Making Small Spaces Feel Large: Practical Illusions in Virtual Reality

Evan Suma Rosenberg
Associate Director of the MxR Lab, the Institute for Creative Technologies and Research Assistant Professor
University of Southern California
SERC 306
Monday, January 22, 2018 - 11:00
Immersive technologies have the potential to transform entertainment, communication and collaboration over distance, training for physical and cognitive tasks, and how people visualize, understand, and make decisions based on an ever-growing landscape of complex data. However, despite rapid technical advances over the past few years and no small amount of media hype, there are numerous theoretical and practical problems yet to be solved before virtual and mixed reality can catch up with our imaginations and make good on these promises. Locomotion is one of the most significant interaction challenges because body movement is constrained by the real world, and users may collide with walls or physical obstacles if they walk outside the boundaries of a "room-scale" space. In this talk, I will present a series of illusory techniques that imperceptibly manipulate the laws of physics to overcome the spatial limitations that normally restrict movement in virtual reality. This approach, known as redirected walking, has stunning potential to fool the senses. I will discuss empirical experiments that have convinced users they were walking along a straight path while actually traveling in a circle or that they were exploring impossibly large virtual environments within the footprint of a single real-world room. Additionally, I will present the Redirected Walking Toolkit, an open-source research and development platform that can automatically redirect users in physical space as they walk through potentially infinite virtual worlds.