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Lessons in VR Locomotion from Google

Virtual reality (VR) still has some teething problems, especially when it comes to moving around in a 3D space. 1-to-1 room tracking, is a good solution, but also makes it near impossible to simulate a large, virtual world accurately.

Attempting to solve the difficult case of motion and moving – or locomotion – in VR, Google Software Engineer, Rob Jagnow, has shared four things he and his team at Google have learned about locomotion in VR.

Constant Velocity

Having your position or viewpoint rapidly shift in VR independently of your body is a known way to make the experience uncomfortable for almost any user, and Jagnow proposes constant velocity – a continually moving perspective – is a good solution. While acceleration in locomotion will feel unusual to a user who is sitting or standing still, a constant sense of motion is much more comfortable.

Tunneling

Tunneling is common in VR videogames and experiences already – a technique where, when in motion, the user’s peripheral vision is obscured, cropping the camera to the centre of the screen. Jagnow compares this to watching locomotion on a television.

This is because, while televisions often display rapid motion, they do not interfere with your larger field of view, ensuring your brain knows you are actually stationary, and not in motion.

Teleportation

Teleportation is another common technique in VR videogames, where the user can teleport to designated spots in the game world. This helps transform a small space into one that convincingly feels much larger, but Jagnow highlights that it can make it difficult for people to “maintain special context” – essentially losing their sense of place in the digital world.

Rotation

Jagnow quickly highlights that simply Rotating a user’s view in VR is tempting to developers, but continuous, animated rotations can induce motion sickness. Instead, he suggests instant rotations of 10-20 degrees that feel comfortable, and do not confuse users.

Jagnow’s full article on the subject goes into much more detail and can be read here. For all the latest on VR technology and techniques, stay on VRFocus.