Your IPD Plays a Big Role in your Virtual Reality Experience. You Should Know How To Measure It.

Have you ever wondered about the distance between your eyes? Well you should. Especially if you plan on using a virtual reality headset in the future. When you use VR, it is important to know your interpupillar distance, or IPD. This is the distance between your pupils and we are going to talk about it’s role in your VR experience.

As we have already mentioned, your IPD is the distance between your pupils. While your eyes tend to handle the technical side of making sure you can see, your IPD is relevant for a couple of reasons. It is a very important number if you need glasses to see because it lets the optometrist know where the optical centre of your glasses must be. If this optical centre is incorrectly positioned, you simply won’t be able to focus your eyes correctly. You will also possibly suffer from headaches and eye fatigue.

Optical Centre – Image Credit: Zenni Optical
Your IPD and Virtual Reality

As I’m sure you have guessed, your IPD plays a large role when you use virtual reality. It’s important for the same reasons it’s important when ordering your reading glasses. If the lens gap of your headset is incorrect, you will have trouble focusing on the image in front of you.

Thankfully, most quality headsets allow for some form of IPD adjustment. Even some headsets that are modeled from the Google Cardboard allow for adjusting the position of your lens. Other top tier headsets allow for digital adjustment of IPD settings however we will cover this later.

How to measure your IPD

Measuring your IPD is quite simply really. There is a simple technique used to do this and all you need is a mirror and a ruler.

  1. Stand about 20cm (8in) from a mirror
  2. Grab a ruler and hold it against your forehead
  3. Close your right eye, line up to 0 mark with the pupil of your left eye
  4. Look straight ahead and open your right eye
  5. Check where your right pupil aligns with the ruler and you have your IPD
Measuring your IPD
Image Credit: WikiHow

The average IPD of an adult is approximately 63mm however it can range between 51 – 74.5mm for women and 53 – 77mm for men. If your pupillary distance is close to these averages, you’re in luck.

The Headsets That Make it Easy

It’s difficult to find a headset that lets you customise it’s lens positions, especially if you’re shopping on a budget. There are a few headsets on the market however that make it easier.

Budget Headsets

There are so many budget headsets available that allow you to adjust their lens position that we couldn’t possibly list them all. We will however give you an idea as to what to look for and some of the options available.

Almost all of the budget headsets have one thing in common, they’re modeled after the Google Cardboard. This means that they use a smartphone for a display and typically don’t have adjustable lens’. The Stealth VR50 is a budget headset that allows you to focus the lens’ by allowing adjustment of both the sideways and forwards position of the two lenses.

Stealth VR Headset

When you are looking for a budget Google Cardboard modeled headset, you need to make some considerations. You need to be able to adjust the lens position, this is essential because everyone is different. A fixed headset will force your eyes into a position that they are not comfortable in which can lead to headaches and eye ache.

High-End Headsets

The top headsets on the market all understand the importance of customisation for IPD. There are two ways that these headsets customise their IPD settings, digitally or manually. Both of these methods are effective at providing a quality VR experience for a range of users however there is some contention in the community surrounding Oculus’ virtual IPD settings.

The HTC VIVE Pro offers a manual IPD customisation method using a knob on the headset. While you are using the knob, a digital reading is presented on the headset that notifies you of the current distance. The Oculus Rift S offers a digital method of customising the IPD settings. While the Vive Pro physically adjusts the lens position, the Rift S digitally alters the image on the display to optimise for different pupillary distances.

I already have a budget headset, how can I fix the IPD settings?

If you have a Google Cardboard modeled headset, there are a few different techniques that you can use to adjust your headset and remove any double vision. If you would like to learn more on how to do this, you can check out our article on the topic, Getting Rid of Double Vision with the Google Cardboard.

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