Gaming

Solving the VR’s ‘Infinite Walking’ Issue with Moon Boots

Creating a Seamless VR Experience

“It’s all about maintaining the immersive experience,” Brad Factor explained. “We want users to effortlessly navigate the virtual world without needing extensive training on how to use VR. Our focus is on simplicity and natural interaction.” Factor, the CEO and founder of Ekto VR, has developed a unique solution to VR’s endless walking problem – a pair of chunky, cyberpunk-inspired moonwalking boots. These boots are designed to enable safe movement through virtual reality environments, just like Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz allowed her to traverse the magical land of Oz.

Expanding the Boundaries of Virtual Reality

Have you ever wondered how it’s possible to explore vast virtual landscapes without the risk of colliding with real-world walls? Ekto VR claims to have the answer. By wearing their simulator boots over your regular shoes and using a VR headset, you can walk in virtual environments that far exceed the physical space you’re in. Imagine trekking through the Sahara Desert or exploring sprawling virtual cities, all while remaining safely within your own living room.

Man walking in the Ekto VR boots.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Mechanics behind Ekto VR’s Boots

Ekto VR’s boots are equipped with motorized wheels on their soles. These wheels spin in the opposite direction to the user’s movement. To prevent motion sickness, the boots allow users to take a few steps forward at the beginning, triggering the inner-ear cues that signal forward acceleration. After a short distance, the boots gently slide the wearer back to the center of the room, creating the illusion of walking in place on a treadmill. Meanwhile, the user perceives continuous forward movement based on the VR scene they are immersed in.

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“As we showcase our demos, people often express uncertainty about their location,” Factor revealed. “They ask us questions like, ‘Are the boots on? Am I approaching the room’s edge?’ They become so engrossed in the virtual environment that they lose their sense of physical space.”

Virtuix Omni VR treadmill
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Note: We have not personally tested these shoes at Digital Trends.

A Journey through History

Ekto VR isn’t the first company to tackle the endless walking challenge in VR. In fact, researchers have been attempting to solve this problem since the 1980s. One notable example is Howard Rheingold’s experience with a VR treadmill at the University of North Carolina in the early 1990s. This treadmill, combined with a VR headset, allowed users to navigate a virtual version of a building still under construction.

Various other institutions, such as the University of Utah and the University of Tsukuba in Japan, have also explored different solutions. These range from multi-sensory treadmills with tilting mechanisms to redirected walking techniques that create the illusion of walking straight.

The Quest for Realism in VR

The lack of a universally accepted solution to the endless walking problem speaks to the ongoing search for the most effective approach. VR experiences that involve walking have been proven to enhance immersion and increase the sense of presence. Walking affects how our brains process distance and movement, adding a crucial element of realism to virtual environments.

While gaming is an obvious area where realistic locomotion is important, it also has practical applications. For example, architects can use VR to showcase new building designs and allow clients to explore virtual spaces. The demand for realistic VR experiences extends beyond gaming and opens up possibilities across multiple industries.

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Industrial Applications and Beyond

Initially, Ekto VR plans to focus on industrial applications, such as training for refinery and manufacturing settings, airplane inspections, and more. By providing users with a comprehensive understanding of their surroundings, these boots can revolutionize training scenarios.

Ekto VR is set to launch its partner beta program in the first half of 2022. Pricing details are yet to be finalized, but options may include kits for sale or lease. While the current expected cost may not be suitable for every enterprise use case, as Ekto VR scales up production, prices are expected to decrease significantly. Ultimately, the company aims to make the boots available to consumers for under $1,000, opening the door to a wide range of everyday applications.

Solving VR's 'infinite walking' problem with moon boots
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Future of VR

Endless walking is just one piece of the VR puzzle that researchers and developers are trying to solve. Simulating touch, smell, taste, and other senses are additional areas of exploration. As the VR industry continues to evolve, we can expect to see more advancements in these areas. The increasing hype surrounding VR, as part of the larger concept of the Metaverse, indicates that we will be spending more and more time in virtual worlds. Therefore, it’s crucial to focus on refining the VR experience and unlocking its full potential.

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To learn more about VR innovation and Ekto VR’s groundbreaking moon boots, visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc..

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