VR headset viewers ‘barely turn their heads’

A man watches VR content using the Samsung Gear VR headsetImage copyright
Emma Gibbs

Image caption

Most people don’t bother to turn their heads and bodies to see the full 360 degrees of a VR video

Don’t like twisting your neck while wearing a virtual reality headset? You’re not alone.

Google has discovered that most people who watch VR videos rarely bother to turn their heads to view the full 360-degree experience.

Research into how users view virtual reality videos on YouTube has shown that users spend most of their time looking at what is in front of them.

Google has created heatmaps showing where in videos people focus the most.

Looking at the analytics for 360-degree videos posted on YouTube, Google found that people spent 75% of their time looking at the front 90 degrees of a video.

About 20% of the views came from people looking behind them at the full 360-degree space in some of the most popular VR videos.

“The more engaging the full scene is, the more likely [that] viewers will want to explore the full 360-degree view. Try using markers and animations to draw attention to different parts of the scene,” Google advised in a blog post.

Anyone who uploads 360-degree videos to YouTube can now access the heatmaps for their videos by going to the Video Manager and looking for the 360 Heatmaps tool under Analytics.

Content producers are advised to wait a few seconds at the start of the video before jumping into the action, as viewers usually need time to get comfortable with headsets.

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