By: Nick Gambino
We are in a golden era of virtual reality where technologies are constantly pushing toward more immersion to make it feel like you’re stepping into a whole new world. We’ve seen it with vision tracking, controllers to simulate hands and now an impressive invention out of Disney that allows you to walk in VR.
A moving floor they’re calling HoloTile may solve the issue where users don’t feel completely immersed in VR if they’re supposedly walking but can feel their physical body sitting in a chair or standing still. Some have tried to solve this lack of immersion with treadmill-like platforms, but nothing has really hit the mark until HoloTile.
Instead of an entire floor that moves in a single direction, this invention features a ton of small tiles that move in a particular direction as if they were each a treadmill. No matter which direction you walk in, the tiles will work to keep you on the floor. That way, you won’t be walking into walls or furniture or anywhere off the parameters of this unique floor.
The HoloTile floor was invented by Lanny Smoot (even his name sounds inventive), a Disney Imagineer who is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame alongside only one other inventor from the company, the man himself, Walt Disney.
There’s no information as to when and where we’ll see the HoloTile in application. It’s clearly best suited for VR, but it could also be used in theatrical performances and even movies. My guess is we’ll first see it pop up in one of the Disney parks.
Disney owns the patent, so we’ll see what they decide to do with it. As of right now, they don’t have their own VR headset, so they could license it out to other companies like Meta or Sony or simply sell it as a separate product. The trick is to get it to work hand in hand with other VR platforms.
No matter where we see the HoloTile, Smoot created an awesome invention and alongside his 105 other patented inventions, he’s earned his place in the Inventors Hall of Fame.