Catching a ball while wearing full VR gear

Currently, wearing a VR headset immerses you in a virtual world that can be a truly lifelike visual and audio experience. As the technology matures, visual experiences like recreating Beauty and the Beast or exploring StoneHenge are possible. However, Matthew Pan and Gunter Niemeyer at Disney Research wants to take VR a step further. They have demonstrated how someone can be in full VR gear and catch a real ball.

By combining a full VR setup and a motion capture system Pan and Gunter created a method to interact between the virtual and real world. They settled on three visualization cues to render in real time: a dynamically tracked virtual ball, The trajectory of the ball, and a targeted catching point. The VR environment was additionally kept basic so as to be able to provide the highest frame rate possible.

By only displaying the rendered ball as well as using the motion capture system to track the persons head and hands in the VR environment they were able to achieve a 95% catch rate. This scenario included all the visual cues that resemble how we would normally catch a ball. Also, when the researchers reviewed the video they found that the catcher focused on the ball and only moves their hands just prior to catching the ball.

Catching a ball while wearing full VR gear

The researchers attempted different combinations of visual cues to see if or how they affected the overall ability to catch the ball. Other combinations of displaying visual cues exhibited the same results until researchers removed the rendering of the ball leaving the predicted trajectory and the target landing point. This forced the catcher to alter their strategy and lead to the catcher moving their hands faster.

While catching a ball while immersed in a VR world isn’t the most exciting, the implications of these results could lead to a more realistic VR experience.