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GoatLord

How to solve the VR problem?

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Virtual reality has made an interesting comeback, but there's a major issue with its current implementation: You're still in "cockpit mode" most of the time, because getting up and moving around can be dangerous. You'll bump into a wall and hurt yourself, knock shit over, or trip over your cord if the headset is tethered. So devs try to solve this by letting you move around in a very restrictive way (cockpit mode) or by letting you move around the environment with a control pad, which kinda kills the immersion factor.

I've seen some interesting workarounds, such as a gyroscopic treadmill that keeps you situated in one place, but that has limited application and no sane person wants to buy something that big and expensive for their home, not to mention it would be difficult to find enough room to set up in. You could also have special environments designed specifically for this sort of interaction, but again, it's not convenient for mobile or home use.

After thinking extensively on the subject, the only thing I could come up with is using thought-based inputs to move around, while still using your head to turn and sway. It's not as physically interesting as literally walking around, but it would be a fairly immersive solution. But I feel like there could be a better way to do this. Thoughts?

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Don't you think that the physical movement you have to make moving around even if it's just pressing buttons and moving a mouse is more immersive than just sitting down without moving a muscle?

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I don't know, to be honest. I feel like we have to eventually move away from pushing buttons because that seems very 20th century. I'm trying to envision what the next step will be. I feel like controllers don't have much shelf life. We definitely won't be using them by the end of this century. But sitting there not moving a muscle does seem weird.

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GoatLord said:

I'm trying to envision what the next step will be.

Possibly something like the chairs from Stargate SG1 episode "Gamekeeper" (not as invasive as the human containing cells in Matrix). You get completely tied up and put to some artificial sleep and then the virtual reality would be directly connected to your mind and all things happening only there.

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I've thought about chairs as well, that are flexible enough to let you move your body without actually getting up. Ever been in one of those massage chairs that locks your body in but feels super comfortable? I'm picturing something like that, but with haptic response...but maybe putting you in a sleep state and having a dream that is the game will be the way to go. Could possibly be induced by generating the right kinds of electrical fields, something that could wirelessly allow you to have a hallucination which is stable. In the past I've talked about computer pills. Maybe that could work for VR, but something tells me that a wireless connection is more plausible.

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Here is an idea that sounds relatively plausible to me: The human sits or lies down into a special chair or bed that completely ties him/her up so that he/she can't move a single body part except for mouth to talk (and eat/drink?) and for chest to inflate/deflate during breathing. It also places sensitive input-taking electrodes close to his/her neural network near muscles all around his/her body, and precise output-generating electrodes close to his/her touch sensing cells all around the body. It also puts a virtual reality visor over the eyes, earphones into the ears, a microphone in front of the mouth, a smell generator in front of the nose, possibly some nourishing device to the mouth, and even some waste outflowing device to certain lower body parts, the last 2 needing to be particularly effective and reliable if implemented at all. This would potentially allow the person to live in an immersive virtual reality, where the immersion would depend just on the amound and capacity of the input/output devices around the person's body, and of course shielding the body from taking any undesired physical sensory inputs while the virtual reality is on.

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GoatLord said:

I don't know, to be honest. I feel like we have to eventually move away from pushing buttons because that seems very 20th century.

You know what else seems very 20th century? Chairs. Chairs are ancient ass things and many people have tried to usurp them through the creation of stools, tuffets, benches, and piles of dead animals. There's got to be a way to create a better way to sit down without using the cheap, effective, cheap, existing, cheap, available, and a fucking chair chair technology that gets things done. The same is true for buttons, you just push a thing and things happen. There's rudimentary mental interfaces but those take training and effort, even a monkey can push buttons.

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Do we really need to eat and shit while engaged?! That's too much. But I like everything else.

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Figure out a way to activate and deactivate sleep paralysis (REM atonia) at will, and redirect those impulses meant to control the body into controlling the VR avatar instead.

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These guys claim to have "solved" movement within VR. Their solution is to distinguish between smaller and larger head and torso movements, with the former moving you on the spot, and the latter causing locomotion. So you move forward by leaning forward, backwards by leaning backward, etc. They claim it quickly becomes intuitive, and I can believe that.

I also think once tracking cameras and/or gloves become ubiquitous, we'll see a lot of movement schemes based on particular hand and body gestures. For example, you'll wave your hands in a particular way to move forward, or in another way to slide to the side. These could slowly become standardised to form a kind of pseudo sign-language for communicating movement intention. This could then be integrated as a basic feature of VR engines and hardware.

EDIT: Typo

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Disclosure: I know next to nothing about neuroscience and very little about VR technology, so anything I say may be completely wrong.

Some kind of helmet with a visor that has electrodes that can read your brain signals. Then you can control your character by thinking about moving. I can see something like this being an intermediary between current VR technology and VR technology of the future where you actually feel like you're moving in the game.

Another idea: A room with motion detectors all over it and a chair. You sit in the chair and can walk/run in the game by moving your legs around. You can interact with the world by moving your arms and hands.

For the hardcore: An implant that connects directly with the parts of the brain involving motor activity and senses. Then the game can provide stimuli directly, and respond to motion impulses. The major difficulties I see with this is that it could be potentially very dangerous, since you're blasting electrical impulses into your brain, and that the "protocol" of brain signals may differ from person to person so there needs to be some way to calibrate the device to a specific person.

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GoatLord said:

Do we really need to eat and shit while engaged?!

If we wanted to stay there for a long-enough time, firstly just long-enough to get a little thirsty in the meantime and not being bothered by having to interrupt the session to drink, then eventually up to a much longer time to require complete body care services, yes for sure. I think if/when this containment-based virtual reality would come true, these extra body care features would get built into them naturally, sooner or later.

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It's a good solution, but:

1) How well does this work for non-shooters?
2) Does the average gamer want something like that in their house or apartment?

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I'd imagine a setup like that would be perfect for arcades if they still mattered in the US. And really, does VR actually work for anything not a shooter/first person?

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That's a very good question. I'd like to think gaming culture is deeper than that. I think psychedelic experiences like those implied by 90s VR segments in movies might be interesting.

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Jaxxoon R said:

I'd imagine a setup like that would be perfect for arcades if they still mattered in the US. And really, does VR actually work for anything not a shooter/first person?

A third-person game where you're a ghost possessing the character you're controlling?

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GoatLord said:

That's a very good question. I'd like to think gaming culture is deeper than that. I think psychedelic experiences like those implied by 90s VR segments in movies might be interesting.

That would be quite something. I'm imagining how a remake of LSD Dream Simlator would work on one of these things.

Tosi said:

A third-person game where you're a ghost possessing the character you're controlling?

A ghost simulator that let's you haunt people would be awesome.

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HorrorMovieGuy said:

A ghost simulator that let's you haunt people would be awesome.

Ghost Trick for the Nintendo DS was kind of like that. I never beat it though.
I remember playing some flash game years ago where you're a ghost going around possessing people to interact with stuff. I think there was a Poltergeist for the SNES (maybe Sega Genesis) where you were the titular spirit as well.

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Bloodshedder said:

Figure out a way to activate and deactivate sleep paralysis (REM atonia) at will, and redirect those impulses meant to control the body into controlling the VR avatar instead.

This is probably going to be the answer, eventually.

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Tosi said:

A third-person game where you're a ghost possessing the character you're controlling?

But wouldn't that still be first person, only from the ghost's perspective?

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I wonder if we'll see a near future where friends get together and go to sleep and game, and someone else comments on it.

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Bloodshedder said:

Figure out a way to activate and deactivate sleep paralysis (REM atonia) at will, and redirect those impulses meant to control the body into controlling the VR avatar instead.


Conscious sleep paralysis can be induced, most of people report overwhelming terrifying hallucinations from it.

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Personally, I'd go the Artificial Dream (?) way.
The code of a software could be converted to a bunch of electrical impulses. Okay, not in the present perhaps but I don't see any reason why it would be impossible later in the future.

Pros:
Can give the true experience of the given virtual world without having to move your body in the real world, so the problems with space is solved.
No need for things like visors, googles, speakers, or any stuff which messes with your sense organs.
Can FEEL real (like ordinary dreams).
Can be conscious and can be forced not to wake up for any random reason. (see lucid-dreaming)
Could be more easy to implement than those machines some people imagine.

Since what we see as reality is just an interpretation created by our minds. It can be altered in many ways and it can feel real (drugs, hypnosis are examples)

Cons:
Can be really dangerous. Many things could happen.
One mistake in the "system" and it could cause serious damage to the brain, like trauma, mental illnesses, kill tons of brain cells. It could be even that the mind gets used to it, believes it is real and starts to interpret reality as it was in the game (?).

j4rio said:

Conscious sleep paralysis can be induced, most of people report overwhelming terrifying hallucinations from it.

this.

Noone would test it willingly because of the above. ->
Without tests it will never be implemented.
If it reaches a phase where it is functional, it'll be still risky.

So why I like this concept? Because it would be more simple than placing a whole giant simulator-like machine in a bedroom and running in it while going nowhere. It's just dangerous. Simple and hard at once.

This concept could be further exposed when humanity discovers more about our brain since we know little about it.

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I'm sure the scientists of the future will appreciate how you've all paved the way with your ungrounded, medically invasive fantasies. Here's an interesting presentation by "Owlchemy Labs" on designing VR that's accessible to non-gamers. Future breakthroughs will probably stem from these ideas and continue in the same direction.

Superluigieth1 said:

Wait a few years because A. It will get cheaper, and B. More support. Right now, VR is quite unstable, with Oculus leading for now.


I was cheering for Oculus because of the Carmack connection, but now I'm hearing better things about the HTC Vive. It uses a more CPU-efficient system to track your head and controller positions (laser scan lines instead of cameras), reducing latency to a believable level. I'm not planning to buy any of these systems though, mostly because I hate fun and love money.

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Tosi said:

I think there was a Poltergeist for the SNES (maybe Sega Genesis) where you were the titular spirit as well.


It's called "The Haunting: Starring Polterguy", very fun game.

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