AR Interface Classification

Current augmented reality (AR) systems are limited to a single visible application at any given time. However, to become versatile general computing devices, AR systems must also support continuous access to a wide variety of content. All-day AR users will want to view the time, check their calendar, read their email and social media feeds, browse the web, and check the weather without the need to close and open applications each time. We believe this multi-tasking consumption of information, be it in the form of text, 2D imagery, or 3D content, will become the primary mode of use of future wearable AR devices. 

Classification of AR Interfaces:

We suggest that AR interfaces can be classified using the following criteria:


Temporary interfaces are accessible upon activating a specific trigger. This trigger can be in the form of an action (glancing, summoning, etc.) performed by the user or the occurrence of a change in the state of the system (notification). Persistent interfaces are always accessible to the user, needless of any actions or triggers. Heads-up display interfaces in which the digital content resides at the edge of the user’s field of view and are always visible as an example of such interfaces.

Number of Tasks

Single-task interfaces are those in which the user is immersed. Such interfaces are not necessarily virtual environments, but the user solely interacts with them and not any other virtual or RW content. Multi-tasking interfaces are used and interacted, simultaneously, with other cooperative XR interfaces or RW tasks.

Level of Focus

Primary interfaces present the user’s primary task and central focus. Such interfaces interpret all user interactions as inputs. Secondary interfaces are available for access while the user is performing another primary task.

Level of Information Detail

Concise interfaces eliminate details and provide a to-the-point presentation of data to decrease the required time and focus for grasping information. Verbose interfaces present thorough and detailed information while requiring more of the user’s time and focus.


World-fixed interfaces are placed in a fixed position relative to the real world [35]. They can be fixed to an object and move with that object, or fixed to a global location. User-fixed interfaces are placed relative to the user and follow them [35]. Such interfaces can be body-fixed and follow the user while maintaining a fixed orientation, or they can be head-fixed and follow the user’s position and head orientation.

Defining Glanceable AR Interfaces:

Based on the classification above, we define Glanceable AR interfaces as secondary, concise, and multi-tasking AR interfaces that are user-fixed and temporary. In other words, Glanceable AR interfaces present information/content designed to be accessed and understood with a glance while performing another primary task either in the real world or with virtual content. Many such information display interfaces can be available at once (different ”apps”), and they follow the user to be available at any time and place. Using a Glanceable AR interface is analogous to using a smartwatch to quickly check information such as time, date, weather, or upcoming calendar events while doing some other primary task.


Shakiba Davari; Feiyu Lu; Doug A Bowman

Occlusion Management Techniques for Everyday Glanceable AR Interfaces Conference

2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops (VRW), IEEE 2020.

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