps toward leveraging HMDs for everyday home and office productivity applications. I developed functioning software for this purpose, demonstrated its efficacy through multiple user studies, and also gathered feedback for future directions by having participants use this software in simulated productivity tasks.