Key to VR Walking in Tricking Your Brain?

“Virtual reality is the first step in a grand adventure into the landscape of the imagination.”

 ~ Frank Biocca

One of the imaginative powers that a user wants to control in VR is to explore the virtual worlds while walking in reality. But blind to the actual world with the headset covering your face, you’re more likely to stub your toe on the couch than enjoy the game. Other solutions have definitely made their way to VR games. But the fact remains that you cannot physically walk the environment without the risk of ramming into an object.

The key to infinite walking, it appears, is in misleading the brain. Japanese research has revealed that by tricking the brain into thinking that you are walking in a straight line, you can explore a large virtual scene even if you’re occupying a small physical space.

Now known as Redirected Walking, this solution works on the principle of users’ saccade.

Saccadic movements are quick eye movements which happen when we look at various points in our FOV. Essentially, we are rendered blind for brief moments until the eye finds its new point of fixation. These movements are manipulated to redirect the walking direction of users, tricking the brain into thinking that you are walking in a much larger space, without causing nausea or dizziness. As you move forward and look around the environment, a few degrees of the scene per saccade is slowly rotated, in a way that the altered walking direction is a reflex action rather than a conscious one.

Redirected walking is gaining traction rapidly because there are more than one ways of implementing it. However, the best part about this is that saccadic manipulation is not visible to the user, can be applied to VR content widely and allows you to move around the virtual environment without bumping into real-world obstacles.