Thursday, October 1, 2015

Unity 5.2.1: Three quick tips for improving the VR user experience

For demos that I work on, there are three simple things that I always do to create a better user experience:
  • make sure the Oculus health and safety warning (HSW) has been dismissed before any other information is displayed
  • give the user the option to re-center their avatar after they’ve put the headset on and settled in a comfortable position
  • encourage the user to create a profile

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know this isn't the first time I've covered these topics. However, now that Unity includes native VR support I wanted to revisit these tips and show how to do them with Unity 5.2.1, the 0.7 runtime, and the Oculus Utilities for Unity 0.1-beta package.

Knowing when the HSW has been dismissed

The HSW is a big rectangle centered in front of the user. While it is semi-transparent, it blocks the user’s view significantly. For that reason, I like to make sure that is has been dismissed before displaying anything the user needs to interact with.

The Oculus Utilities for Unity 0.1-beta package provides a way to check to see if the HSW is still displayed:

OVRManager.isHSWDisplayed

This returns true when the HSW is displayed and false when it is not. Note that if you are running the application in the Editor, you won't see the HSW in the Editor window, however, the HSW will appear in the Rift view.

Re-centering the avatar

It is helpful to give users the option to re-center their virtual selves and this is one of the functions available as part of the Unity native VR implementation. 

 To re-center, add the VR name space and use:

VR.InputTracking.Recenter()

Encouraging the user to create a profile

If the user has not created a profile, the user may experience discomfort because the default IPD or height is different from their own. In previous versions,  you could get the name of the profile in use, and if the name returned was "default," you would know that the user had not created a profile. Unfortunately, I’m not seeing a way to do that with the Oculus Utilities for Unity 0.1-beta package. I tried  using OVRManager.profile.username, but it returns "Oculus User" and not the name from the user profile. Looking at OVRProfile, it appears that only ipd, eyeHeight, and eyeDepth are retrieved from the current user profile (Note: you can get the user's eye height and IPD  using OVRManager.profile.eyeHeight and OVRManager.profile.ipd.)

For now, I’ll just stress the importance of creating a profile in the documentation. If anyone knows how to get the current user name, please comment!

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