Design patterns for Immersive Tech

Augmented Reality patterns

Gaze cursor trail

User goal or problem this is trying to solve

  • Ensuring the user can see the cursor position at all times


2 known issues with the gaze cursor for gaze based targeting are:

  1. The user is not looking exactly where the gaze cursor is. The cursor tracks the central position of the HMD, which is different to where the user is actually looking. The result is they may not see the cursor or become confused why they are not selecting the things they want to.
  2. The size, shape and colour of the cursor are not always optimised, and can at times be hard to see it and therefore hard for the user to follow.

There are many details related to the design of the cursor that can mitigate this, but here we focus on our favourite, which involves a trailing animation when the cursor moves.

  1. The cursor is a circle or dot that should be a distinct colour from the background (may be an issue if the background is multi-coloured)
  2. An animation helps draw attention to the cursor when stationary (e.g. a flame, smoke or bubbles effect)
  3. The animation should be just sufficient to make it noticeable, but not distracting or intrusive
  4. When the user moves their head the animation leaves a trailing effect behind, like a comet’s tail.


  • Makes it easier to see and follow the cursor


  • Can become annoying if the effect is too big/ prominent. It should not obstruct the user’s view of other more important objects.

Related to:

Targeting with gaze



Alibaba VR shopping app: The blue flame effect increases the salience of the cursor, which makes all gaze interactions easier

Hololens Holo Studio app: The cursor is made up of 2 components which move independently. The central element trails the main circle, producing a more eye catching dynamic.