The future of virtual reality is in footwear.
Google filed a patent for shoes that will allow users to walk endlessly in a VR environment while remaining stagnant in real life.
Filed on May 9 and published yesterday, the technology addresses an existing limitation to VR: Currently, users cannot believably walk using in-home technology.
At present, the only way for VR users to freely walk through a room is by purchasing a large walking platform — something that is unrealistic for many due to space constraints within their homes.
Filed under the name “Augmented and/or Virtual Reality Footwear,” Google’s technology will make walking experiences within VR more accessible, opening up new possibilities for creators of VR experiences.
As far as the technological component of the product goes, the shoe is motorized with two sets of wheels. The shoe will include a tracking device that requires it to stay within a certain zone, preventing the wearer from hitting their physical surroundings.
Google is not the first company to develop footwear with the aim of improving VR experiences.
In 2017, Japanese tech brand Cerevo came out with a set of high-tech shoes and gloves that use haptic functions (vibrations) to simulate a virtual setting. The shoes allow users to feel real-world surfaces like grass, concrete or water, based upon what a character is feeling in a VR game. Of course, Cerevo’s product still runs up against the problem Google hopes to fix: The shoes need to be worn in a space where a user can walk freely without fear of running into real-world surroundings.
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