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room-scale VR (room-scale virtual reality)

Room-scale VR (room-scale virtual reality) is the use of a clear space to allow movement for someone using a VR application such as virtual reality gaming. Being able to physically move within the space helps to replicate real-world movement for the user and make the virtual environment seem more real. The term room-scale distinguishes that type of setup from the self-contained environment of a VR room and from seated or standing VR, in which the user remains stationary.

Room-scale VR uses a combination of movement and VR headset tracking within a dedicated area to simulate moving in the virtual environment. To deal with space limitations, a chaperoned movement system guides users away from the real room’s walls and shortens straight-line movements within the game; players can also use strategies such as teleportation to avoid hitting boundaries.

Many experts were pessimistic about the adoption of room-scale VR because of the need for a dedicated or cleared space. However, a Valve hardware survey found that, of those adopting the HTC Vive, 81.5 percent were using room-scale VR with the minimum required space at 2 x 1.5 meters.

The Valve-partnered HTC Vive comes with the dual lighthouse (laser tracking) room-scaling solution, which set the standard in room-scale VR. Occulus Rift, originally developed for seated VR, has demonstrated its own multi-camera room-scale option. There are plans in place for a room-scale Playstation VR product at a lower cost, based on a webcam.

See a demo on setting up room-scale VR for HTC Vive:

This was last updated in August 2016

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