B-Reel Experiments with Weight Simulation in VR
Virtual Reality interfaces are usually made by 2D planes in a 3D space put in a rather simple way, but this is something that’s changing very quickly, especially in video games. Job Simulator and Cosmic Trip are a very good example of more physical and less visual interactions that are as innovative as they are fun. And parting from this premise, the B-Reel team came to the idea of experimenting with artificial weight simulation in VR.
Do you imagine weight simulation in VR environments?
Swedish company B-Reel is actually trying to make it happen. They explored the basics of physics and applied their VR knowledge to test how could be possible to make things to feel lighter or heavier in virtual reality.
Their experiment is one of the most enthusiastic and yet most innovative we’ve seen so far in this field. Many major software developers do amazing stuff every day, but these sudden sparks of creativity are the ones that take technology a step ahead from where we already are. They question the Status-Quo of current designs and technology, and by result, we end up with fun and useful experiments like B-Reel’s Weight Simulation.
You can check the whole experiment in this Medium post. It’s always amazing how people invest their time and money in projects that intend to further improve the VR experience.
We reached the B-Reel team and made some questions so we could have a clearer idea on what they’re working on and what they intend to achieve:
How important is weight simulation in VR?
The importance is debatable, but in any case it’s entirely dependent on the context of the experience. There’s surely room to explore weight as an interesting game mechanic, perhaps in ways that might someday become standard to game experiences. But for non-game experiences, we could see that adding weight to objects might impede users hoping to quickly and efficiently complete a task.
At this early stage, we see this more as an interesting tool worth exploring in the quest for greater immersion.
Do you have anywhere to go from here in the research?
There’s plenty to explore — like needing two hands (or two people!) to lift an object, or working with more irregular shapes. And of course modifications would be necessary to adapt this to other hardware, like Oculus Rift or the upcoming Daydream device.
We’re also interested in performing some more task-based user testing to help us better identify the methods that work best in different situations, as well as knowing when or when not to use weight at all.
Has anyone gave B-Reel interesting suggestions for other ways to simulate weight?
It’s still pretty early, but we’ve seen some great discussions (both before and after releasing our article) revolving around these techniques. We’re excited to see more ways the community incorporates this into future experiences.
Has Unity, Oculus, Linden Labs, or anyone else expressed interest in adding what you’ve developed to their VR operating system so it becomes a part of a standard when manipulating objects in VR?
We have just recently published our findings so there hasn’t been too much time to react yet, but our prototype is more about exposing various ways of experiencing weight than proposing one perfect model. Further research would be necessary to find the correct parameters and physics. We’d welcome the opportunity to have these discussions with the companies that are creating more of the ‘standards.’
If we download this from GitHub, how big is the file?
B-Reel is an international creative agency that was founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1999 by a small team of only 5 friends, and they are now over 170 designers, writers, producers, developers and strategists across six offices all over the world.