Is a showcase for the Freedom Locomotion System. It is a demo created and designed with the intent of giving users enough content to draw them in for long enough to get used to the system.
Because while Freedom Locomotion is immersive and easy to pick up and learn, there is nonetheless a slight learning curve that will take a user anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to really get a feel for.
But the longer they spend in there, the more they'll come to the inevitable conclusion that - this may well be the most immersive locomotion system possible as long as we have VR that involve headsets and hand based controllers.
The system is actually compromised of 3 locomotion systems and 3 additional sub-systems, that together comprise the 'Freedom Locomotion System'.
While this is a showcase intended to demonstrate the efficacy of a well designed walking in place solution for VR, the rest of the additional systems when combined together elevates it to a truly immersive and robust level, able to cater to a wide range of users and provide them with the most presence inducing experience that they're comfortable with.
The 3 locomotion systems includes:
Controller Assisted On the Spot locomotion. A literal name that provides an elegant solution to the problems that have plagued previous walking in place solutions - it uses the motion controllers to help assist with the walking in place motion that is able to help mitigate and reduce unwanted vection, while providing users with an immersive sensation of movement in virtual space.
Because walking in place solutions cannot perfectly track the user's movement intent just through measuring the motion of the headset (or even the motion of the feet as with devices like Omni Directional Treadmills), the most reasonable solution is to use the controller in helping to assist in signalling the user's intent.
It also has the delightful benefit of providing users with free exercise as they explore virtual spaces, enabling VR as a whole to achieve the potential of been the system that helps to reverse the growing trend of sedentarism that plagues modern society.
CAOTS will not be for everyone. While walking in place is an excellent motion sickness reduction mechanism, it isn't a perfect one. Users that are highly susceptible to motion sickness are still liable to become nauseated after some amount of usage.
Additionally, it requires substantial physical movement, which is not something that all users are willing or capable of.
As a result, Dash Step is the solution that was devised in order to accommodate such users.
Dash Step essentially uses the fast, 'dashing' teleportation mechanic found in a variety of other VR experiences and repurposes it with a more standard and immersive movement mechanic that will be very much familiar to anyone that has played a first person shooter with a game pad in the last decade.
As a result, Dash Step manages to combine the best of 'free motion' locomotion that are becoming increasingly popular in a growing plethora of VR games and experiences, without ignoring the plight of the average person who will find themselves quickly succumbing to the vection induced by the smooth controller touchpad/thumbstick based locomotion.
It allows for significant and precise control, while allowing users to maintain relative parity with CAOTS users. It also has a couple of options to tweak (time in motion and maximum step length), allowing users to adjust it to be more teleport like, or more free motion like.
While Dash Step will be able to accommodate the majority of users that are unable to use CAOTS, even quick dashing motion can be unacceptable to the most sensitive VR users.
It essentially operates in the same manner as Dash Step, but simply removes the smooth movement between the starting and stopping points of the step, instead opting for an equivalent length pause.
As a result, Blink Step is the no-motion fail safe locomotion that allows Freedom Locomotion as a whole to cater to the widest range of users while still maintaining relative parity in function and experience.
In addition to the locomotion systems, the three subsystems help to reinforce the user's sense of presence within the virtual space, by allowing the space to react appropriately to their presence and actions.
Originally conceived as a way to allow the user to realign the virtual space with the physical boundary space, allowing them to ensure that straight lines are straight in both virtual and physical space, the Grab Turning sub-system has proven to be critical in providing access and equivalency to users with front-facing VR systems, such as the Playstation VR or the Oculus Rift with two-front facing cameras.
Essentially, the user is able to grab the world and physically turn it with their hands. Normally, turning the camera without the user physically turning is a huge source of vection and motion sickness in VR. But the combination of clever vection mitigating features allow most users to freely engage in the function, without also making themselves nauseated in the process.
As a result, users can run around freely in virtual space in any direction, while still maintaining a fixed physical heading.
The current state of consumer VR can do little to replicate the physicality of a virtual environment. As a result, in a lot of current VR experiences, users can simply ignore the virtual presence of an object or a wall and walk through them, or put their face through them.
While generally, users will use their real world experience with regards to solid objects and obstacles and eschew the act of putting their face through such things, it isn't sufficient to prevent and reinforce the solidity of the virtual space.
The Anti-Boundary Violation system is a response to this problem, using code to prevent VR wall-hacking so to speak.
Essentially it allows the Virtual Environment to react to the physical presence of the user by blacking out their view and pushing them back in place.
While this isn't an ideal solution under normal circumstances, the Anti-Boundary Violation system also uses visible and adaptive room scale boundaries to inform the user as to their current relation between the physical room space, and the virtual space.
The room scale boundaries, show the user the extent of the room scale space, which serves as a useful reminder to recenter themselves during use.
As they move into objects or start trying to put their head through virtual walls, the boundaries show up, with occluding elements revealed in red, even as the rest of the view blacks out. This means that, users can easily understand where they need to move to in order to stop violating the virtual boundaries.
Additionally, if the user walks up and down slopes (or off ledges), it accommodates for their movement in virtual space.
As a result, the Anti-Boundary Violation system helps to reinforce the agency of the virtual space, helping to improve the overall immersion of the VR experience.
Free Climbing is essential to helping round out the Freedom Locomotion System. Because in the real world, even though we mainly get around by walking around with our feet, at any time, most of us can also grab at the world and use it to help pull ourselves around, especially in helping us reaching greater heights.
The Free Climbing sub-system allows users to navigate in the virtual space with their arms nearly as well as with their feet. It's primary use is in helping the user gain vertical elevation in a natural and immersive manner, but it's also extremely useful for achieving basic navigation tasks like climbing up ledges or moving over waist high boundaries, or even crawling into man-sized holes.
When combined with the other systems found in the Freedom Locomotion System, it essentially allows for seamless, complete and robust locomotion in virtual space.
Climbing in VR isn't unique to the Freedom Locomotion System. It's already present in experiences like 'The Climb', 'Climbey' and 'Sweet Escape VR'. But the big advantage to the Free Climbing system is that; what users can grab in the virtual space is procedurally determined, by the sort of hand hold the 3D mesh can provide, meaning that nearly everything that looks like it could be climbed, can be naturally climbed.
The Freedom Locomotion System is showcased in the 'Freedom Locomotion VR' demo. As mentioned, the goal of the demo is to provide sufficient content to help users acclimatized to the systems that comprise the Freedom Locomotion System.
While the system is relatively intuitive to use, especially because it mimics so much of what we're already familiar with in the real world, it's nonetheless an extensive system with sufficient differences to how you'd normally move around that, a new user will need a few minutes to a half hour to adjust and get used to it, to really get the most out of navigating the world with the system.
The demo includes a tutorial (most of which the user can ignore if they want) that teaches most of the basics of navigation, as well as 3 additional levels to explore. These levels provide a plethora of sights and terrains in which to fully experience Freedom Locomotion.
It also includes a connective level called 'The Nexus', that allows players to return to the other levels they've already visited as well as interact and play with collectible items that they've already found.
There is also an extensive set of options that allows the players to customize and tweak various facets of the movement system as they please. This includes the ability to run faster, turn on and off the heading, turn on and off a speedometer, adjust the room scale boundaries and more.
Once the user has exhausted the content and options in the Freedom Locomotion VR demo, hopefully they'll also come to thoroughly appreciate the potential of the Freedom Locomotion System, or something like it, in future VR experiences.