Dollhouse Mode in VR

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  • Perhaps this has been suggested already, but it would be great to be able to view a scaled down version of our models in VR, like a little dollhouse. I believe Iris does something similar aready, giving you the opportunity to point where you'd like to jump into the model at full scale, kind of like street view on Google Maps, except in 3d.

    Enscape can do better than that though. Has anyone used Google Earth VR or viewed Sketchfab models online in VR? Google Earth is undoubtedly my favorite app in VR to date - if you haven't tried it yet (assuming you own a Rift or a Vive), you're seriously missing out. Sketchfab is the largest online repository of 3d models, and through WebVR, allows you to view their models in VR.

    Both of them use the same scalable navigation system though, where you can zoom yourself up and down seamlessly in relation to the model (or looking at it the other way, scale the model up and down in relation to you). The key though is that at all scales, you're feet remain firmly planted on the ground. Thus, in Google Earth, when you scale yourself up to the height of Mount Everest, it's as though you're a 30,000 ft. tall giant, and if you get on your knees, you can crouch all the way down to the surface of the earth as though it was a 1:5000 scale model. This holds true all the way down to regular scale (1:1), the room-scale we typically associate with VR.

    By far the most interesting scales are the "dollhouse" ones however, where you're the height of a skyscraper, and you can look down and around these little towns and cities like they're dioramas. It's an incredible feeling - something you could never get in real life (the closest would be viewing a model railroad, but there there's always a stopping point - in Google Earth, you peer out onto the horizon).

    The default modes limit your scale to something like 10:1, but if you go into the settings and check person scale, it will allow you to scale all the way down to 1:1, human scale (as you probably know, the imagery in Google Earth looks great from a distance, but the closer you get, the more it becomes clear how blob-like everything is). To move around, you simply press down on the joystick and point which way you'd like to fly. Another setting they have on by default to help with nausea is to blur out your peripheral vision while you're flying, to reduce the sensation of movement which come most from the edges of our vision. I disabled that too though - and can honestly say I've never felt sick (I owned a DK2 and often felt sick with it). There's probably an element of getting used to it as well. It's a fun way to zoom around, up and down and between buildings and mountains, but never like you're actually flying, because remember the scale automatically adjusts based on you're height, so the higher you go up into the air, the more the model scale adjusts down to keep you at eye level.

    Sketchfab uses the same sort of scaling system, but they also include teleportation.

    For Enscape, I think there's still a lot of value to the 1:1 scale and navigation system that's used now, - but it would also be great to have a second mode similar to the ones I described above. There's a reason architects build scale models after all - they're fun to explore.