SF fans who dream of taking an infinite walk in varied flexible spaces - all from the comfort of local buildings - may see their dream realized sooner than the time frame suggested for holodecks in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Researchers from Vienna and the United States have a new technology to present virtual environments for walks through virtual worlds.
Redirected walking techniques enable natural locomotion through immersive virtual environments (VEs) that are larger than the real world workspace. Most existing techniques rely upon manipulating the mapping between physical and virtual motions while the layout of the environment remains constant. However, if the primary focus of the experience is on the virtual world´s content, rather than on its spatial layout, then the goal of redirected walking can be achieved through an entirely different strategy. In this paper, we introduce flexible spaces - a novel redirection technique that enables infinite real walking in virtual environments that do not require replication of real world layouts. Flexible spaces overcome the limitations and generalize the use of overlapping (impossible) spaces and change blindness by employing procedural layout generation. Our approach allows VE designers to focus on the content of the virtual world independent of the implementation details imposed by real walking, thereby making spatial manipulation techniques more practical for use in a variety of application domains.
The ST:TNG holodeck is the ultimate in science-fictional gaming environments., appearing in 1987. However, don't forget the first science-fictional interactive, participatory environment - Ray Bradbury's The Veldt, in his Happylife Home.
The nursery was silent. It was empty as a jungle glade at hot high noon. The walls were blank and two dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia Hadley stood in the center of the room, the walls began to purr and recede into crystalline distance, it seemed, and presently an African veldt appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color reproduced to the final pebble and bit of straw. The ceiling above them became a deep sky with a hot yellow sun.