Oculus Rift is out today, but maybe you’re waiting for some virtual reality that enables you to get up out of your chair to walk around. For that, you’re gonna need the the HTC Vive and SteamVR.
GamesBeat has messed around with the Vive Pre headset (from Taiwanese manufacturer HTC and Steam operator Valve Software) over the last few days, and that’s required me to get familiar with its setup process. Vive has a ton of games that work with “room-scale VR,” which is a type of virtual reality that can track your movement throughout a room. The setup process for this requires you to install two devices called “Base Stations” on the edges of an open space. You then need to complete a guide on your PC to help Valve’s SteamVR software understand the boundaries of your room. Tech adviser Digi-Capital predicts VR could generate $30 billion in spending by 2020, but a lot of people question whether their home has enough space for the room-scale variety. Well, allow me to share my experience of going through the SteamVR room setup to give you an idea of what to expect.
When you first get your Vive all plugged in and boot up the SteamVR interface from inside of Valve’s Steam portal, you immediately see a “Room Setup” prompt. This gives you two options: room-scales or standing-only VR. It’s important to note that either of these enable you to do seated VR experiences in a chair or even on the ground.
For standing, the process is simple. You hold the headset out in front of you to establish the forward-facing position. Then you need to put the headset on the ground to help the sensors figure out where the floor is. After that, you’re good to go.
When it comes to room-scale, you’ll encounter a couple of extra steps, but it’s nothing too complicated:
- SteamVR will ask you to clear space in your room. This includes moving couches and tables.
- The system will then establish tracking of your headset and the two Vive controllers.
- After initiating the tracking, you will then need to hold the trigger on one of the controllers while pointing it at your monitor. This helps to orient the SteamVR environment.
- Next, you’ll place both controllers on the floor and hit the “Calibrate Floor” button so that simulated ground looks correct when you’re wearing the Vive.
- Finally, you can take one controller and hold the trigger while drawing an outline of your open space.
- SteamVR will then use that information to draw a play area in your room.
You need a minimum of 6.5 feet-by-5 feet to do room-scale. I’ve tried it my home office, which has an open area about that big, and it works. I am now using Vive in my living room, which has a much bigger opening, and that’s definitely better. But even if you can only scrape by with the minimum, I think you’ll end up happy that you have the option to try room-scale in addition to the seated and standing experiences that are hitting Rift and other headset.