WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
If you’re fed up of standing in one place and waving your arms to get anywhere in VR these cyberpunk boots are for you.
As everyone continues to rage about the future of Virtual Reality (VR) and the metaverse and how they can develop new product concepts that allow users to virtually experience smells, tastes, and touch some researchers are thinking even further ahead and wondering how they can let people move around these virtual worlds as seamlessly as we do in the real one.
So far we’ve seen new innovations such as electromagnetic floors and even robotic flooring systems that let the users walk miles in their own living rooms without ever leaving the spot, as well as the famous 360 degree spinning ball of death if you want an altogether different kind of experience … But now another company, Ekto VR, has come up with a different take on these systems and developed the “Ekto One” – VR boots that “allow users to walk on the spot in order to traverse virtual spaces.”
The boots feature an array of motorized wheels on their soles that spin in the opposite direction to the wearer’s forward motion. These allow the user to walk on the spot as if on a treadmill, giving them the feeling that they are moving forward. Of course, the technology is used in conjunction with a VR headset, or in the future VR glasses, meaning that the entire setup will essentially trick the user into thinking they are literally navigating the virtual space using their own two feet, which is neat.
As you can see from the video the project is still in its early development phase, meaning it likely won’t be hitting the market for a while yet. But, if Ekto VR could make the technology look less cyberpunk then that would likely go a long way to improving things.
See them in action!
That said though they do undeniably hold the potential to help change people’s limited interaction with VR, which is currently mostly reliant on joystick controllers that are held in the wearer’s hand.
The “Infinite Walking” problem — a more technical term used to refer to the issue of VR users face planting into the floor — has been around since the advent of virtual reality in the 80s. Essentially, it’s the problem of having users believably traverse virtual space using a technology that’s all about immersion.
Elsewhere another company, Virtuix, has opted for a different solution to the problem. The company is building an omnidirectional treadmill for VR users, similar to the ones seen in the Steven Spielberg movie, ‘Ready Player One,’ and if Ekto VR and other projects deliver on their promise the technology could be crucial for the uptake of new metaverse projects that will greatly rely on that immersion factor to be successful.