People are still finding their feet with what virtual reality (VR) can do. As such we continue to be in a period of experimentation, sometimes this results it great steps forward… and other times not. VRFocus‘ Video Content Producer Nina Salomons discusses design problems she’s experienced when demoing or trying out various experiences from haptics to headsets.
1. The Nose
I have a very small Asian nose, which has no bridge. With VR HMD’s like the Oculus Rift I can simply tilt my head backwards and see the world around me. For VR, this is not exactly something you want. Usually you can force your brain to ignore it, however when you’re in a bright space with a lot of light, it can be quite distracting and take you away from immersion.
Two HMD headsets where this problem does not happen is the PlayStation VR and HTC Vive Pro. In the video clip below you can see me unboxing the HTC Vive Pro and exclaiming in joy that I am unable to see the floor.
2. Long Fingernails
Haptic feedback should be for everyone, including for all genders. In general women seem to have longer fingernails and when it comes to creating haptic feedback, this can be a problem.
When trying Go Touch VR this was definitely the case. Although most individuals working in manual jobs will most likely not have long fingernails, it should be remembered when designing hardware applications for haptics by all engineers and designers of the future.
3. Shapes and Sizes
Digital out-of-home entertainment (DOE) is becoming an increasingly popular way to experience VR. I’ve personally tried out Anvio VR, The VOID, Polygon VR, Hologate VR and, as shown in the video below, Arizona Sunshine inside Optitrack. However, one-size does not fit all, and when it comes to VR this is definitely the case. Size matters, and it effects one’s ability to sometimes enjoy an experience.
In this video I talk about being too small being a problem for the backpacks and too short to throw a ball in a VR game. Sometimes being too big can also be a problem as well. In short,
4. Those Bambi Eyes
Eye-tracking in VR is the future and all future HMD’s will have them. Having tried the Tobii eye-tracking with Qualcomm though, I did encounter a problem that I wasn’t sure was specific to my ethnicity. The application kept thinking my eyes were closed whilst my colleague noted nothing of the kind when trying it. Another colleague of mine also mentioned that his long eyelashes also caused problems when trying eye-tracking before. It would be that one time you don’t want camel eyelashes.
Although not mentioned in the video, it’s important to note that voice recognition is another interesting subject. I tried IBM’s voice recognition software and was unable to command the ship in Star Trek: Bridge Crew. The ship was just unable to recognise what I was saying.
Another time I encountered this was an experience inside the Lenovo Mirage Solo, where I had to speak to a dog in order for the experience to continue. This was in a hotel lobby and I must have been quite the sight yelling ‘hot dog’ in different ways until I finally put on a Californian Valley girl accent and it worked. The developer took down notes and confessed that he thought the A.I. software was gender biased and could have had problems picking up a female voice. Or it could have just been my accent.
For those of you watching my videos, you might recognise that I have a very strange accent that can’t be place, and it seems that A.I. also seems to have this problem.
To conclude, these various showcases I believe come from VR still being new. However, it’s also because I don’t think developers, engineers and testers are making sure that their applications, software or hardware is for everybody. Again I stress the importance of the VR Diversity Initiative here because I think diversifying the people who build and create future products should bear all types of people in mind. Whether it be their size, ethnicity or gender, all of these things have to be brought to question.