Walking is one of the healthiest habits known to mankind. it is also making its way into the gaming industry, albeit in a jokingly manner first and foremost. When it comes to VR, however, it seems a major development is on the horizon. Scientists have come up with an immersive experience which – in theory – allows for infinite walking.
Enhancing VR Experiences
Although this research involves an experimental setup, most of the hardware is available on the market. The team combines an HTC Vive HMD with SMI gaze tracking, a somewhat proprietary technology. By using the combination of hardware and software, it is possible to perform infinite walking. This enhanced VR experience benefits tremendously from the improved eye movement tracking.
Researchers at Stony Brook University, NVIDIA, and Adobe have joined forces for this study. Their objective was to build a computational framework to enhance VR experiences. Giving users the perception of infinite walking – regardless of limitations in the real world – is not easy by any means. Moreover, the team had to ensure it was a comfortable experience without dizziness or discomfort.
Qi Sun, lead author of the work, comments as follows:
“In VR, we can display vast universes; however, the physical spaces in our homes and offices are much smaller. It’s the nature of the human eye to scan a scene by moving rapidly between points of fixation. We realized that if we rotate the virtual camera just slightly during saccades, we can redirect a user’s walking direction to simulate a larger walking space.”
Thanks to head- and eye-tracking, this new method redirects users during temporary blindness. This usually occurs when we look at a different point in our field of vision. As such, the brain seemingly ignores most visual input, causing temporary blindness. This blindness is now suppressed through this new method, which effectively introduces a whole new type of experience.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock
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