Design patterns for Immersive Tech

Virtual Reality patterns

Setting room-scale boundaries

User goal

  • Define the boundary of the safe playable area to be used within VR applications
  • Provide a way to easily indicate the cleared space without measuring wall distances or scanning the room


The user follows on screen set-up instructions with a common interaction for this step involving pressing the trigger (or other defined button) on the motion controller and walking around the edge of the cleared safe playable area.

The controller is being tracked by the room-scale or tracking sensors (usually via infrared signals). This provides a simple method to mark out the space boundary. The task is usually done without the headset on, with the PC running the VR system, displaying on-screen feedback showing the area being marked out in real time. This helps the user to go full circle and connect the final boundary back to the original starting spot.

The controller often provide haptic feedback whilst the boundary is being drawn. E.g. a haptic clicking sound made by the Oculus controllers

If at any point the controller moves outside of the trackable area, on screen feedback and a change to the haptic feedback indicate the error. E.g. the haptic clicking stops and/or the controller stops or changes appearance on the screen.

The system then shades the marked area and provides feedback on the playable size. This setting is saved and applied at a system level across all VR applications that have a room-scale freedom of movement component.

Steps of the interaction

  1. User holds controller at any point along the boundary of the area
  2. On-screen feedback shows the position of the controller and the area that can be tracked by the sensors
  3. User holds the button to activate the boundary marking
  4. The user moves the controller around the edge of the boundary, drawing a continuous 2D shape
  5. The user sees feedback on the screen to indicate the controller is being tracked and the shape of the area they are marking
  6. Haptic or auditory feedback reinforces the boundary is being tracked even if the user is not looking at the screen
  7. The completed shape changes colour on the screen and displays the size of the marked area


  • Allows any sized or shaped space to be easily marked (although the marked shape is transposed into the best fit rectangular area at the end of the process)
  • Does not require any additional tools or technical knowledge other than using the controllers that come with the system
  • Real time multi-modal feedback reassures the user they are on the correct path
  • If the user stops or the controller tracking is lost the user can continue marking from the last point they left off


  • The shape is squared off at the end so some playable space is lost
  • The user physically needs to move around the space
  • The accuracy of the grid can be lost if a tracking sensor is moved

Related patterns: Room-scale ‘Cage-Grid’


Vive room scale set-up

Oculus guardian system set up