Locomotion is one of the most significant unsolved problems for the virtual reality field. While viewpoint control is a fundamental task for any 3D application, the coupling between physical and virtual motions is critically important for maintaining immersion in VR. When users are wearing a head-mounted display, they can no longer see the real world, and they may collide with walls or other physical objects if they walk outside the boundaries of the motion tracking space. As a result, most VR experiences either restrict user movement within limited “room-scale” spaces (e.g. 5m x 5m) or utilize alternative virtual locomotion techniques (e.g. flying, teleportation, etc.) that are widely associated with negative effects such as simulator sickness and spatial disorientation. Thus, the laws of physics are seemingly at odds with the ambitions of developers and present a major barrier for virtual reality applications.

The Illusioneering Lab studies and applies techniques that imperceptibly manipulate the laws of physics to overcome the physical obstacles that normally restrict movement in virtual reality. This approach, known as redirected walking, has stunning potential to fool the senses. Experiments have convinced users they were walking along a straight path while actually traveling in a circle or that they were exploring impossibly large virtual environments within the footprint of a single real-world room.   Research also focuses on computational systems that can automatically redirect users in complex physical spaces as they walk through potentially infinite virtual worlds. 

A virtual reality experience that uses redirected walking within a relatively confined physical space. On the overhead map, the user's virtual path (blue) diverges from the real world path (yellow). The teal rectangular overlay indicates the dimensions of the physical walking area, which is also marked with yellow tape in the real world.

Selected Publications

A General Reactive Algorithm for Redirected Walking using Artificial Potential Functions

J. Thomas, and E. Suma Rosenberg. IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces, to appear.

Redirected Walking Strategies in Irregularly Shaped and Dynamic Physical Environments

H. Chen, S. Chen, and E. Suma Rosenberg. IEEE VR Workshop on Everyday Virtual Reality, 2018.

15 Years of Research on Redirected Walking in Immersive Virtual Environments

N. Nilsson, T. Peck, G. Bruder, E. Hodgson, S. Serafin, E. Suma Rosenberg, M. Whitton, and F. Steinicke. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 38 (2), pp. 44–56, 2018.

An Evaluation of Strategies for Two User Redirected Walking in Shared Physical Spaces

M. Azmandian, T. Grechkin, and E. Suma Rosenberg. IEEE Virtual Reality, pp. 91–98, 2017.

Revisiting Detection Thresholds for Redirected Walking: Combining Translation and Curvature Gains

T. Grechkin, J. Thomas, M. Azmandian, M. Bolas, and E. Suma. ACM Symposium on Applied Perception, pp. 113–120, 2016.

Automated Path Prediction for Redirected Walking Using Navigation Meshes

M. Azmandian, T. Grechkin, M. Bolas, and E. Suma. IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces, pp. 63–66, 2016.

Physical Space Requirements for Redirected Walking: How Size and Shape Affect Performance

M. Azmandian, T. Grechkin, M. Bolas, and E. Suma. International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence and Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments, pp. 93–100, 2015.

Flexible Spaces: Dynamic Layout Generation for Infinite Walking in Virtual Environments

K. Vasylevska, H. Kaufmann, M. Bolas, and E. Suma. IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces, pp. 39–42, 2013.

A Taxonomy for Deploying Redirection Techniques in Immersive Virtual Environments

E. Suma, G. Bruder, F. Steinicke, D. Krum, and M. Bolas. IEEE Virtual Reality, pp. 43–46, 2012.

Impossible Spaces: Maximizing Natural Walking in Virtual Environments with Self-Overlapping Architecture

E. Suma, Z. Lipps, S. Finkelstein, D. Krum, and M. Bolas. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (Proceedings Virtual Reality), 18 (4), pp. 555–564, 2012, (Best Paper Honorable Mention).

Effects of Redirection on Spatial Orientation in Real and Virtual Environments

E. Suma, D. Krum, S. Finkelstein, and M. Bolas. IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces, pp. 35–38, 2011, (Best Technote Award).

Leveraging Change Blindness for Redirection in Virtual Environments

E. Suma, S. Clark, S. Finkelstein, Z. Wartell, D. Krum, and M. Bolas. IEEE Virtual Reality, pp. 159–166, 2011.