The proposed system would bring physical environment awareness to VR by creating virtual representations of real-world objects.
According to a patent filed to the United States Patent & Trademark Office, Microsoft has been working on a computer system that automatically converts physical objects into digital models viewable in VR.
The patent, entitled “Transitioning into a VR environment and warning HMD users of real-world physical obstacles,” details a system capable of generating virtual representations of real-world objects that come within a certain range of the head-mounted display (HMD). According to the documentation, a proximity detection system would be used to identify physical objects before warning the user in VR by creating a relevant digital model layered over the aforementioned object.
“Optimizations are provided for facilitating an improved transition between a real-world environment and a virtual reality environment,” states the patent. “Initially, use of a HMD is detected and one or more real-world physical objects within a threshold proximity to the HMD are identified. Subsequently, a replicated environment, which includes virtual representations of the real-world physical object(s), is obtained and rendered in a virtual reality display. The replicated environment is transitioned out of view and a VR environment is subsequently rendered in the virtual reality display. In some instances, rendering of virtual representations of real-world physical objects into the VR environment occurs is response to detected triggering event.”
In theory, this could be a game-changer for VR users dealing with limited free space. Whether it be a small apartment or a cluttered bedroom, any location could become a virtual playing field made unique by its surrounding objects.
Facebook has already begun implementing its own form of physical object detection on Oculus Quest headsets. Recent updates have included new features such as desk and couch detection, allowing users to mark the real-world locations of said objects and generate virtual representations which can be viewed while in VR.
The system described in Microsoft’s patent sounds as though it could take the technology even further with an automatic object-detection system that improves not only the players’ safety but their level of immersion as well.
For more information check out the patent here.
Feature Image Credit: Microsoft