Spring Stepper: a makerspace controller for seated hands-free locomotion in virtual reality
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Natural locomotion is crucial for improving presence in a virtual environment (VE), while also reducing simulator sickness. While research in various areas of virtual reality (VR), such as head-mounted displays (HMD) and optical tracking, has been advancing at an unprecedented rate, there is currently a lack of suitable hands-free locomotion devices for VR, with most existing locomotion solutions involving complex, high-cost systems. This thesis presents the Spring Stepper, a hands-free, consumer-level seated VR locomotion controller. The presented system is created with open- source readily available development tools, commonly known as "makerspace" tools, such as 3D printing and Arduino, an open electronics platform. The full design and development process of the system is discussed, including analyzing existing literature to gather requirements, and the iterative design process to create the prototype. Finally, the prototype was validated through user testing by comparing it to existing consumer-level seated VR locomotion devices for speed, ability to allow accurate hand interactions, and usability.