Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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The “space bubble” ensures you always have personal space in VR

The “space bubble” ensures you always have personal space in VR

We’ve all been in situations where someone invades our personal space. Whether it’s at a party, a concert, or literally just on the street. There will always be people who unfortunately don’t have a sense for respecting others’ space. They lean in too close, they get too touchy-feely. They become a cesspool of negligence to others around them. In VR, that could be especially detrimental to social spaces. Without the normal obvious physical or emotional cues to inch away from a person, an uncomfortable situation could be more difficult to avoid. Luckily the communication-driven virtual reality platform AltspaceVR has come up with a solution to the specific problem, now implementing a “space bubble.”

All people deserve to feel safe and comfortable in a space, virtual or not

AltspaceVR’s space bubble is exactly what it sounds like: a bubble-like barrier that surrounds the user. When users turn the feature on—yes, it’s fully toggle-able—other users can still approach them, but only from about a foot away. This leaves for the social space to no longer feel awkward or cramped, as everyone will have the opportunity to feel safe within their own personal space. And if another user tries to creep in closer, their hands and body disappear from your view, leaving just a mere floating head. Problem solved.

In our interview with CEO of AltspaceVR, Eric Romo, he discussed why the tangibility of sharing the same virtual space is worthwhile in VR. “That feeling of physical space and physical presence is so different from what you can possibly get in any other communications medium,” he told us. “And your brain accepts that these people are there with you.” With the space bubble, AltspaceVR is implementing the same social cues that should apply in virtual spaces just as they do in our everyday lives. All people deserve to feel safe and comfortable in a space, virtual or not, and AltspaceVR is ensuring to keep that possible.

Parties just got a little less claustrophobic in VR.

AltspaceVR’s space bubble isn’t fully implemented across their entire platform yet. It resides merely in their most popular spaces, at least for now. In addition to implementing the space bubble, AltspaceVR has streamlined other features to help combat trolling in the space. Now, there’s a living human being from AltspaceVR in a space with the user, always available to answer questions and support them. There’s also simple muting and blocking buttons, where once a user blocks someone troublesome, they disappear from their view entirely. Now, if only real life worked so seamlessly.

You can download AltspaceVR for the Gear VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or just for plain ol’ 2D computers here.

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