Posted by: crudbasher | February 12, 2014

“Walking” In Virtual Reality

Well I didn’t expect to have a Virtual Reality theme lately but dang the news is just coming fast and furious. 🙂  Here’s a Kickstarter campaign from last year to create an input device to use for walking and moving in Virtual Reality called the Omni.

H/T my friend Keith Lay

The Omni takes virtual reality to the next level— allowing anyone to stand up and traverse virtual worlds with the natural use of their own feet. The Omni is the first virtual reality interface for moving freely and naturally in your favorite game. Moving naturally in virtual reality creates an unprecedented sense of immersion that cannot be experienced sitting down.

On the surface this sounds like a good idea but I have actually tried out things like this a long time ago when I was messing with Virtual Reality. It can work but only in certain circumstances. Here are some of the problems.

  1. When we walk, we have a wide field of view and therefore can actually nearly see our feet right at the bottom of our vision. This allows our brain to know where to put our feet. With a VR headset you don’t have this. Instead you will have a virtual ground instead. Unless that virtual ground is flat, then what your feet are telling you and what your eyes see are two different things. This can cause some confusion.
  2. Another problem is the cables you have to wear (for now). These can easily get tangled as you spin around.
  3. More problems are it causes you to actually have to exert yourself while playing. This will cause you to heat up and the head mounted display is hot. This makes you rapidly start to sweat. (I know this from experience). While you are “walking” or “running” you don’t get wind rushing by you which usually cools you off.
  4. It’s also hard to crouch with the ring around your waist.
  5. Finally, how long will you be able to play a game like this? Game companies want you to play their games a lot. Some people play Call of Duty for 8 hours at a stretch. Can you do that with this rig? I doubt it.

I do like how you have a waist ring to support you. That is a really good idea. You can’t walk in VR without a support like that.

Overall, I like the idea but IMHO this method of movement in VR will only work well in certain circumstances. Even so, I wish them success and look forward to trying their device out myself! Anything that increases immersion will be useful.


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