In order to create an immersive and realistic VR world/environment, the users must feel a sort of “spatial presence” when in the virtual world. According to Jamie Madigan, it must, amongst other things have multiple channels of sensory information meaning that it must involve the senses such as sound, touch and smell. By incorporating the senses the experience becomes more “whole” and makes it feel more authentic and real.
Furthermore, according to Thor Gunnarsson (Co-Founder at Sólfar Studios), there are 4 key design principles when constructing a believable VR world: Immersion, Exploration, Agency and Social.
A recent project that Sólfar Studios created called EverestVR is in fact so realistic that many people struggle to finish it. Sólfar Studios say that they are attempting to “hack the brain” during the sequences by using specific visuals and audio to produce mimic certain sensations one would feel in real life. For example, when participants arrive at the death zone, if you move too fast, your vision gets blurry as when you’re about to black out.
Campcom’ s latest demo called Kitchen managed to scare quite a lot of people. They achieved this by incorporating realistic graphics and good use of lighting, having a well thought out design and 360 immersive sound.
For VR to be truly immersive the visuals need to be backed up with the appropriate sounds otherwise the brain does not buy into the illusion. Ramani Duraiswami, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland and co-founder of VisiSonics says that “there’s a little map in your brain even when you’re not seeing the objects” and “if the sound is consistent with geometry, you’ll know automatically where things are even if they’re not in your view field.”
AltSpaceVR is a social application that incorporates Audio SDK by Oculus and gives participants a full immersive 360 surround sound.
Is touch is really that important in VR? According to David Hayes it isn’t really. The specialist in 3D mapping and virtual reality says that “the current findings indicate that a sense of touch isn’t necessary to feel ‘presence’ when in VR” and that “the extremely low latency visual stimulation seems to be enough in the vast majority of people”. However, more haptic devices and tactile methods are being incorporated into VR experiences.
Virtuix have recently delved into haptic gloves and created a haptic glove prototype called the Hands Omni which uses inflatable mini-bladders that give a sense of pressure to the hand when touching a virtual objects.