- A new article claims that controlling your perception of time in virtual reality could be a way to make it more engaging and realistic.
- Virtual reality users perceive the passage of time in simulations primarily because of the mental effort they expend to use the software, write the authors of the article.
- Expert says you could feel time passing in virtual reality through visual and audio effects in the future.
The old adage that “time flies” can also be true in the metaverse.
According to a new article, the key to making the Metaverse a more realistic experience could be controlling how users perceive time. The authors say visual cues about weather and fatigue are key to making VR experiences more engaging. It’s part of an ongoing effort to use the perception of time to make virtual reality more realistic and exciting.
“When a VR application engages the user, they perceive time as passing quickly,” Roderick Kennedy, founder of Simul, a virtual reality software company, told Lifewire in an email interview. “When the user is bored, he perceives it as passing slowly.”
The new paper refutes previous claims that simulating the movement of the sun in virtual reality affects the perception of time, giving the user the impression that time passes faster if the virtual sun moves faster. Instead, the authors said the VR experience affects the perception of time due to the stress and mental strain it places on the user.
Most game engines used to render VR have elaborate sky/sun/atmosphere systems to accurately replicate the time of day and a specific geographic location, said Todd Bryant, a technologist who has worked on projects such as than HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” E-mail.
Often developers want to hide or freeze the passage of time in VR, Bryant said. “In the same way that casinos don’t display clocks, developers want VR gaming experiences to exist outside of normal space and time and relieve the pressures of time and place that could interrupt play. “, he added. “For other virtual events, VR worlds maintain a perennial time of day that matches the conceptual nature of the experience, for example, a cinematic experience that’s always on golden hour, a concert hall that features talents in the middle of the night, or simulator fishing at sunrise when the fish are biting the most.”
Kennedy stressed that virtual reality must allow users to keep track of the real world. Increasingly, VR headsets offer “passage” – the user can see what is happening around them using cameras on the headset, which can be used to warn of obstacles or provide a hybrid virtual environment .
“The enormous power of virtual reality to alter our perceptions should not be underestimated,” he added. “Time could be represented in space. For example, in a work environment, a block of time for a specific task could be represented by a block of sand blown away by the wind. This type of representation could be more tangible for the user than something abstract like a clock, for example.”
Your VR experiences can even affect your perception of time in real life, Alex Fletcher, head of VR user experience design at VR platform provider Immerse, told Lifewire via email. .
“Even the most immersive app isn’t without its limitations though, as standing experiences will eventually lead to fatigue, and users will begin to notice if they’ve been standing for hours,” Fletcher added. “Shorter experiences don’t have the same effect, but sometimes that’s intentional; in training, you can indicate the time that passes through a process or provide a real-time reference for users who are on a tight schedule. In some scenarios, a lot can be shown in less real time than what would be needed in real life.”
The future of time
Qi Sun, a professor at New York University where he directs the Immersive Computing Lab, which focuses on perception-aware virtual reality and augmented reality, said in an email to Lifewire that at future, you could feel time passing in virtual reality through the use of visual and sound effects.
“Or even haptic sensations now that haptic devices and brain-computer interfaces have been widely developed,” he added.
Kennedy pointed out that virtual reality could eventually be used to explore deep time in simulations. It is difficult for the human mind to understand the scale of geological time.
“But by playing around with spatial scales, we could show the vast eons between, say, the Cretaceous and the present day,” he added. “Depicted as physical strata within a section of rock, enlarged to the size of a skyscraper or reduced to fit in the user’s hand.”
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