Getting from Point A to Point B in real life is relatively straightforward, but in virtual reality, it can be difficult to build an experience where moving through a 3D environment feels natural. VR developers need to prevent motion sickness to keep people comfortable in VR, and the user experience for moving around—also known as locomotion—isn’t a solved problem.
There are a variety of different ways to achieve effective locomotion, each with their own set of tradeoffs. Daydream Labs and teams across Google have explored ways to make locomotion comfortable, intuitive, and fun. We recently released Daydream Elements, a collection of tech demos that showcase principles and best practices for developing high-quality VR experiences. The core mechanics in each demo are built to be easily configurable and reusable for your own apps. Here are a few things we’ve learned about locomotion:
1. Constant velocity. Locomotion in VR can cause motion sickness when there’s a conflict between a person’s vision and their sense of balance. For example, if you see images showing you accelerating through space, like on a roller coaster, but you’re actually sitting stationary in a room, then your vision and vestibular system will disagree. A way to mitigate this is to use constant velocity during locomotion. Although acceleration can be used to produce more realistic transitions, constant velocity is far more comfortable than acceleration in VR.