Accurately recreating motion in virtual environments is key to creating truly immersive experiences. It is also an incredibly complex undertaking which involves capturing and measuring a user’s movements in the real world, and translating them to their avatars in real time.
Degrees of freedom (DoF) refer to the number of ways in which such movements are detected in a 3D space. When we’re dealing with 3-dimensional environments such as the ones we find in VR, you get six degrees, which are:
Roll – Head pivots from side to side (peek around a corner)
Pitch – Head tilts on a vertical axis (looking up and down)
Yaw – Head swivels on a horizontal axis (looking left and right)
Strafe – Moving left or right (sidestepping)
Elevation – Moving up and down (bending, crouching, standing)
Surge – Moving backward and forwards (walking)
Mobile headsets such as the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear offer 3 Degrees of Freedom (3DoF) as they rely on your phone’s built-in sensors – gyroscopes, magnetometers, accelerometers – to measure how the device is moving.
Most of the VR hardware slotted for release in 2019 boasts Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF) which – like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality headsets - tracks user movement using both the headset and its controllers. in addition to the movements described before, adds 3 more which have the effect of allowing users to move and roam freely in a virtual environment as opposed to being rooted to one spot.
All of that demands a lot of processing power though, so hardware manufacturers are also exploring Hybrid options where the headset features 6DoF but the controllers only do 3DoF.
Every First Wednesday of each month we’re going to dig deeper into the vocabulary of immersive tech, unpacking some of the jargon and buzzwords that get bandied about in this space. As always suggestions and feedback are welcome, just hit reply to this email!