Vive’s roomscale technology is one of the defining characteristics that sets it apart from other VR systems on the market. But what is room-scale and why is it better than other ways to experience VR? Fear not, this post will equip you with all the necessary information to understand the wonders of room-scale VR.
What is Roomscale?
360° Roomscale VR leverages positional tracking technology allowing you to use a play area of up to 5 meters diagonally across as a stage to walk inside the virtual environment. By being able to seamlessly move around, your state of presence is heightened letting you feel fully immersed in the virtual world you’re exploring. This is all due to Lighthouse, Valve’s 3D spatial laser-tracking system.
Included with the Lighthouse system are two base stations – small black boxes that each contain a bank of infrared LED’s and two IR lasers. With the base stations placed at opposite corners of the play area these lasers alternate sweeping the room horizontally and vertically to track the position and orientation of your headset and controllers. Embedded on the surface of your HMD and wireless controllers are infrared sensors that can detect the infrared wavelengths emitted by your base stations. This information is then relayed back to your PC.
Pro tip! – reflective surfaces, such as mirrors or even windows, can cause the infrared lasers to bounce unexpectedly and interfere with the Lighthouse tracking system. Make sure to cover up these surfaces or set up your Vive in a room that is free from these obstacles.
Yes, you will be walking freely around your room with a headset covering your eyes. No, it will not result in you running into walls or tripping head-first over your couch. For that is where our friendly Chaperone comes into play. Through Vive’s software, you can configure the system to understand the perimeter of your play area. By tracing the boundaries of your designated space, the Chaperone will alert you when you encroach on these borders by emitting a blue grid outlining the walls and floor.
With your point of view, location, direction, and speed all tracked and your boundaries established you can now explore and engage in virtual worlds, unlike any other medium. You can duck for cover when an enemy missile is headed your way or even walk up to that giant creature to get a better look. In contrast, seated and standing VR confines you to a single location, limiting your ability to interact in virtual reality. And just in case you were wondering, while the Vive was designed for room-scale it can accommodate seating or standing VR, depending on your space constraints.