HTC Vive Oculus Rift

The Next Wave of Hyper-Reality (Revenge of 6DoF)


The recent release of Curtis Hickman’s book “Hyper-Reality” has inspired us to take a retrospective look at the state of roomscale 6DoF VR. This reflection is further reinforced by Apple’s announcement on September 12th of the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro (2024), which promises to bring spatial video into the consumer mainstream.

What is 6DoF?

The term 6DoF stands for “Six Degrees of Freedom,” which refers to the freedom of movement in a three-dimensional space. Specifically, it allows for movement along the X, Y, and Z axes, as well as rotation around these axes. This results in six types of movement: forward/backward, up/down, left/right, pitch, yaw, and roll.

The Advent of Roomscale

Roomscale VR takes 6DoF a step further by allowing the user to physically walk around a space that is mapped to a virtual environment. This freedom of movement adds an additional layer of immersion but comes with its own set of challenges:

  • Space Constraints: While roomscale VR aims to be immersive, the physical dimensions of the room can limit the virtual experience.
  • Obstacle Detection: Developers have to consider how to warn or prevent users from bumping into real-world obstacles while immersed in the VR experience.

The Evolution from Lighthouses to Inside-Out Tracking

Lighthouses: The Early Days

In the early stages of roomscale 6DoF VR, external sensors, commonly referred to as “lighthouses,” were used to track the user’s movement. These sensors were placed around the room to triangulate the user’s position, providing a high degree of tracking accuracy.

Setting up lighthouses

The Shift to Inside-Out Tracking

Recent advancements have seen a move toward inside-out tracking, where cameras and sensors are built directly into the VR headset. This eliminates the need for external sensors, making the setup more straightforward and portable.

The Pros and Cons

  • Lighthouses:
    • Pros: High precision, can account for environmental cues.
    • Cons: Complicated setup, less portable. And the cables, oh the cables. Calibration. Buzzy sensors.
  • Inside-Out Tracking:
    • Pros: Easier setup, portability.
    • Cons: May lack the ability to account for environmental cues that lighthouses can detect. May lack precision that industrial applications require, especially in larger and multi-user contexts.

Although inside-out tracking has made roomscale 6DoF VR more accessible, there remains a level of precision and environmental awareness in lighthouse systems that inside-out tracking has yet to achieve.

The Inspirational Impact of “Hyper-Reality”

The VOID and Beyond

Curtis Hickman, a co-founder of The VOID, pushed the boundaries of what could be considered real in a virtual environment. He focused on creating experiences where not just everyday phenomena but even the impossible felt real.


The Release of “Hyper-Reality”

Curtis Hickman took his years of expertise and compiled them into “Hyper-Reality,” a book that delves into the theory and practical aspects of hyper-real experiences. The book covers:

  • Teleportation Techniques: Hickman discusses how to move someone in a virtual space in a way that they perceive as actual physical movement.
  • Sensory Engagement: The book also touches upon how to make fictional worlds feel tangible through multi-sensory engagement.

The Fall and Rise of The VOID

The VOID had a promising start but fell on hard times, eventually closing in March 2020 after defaulting on loans and losing Disney’s partnership. Despite this, Hickman’s principles remain relevant and are likely to influence the next wave of hyper-reality experiences.

This release has inspired us to look back at roomscale 6DoF VR to see how far it has come and where it could potentially go, especially with the integration of hyper-real elements.

Apple’s Forthcoming Spatial Video Technology

Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro, set for release with a powerful A17 Pro CPU, will allow users to capture 3D spatial videos. These videos can be experienced through Apple’s Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, slated for release in early 2024.

iPhone 15

Of course this was already being done by Intel Studios and MetaStage but the cost of production and completion was in the tens of thousands of dollars per finished minute.

  • Simplifying Spatial Video Capture: The iPhone 15 Pro aims to democratize the capture of spatial videos by making it as easy as point-and-shoot.
  • Enhanced Experience: The Vision Pro headset will enable users to relive moments captured as spatial videos in a fully immersive environment.

A Clever Use of Space: The Case Study of “Unseen Diplomacy”

“Unseen Diplomacy” stands out for its ingenious use of space in roomscale 6DoF VR. This criminally under-covered game employs a technique known as redirected walking, (or a form of it) which subtly manipulates the virtual environment to make the physical space feel larger than it actually is. Similar application exists in the oppositely massively successful Job Simulator that adjusted the environment based on the user’s play space.

Unseen Diplomacy

Future Implications and Directions

The principles discussed in “Hyper-Reality” and the upcoming spatial video technology from Apple suggest exciting future directions for roomscale 6DoF VR.



Tracking Technologies in Roomscale VR and AR 2023: A Comparative Analysis

Tracking technologies are the backbone of roomscale Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). They determine the level of immersion, accuracy, and overall user experience. This article aims to analyze different tracking technologies employed by leading companies like Varjo, Meta, Apple, and HTC.

Traditional Tracking Methods

Internal Sensors

Internal sensors, also known as Inside-Out tracking, are built into the headset and use accelerometers, gyroscopes, and sometimes cameras to determine the user’s position and orientation. While convenient and easy to set up, they can suffer from drift and are generally less accurate than external sensors.

External Sensors

Also known as Outside-In tracking, external sensors are placed around the room and track the headset and controllers. While they offer high accuracy, they are cumbersome to set up and can suffer from occlusion issues.

Varjo’s Dual-Resolution Displays

Varjo’s VR3 and XR3 headsets employ dual-resolution displays for each eye, offering an apparent image when looking straight ahead and a more standard resolution for peripheral vision. While not directly related to tracking, this feature enhances the overall immersion. It can compensate for some tracking limitations by providing a more realistic visual experience.

Meta’s Quest 3 Hybrid Tracking

Meta’s Quest 3, set to launch on September 27 for $499, employs a hybrid approach, combining controller LED tracking with controller-free hand tracking. This allows for more accurate and flexible tracking options, especially in complex scenarios where hand movements are intricate. The Quest 3 also features a next-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, aiming to offer twice the graphics performance for higher-quality visuals in VR games and experiences.

Apple’s Vision Pro: Eye and Voice Tracking

Apple’s Vision Pro has introduced eye and voice-based controls, adding another layer of interactivity and immersion. The eye-tracking feature allows for gaze-based interactions, while voice commands can be used for various functions, making the user interface more intuitive.

HTC VIVE XR Elite: All-in-One XR Headset

The HTC VIVE XR Elite is a high-performance, all-in-one XR headset that transforms into a pair of portable immersive glasses. It features robust graphics performance and high-resolution, vivid passthrough capability. The headset uses 6DoF inside-out tracking and offers a play space of up to 10 x 10 m. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor and a refresh rate of 90 Hz, it aims to provide a seamless and immersive experience.

HTC VIVE XR Elite Controllers

The controllers for the HTC VIVE XR Elite offer a battery life of up to 15 hours and include various sensors like Hall sensors on Trigger and Grip buttons, capacitive sensors on Trigger, Joystick, and Thumb-rest area, as well as a G-Sensor and Gyroscope.

Comparative Analysis

  • Accuracy: External sensors are generally the most accurate, followed by hybrid systems like Meta’s Quest 3 and HTC VIVE XR Elite, and then internal sensors.
  • Ease of Setup: Internal sensors and hybrid systems like Quest 3 and HTC VIVE XR Elite are easier to set up compared to external sensors.
  • User Experience: Apple’s Vision Pro offers the most interactive and intuitive user interface, thanks to its eye and voice tracking features.
  • Immersion: Varjo’s dual-resolution displays offer the most immersive visual experience, closely followed by Apple’s Vision Pro and HTC VIVE XR Elite due to their interactive features.


Tracking technologies in roomscale VR and AR are evolving rapidly, with each company bringing unique innovations. While traditional tracking methods remain relevant, hybrid systems and interactive features like eye and voice tracking are setting new standards in the industry.

VR Events

FIVARS 2023: The Evolution of Storytelling in the Digital Age

While the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) captures global attention, another impactful event unfolds in the same city. The Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories (FIVARS) is back, and it’s not just another annual event—it’s a leap forward in storytelling.

A Vital Launchpad for Emerging Talents

FIVARS is more than a mere exhibition of artistic works; it serves as an invaluable springboard for independent artists. With the festival’s rigorously curated “World Premieres,” these artists have a unique opportunity to showcase their work internationally. This year, the festival brings together a rich tapestry of stories from 24 countries.

A Global Initiative in Storytelling

FIVARS is on a mission to push the boundaries of how we understand and engage with cinema, theater, gaming, documentaries, and art. With a lineup featuring over 50 selections, the festival aims to captivate audiences and stimulate thoughtful discussions about the future of storytelling.

The FIVARS Experience: What’s in Store

Whether walking the vibrant streets of Toronto’s Queen Street West arts district or tuning in from the comfort of your home, FIVARS offers something for everyone. Guided by knowledgeable docents, you’ll traverse a landscape of storytelling that ranges from virtual reality documentaries to interactive augmented reality art installations.

The Lineup Speaks Volumes

Recently, FIVARS released a compelling ‘trailer of trailers’ to glimpse this year’s offerings. If you’ve ever questioned the staying power or relevance of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, this trailer dispels those doubts.

Forward-Looking and Immersive

FIVARS isn’t simply maintaining the status quo of immersive storytelling; it’s setting the stage for what’s to come. With this year’s festival, you can expect to delve into stories that transcend traditional boundaries, thanks to daring creators in AR and VR.

A Message from the Festival’s Helm

As Festival Director Keram Malicki-Sanchez puts it, FIVARS is more than just a festival—it’s a transformational force in storytelling. It aims to amplify the voices of creators who dare to explore the untapped potential of spatial computing technologies.

How to Join the Experience

For those interested in being part of this groundbreaking storytelling adventure, all the details regarding the lineup and ticketing can be found on the FIVARS official website.

About the Festival

Founded in 2015 in Toronto, FIVARS has swiftly gained a reputation internationally. It’s not just an event to watch stories unfold but a platform that challenges and evolves the very mechanisms of storytelling, aided by the potent capabilities of Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies.

So, if you’re intrigued by the limitless possibilities of storytelling, consider this your invitation to FIVARS 2023. It promises to be an enlightening experience.