Controllers and hand tracking cover most of the VR input needs, but what about the lower half of our body?
The early (and relatively recent) VR renaissance is characterized by attempts to highlight how it differs from other media. Here’s how it works as “the ultimate empathy machine,” according to Meta-acquired Within CEO Chris Milk. Or how it realizes sci-fi visions of virtual worlds and the potential for the next evolution of the Internet, a fact we still haven’t shaken.
Both ideas are based on the idea that if you can make people feel like they are somewhere else and can act there, they can become more engaged, productive and happy. The way we actually immerse ourselves in virtual worlds needs to improve for it to work. Headsets are now standalone like the Quest 2 and are getting smaller and lighter like the HTC Vive XR Elite. Input methods have been improved, from using existing console controllers to support for hand and eye tracking. One thing that has not been resolved is how we move.
Should motion in VR be one-on-one? Do we need to watch our feet? How should we do it? These are like questions that need to be answered before virtual reality becomes a mainstream form of computing. But it may show that we are focusing on the wrong things.
The “Meta Legs Story” now has a few points, including a misleading press conference “demonstration” and a plausible research paper describing how the company uses head-mounted cameras to track leg movement, but the problems start with the widespread Hostility. the opinion of Facebook and Instagram. When Meta stated that it was an early entry into the “Metaverse”, many felt that Horizon Worlds did not live up to the visual fidelity one would expect. Add to that how easy it is to dunk a legless company avatar and you have a real crisis.
At the time, this question seemed to really bother the Meta (and perhaps CEO Mark Zuckerberg in particular). On Instagram and Facebook, Zuckerberg shared a promised visual update that would make environments more detailed and avatars less boring. Then, at Connect’s annual conference, he demonstrated legs and leg tracking in VR. The promised visual update hasn’t arrived yet, and retroactively it’s been revealed that Meta used motion capture to simulate foot tracking for the demo. The problem remains, but at least we got the tweet.
While Meta has decided not to decide when the legs will arrive on the Quest device, full body tracking solutions exist. The newly updated HTC Vive tracker can be attached to just about anything and works with cameras and inside-out tracking without the need for an external base station to track your position.
Fixing issues with existing hardware and software is tricky because the main sensors on a standalone VR headset are so far away from your legs and feet. However, researchers at Meta have made some progress in this area by trying to mimic leg movement based on the position of your legs and arms.
When I ask analysts and loyal VR users if they really care about obsolescence, most of them don’t care.
“[The Meta's Connect demo] showed that the public’s obsession with VR legs was that the people calling for it weren’t using VR,” explained Irreverent Labs analyst and avid VR user Adario Strange. Strange believes that full-body tracking and any attempts to mimic walking are not really necessary to enjoy the appeal of virtual reality.
Since most current approaches to lower body tracking require some sort of additional purchase or high-end gear, analyst Anshel Sag of Moore Insights & Strategy muses, “Unfortunately, this could be one of those things that full body tracking is. privilege… the digital divide.” I’m not sure that full incarnation is as important as access to the Internet or a computer, but it’s true. For some, the lack of legs can be an important difference.
So, did you manage to get legs in VR, were they yours or provided by the game, how would you move them? In my opinion, there is something attractive about the movements of the body in virtual reality. This effort, even in some stripped-down versions, makes what you do in a game or app feel more real. It’s the same logic that makes the Wii’s motion controls exciting. I may not know anything about swordsmanship or properly swing the weight of a real sword, but when I shake the Wii Remote in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, I feel like I’m doing something. VR works the same way.
In games like Horizon of the Mountain for Playstation VR 2, walking, running, and climbing are done with arm swings. When you’re trying to climb a rock, it makes sense to rely solely on your hands if you don’t think too much about it. The up and down movement of the arms from walking to jogging is not entirely true, but at least it corresponds to the action of the arms in the movement of the legs. The important part (besides not excluding those who might not be able to play) is to make you feel like you’re doing more than just pointing and pressing a button.
“Ultimately, this is not what people imagine when they think about virtual reality. They don’t imagine that they are waving their arms just to move around,” Jan Getgelyuk, CEO of virtual reality company Virtuix, told me via Zoom. “They don’t represent teleportation from A to B to C to D… No, they think, ‘I just want to walk in the virtual world.’
The Virtuix Omni treadmill is not designed for VR fitness applications, but burning calories is an added bonus. “Hopefully this will somehow help us move away from a sedentary lifestyle,” Goetgelyuk said. Omni is one of the most complex VR accessories, but also one of the most interesting. By tying yourself to an articulated arm (and a headset, of course) attached to a non-mechanical, low-friction omnidirectional treadmill, you can run, crouch, and walk in supported VR games. This requires game developers to replace normal joystick input with the movement of your feet and legs, but after that you can put your running steps in place.
Hardware solutions are not for everyone. The Omni is smaller than a traditional treadmill but still requires space and the cost may not be for everyone. Virtuix’s $2,595 Omni One is actually a combo Omni and Pico headset for people who want to buy a full VR system.
Is the feeling of walking or even having legs worth all the extra work? Virtual reality should be more than just a walk.
“The added value of virtual reality is that you can live in a small apartment in Hong Kong and have the whole world at your fingertips,” said Strange.
I think I agree. The ability of virtual reality to create a sense of complete immersion, even if temporary or partial, is much more interesting than its ability to do what the Wii or Kinect do.
Considering how few gadgets are available for those who may not be able to see, stand, or hear but are still interested in virtual or augmented reality, it seems that the value goes beyond that we can only simulate one-on-one. important step. You don’t need your legs, you want fun activities and fun places for them. As Strange told me, “Most people just want more software.” Total commitment, immersion, whatever you want to call it, is probably not as important as total investment in what you do. You can do this with or without legs.
Post time: Apr-26-2023