VR gaming: Seasick through the data glasses
Putting on glasses and experiencing other worlds without having to leave the room: this is what is special about virtual reality technology and at the same time your problem. Because many users can’t stand the difference between the real and virtual world, they get dizzy or feel bad. This so-called “motion sickness” is a major problem of virtual reality technology, said Eike Langbehn, VR expert at the University of Hamburg.
About half of all users are affected by this. “Seeing a virtual locomotion, but in reality not feeling any acceleration, can lead to this feeling, which is comparable to seasickness,” he says. The 32-year-old has a doctorate on the subject at the University of Hamburg and, together with former PR expert Dennis Bridgigkeit, 31, and VR designer Hannah Paulmann, 26, founded the start-up Space Walk, which wants to solve the problem.
For their company, the three founders have received the Exist scholarship from the federal Government, which supports students, university graduates and scientists in the implementation of their start-up ideas in a business plan. The scholarship of the federal government is designed for one year, the people of Hamburg want to use the time to further develop a prototype and make it workable.
According to their own information, they have already gained partners from the entertainment industry for the test operation. Six of the developers work in an office space at the Computer Science Center of the University of Hamburg in Stellingen. The office is similar to many other university rooms: grey office furniture on rough carpeted floors. But when the window is open, the elephants can be heard in Hagenbeck’s animal park.
And on the floor, a red tape marks a four-by-four-meter quadrangle. This means that a large part of the office is already filled, at the edge of the room there is a sofa and several desks, on which the prizes that the founders have already received are displayed.
The 16 square meter area shows what the entrepreneurs of Space Walk have achieved so far: they have developed a prototype in which the player of a VR game moves within these 16 square meters, but walks through a virtual world that has a size of 42 square meters. “The players move more in reality in this way, so that they feel less bad,” says Briddigkeit.
The developers achieve this effect by placing the images of the virtual space on top of each other slightly rotated and the player, when moving in the virtual space, unconsciously runs slight curves in reality. Through this “redirected walking” a player uses the space available to him more effectively, without suffering from the “motion sickness”.
On the one hand, this is interesting for private individuals, who usually have only a very limited area available on which they can play. But above all, the invention of the Hamburg founders is aimed at operators of VR escape rooms and large arcades for VR gaming, so-called “arcades”. The technology promises you more economic efficiency.
“Arcades” are arcades for computer games, as they are known from Asia in particular. Such public spaces for VR games now also exist in Germany, mostly in a much smaller form. In Hamburg, the “Holobar” on St. Pauli follows a similar approach.
Operators of such “arcades”, of course, want to make the most of the area of their arcades in order to reach as many customers as possible. Accordingly, there is great interest in the development that is being developed at the Hamburg Informatikum and that is being discussed at industry conferences worldwide. The University of Hamburg is currently regarded as the global pioneer in this field, with further approaches coming from Japan and the USA.
The idea is basically applicable to all industries that use VR technology, in which virtual paths are covered, says Eike Langbehn. This can happen, for example, in logistics, when warehouse workers use VR glasses to learn how to move around the warehouse and which processes make sense. Space Walk initially focuses on the gaming industry, not only because all three founders are enthusiastic gamers themselves, but above all because they see the greatest economic potential in this area.
Hamburg is a very suitable location, says Langbehn. “The gaming industry here is big, this infrastructure helps us to network.“ However, direct business relationships have not yet been established in this way. “Most gaming companies in Hamburg are still focusing on the classic games for the computer or for the mobile phone. VR games are currently being developed in Asia and the USA.“
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