Creative and Teaching Portfolio of an Inter-Media Artist, Designer, and Technologist in the Philadelphia and Greater New York City Areas

Chaperone: A Modest Proposal

Category : Cultural Musing
Date : August 30, 2016

Road to VR brings forward the idea of the “chaperone” feature from several virtual reality platforms to attention on their August 26, 2016 post[1]. “Chaperone is a virtual wall (i.e. alert system) which appears when needed to keep users from exiting a safe playspace.” Definitely a useful and sensible tool within VR systems to help immersed players avoid accidents in the active play space like smashing into near-by sofas or roommates who drift into the zone.

Considering the sense of timelessness and disembodiment that relatively old (and external) media and technology platforms like video game consoles and smartphones can produce, there will clearly be a need for real-world awareness. As a person who once lost four continuous days to Final Fantasy on the original NES in 1988, I can only imagine the play behaviors in a long-playing immersive game or world. VR platforms will need to sense for more kinds of transactions from the physical world and deliver notifications to the active VR player. Lest players lose all sense of their earthly obligations.

What comes to my mind are the other sort of alerts and notifications that might be useful when one has temporarily abandoned meatspace for the virtual: phone calls, door bell, a roommate who requires attention, kettle boiling, dinner burning in the oven, a sibling taking photos of the player’s glitchy VR behavior, etc. Perhaps with an add-on 360° camera rig in the play space, the player can briefly pause the VR experience and activate a quick video feed of their actual physical environment to surveil and inspect their surroundings. I imagine these kinds of features will be added in later iterations of the VR platforms. Will beacon and radio emission technologies need to embedded in all of our belongings and environments in order for the real world needs have “push notifications” so that the VR user can comfortably settle into their session but still be responsible humans?

A tip of the cap to Philip Lelyveld and his excellent VR/AR blog where I first found reference to the Chaperone article[2].

Works Cited

  1. Lang, B. (2016, August 26). Oculus is Working on a ‘Chaperone’-like Boundary System for Touch. Retrieved September 07, 2016, from
  2. LLelyveld, P. (2016, August 27). Oculus is Working on a ‘Chaperone’-like Boundary System for Touch. Retrieved September 7, 2016, from