Playing room-scale virtual reality (VR) experiences usually involves quite a bit of movement. Standing, crouching, waving of arms have all been involved in various VR titles, but what of those with limited mobility, fatigue or joint problems, or people who need to use a wheelchair? Things become a lot more difficult in many ways for users with disabilities, so a piece of software called Walkin VR is aiming to make it a little easier.
Walkin VR is designed to work in tandem with Steam VR. Once Walking VR is installed and Steam VR is opened, the software pops up as an option. The Steam VR status window will show a small wheelchair icon to indicate if Walkin VR has been detected; when the icon is green, the software is active. Then the user needs to select a status window that shows the currently available controllers and reassigning the movement controls, for example it is possible to set the grip trigger on the right controller to be the ‘rotation’ action. It is possible to associate two types of movement actions; rotation and movement with three buttons available to assign; Grip, System and Menu. When this is set up correctly, it is possible to move around within the VR environment without moving physically.
There are still a few problems with the current implementation, however. At times Steam VR has problems keeping up with the Walkin VR movement and can lag slightly, causing movement to become uncontrolled. In addition, in videogames where the button assigned to movement is used for another function, this can also cause issues, such as if the Oculus ‘System’ button is assigned to movement, the Oculus Menu will always be triggered as well. In some titles, Walkin VR does not function at all, even though the software is active.
It is apparent that the software is still in relatively early days of development, but it is a tool that could prove to be invaluable for users with disabilities. Further information about Walkin VR can be found on the official website.
VRFocus will keep you informed on developments for Walkin VR and other innovative VR products.