The use of VR motion simulators for highly interactive virtual reality gaming and experiences is gaining rapid popularity. Many games do derive their fun aspect by putting much focus on the video and audio aspects. However not all games are based on graphics aspects as there is a need to incorporate motions so as to deliver a complete simulation of what actually does take in any of the simulated real life situations. For instance, when the VR game simulates car racing, the experience would get even better if a gamer can get to feel the movements which are associated with a car in motion. The demand for such scenarios has brought in a new dynamic in the virtual reality technology and many devices have been developed so as to fulfill this strategic demand among the VR gamers. There are a number of motion simulators on the market though most are quite expensive (USD $5000 and up).
Many motion simulators are designed to be integrated with the VR headsets and a host of other gaming controls which include steering wheels, flight and racing pedals, joysticks, HOTAS, throttle controls, and gamepads. The principle operation which many motion simulators work on is based on 2 Degrees of Freedom (or 2DoF). Essentially, each degree of freedom is driven by one motor. 6 DoF motion sims are considered the top dog but these are much more expensive due to the number of motors, increased power requirements, and mechanical demand. Regardless of DoF, gamers are sit inside the cockpit and the resulting rotational movements make it possible to simulate common gaming movements like the roller-coaster rides, aircraft combat, car racing and many other possible movements. Linear motions are also common and these are mostly favored by the given design of a VR motion simulator model which may be in question. The resulting motions made on the motion simulator are usually dependent on the kind of gaming controls which the gamer feeds to whole VR-gaming interface. The signals from the gaming controls are then transferred to the command center of the given motion simulator where they are processed. The outcome is that the simulator is rolled back- and-forth, side-by-side or in horizontal 360˚ degree rotation depending on the gaming configuration.
The benefit of motion simulators is that they add a lot of value to any gaming experience provided that a perfect configuration is established with the other VR components. If a game is being played solely in a virtual reality environment, the outcome is that it is only the mind which gets to be involved and the resulting immersive environment can still be differentiated from the real life situation though at less noticeable scales. Motion simulators ensure that the body is involved as well and this way it is very possible to manipulate any gaming components just the same way it can be done for a similar situation in the real world. To accurately capture all the body movements’ right, sensors are employed and these are placed on key body joints so that the resulting movements can be captured and relayed on the VR headset screen on real time basis. Game controls like joysticks or press buttons can also aid in determining the right direction which a motion simulator should take and these are perhaps what add extreme enjoyment to any VR-based game.
Making a connection between a motion simulator and a VR gaming headset is typically no required. A computer is the only interface which bridges the motion, graphics, audio, and gameplay. Most simulators and headsets require a number of cables. The truth is that there are many other applications where VR-motion simulators are of importance. For instance many engineering design aspects such as aircraft testing rely on motion simulators to give certain results by conducting the test in a highly simulated environment. This is usually done in cases where huge costs are likely to be incurred if actual tests are done on a real environment. Motion simulators are expected to hit their peak in terms of demand as the rapidly growing VR gaming implies that there is more room for inclusion of any technological innovation that adds fun moments to the already exciting VR gaming concept.
Upcoming articles will discuss homemade DIY motion simulators made at a fraction of the cost of commercially available sims. For less than $500, you can be a VR Pilot in motion.