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VR Interfaces: Powered Shoes


Overview of Powered Shoes
The powered shoes VR interface, due to be demonstrated at the 2006 SIGGRAPH conference, is a locomotive platform for virtual environments. The prototype pictured above, uses roller skates powered by two motors with flexible shafts.

It is well known that sense of distance or orientation while walking is much better than while riding in a vehicle, and that able bodied people tend to have slightly better sense of direction than wheelchair users. These shoes have thus been developed to allow people to walk in any arbitrary direction in a virtual environment, using their own sense of direction from walking to guide them through the VR.

The actuating motors the shoes employ actually work to cancel out the movement of the walker - they walk or run and the shoes motor to pull them back to the start position. This does take some getting used to, as the initial response of a user using them for the first time is to fall over.

Powered shoes are obviously not designed for VR Gameworlds. Using them somewhere like World of Warcraft, where the user walks around for six hours, is likely beyond the stamina levels of most gamers. However, for applications such as VR training, immersion, data manipulation, and where space is a premium, this innovation is healthy indeed.

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