What is Room Scale VR?
Room scale VR refers to virtual reality applications that allows the user to physically walk around and interact with the defined space, having those movements accurately represented in the virtual environment.
Roomscale vs. Seated/Stationary VR
Room-scale VR is contrasted with stationary or seated VR, where users remain seated or standing in one spot in the real world. They can move around in the virtual world by pressing the joystick button on their controller, rather than walking in the real world.
While room-scale provides a higher degree of immersion and freedom, not everyone has the space or equipment for it, so many VR applications are designed to be versatile, accommodating both stationary and room-scale setups.
Pros and Cons of Room Scale VR
- Less motion sickness: By walking instead of using the controller joystick to move, it lowers the chance of VR motion sickness happening. In room-scale VR, your physical movements match your virtual movements one-to-one. When you walk a step in the real world, you see yourself moving a step in the virtual world. This consistency between what your body feels (vestibular input from your inner ear) and what your eyes see reduces the chances of motion sickness, a phenomenon often caused by a mismatch between these two sensory inputs.
- Greater immersion: The ability to walk around and interact with a virtual environment using your body adds a significant level of immersion, making you feel like you’re “inside” the virtual world.
- Physical Engagement: Moving around physically can be more engaging and can also provide a light workout, especially in games that require dodging, jumping, or dancing.
- Enhanced Interaction: Being able to physically approach, back away from, or walk around objects and characters in VR can make interactions feel more natural and intuitive.
- Innovative Gameplay and Experiences: Room-scale allows for novel gameplay mechanics and experiences that wouldn’t be possible in stationary or seated VR.
- Space Requirements: One of the most significant challenges is the need for a clear, sufficiently large area. Not everyone has an available space that’s free of obstructions. The minimum requirements for roomscale VR is 6.5ft x 5ft (2m x 1.5m), but it’s a good idea to have at least double of that.
- Safety Concerns: There’s a risk of tripping, bumping into walls, or knocking over objects.
To prevent users from walking into walls, furniture, or other obstacles, many VR headsets have safety features, often referred to as “Guardian” (Oculus Quest) or “Chaperone” (HTC Vive) systems. These features allow users to define the boundaries of their play area. When approaching these boundaries in VR, a visual warning (often a grid or wall) appears to let the user know they’re nearing the edge of their defined space.
Applications of Room Scale VR
Room-scale VR is particularly effective for experiences where spatial exploration and interaction are key. This includes games where you might walk around, pick up objects, dodge obstacles, and more. But it’s also useful for non-gaming applications like architectural walk-throughs or virtual tourism.
With room scale virtual field trips, students can explore historical sites, museums, or natural wonders without leaving the classroom.
It can also be used in scientific visualization where concepts like molecular structures, the solar system, or human anatomy can be explored in a 3D space.
2. Training and Simulation
- Emergency Response: Firefighters, paramedics, or police can practice scenarios in a safe environment.
- Industrial and Mechanical Training: Workers can be trained on machinery operation or complex tasks in a risk-free setting.
3. Real Estate and Architecture
Potential buyers can take a virtual tour of properties from anywhere in the world. Architects and designers can walk clients through virtual representations of projects before they are built.
4. Social Interaction and Collaboration
In the workplace, teams can collaborate in a shared virtual space, making remote work more interactive. Meanwhile platforms like VRChat and AltspaceVR allow users to socialize, attend events, or join discussions in virtual rooms.
5. Roomscale Gaming
Roomscale gaming can offer a sense of exploration and adventure where players can physically walk around and explore virtual worlds, uncovering secrets, solving puzzles, and interacting with the environment.
In first person shooters, players can duck behind cover, lean around corners, and aim with realistic motions. Meanwhile, the immersive nature of VR can heighten the sensations of suspense and fear in horror games. Games like “Resident Evil 7” and “The Exorcist: Legion VR” offer intense experiences where players navigate haunted settings.