Physical Vs Virtual Space In VR Creation

Physical Vs Virtual Space In VR Creation
November 8, 2016

I spend a lot of my time pondering and playing with virtual reality. Trying to experience everything possible as well as build and try new ideas.
I’m always working under the assumption there is a simple nature of VR. In order for our brains to be fully immersed we need experiences that don’t break the ‘illusion’. Using gamepads for movement is just a quick fire way of telling the brain that this isn’t real. This also kind of negates the point of doing it in VR in the first place.
For me the focus is how to create an experience that shows the magic of VR in a way that doesn’t break its illusion. But, theres a problem I keep coming back to. The problem of the physical (real world) space you are occupying at the same time you are in virtual space.
Let’s say I’m stood in a 4m x 4m room (the real world). To not break the illusion, whatever experience I’m having in the virtual world needs to map to that. If my virtual world is 10m x 10m then I will not be able to explore fully without walking into a wall. Exploring and being able to move is the very thing that that makes VR magical and full of possibility.
There are a couple things you could do to combat this right now:
Create an experience that doesn’t need movement
Limit the users ability to explore in the virtual space (box them off at 4m)
Both are less than ideal solutions. If you limit the movement and are just a spectator then it again kind of negates the point of being in VR. The magic is that I should be able to look around and have ‘freedom’ to explore. If you limit the virtual space then you are showing them but not allowing them to explore. This is probably even more frustrating.
“The sky is NOT the limit. Beyond the universe is.” —Suzy Kassem
Sure there are things you can do. You can try to simulate an experience where they wouldn’t expect to move (e.g. a cockpit). This ok and probably the leading way to do it but I feel again as if it’s limiting the magic of being in VR.
The problem then becomes how do you ensure you create a 1:1 experience. The areas people are experiencing the content are not the same e.g. a tiny New York apartment vs a big house. Do I have to just limit any experience to a sensible scale and hope people have that available? Or is there a way to map the experience to the users real world surroundings more like AR?
This for me is where the AR/VR lines get blurred. AR as a concept maps much better to physical space but doesn’t offer the same immersion or ‘magic’. My opinion is that eventually AR and VR will merge anyway. and it will just be a mere setting (e.g. part immersion / full immersion). How we get there though is still a path to tred.
The more radical evolution would be a more ‘matrix’ style immersion. Where our physical bodies are static whilst our brains simulate the experience. Thus tricking us into believing we are actually doing it. This would negate the need for physical space and also open up ‘unlimited’ exploration. It’s a scary thought but I think it could evolve to something like that.
Right now I think we just have to accept it as a particular limitation but not let it hinder our thinking. If people have got an idea for a crazy big world to explore in VR then do it. Forget about the tiny apartments or cables attached to your head. Or you can use the limitation and work with it. Innovation always happens when there are restrictions to go up against.
This is just one step on an ongoing journey of my experiences of VR. I’m excited to share whatever things I’m learning so follow along if its the kind of thing that interests you.
Also hit me up on twitter if you wan’t to discuss anything. I’m always happy to talk with anyone (even you internet strangers) and learn together.
See you soon!

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