One of the key design problems with today’s low-end (meaning affordable for ordinary consumers) virtual reality headsets is control. How do you select an option, point where you want to move, or otherwise interact with a scene? Unfortunately, not all Cardboard headsets have magnetic control buttons, and even the ones that do aren’t always reliable. You could use a Bluetooth controller, but it’s just another thing to buy.
Some clever creators of VR content have gotten around this problem by incorporating so-called “gaze control” into their experiences. While wearing the headset, if you hold your stare at an icon, word, or other target for a couple of seconds, it acts like a “go” command.
I especially like the way Matterport does this. The Silicon Valley-based company specializes in building “immersive spaces” that are easy to navigate, from single-family homes to cathedrals, not to mention an impressive and rapidly growing gallery of 3-D aircraft interiors.
Among the places already in Matterport’s gallery are the first production model of a Boeing 737, the bridge of the USS Midway, a B-747-400 Global Supertanker, and two WW2 bombers, a B-17 and a B-24. In each place you can “wander” easily and quickly by staring at any of the blue circles to move to a new spot.
The Matterport VR app is free in the Google Play store. All you need is a smartphone and a cheap Cardboard headset.