Virtual reality is a great way to enjoy more immersive games, movies, and so on. If you’ve finally pulled the trigger on a new VR headset, the next step is to figure out where to use it. To get the most out of virtual reality, you’ll need a room-scale space where you can move freely – without having to worry about accidentally bumping into something.
“Room-scale” essentially refers to the VR experience being configured for the space that you’re in – which helps ensure that you can move around that space, instead of simply standing or sitting in place.
Here’s everything you need about setting up a room for virtual reality.
Do I really need a lot of space?
The amount of space that you actually need for virtual reality may change depending on the kinds of virtual reality apps you’re actually using. If you plan on mainly using games and apps that require you to be seated, then you only really need a chair to sit in. If you can stand in place, then a space of around 3 feet squared should be fine.
For room-scale experiences, you’ll need a room that you can walk around in without hitting anything. For the HTC Vive, you’ll need at least 1.5 by 2 meters of space, or up to 3 meters by 3 meters.
There are height requirements too. The HTC Vive will require base stations to be installed ideally more than 2 meters, from the floor. These base stations can also be mounted on a camera tripod – which is perfect for those who don’t want to permanently mount them. Other virtual reality systems don’t have base stations like the HTC Vive, so you’ll really only need enough space to move around without hitting the ceiling. That includes the ceiling fan – if there’s a risk of hitting a ceiling fan, you might want to either set up your system somewhere else, or replace the fan with another kind of light fixture.
Virtual reality room considerations
Before setting up your system, it’s a good idea to take a look around a room and make sure that it doesn’t have any obstacles or furniture that you’ll hit. Both Oculus and HTC have obstacle detection features, but you generally shouldn’t rely on those.
It’s also a good idea to consider setting the boundaries of your virtual space a little smaller than the boundaries of your room. That will give you a little extra room in case you need it.
Things like windows and mirrors can also seriously interfere with virtual reality tracking. If you can cover windows and mirrors, or remove them, it’s recommended.
Even the flooring is worth taking a look at. Some VR games require you to crawl along the ground or lie down – and in that case, a relatively soft carpet may be the way to go. The right flooring could also help you create a VR warning track, which would ensure that you don’t leave the boundary through foam-padded tiles that warn you when you’re too close to the wall.
If you have extra space in your room, you can create an area for a second player in multiplayer games, or even a monitor that can display what you’re seeing for someone to see what you’re doing. If you do create a so-called spectator area, it’s a good idea to also create some kind of barrier between that area and the “live” area, where you’ll actually be in VR.
What about internet speed?
Physical requirements aren’t the only considerations when setting up a virtual reality space. You’ll also want to make sure your internet is fast enough. A wired ethernet connection is always best, but if you don’t have one available, you can use something like a Powerline networking solution, or, if you have to, use a relatively fast Wi-Fi connection. Different systems will require different speeds, so it’s worth checking in on the network requirements for your system.
If you have a wired headset, then the next thing you’ll want to do is make sure that the cables between your virtual reality headset and computer are out of the way. There are a few ways to do that – you could mount cables to the ceilings, for example. Alternatively, you could consider a wireless adapter that would get rid of the cables altogether. In any case, make sure you won’t trip over the cables.
If you have a whole room dedicated to virtual reality, then there are some other things you could add to the space to make it a little more comfortable. For example, some virtual reality games can actually make use of props like fake guns, golf clubs, and so on. Depending on the games you’re playing, these could end up being useful. Other accessories, like headphones, mounts for your controllers, and so on, can make the space look and feel a little more put together.
The goal of putting together a virtual reality room is to ensure that it’s safe, comfortable, and immersive. If you keep things in mind, you should be able to create a space that will serve for years to come – and one that could see multiple generations of headsets.