We love the idea of being fully immersed in Virtual Reality, but there is something slightly lacklustre about having to rely on a controller to move yourself around it, as is the way with many headsets. What’s even more frustrating is the fact that several VR users are currently suffering from nausea when they try the headsets. Nausea often occurs whenever there is a mismatch between our movements and visual stimuli, if we can get our legs involved and at least trick our body in thinking it is travelling, we are less likely to feel ill.
WizDish are working on the issue. On their website, they say that they have built upon 10 years of VR research into locomotion to bring us the invention which they are most excited about, the ROVR VR. It is a slippery circular platform which can sense the movements of your feet. The platform uses sound to do this; it has a microphone underneath which picks up on the vibrations. The ROVR can be set up with a VR headset so that your entire body can be encapsulated by VR.
Walking using the ROVR is still quite different to real walking. You must stand on the circular platform, wearing the special shoes, and slide your feet on the backwards and forwards alternately. It holds more similarity to skating, but skating is fun, so perhaps that isn’t a terrible thing. The idea is that eventually we won’t think about the movements when we are focussed on a game, just like we don’t think about how we are walking in the real world, so we won’t really notice that it’s a different motion. The ROVR is built with a frame surrounding you so that, as a newb, you have something to hold onto and equally to prevent you from hurtling yourself in a random direction at any point during your game.
Incorporating movement means we can get some exercise while playing on VR. Apparently sitting down all day is what’s killing us, so it’s great that we now have reason to stand when indulging in video games. The movements require less energy than walking but I think we all know a teenage boy who is far more willing to spend several hours in front of his play station instead of going for a stroll. Sporting activities might not be for all of us, but it is recommended that we should at least fit 40 minutes of walking into each day, and if that must be gained by slightly longer, using something more stimulating than the outdoor landscape then so be it. This VR extension could make light exercise fun for those who currently don’t enjoy it. Particularly in the cold, grey British weather.
There are a couple of barriers which remain, ones which often arise with our current selection of VR devices: the price and the limited choice of games. A ROVR VR costs £395, that is the roughly the same amount as a VR Headset. Because of this, it is likely that we will see the ROVR being used in corporate environments during company events, or perhaps in classrooms before they enter our living rooms.
It is exciting to see further progress being made in solving the problems which remain for VR. There will probably be a variety of trial and error which we see when it comes to travelling around the virtual world however this seems to be the most effective step yet. Even if it’s one which perhaps resembles more of a slide!