The Logical Next step in VR
VR so far
The availability of virtual reality (VR) to consumers has improved greatly in recent years, especially with the introduction of new headset devices. Current experiences, however, typically do not track or represent the user’s body, due to a lack of data about its position and orientation in the world. The result is that the user’s body is not visibly a part of the environment, which risks damaging the user’s immersion. The SomaVR project aims to solve this problem by pairing a motion-tracking sensor with room-scale VR, creating a virtual body that fully tracks the user’s body in real-time.
SomaVR: Immerse your entire body in VR
SomaVR enables virtual reality experiences in which a user has a virtual body that moves and acts as their own, and can be perceived from a natural first-person perspective. The virtual body completely reproduces and thus replaces the user’s body inside a room-scale virtual environment. With SomaVR, a user equipped with only the HTC Vive’s standard devices can walk around in a 3D environment and see a full representation of his body with no additional sensors equipped. The only addition to the standard HTC Vive setup is a single Kinect V2 sensor placed at the edge of the play area.
How do we do it?
SomaVR performs an in-depth analysis of the data provided by both the Kinect V2 and HTC Vive and creates a full skeletal model of the user. It constructs the model in real-time using adaptive-weighted movement prediction, re-calibration algorithms and hardware sensor corrections, posture and movement analysis, and occlusion handling. To minimize the user’s experience of latency, SomaVR both interprets and adaptively predicts their movements.
More specifically, it analyzes the user’s posture and movement to understand what the user is doing and decides how to best represent or adapt their actions inside the virtual environment. By creating a model that interprets the user in this way as well as analyzing hardware inputs, SomaVR is able to infer the orientation of body parts and make informed predictions when they are occluded, thereby minimizing any negative effects that such occlusions might have on the user’s experience.
SomaVR introduces a room-scale full body simulation that strives for easy integration and high accessibility and affordability for consumers. With a full physical representation of the user as an avatar, new possibilities for projects and research become available. The technology could substantially expand the capabilities of VR games while requiring only a relatively small investment in hardware from users.
The end result?
A player can now act fully as any game character and his body is extended into the game world. Players become physically grounded as their virtual body replicates their own walking motions inside the virtual environment, which is expected to improve the feeling of transportation while increasing physical immersion. Finally, full body simulation can be used to introduce physical game mechanics or serve as increased visual feedback for the player.
SomaVR is currently supported within the Unity game engine, and support for the Unreal 4 game engine and Oculus Touch VR devices is planned. SomaVR is easy to integrate into new or existing projects, and developers can use their own humanoid models with minimal configuration.
ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP IN VR? LITERALLY