Initially based upon the sports sponsorships by Investec, rugby was chosen as a relevant sport to create a simple tracked interaction within VR, for a series of events in Italy and the US.
Following on from the initial use case, the experience was adapted to highlight the benefits of 5G mobile networks, as part of the Vodafone 5G Business Centre opened at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, UK.
The original version was then reskinned as a Halifax-branded experience for a Lloyds Banking Group internal employee event.
The experience is provided with the PC VR HTC Vive Pro headset and wireless adaptor, with the Vive wands providing the hands for catching and the Vive Tracker puck attached to the user’s skin to provide the virtual foot for kicking.
Initial tests quickly demonstrated the need for the HTC Vive wireless adaptor to be used, rather than the standard tethered version of the headset, since the physical kicking action often resulted in the cable being caught up by feet, either providing a health & safety issue for the user or damage to the hardware, if it was then yanked with force out of the PC VR system.
The main outcome of testing was the understanding of the installation space requirements; roomscale VR is larger than average at 3m x 3m, but with the requirement to allow for a safe, physical kicking motion to be made by the user, whether stationary or with more enthusiasm. Additional space was determined necessary for the VR booth operator or assistant to be able to move further out of the way, to ensure the user didn’t have any erroneous physical resistance haptic feedback.
Testing also allowed tweaking of the precision necessary to score a dropkick goal, balancing accuracy with a sense of achievement and fun.
Built in Unity using the Steamworks SDK, the use of Vive wands and Vive Tracker is handled easily and configured through the SteamVR Input Tool. The design and development allows for ease of reskinning key assets, such as the ball, advertising hoardings and opposition players.
Command-line arguments allow for tweaks to the experience, whether the ball is harder or easier to catch for realism, and conversely the scoring of goals, along with the ability to enable/disable the opposition players that are designed to place a time pressure on the user to kick the ball once caught, and set whether the experience is rugby or american football.
The experience was also pre-configured for localisation of textual elements to ensure rapid re-deployment with additional languages supported as necessary.
The experience has proven popular at all the events deployed and with the permanent installation at the Ricoh Arena, with famous rugby stars keen to show their skills, including Francois Piennar, South African Springboks captain, and James Haskell, previously an England rugby team player.
With the adaption of the sport to American football, a new fanbase is growing amongst location-based VR arcades, most of which are based in the USofA, offering a library of short, exciting experiences for new-to-VR customers to play.
The experience will continue to be updated with support for the HTC Vive Pro Eye VR headset with integrated eye-tracking and how this improves or enhances the interactions and accuracy will be monitored and feedback here.
We’re always happy to talk to you about how immersive technologies can engage your employees and customers. If you have a learning objective in mind, or simply want to know more about emerging technologies like VR, AR, or AI, send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.