How do I walk forever in the HTC VIVE?

Just because it’s an interesting problem, here’s some thoughts:

Problem: The HTC VIVE works within a “playspace”. In real terms, this is the size of your living room. If you walk to the edge of this space, the VIVE will let you know — so that you don’t walk into a wall (best case).

Caveat: I’m pretty sure narrative can be a solution to this problem, but it’s dependant on the game and it’s interaction design. For example. you could sit on your sofa and play a driving game, but why would you use the VIVE for that? So here I’m more interested in a solution that works for open world first person games in general. How does GTA for the VIVE work exsactly?

Some current crappy solutions:

1) Point at where you want to go and click — teleportation basically. This doesn’t help us since it’s like other VR headsets (Oculus etc), and while technically doesn’t cause motion sickness, it’s teleporting, not walking forever – I want to do a marathon in VR goddam it.

2) omni-directional silly looking expensive treadmill things. Let’s leave it there.

Some thoughts:

Ultimately the problem is that the virtual space is limitless but the real world space is limited; to the size of someone’s living room. Since it’s not like for like, I wonder if the only solution is to trick the brain?

I have heard (somewhere!?!) that it’s theatrically possible to walk forever, if you offset the virtual step with every real world step. It would appear like you’re walking down a virtual straight path forever. And then in real-world you’re walking around in circles but you’re not aware of it? If anybody can elaborate please do. Sounds plausible but I’d worry this only works for certain types of experiences ie walking down a tunnel forever?

What about:

1) constantly move the virtual action towards an empty space in the real world space? So virtually I’m walking towards a house, each step towards the house, we move the virtual house a percentage to the left or right to accommodate my real world space? I presume we could do this without it being too obvious but for sure requires some testing. Still doesn’t seem like a solution.

2) gestured based solutions? Since the VIVE is tracking we could explore gesture tracking. You could run on the spot, lean forward to move forward. All would require testing — all a hack and doesn’t guarantee that a half arsed bit of movement will reduce the motion sickness, but it’s still better than a game pad.

3) Walk to the edge of real-world room, then watch as the virtual camera moves you a long — sort of like an old school platform game where the camera keeps moving forward. It could be done like this, which is called “tunnelling”, which reduces sickness by reducing the scale of immersion. Each time you move forward it changes the position so you’ll be facing available real world space. This isn’t a solution though but more of a transition affect and there’s probably better ideas out there.

4) One real step = 10 virtual steps. This is about multiplying each real step by a larger virtual step. These guys messed around with the idea here. Of course this solution reaches a limit quite soon and so it’s not really a great solution for open world experiences but in the short term and for smaller experiences it might work ok.

5) Lastly there’s a belief that as the tech improves and our brains get use to more VR experiences then we won’t care about these types of hacks — our brain will simply be used to being toyed around with. That’s a pretty meta idea that our brains will understand it’s an illusion but play along anyway.

That’s all I can think of for now. It will be interesting to see if it takes a game or experience to solve this solution for us or perhaps a hardware solution. Let’s see.

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