This work enables users to walk along an infinite path in virtual reality (VR) by manipulating their spatial perceptions of what is in physical reality a restricted space. This is achieved by combining the two techniques of redirected walking (RDW) and visuo-haptic interaction. RDW enhances imagery shown in a head-mounted display to impart the sensation of walking in a straight line when the user is actually following a curved pathway. This is augmented by visuo-haptic interaction that makes the user perceive a curved surface as a flat one. The resulting system is capable of conjuring up a sensation of infinite space in a relatively small physical space. In this work the sensation of walking in a straight line is achieved on a circular arc with only a three-meter radius. By utilizing the senses of both sight and touch to delude the brain, the work offers a tangible lesson in just how manipulable our perceptions are. The creators have also developed original content to showcase the features of the work in a VR system.
This is a simple perceptual trick that manipulates the spatial perceptions of a walking user. Taking the disparity between real space and VR space as a given, it distorts the coordinate conversion between the two spaces and leaves it to the mind of the user to reconcile them. The gap between the infinitude of VR space and the physical confines of the space in which it is experienced has always been a conundrum for VR designers. Taking a unique approach to this problem, the project provides a new experience that actively exploits discrepancies in spatial perception. Distinguishing itself from other approaches that have pursued reality by attempting to achieve a match between true and false space, this research has undeniable potential notwithstanding the fact that it can be utilized only under specific conditions in its present form. The experience it offers is a fascinating opportunity to realize firsthand just how relative, how uncertain, are the spatial perceptions—and the world itself—that we construct from the aggregate of our five senses. (HIGASHIIZUMI Ichiro)