Virtual reality and augmented reality are going to set the tone this decade without a semblance of doubt. Moving around your avatar in larger-than-life worlds tickles your visual senses but you always realize it’s not the real thing since you are sitting or standing still while the character moves around in a virtual environment.
The Virtuix Omini was a good attempt at elevating your multi-dimensional experience in the metaverse but it didn’t fare well owing to its hardware and software limitations. After that things went back to square one, that is till now. The legendary Disney legend Lanny Smoot who’s got over 100 patented inventions has finally created something that’ll interest the most finicky of geeks.
This HoloDeck-inspired VR accessory is that’s an omnidirectional treadmill project that’s going to change how virtual reality is experienced. Dubbed the HoloTile, this creation has individual rotating tiles that actuate the real moment of the user corresponding to the movement in the VR world. The modular, expandable treadmill floor lets the user move in an infinite direction without walking off the surface. Lanny who’s currently a Disney Research Fellow has developed this system to create a deeper connection between the VR world and the body movement.
The treadmill can be expanded if multiple users want to use it, without bumping into each other. A good example of this would be several people in a room able to “be somewhere else collaboratively and moving around, seeing, doing sightseeing,” according to Smooth. Another application would be in theatrical stages, where multiple artists can collaborate in virtual worlds for a spectacular performance.
The HoloTile floor is still a work in progress and as we can see from the video it looks promising. Smoot walks in VR wearing the Quest Pro headset, as if walking on a real tarmac. The technology aims to address the locomotion problem without hitting obstacles or feeling clumsy enough to not walk naturally on the surface.