Seated VR

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Seated VR (figure 1) is a form of experiencing virtual reality in which the user is sitting down. It contrasts with standing VR or room-scale VR, which require the user to be standing up or moving around in a specified area. In seated VR experiences, a chair is commonly used, and it is seen as a manner of experiencing VR in a more relaxed way.

All of the main headsets in the market – Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR - allow for seated VR, generally using mouse and keyboard or a gamepad instead of motion-based controllers [1].

VR game developers can take into account the fact that users are going to experience their games sitting down by inserting the player into a cockpit, for example. This creates a deeper sense of immersion since the position of the player is matched with its virtual reality avatar [2].

1. Seated VR (Image: vrperception.com)

Seated VR and main HMD’s

The HTC Vive allows the use of VR apps that are designed for seated experiences [3], although it is most well-known for its room-scale VR. Indeed, HTC and Valve are investing in room-scale being the standard for VR, and so their system comes out-of-the-box with motion controls, a tracking system, and a boundary system [4] [5].

Steam VR has a function that shows the users if a gamepad can be used with a game, or if the Vive controllers are necessary. For Vive, in most cases, the gamepad is not the preferred setup for play [1]. The first official demonstration of seated VR was on the original Vive development kit, during EGX 2015. In 2016, HTC made another demonstration with the Vive Pre at CES 2016, with Elite Dangerous as a seated experience. The showcase had two Lighthouse base stations with three seated VR rigs equipped with gaming chairs and HOTAS controls. The seated experience has been reported as on the same level of the Oculus Rift, without any noticeable differences in the headtracking performance [4] [6].

Oculus’s strategy has been different by betting on the seated experience as the base level for VR. According to Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR, this choice was made for “reasons of practicality, not functionality.” [4] Indeed, this mode reduces the need for a specific space requirement, such as in the case of the room-scale setup. Although Oculus introduced the Oculus Rift without hand tracking input, in December 2016 the Touch controllers were released. This, along with implementation and improvements in the tracking system (Constellation) and a boundary system (Oculus Guardian System), has since allowed for room-scale VR in this device [7] [8].

With the PlayStation VR (PS VR), the focus is on seated play for its games. It is the cheapest VR headset, and so it could shape how a lot of users experience VR for the first time. While some tech demos have allowed users to play while standing up, the planned PS VR titles recommend that users remain seated. This seems to be due to the lack of capacity for the Playstation Move camera to track a large enough area [9]. Since its release, the PS VR has been praised for its comfort, affordability, and solid lineup of games. The same cannot be said of the tracking system and Move controllers, which hold the device back. Some journalists have referred to it as a great seated VR experience, but that “it starts to show blemishes if you attempt to get up and active during a game.” [10]

A way to improve the seated VR experience is to have a VR specific seating that allows for full rotation without the risk of getting tangled in the headset wires. This setup, along with a proper tracking area, would allow for a 360 degrees seated experience [7]. An example of such a chair is the Roto VR chair (figure 2), which is designed for all head-mounted displays available [11].

2. Roto VR chair (image: rotovr.com)

Selected seated VR games

  • American Truck Simulator
  • Jack Assault
  • Lucky’s Tale
  • Revive

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Holly, R. (2016). Can you enjoy the HTC Vive sitting down? Retrieved from https://www.vrheads.com/can-you-enjoy-htc-vive-sitting-down
  2. Allen, D. (2016). How to create comfortable seated locomotion in VR. Retrieved from http://www.blockinterval.com/project-updates/2016/4/4/how-we-achieved-comfortable-locomotion-in-life-of-lon
  3. Vive. Will VR apps for seated/standing-only experiences work with room-scale setup? Retrieved from https://www.vive.com/us/support/category_howto/839445.html
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lang, B. (2016). HTC show Vive pre working great for seated VR at CES. Retrieved from http://www.roadtovr.com/htc-shows-vive-pre-working-great-for-seated-vr-at-ces/
  5. Oscillada, J. M. (2017). Oculus introduces Guardian, a boundary system for Touch. Retrieved from http://virtualrealitytimes.com/2017/02/18/oculus-guardian-boundary-system/
  6. VRperception. Seated HTC Vive experiences with one Lighthouse station is possible. Retrieved from https://vrperception.com/2016/03/08/seated-htc-vive-experiences-with-one-lighthouse-station-is-possible/
  7. 7.0 7.1 Borrow the Light Studios. Room scale vs. seated VR. Retrieved from http://www.borrowedlightvr.com/2016/02/29/room-scale-vs-seated-vr/
  8. James, P. (2017). Oculus Rift & Touch 1.11 update brings improved Touch roomscale & multi-sensor support. Retrieved from http://www.roadtovr.com/oculus-rift-touch-1-11-update-brings-improved-touch-roomscale-multi-sensor-support/
  9. Wan, S. (2016). Sony Playstation VR will focus on seated play. Retrieved from http://www.eteknix.com/sony-playstation-vr-will-focus-on-seated-play/
  10. Jagneaux, D. (2016). How ‘The Brookhaven Experiment’ developers achieved 360 ‘Roomscale’ gameplay on PS VR. Retrieved from https://uploadvr.com/brookhaven-psvr-roomscale/
  11. Roto. Interactive virtual reality seat. Retrieved from http://www.rotovr.com/about-roto-vr

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