PizzaText: Text entry for virtual reality systems using dual thumbsticks

Difeng Yu, Kaixuan Fan, Heng Zhang, Diego Monteiro, Wenge Xu, Hai Ning Liang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


We present PizzaText, a circular keyboard layout technique for text entry in virtual reality (VR) environments that uses the dual thumbsticks of a hand-held game controller. Text entry is a common activity in VR environments but remains challenging with existing techniques and keyboard layouts that is largely based on QWERTY. Our technique makes text entry simple, easy, and efficient, even for novice users. The technique uses a hand-held controller because it is still an important input device for users to interact with VR environments. To allow rapid search of characters, PizzaText divides a circle into slices and each slice contains 4 characters. To enable fast selection, the user uses the right thumbstick for traversing the slices, and the left thumbstick for choosing the letters. The design of PizzaText is based on three criteria: efficiency, learnability, and ease-of-use. In our first study, six potential layouts are considered and evaluated. The results lead to a design with 7 slices and 4 letters per slice. The final design is evaluated in a five-day study with 10 participants. The results show that novice users can achieve an average of 8.59 Words per Minute (WPM), while expert users are able to reach 15.85 WPM, with just two hours of training.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8456570
Pages (from-to)2927-2935
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Circular keyboard layout
  • Dual-joystick input
  • Game controller
  • Selection keyboard
  • Text entry
  • Virtual reality

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