In our review of the HTC Vive, we praised the room-scale feature, which allows a person to walk around their real room while being inside of virtual reality. We had less flattering things to say about the setup process of installing two cameras on opposite corners of the room, pairing two wireless controllers, adjusting the headset to your head, and tethering that headset to your PC. The idea of turning one of your rooms into a holodeck is more appealing before you consider the impracticality of it all.
Ask yourself, where would you setup the HTC Vive in your home? As Adi wrote in her review, "The Vive towers can cover a maximum area of 15 by 15 feet, but I was able to play almost every experience Valve provided in a rectangle just wider than my outstretched arms. "
Here are my specific problems, and you can share yours (along with your solutions) in the comments.
Room-scale VR requires the right room
The obvious answer, for me, is to install the HTC Vive in my office where I keep my computer. The office is narrow, leaving little available room to actually stand and walk around while wearing the headset. I'd need to remove my couch to free up some space, but removing furniture for a VR headset seems like an impractical sacrifice. Plus, I'm terrified I'll accidentally smack my television — even though the HTC Vive has a visual cue inside virtual reality to let you know you're too close to a wall, object, or person in the real world. Games like Unseen Democracy, which requires a "full 4m x 3m tracked space with no physical obstructions," are out of the question.
I could move my computer to the living room. My couch would become my default spot for using the PC, which wouldn't thrill my wife who uses the space to watch television or read when I play video games. And even then, I would need to hang cameras in the living room, an interior design choice neither I nor my wife are ready to make.
I suppose I could put the computer and Vive in the bedroom, but no, no, no, no.
And to think, for the past decade the HTC Vive simply wouldn't have been an option. Until last spring, my wife and I were living in a shoebox apartment in Manhattan. I always thought more space would solve problems like this one. I remember, for example, setting up Kinect in our tiny living room-slash-kitchen, and it causing similar headaches. But the Vive demands even more than the Kinect. The user must find a wide and unobstructed area, near a high-end computer, and far away from any expensive objects — like a TV — or dangerous objects — like utensils lying around a kitchen. The Vive doesn't just require a space, it requires the right space.
I want to enjoy the future of virtual reality, but in the present, I'm not sure I have the room.