As we’ve established in these articles so far, real walking is the best and most natural experience, quickly followed by redirected walking since both give you the feeling of moving around as you would in the real world.
However, when you have limited physical space and you don’t have the time or budget to warrant getting the necessary in-world-distortion down perfectly for redirected walking, you may need to opt for another solution.
We’ll go through those options now, starting with walking in place.
Walk in Place
Walk in place uses the natural movement of swinging your arms and moving your feet up and down — physically walking in place — while holding down a controller button or wearing sensors on your body. The idea is that this will feel closer to a more natural walking motion and will thus reduce the risk of motion sickness.
- You get the benefits of 6-dof immersion without the physical space limitations.
- There is a very low learning curve.
- It feels closer to real life than teleportation, dragging the world, or virtual locomotion.
- It’s more physically tiresome than natural or redirected walking since it’s a less natural motion and takes more effort to stay in place.
- My own user research showed that people can feel unstable — as if they are going to fall — when they are also moving their feet, so they’ll opt to keep them planted on the ground.
- In turn, opting to keep their feet planted on the ground increases the risk of motion sickness since it then becomes more like virtual locomotion and less like natural walking.
- There is an increased turning error and decreased accuracy of movement since this is a less natural way of moving around.
- There will need to be tracking methods in place to determine when you’re walking, and in what direction and speed.
- This may not be an option for those susceptible to motion sickness, or those with physical motor function impairments in their arms, legs or shoulders — whether temporary or permanent.
- Head rotation should define the direction of walking — not the controller or sensor — in order to reduce the risk of motion sickness.
- Speed could be determined by the accelerometer in the hand controllers or sensors — calculating how fast the user’s arms and/or legs are moving.
- When using this type of locomotion, allow people the option to only move their arms if needed to reduce the risk of falling or feelings of instability.
- Give people time to practice walking in place in a sandbox area before starting the experience.
- Blur the periphery of the environment when people are walking in place to help reduce the risk of motion sickness.
- Keep accessibility in mind with your target audience.
- When moving around small virtual spaces since your arms and/or legs can become tired from overuse.
- When natural or redirected walking are not an option, but you still need to give the user the sense of time it takes to move around an area — such as in training or a timed challenge — with a limited physical space.
- Walk-in-Place by University of London, 3D Interaction Design in Virtual Reality course
- A Walking-in-Place Method for Virtual Reality Using Position and Orientation Tracking by Juyoung Lee, et. al.
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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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