Getting comfortable with demoing VR

By 25th February 2019VR

And more importantly, making your users feel comfortable when trying the experience.

We recently held a client workshop looking into how they can integrate immersive technologies into their work, and when it’s right to do so.

A theme emerged from conversations with the attendees on responsible xR and making the person in the experience comfortable and safe. In this guide, we’ll discuss managing expectations, and how to put people at ease, as well as making it as safe as possible for them.

Now before we get into things, it’s important to understand the importance of your role when demoing an experience. The user, often a complete stranger is putting their trust in you when they have two senses removed for a short time. With both their vision and hearing overwritten by the experience, it’s natural to feel unsure about it.

1) Safe space

Before even approaching someone asking them if they’d like to try your experience, ensure that the space you have is safe and ready to go.

That means; ensuring the space is large enough for the experience itself and moving all furniture away from the demo, and that the experience is set up in the way it was intended (eg, if the experience is a rollercoaster, these are sat down. Yes, it makes the experience feel more realistic, but it’s also a safety protocol to prevent people from falling over when you approach a tight corner).

These might sound silly and basic but are by far the most important part. Safety should be taken seriously when someone is putting their trust in you to look after them.

2) Explain, explain, explain

With people’s senses overwritten, it’s important you first explain to them what the experience and what’s going to happen whilst they’re in it (even if it’s a secret as to what will happen in the experience, at least let them know where they’ll be or what they’ll see when they initially put on the headset).

Let’s not forget that often people’s first experience of ‘VR’ is a low res 360 video they downloaded online on a Google Cardboard they got given at a conference. It’s hardly surprising that many people’s first reaction when asked to “try our new VR experience” is “no”.

And on that note, don’t pressure people into doing it. A little gentle encouragement never hurt anyone, but forcing someone into it could actually hurt them.

3) Keep your focus

Making people comfortable doesn’t stop once they’ve entered the experience. It’s important for you, as their eyes and ears in the real world to ensure they’re safe. This means redirecting people away from the space, stopping friends wanting to scare or push their friends and moving hazards such as wires attached the headset so they don’t trip.

4) Be their coach

Remember that you’re the expert in this situation and they look to you for guidance and help. It’s important you familiarise yourself with the experience and have plenty of practice knowing how to deal with confusing situations or dilemmas.

Imagine you’re their coach or mentor. Your job is not to tell them what to do but to help them get through it if they need your help.

5) No sudden endings

And lastly, when the experience finishes, be sure that the participant takes the headset off themselves. It’s extremely unsettling for the world around you to be lifted up as the person demoing removes the headset from your face. It’s okay to ask the participant to remove the headset, just make sure they do it themselves!

Make Real make VR and immersive digital products for learning, change and serious fun. If you are interested in exploring how we can work together, please get in touch – info@makereal.co.uk.