Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions that arise when investigating profound VR immersion using HMDs, audio and the ROVR locomotion platform.
To paraphrase Mark Twain "It ain't what you don't know which does you harm, it's what you think you know which ain't right".
Here you will find honest answers to serious questions.....
1 What is the ROVR VR Locomotion Platform and what does it do?
- First of all Virtual Reality (VR) is an artificially created environment created with software and presented in such a way that you suspend belief and accept it as the real environment.
- In the last two years Head Mounted Display (HMD) screens that fully visually immerse the user have become available at sufficiently low cost that early adopter gamers and an increasing number of professionals are choosing to visualise their computer generated virtual worlds using HMD’s to gain better visual immersion and so a more real experience.
- Audio provided by headphones adds to this realism.
- Here is where the ROVR comes in: Exploring the VR scene has long been seen as the remaining hurdle to jump to gain profound immersion with memories implanted of “actually having been there”.
- The ROVR is a platform that allows a person to move freely and unencumbered so that they can explore the VR world presented to them via an HMD. The ROVR consists of a platform, a VR Containment Frame and special shoes. The total package weighs less than 15kg (33lbs) and comes to you in a box 97.5cm x 97.5cm x 12.5cm (38” x 38” x 5”).
- Over 10,000 people have now experienced the ROVR with great feedback, comprising hundreds of VR professionals and thousands of public novices. Many VR professionals have experienced the ROVR and competitive products and without exception they have chosen the ROVR as the best, most intuitive VR locomotion experience.
2 How do you walk on the ROVR?
- Walking on the ROVR consists of standing with the feet slightly separated one foot in front of the other and then exchanging the feet positions by sliding.
- Walking in real life is an “autonomous” action, that is, you do not actively think about walking – you just do it. Think back to how you walked to the place you are reading this – it is unlikely to be a significant memory. This is true for many so called ‘autonomous actions’ e.g. driving (sometimes worryingly so), making tea / coffee, sitting down and standing up, climbing stairs, things your brain has memorised the actions for and no longer needs active “RAM” to guide.
- Walking on the ROVR by sliding the legs back and forth is so easy to learn that you quickly memorise the action. ROVR walking therefore quickly becomes autonomous and does not leave a memory. Almost any visual / audio input takes memory precedence. So if presented with a place to explore, you walk as you do in real life, without thinking just remembering what you see.
- There are a few instances where you do think about how you move your legs and these are where your ‘survival’ is at stake e.g. when climbing new stairs where you will concentrate for the first few steps until your memorise the lift and depth of foot placement – takes about three steps, if you are walking close to the edge of a precipice or even the edge of a pavement when feet placement needs to be exact for balance control due to fear of falling, there are other examples but you get the gist. Of course you will also think about your leg or foot movement if either leg or foot is injured.
ROVR movement and good posture
- Because the ROVR has low friction it is easy to stand central within the ROVR platform with one foot in front of the other and simply by sliding, exchange the position of feet. With a straight back your centre of mass is over your pelvis and this position is both stable and good for posture.
- We have also thought the following to be true: In so far as it is counter-productive to give a healthy person a walking stick to lean on, because they will come to rely on it long before they need to, so too there is benefit in avoiding the use of a harness because over long term use a person may tend to rely on the harness and thereby balance in the real world may be compromised.
- Of course without a harness it is possible to do many of the actions of skiing, skateboarding and snowboarding on the ROVR as well as crouching, spinning and many other free actions.
- Climbing and descending stairs.
- When first climbing and descending stairs and as in real life for new stair experiences a person immersed in a VR world is advised to use the touch balance Containment Frame to assist balance until you have memorised the mode of movement and balance muscles involved. This is no different than climbing a new set of stairs in real life.
Running on the ROVR
- Visitors to the Nissan Juke display at the Paris Motor Show where nearly 6,000 people tried Nissan’s “Chase the Thrill” event were encouraged to run after the Nissan Juke. Many did just that and ran as fast as they could to catch the Juke. Because the ROVR platform requires very low effort to slide the legs, people who ran fast after the Juke moved their legs in a blur of motion.
- Walking and running is readily made to be fully proportionally controlled.
3 Will using the ROVR to move around a VR world avoid simulation sickness?
- Short answer is: YES
- This assumes the visual input from your HMD is working correctly.
- Assuming the above is true: Simulation Sickness is the result of mismatch between visual and vestibular senses. In fact simulation sickness is a bit more complex because it is caused by mismatch between visual, vestibular and proprioceptive senses: The Vestibular sense is the inner ear and proprioceptive sense is provide by sensors embedded in muscles, tendons and stomach which constantly provide feedback about forces acting on you like gravity and e.g. car acceleration and how these forces change due to actions you are making or are about to make, so you can predict the world and how you respond to it e.g. to maintain balance.
- If your eyes tell you the world is moving, but your stomach and inner ear give feedback you are stationary this mismatch may cause you discomfort leading to sickness. You may feel this strange sensation for a few moments if sitting in a train in a station when the train next to you moves off. This same “train in a station” situation is brought about by sitting down wearing an HMD and then “walking” in your VR world by using a keyboard or joystick. Visual information from your HMD says you are walking, but this will not be matched by vestibular / proprioceptive senses and for many people sickness feelings will occur and may be more deeply felt and enduring the longer you persist.
- Weight bearing and moving your legs by moving around in a VR world using the ROVR solves the visual, vestibular and proprioceptive mismatch. Thousands of people have now proved this to be true.
4 If I have a physical disability can I still use the ROVR?
- In all instances where a person has a physical disability we recommend involvement of a health care professional to assess the ROVR and the mode of movement and balance required.
- We have been asked this question by people for whom walking any distance is a challenge and the answer is yes the ROVR requires very low effort and may be ideal for rehabilitation or just gentle, low impact exercise. The ROVR would work with a person sitting and moving their legs back and forth on the platform surface, though for the most part our bodies are tuned to expect weight bearing when we are walking so to assist profound immersion some weight bearing is probably valuable.
5 Do I have to wear special clothing to use the ROVR?
- Any clothing will work with the ROVR so long as you can move your leg:.
- Police and Firemen’s boots (if adapted), all weather clothing worn on Gas / Oil rigs and all types of clothing from all parts of the world is suitable for use on the ROVR.
6 So who will use the ROVR?
This is a new and exciting field and we have been approached by many professionals and home VR enthusiasts who have surprised us by the variety of applications in which they want to use VR locomotion.
The following is the current list:
- Experiential marketing
- Fire Training
- Physical rehabilitation
- Mental / proprioceptive rehabilitation (Stroke)
- Military Training
- Orientation training
- Way finding
- Virtual tourism
- Etc. this list is still growing
7 Is the ROVR compatible with UNITY software?
- Yes, the ROVR is compatible with all commonly used software packages: Unity3d, Epic’s Unreal Engine, Vizard, and we anticipate all 3D VR software packages.
8 How does VR software/games know when you are walking on the ROVR?
- The ROVR platform uses contact sensors to detect the vibrations of walking. These signals are used to control movement in VR software and can provide proportional movement control.
- Using software which is supplied with the ROVR it may be used (out of the box) with any first person game, compatible with Oculus Rift and which uses WASD keys for movement. E.g. Half-Life 2
- WizDish ROVR bundles come with a Windows Console file that converts movement on the ROVR to a “W” key and left-shift “W” key presses and thereby walking and running in VR software that would otherwise use WASD keys for movement and navigation. The ROVR provides forward movement, and direction is provided by the HMD, i.e. where you look is where you walk.
Using legacy software
- Many VR training formats have long been used by Fire and Police and it is quite possible if these use WASD keys, mouse or joystick for movement and navigation for this legacy software to be used with ROVR’s for profound immersive training experiences.
- Similarly legacy software is found in engineering, architecture and gaming to name a few and we know of one engineering company who converted a first person, seated and 2D screen based experience into a ROVR profound VR immersion experience for a key clients over a weekend!
- The ROVR is compatible with any first person WASD based game.
9 Do you supply the connection between the ROVR and a PC?
- Yes we supply a male-to-male 3.5mm jack lead which connects the ROVR platform to a PC or laptop.
10 What HMDs are compatible with the ROVR?
- Any HMD which uses a PC or laptop to provide the software input.
11 Will the ROVR be compatible with Google Cardboard and wireless headsets generally?
- Short answer is yes.
12 Can I use the ROVR without the VR Containment Frame?
- We suggest you always use the VR Containment Frame.
- When visually, audibly and using the ROVR physically profoundly immersed in a VR world, this becomes the new reality and the local real environment is lost. A person is effectively blind to the real world. This is potentially dangerous, even if you have cleared obstacles away.