Disney announces new virtual reality treadmill called the HoloTile

New Virtual Reality Tech - People using VR Gear

The sliding VR floor moves in all directions and can be used by multiple users simultaneously.

Disney has unveiled a new virtual reality treadmill technology that it developed for use by multiple users at the same time and that moves in all directions.

The unveiling was made via YouTube video by Lanny Smoot, a Disney inventor and engineer.

Celebrated Disney inventor and engineer Lanny Smoot was featured in the video that first announced the HoloTile virtual reality floor project from the company’s R&D department. The HoloTile was described as “the world’s first multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable treadmill floor,” by the company.

HoloTile makes it possible for multiple users to move in any direction without actually leaving their spot or running into walls or objects in the real world.

“It will automatically do whatever it needs to have me stay on the floor,” said Smoot. “And what’s amazing about this is: Multiple people can be on it and all walking independently. They can walk in virtual reality and so many other things.”

In the unveiling of the HoloTile, Smoot was wearing a Quest Pro virtual reality headset.

The images seen by Smoot when wearing the headset were projected on a background screen in the video. That said, neither Smoot nor Disney chose to provide any additional information about how the HoloTile technology actually works.

Virtual Reality Technology - Disney Imagineer Makes History - Disney Parks - Image Source - Disney Parks
Disney VR Technology – Image source: Disney Parks YouTube

“Imagine a number of people being in a room being able to be somewhere else collaboratively and moving around doing sightseeing,” said Smoot regarding potential applications for the VR technology. “Imagine theatrical stages that might have these embedded in them so that dancers can do amazing moves. […] There are so many applications for this type of technology. And we don’t know yet where it will be used.”

If this works well, it could help to overcome one of the major challenges of virtual reality, which is being able to move around freely without colliding with an obstacle such as furniture or the walls of a room. That said, it’s important to understand that this is a technically complex technology and isn’t likely something that would be marketed directly to consumers.

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