Virtual reality (VR) has been taking off all around the world for a number of years. As a result, you can find VR anywhere. Ranging from consumer´s homes to high-end showrooms. That is because Virtual Reality allows one to fully immerse another inside a custom created world. This offers opportunities for both entertainment and research purposes. The BMS lab is equipped for the latter and is able to support researchers in their studies that include Virtual reality.
Types of Virtual Reality
The BMS lab offers different types of Virtual Reality (VR) experiences, including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive pro, Occulus go and mobile setups. All Virtual Reality setups allow researchers to place their participants in a world of their own creation. Furthermore, all have the benefit of creating high levels of immersion. The HTC Vive Pro and our walking setup offer movement and interaction to the participant and can thus be used in more demanding types of research. VR can be used in a wide variety of studies, ranging from simulation and training to stimulus based Experiments and experiences and behavioural analysis.
HTC Vive Pro
The HTC Vive setup allows for a more complete experience and fuller immersion into the Virtual world. This is because users can walk around in the world and interact with it. Movement is limited to the confines of the available physical space. Even more immersion is added by the inclusion of the HTC Vive controllers. This is because they allow the user to interact with and impact the world. This HTC Vive Pro setup allows for a broader range of studies, because they can include procedures, puzzles or tasks, while still offering great usability for researchers.
VR walking setup
Research in the BMS lab can make use of our second and most advanced setup as well. The crane like construction attached to a white dome shaped surface allow a participant to be suspended and to glide along inside a VR world. This allows for seamless immersion without the possibility of hitting objects in the real-world or running into intrusive “edges of the world”. A combination of a slippery surface on the dome, special shoes and support from the crane and harnas allow the participant to feel like they are skating through the world. It takes some getting used to, but has been demonstrated with great success in experimental settings.
Virtualizer Elite 2
The new, upgraded version, with a powered Motion Platform and improvement in the movement convenience of the participants, contribute to the lesser effort needed for walking and improve the experience and suitability for everyone. Additionally, it is equipped with an optical tracking system, providing even better accuracy and faster tracking. It allows for defining the angle of inclination and optimizing the angle based on the speed of movement, as well as adjustments for forward and backward movement. Swift rotation is possible if needed since then the platform adjusts itself immediately. Important addition is the ability to support users regardless of physical abilities, allowing users to adjust the physical effort with a single button. The Virtualizer Elite 2 platform further brings speed and accuracy advantages when it comes to data collection, while the participants can enjoy the improved experience.
Why use Virtual Reality for research?
The social sciences are greatly empowered by Virtual Reality. This is because of three main reasons. First, participants are completely immersed in the VR world, which increases the believability of any kind of stimulus material and aids in the external validity of studies. Secondly, virtual reality gives total control over the cues the participants are subjected to. As a result, this greatly reduces outside noise and gives more freedom for stimulus creation. Third and finally, virtual reality gives researchers the opportunity to specify task sets for participants to follow and enables them to nudge or force participants in the execution of these tasks.