Finally Achieving Easy to Use Truly Immersive Virtual Reality

October 24, 2019

Finally Achieving Easy to Use Truly Immersive Virtual Reality

 

What makes virtual reality (VR) experience truly immersive and effective? One key feature is “Positional Tracking” - the ability for the user to move and walk in the real world, and have that motion be tracked and translated into motion in the virtual world. This results in a life-like room-scale experience that can make the user truly feel like they are in the virtual world, and avoids inducing disorientation or nausea - something only poorly executed VR will cause.

Positional tracking is also what makes top-of-the-line VR vastly superior to basic mobile VR (such as Daydream, Cardboard, or GearVR) which do not offer positional tracking.

Prior iterations of top-end VR headsets have typically had “outside-in tracking”. This meant they had one or more cameras (Oculus Rift) or tracking lasers (HTC Vive) placed in stationary locations in the room, and receivers on the VR headset. This was the most optimal way to deliver room-scale, immersive VR without making the headsets too heavy or cumbersome.

However, there are plenty of issues with outside-in tracking, such as:

  • Complexity in setup: Requires time and effort to carefully install cameras in the room where the VR headset will be used. This can be challenging for non-technical users.

  • Needs extra hardware: Uses cameras, mounts, and/or base stations with specific power access requirements. This can make the user experience more complex with cables getting in the way.

  • Not easily portable: You are basically restricted to the room-scale area you’ve set up the cameras in. This can be limiting when you try to take this to a customer meeting or a tradeshow.

 

The other approach is to use inside-out tracking (aka Self-Tracking). In this case, positional tracking cameras, or other sensors used to determine the headset’s position in space, are located directly on the VR headset itself. When the headset moves, the sensors on the headset readjust its place in the physical room, and the virtual environment responds accordingly in real time. Distinctive characteristics of the room are used to determine position and orientation.

Previously, outside-in tracking had much faster and more precise tracking and could be done with less powerful hardware. But now with improvements in technology, inside-out tracking is at much closer parity with outside-in tracking.

Microsoft has already had inside-out tracking on its Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) headset. And now the recently released HTC Cosmos and Oculus Rift S VR headsets also feature “inside-out tracking”.

Prior iterations of both headsets required time-consuming and tech-savvy setup of base stations, web-cams, and markers around the room where the headset is to be used.

 

But no more. Even with the cameras on them, the inside-out tracking VR heads from HTC and Oculus are quite lightweight and can be used for extended periods of time.

The HTC Vive Cosmos uses inside-out tracking via six cameras that constantly scan the room. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used to identify discrete parts of the environment.

The Oculus Rift S includes a brand-new, built-in array of five inside-out tracking sensors. Two of these sensors face forward, just like most WMR headsets. Two more flank the bottom edge to effectively track content below and behind the VR user. The fifth sensor aims upward to capture controllers when held above the head.

Our perspective
We’ve previously discussed the power of immersive VR as a way for businesses to connect with their prospects. Making immersive VR possible with inside-out tracking is especially impactful for Real Estates sales and marketing applications of VR.

Benefits

  • Ease of setup: As close to out-of-the box as possible, even for non-technical users. You don’t need to setup any cameras or other sensors in the room, or perform complicated calibrations. VR is now simple and user friendly with internal trackers, avoiding lot of complicated setup of external trackers.

  • Less equipment: All you need is the inside-out tracking enabled VR headset. No need for additional cameras, mounts, stands or base stations. No hassle of dealing with cords and cables, and worrying about tripping over them.

  • Highly portable:Take your VR immersive-sales collateral to expos and meetings off-site without the hassle. Just pickup your VR headset and go. Ideally, you can fire it up in any physical location - a customer office, conference room, site trailer, retail location, or tradeshow floor - and be able to use it calibrated to that location. No more worrying about availability of power outlets, wall mounts, or tripods.

So with inside out tracking, you smoothen the immersive sales + demo experience part of your customers’ buying journey - leading to improved conversion rates.

Limitations
The one consideration to keep in mind is that the controller tracking in inside-out tracking is less complete because controllers are tracked by the headset. This may result in the controllers momentarily losing their tracking, so the experience might not be as smooth as with outside-in tracking. But in practice, the difference is felt more in the gaming space where complex controller movements can make or break your ability to win. In real estate sales and marketing, which involves simple and slow controller movements, this really isn’t an issue.

Key Takeaway
Adoption by HTC and Oculus brings inside-out tracking squarely into the VR mainstream. VR now is even simpler and easier to use than ever before, and leads to real business value.

OuterRealms’ VR platform works with all of these headsets out of the box - Windows Mixed Reality, HTC Vive Cosmos, and Oculus Rift S. Why not try it out for yourself? Contact us today at david@outerrealmvr.com to learn more.
 

 

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