In order to enhance immersion and presence while decreasing discomfort for people, keep height in mind when positioning cameras. Due to our innate body height awareness, we tend to subconsciously — or even consciously — notice if our real-world height doesn’t match our virtual height.
In VR there are two options for camera origins — floor, and eye (or device). I’ll highlight the pros and cons of each.
Floor origin uses the internal sensors in the headset to detect its height in relation to the floor, which is going to make it feel closer to your actual height since it’s a head-mounted display.
- It provides an increased sense of immersion.
- It feels more like your true physical height since the display is at your actual eye level.
- It’s easier to have a fully 6-dof experience since you’ll have a better sense of how far to dodge or duck under objects.
- Floor origin makes it more difficult to render a virtual body at the right height, such as creating a sense of presence in a world of giants or a world of hedgehogs.
- If someone wants or needs to sit during the experience, it can make it difficult to perceive or interact with the world as intended.
- If your experience uses avatars, consider building a solution that allows each person to scale to their own height needs.
- Give people the option to switch between sitting and standing mode so that if they need to sit, they can still experience the world as intended.
Eye (or device) origin
Eye origin sets the camera viewpoint at a standard, specified height for everyone.
- It’s easier to render virtual bodies at the correct diegetic height.
- It offers better perspectives if you’re trying to portray empathy (e.g. wheelchair or child height).
- It ensures you see the virtual world from the intended eye level.
- It makes it more difficult for you to have a good perspective of where the floor is in the virtual world versus the real world.
- This can inhibit the full 6dof experience, since the mismatch in space and distance to the ground can make it harder to interact with objects or duck under things in the virtual world.
- Offer a step at the beginning of the experience, such as in the onboarding section, so that the person’s real-world height is recorded enabling digital height compensation.
- Continue to explore ways to digitally compensate for the person’s height without the need to manually set the height in an onboarding section.
Free example to try
VR Chat is a multiplayer social VR app available on the Oculus 6dof headsets and PC-based headsets through Steam. It’s also available in 2D mode on the PC through Steam.
Their interface allows you to adjust your personal height settings independently from your avatar. You can also choose between sitting and standing so that your avatar doesn’t look like you’re duck walking if you sit during the experience.
When you give it a try, go through some of the various free avatars and adjust height in settings. Try the tall and short avatars and compare sitting vs standing mode. Pay attention to any discrepancies you feel in your perception of floor distance in the virtual world versus the real world.
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I’m an Immersive Tech UX Design Professional with over 22 years of experience designing for kiosks, websites, mobile apps and desktop software for many well-known and not-so-well-known companies.
I’m not speaking on behalf of or representing any company. These are my personal thoughts, experiences and opinions.