So far we’ve learned that while real walking is the best option for a natural and comfortable experience, it’s not always possible due to physical space limitations. This means we need alternative options for locomotion in VR. In the previous article, we learned that walking in place — while a valiant attempt, still has a pretty good risk of motion sickness.
Of all of the alternative options out there as of now, teleportation is going to offer the most comfortable experience for the largest audience. However, as with all alternatives to real walking, it does have its pros and cons.
Teleportation — just like in Sci-Fi — provides instantaneous transport from one location to another.
- Less physical space is needed.
- You can travel long distances instantaneously.
- There is minimal risk of motion sickness when implemented properly.
- It’s less immersive than natural walking.
- It can cause disorientation or sickness if head rotation shifts during transport.
- People can overshoot the target location, resulting in multiple attempts to get to the right position.
- People can accidentally teleport into a wall or other virtual object, which breaks the sense of presence.
- Include collision physics and barriers to prevent people from teleporting into a wall or other virtual objects, which can break the experience.
- Preserve the person’s current head rotation and blur the scene or “blink” between locations to help reduce the risk of motion sickness.
- Ensure there is some kind of visual feedback to confirm the selection of the target location.
- Use wayfinding such as a lit path or waypoints to direct people on which way to go.
- In some cases, it may make sense to use predefined target locations to prevent people from having to teleport multiple times to get in the right position — such as when there are sparse target locations in a large area.
- If using predefined target locations, use lit waypoints to direct people, and snap the reticle to a desired highlighted waypoint with magnetism or assume intent to get them to the correct location.
- Upon teleportation to a predefined target location, place the person in the optimal position within that target area.
- If you’re changing the direction the person is facing at the target location, add a visual cue to let them know which way they’ll be facing when they arrive — such as an NPC facing that direction or some sort of signage.
The “dash” teleport variation
The dash variation teleports you instantly without the use of a “blink” so if you click successively fast enough, it will give you the perception of motion. This can in turn make you sick. I recommend that if this option is used, there be a more obvious blur effect. However, I would still recommend “blinking” between locations instead.
Examples to try for free
Valve created a compilation of their VR experiments as a “lab” environment that people can try out at home. Even though they claim to be experiments, they’re still designed with high quality and attention to detail.
They give clear visual and haptic feedback as to which locations you are able to teleport to versus those you can’t. The teleportation reticle snaps to a predefined grid to reduce the chance of accidentally overshooting your target destination. Physics are also in place to keep you from teleporting into objects or walls.
It’s available for free through Steam and can be accessed with PC-based headsets or Oculus Quest with a Link cable.
Bogo is a free experience that was released exclusively on the Oculus Quest in 2019. They use a design pattern that I hope will become a UX standard for teleportation interaction on controllers with a joystick.
You move the joystick and your hand in the direction you want to teleport. The curve and reticle change colors depending on whether or not you can teleport to that area. When the target reticle is in the location you want to go, you release the joystick to teleport.
The only downside is that they seem to be using the “dash” variation of teleportation instead of using a blink. This can cause sickness if someone spams the controller to teleport. The saving grace here is that it’s a very small playspace so not enough space for the sense of motion to kick in that might cause sickness.
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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.