Google might not be ready to talk about any work it’s potentially doing with room-scale tracking for mobile VR just yet, but the team at Dacuda is.
This mobile scanning company has this week launched a new video (below) showcasing its SLAM Scan 3D engine technology being used to enable real world movement within smartphone-based VR experiences. Using the regular camera built into the smartphone, the user has 6 degrees of movement in a full 360 degree area, much like you’d see with the HTC Vive, though without the area limitations. This is demonstrated with the help of an iPhone 6 and the Zeiss VR One headset, which a user puts on and then walks around a virtual environment as if they were really there. You could feasibly do this with just about any modern smartphone and a mobile HMD, though.
It’s impressive stuff; the user leans and crouches around the area to demonstrate positional tracking, and even connects to a PC via USB to play SteamVR games on mobile with tracking remaining intact. The example used in the video is Wevr’s theBlu, and it seems to hold up pretty well. Of course, there aren’t any motion controls to allow users to bring their hands into the experience, but it’s not hard to imagine some third party devices delivering on this. Perhaps even Google’s Daydream controller could fill that role someday.
According to the company, SLAM Scan is already incorporated in over a million smart devices. That’s a whole lot of phones that could already be capable of Room Scale mobile VR.
Interestingly, Room Scale functionality was not a part of yesterday’s reveal of Google Daydream, a new platform for mobile VR experiences. Given the company is working on its own 3D environment scanning with Project Tango, the capability is more than likely there. Perhaps the company is just realistic about the space requirements for VR and the potential dangers of obscuring your real world vision and asking you to walk around. Or perhaps this is something that it’s saving talking about for another time.
Either way, this is proof that Room Scale mobile VR can happen. It’s just a case of when.