3dRudder: an answer for motion sickness in virtual reality ?

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Recently, we had the pleasure to try the 3dRudder, a new device available since 2016. It is a foot-powered controller, designed mainly for movement in virtual reality. Its main appeal is that it uses the lower body to move, while leaving the upper body to interact with the environment.

« Easy to learn, hard to master »

It is very easy to understand how to use the 3dRudder. Just plug it into the computer and it works pretty well with a lot of games, replacing the joysticks or the keyboard/mouse for the movements.

The handling is obvious, you tilt the device the way you want to go and there it goes. One of the many benefits of it being so intuitive is that, with some mastery, you can easily focus on what the upper body is doing with VR controllers (Occulus Touch, Vive Controllers, etc) while moving without thinking about it. It can also be a great tool for accessibility.

Even for VR applications that use other means of movements (teleportation, room scale, etc), 3dRudder provides the 3D Rudder Unleashed, which allows to move freely in any VR Environment.

The 3D Rudder Unleashed is a great tool, but it is more of a backup plan, and for some games that are not designed around it, it can make the experience bad or be considered as cheating.

The 3D Rudder requires some adaptation before being perfectly handled, and most of the time, there is a confusing period before mastering it. During this period, the device can slide away from the user’s feet, requiring a new calibration, it can also be difficult to stop moving in-game.

Nausea and 3dRudder

The nauseous sensation induced by VR depend on a lot of factors. Some of them are the computer’s power, the number of frames per seconds, the movement style and even the user himself. Here, we will talk about what the 3d Rudder makes different in that regard: the movement style.

Last year, we conducted a study about nausea provoked by movement in Virtual Reality. You can see more details about VR and its link with nausea, the setting of the study and its results in the links attached(In French).

Movement is a tricky subject in VR. Using the movement style of classic 3D games in VR (with joystick or keyboard/mouse configuration) is nausea inducing for most people. This is one of the greatest challenges for developers in VR. The most used solutions involve teleportation, dash or even simulating the motion. The best way to limit the motion sickness symptoms is still to let the player use real movements, so developers try to approach this with despite headsets limitations.

With the 3dRudder, moving feels very easy and doesn’t induce as much nausea as one would expect, mostly on the forward/backward and left/right axis. It is easy to forget the action of moving and focus more on the arms and interaction at hand.

While using the 3dRudder, the user must be seated, this forces to turn using the controller. Rotation is one of the most nausea-inducing movement when done with a controller. Without training, the 3dRudder doesn’t seem to avoid the issue much. However, after getting used to it, the feelings of motions sickness tend to lessen.

The best way to assess if it indeed induces less nausea would be to conduct tests and compare it with other movement methods in VR.

Still, 3dRudder is a good alternative for movement in VR environments, it is fully adjustable and often updated to allow more versatility.

Thanks again to the 3dRudder team for giving us one of these nice devices and see you soon for more about it.