The Design of Avatar UI

There's a lot of good examples of design in films, and now more and more examples of good interface design. It's very common to see seamless integration of interface design into the story of a film. Avatar is a movie that demonstrates this really well.

Overall the elements that make up the interface design style of Avatar are a mixture of see-through screens, curved surfaces, coloured displays and holographic images.

The two standout features for me was the Bio Lab sequence and the Holotable. The Bio Lab technicians operate on clear holographic screens, which is a great way of displaying 3D medical diagrams. I especially like when the lead scientist drags the diagram of the brain from the screen to a hand-held tablet. He does it in such a relaxed fashion, and even pauses in between momentarily. It's like his body acted like a conduit temporarily until he placed it on the tablet, which makes it look more like a copy and paste action.

The Holotable was a lovely way of displaying an interactive map. As opposed to being on a screen, the 3D hologram allows people to view the map from all angles and have a better sense of scale. It's also much better than a physical model, as it allows users to see the internal structure of the terrain and to point inside the model, it's also more movable, updatable, can be endless and takes up less room. There's countless ways this can be used to display information, it really is a magnificent way of displaying map data. This would be an amazing platform for gaming. Imagine playing a strategy game like warcraft on a display like that, or any game in fact.

I really love when interfaces are not restricted to a screen, like in Avatar where the information, labels and diagrams are floating in space unobtrusively and part of the space. Stunning.

Watch the Avatar clip here