One of the toughest problems of VR is how to allow someone to walk and run throughout a large virtual environment. Most people only have a small room to play in.

People have a lot of ideas. From omni-directional treadmills to “redirected walking” to sitting on the couch with an Xbox controller, people have tried many different ways to deal with the problem.

What’s the obvious solution?

One way to play is the “hybrid” approach. “Running” can be controlled by a thumb stick or control pad, but standing, turning, ducking and doing smaller movements can be controlled by your physical body. Here’s a video that shows a guy playing a game like that:

In a lot of cases, that should work pretty good (if you don’t get sick). But if you’re a VR enthusiast… you might be yearning for something even more immersive.

Enter the RealitySuspender

A harness system like the RealitySuspender could potentially give you the ability to mix both the exact body control you need for short-range movements, and the ability to “run” over large virtual areas without resigning running control to pressing buttons or sticks on a control pad.

The RealityRing Control Scheme

The basic “RealityRing” control scheme is a pretty simple idea.

RealityRing Control Scheme

Imagine you draw a circle on the ground, with a diameter of say, 8 feet. Imagine that within that circle, you can freely move. Every move you make gets translated 1-to-1 to movements your character makes in the VR game.

But what happens if you want to move your character a longer distance?

Simple. You just run in place at the edge of the circle. The harness helps keep you inside the circle. When you move around inside the circle, you control your VR character with 1-to-1 movement. When you run in place at the edge of the circle, your character continues to run forward in the virtual world.

Watch this video of a guy using a “run in place” method to play a game:

 Why have a harness?

With the harness system, running in place could make the VR movement feel even more immersive. First of all, feeling the tension of the harness lets you “feel” your position inside the ring. Secondly, running against the tension of the harness lets you push yourself forward as you run, without having to worry much about whether you’re moving closer to a wall in the real world. Plus, there are additional experimental modifications to the design that could make “running in place” feel more natural.

Is this a perfect solution? Nope. But perhaps it’s better than pressing buttons or thumbsticks to “run” in a game.

Another possibility is that, by having the player actually pressing forward and applying physical force, that it could help reduce “sim sickness.” Is that a real possibility? Read why I think it is.