The VRChat community has been growing at an explosive rate. As of writing this article, the game has over 1 million users and continues to grow. The VRChat team has been developing new features as well as supporting the community with regular updates. New content is being released on a weekly basis, and it’s awesome! But we think there is so much more that can be done with virtual characters.
VRChat Avatar customization will move to the next level by allowing users to fully express themselves in ways that go beyond cosmetics and speech. Full body tracking will open up even more opportunities for users to morph their virtual character into something that is not limited by pre-defined animations or poses. It would give them the ability to fully own the character they are playing in VR by giving them realistic movement and control over each element of the avatar’s body: arms, legs, hands, head, etcetera.
Full Body Tracking in VRChat
Full body tracking would allow users to track the movement of their real limbs, hands, head, and feet in VR, which could be translated into digital avatar movements. This means that, for example, tying your hands or feet would keep your avatar from moving those limbs. While connected, users would also be able to see their real-world movements reflected in their avatars. This type of tracking could also be used for more expressive poses, allowing for a wider range of avatar movement in VR. Some implementations of this type of tracking are gesture systems. In these cases, users can use their hands, feet, or other parts of their bodies to make their avatars perform actions in VR, such as dancing or playing certain instruments.
This will of course mean that avatar commissions and designers will have to consider these movements in the animation and rigging process. But, so long as you work with a skilled artist this shouldn’t be a problem to design.
What Does Full Body Tracking Mean?
Full-body tracking also referred to as full-body virtual reality (FBVR), is the process of tracking a person’s entire body in a virtual environment. This includes tracking a person’s hands, feet and head as well as a couple of other key body parts such as the hips or waist, and a strap worn around the torso to keep track of the position of the pelvis. FBVR can be achieved in a couple of different ways, but most require a few different pieces of equipment. One of the most common ways to achieve FBVR is through the use of sensors attached to the body. The sensors can be worn like a suit, or placed on the floor or walls around the space.
How To Use Full Body Tracking In VRChat
At this point, one of the only VR systems that allow full-body tracking in VRChat is the HTC VIVE with its additional motion trackers. The VIVE can use up to 8 trackers at one time distributed across various different body parts to allow accurate limb movement. Highly accurate body tracking is already being used in forms of media like VTubing. These VTubers can go as far as to have individual digit tracking with Leap Motion technology. Which, could hopefully be on the horizon for players in VRChat.
The VRChat forum has explained in great detail how to enable full body tracking on the game so their setup instructions article is definitely worth a read.
Why is Full Body Tracking Important?
Full body tracking allows users to fully immerse themselves in VR. While you can lean or duck in VR, you can’t actually move your body in a way that makes sense in the physical world. Full body tracking allows you to move naturally in the virtual environment, which makes for a much more immersive experience. Another important factor is that full body tracking can be used for both VR and AR experiences.
In VR, it allows a user to move more naturally and interact more with their virtual environment. In AR, it allows them to use their hands to interact with real-world items, like interacting with an object in front of them or touching someone. Full body tracking will also bring increased realism to virtual characters. For example, when you look down, you’ll see your hands in their proper position. It will also make virtual representations of the human body more accurate in terms of proportions.
How Will This Change VRChat?
Full body tracking will make the VRChat experience even more immersive than it already is. Users will be able to move in a way that feels natural and as if their virtual character is actually their physical body. This will open up a new level of communication, creativity, and social connection between users that have not been possible before. There are so many different ways this technology could be used in VRChat. You could have VRChat worlds with full rock bands with a lead singer, bassist, and drummer. You could have an improv comedy show with comedians, an improv theatre show with actors, or a dance show with dancers.
The possibilities are truly endless!