As we covered in my last article on locomotion, real walking is by far the best and most natural method of locomotion for virtual environments since it doesn’t have a learning curve, and poses the least risk for motion sickness. However, when your experience needs a lot of world space, it’s not always a practical solution. That’s where redirected walking comes in.

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Adam Savage’s Tested, 2016

Redirected Walking

Redirected walking is a potential option since you’re designing the application so that people think they’re walking around a large space, when in reality they are walking on a circular path in a small, physical space.

Pros are the same as real walking

  • You get an increased sense of presence.
  • There is less risk of motion sickness.
  • You can move around the virtual world naturally with no learning curve or controller interactions.
  • You can walk around objects and peek under them as if they’re real.


  • You have less spatial concerns in the physical world.

Cons are mostly the same as real walking

  • People can forget about real world obstacles within the play space.
  • The fear of collision with real world obstacles can prevent full immersion.


  • The method of redirected walking helps compensate for the limited physical space in the real world.


  • It takes a bit of programming (toolkits are available).
  • It needs careful design to offset the distortion needed to fool the brain.


  • Since it takes more or less clearance for an object to change direction based on its speed, the angle and speed of rotation of the redirected walking should adjust based on the person’s physical velocity.
  • Redirected walking seems to be most convincing when limiting the distortion to points in the digital environment in which the person needs to turn or change direction, or by using circular physical paths for straight digital paths.

Best used

  • When you need a fully immersive experience, but are limited by the physical space.
  • When there is enough time for testing and iteration to ensure the virtual spatial mapping and distortion is well-synced with physical movement in 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.

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