HoloTile: Disney Shows an Omnidirectional VR Smart Tile
A major problem with virtual reality (VR) applications is locomotion. Hand movements can already simulate applications well, but walking is usually a problem. For this, users usually need a large room or a VR treadmill, which is usually quite expensive and bulky. But now, according to Standard, Disney has found a possible solution to this challenge. The group recently presented the so-called Holotile. This floor tile, which is equipped with a series of movable tiles, is designed to allow users to walk in place and potentially move around forever in the virtual world.
Holotile consists of hundreds of smart tiles
The chief developer of the holotile is Lanny Smoot. The technician and inventor, who comes from the telecommunications industry and now works for Disney, was recently inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame. Over the course of his career, he has successfully registered over 100 patents. Among other things, he developed extendable lightsabers that are used in Disney live shows.
His new invention, the holotile, consists of hundreds of round plates that are closely arranged and can tilt in all directions. It uses sensors to record the pressure of human feet. Software controls the tiles to tilt so that the person on them can walk without moving from the spot. Disney is not yet providing any more detailed information about how it works.
Use in VR and also in shows planned
The Holotile covering can also be expanded to any size. In contrast to a VR treadmill, it is also possible for several people to stand and walk on it at the same time. Disney shows the invention in action in a video. It can be seen that the holotile can also be used to move things on the surface in arbitrary directions. Finally, the inventor can be seen sitting on an armchair, apparently controlled by hand gestures, driving in circles on the holotile.
In addition to its use for augmented and virtual reality purposes, Smoot also sees potential for shows. A stage with embedded holotiles would give dancers new freedom for dance performances. However, uses outside of the entertainment industry would also be conceivable, for example in the form of omnidirectional conveyor belts in manufacturing and logistics.
So far, there is no forecast for HoloTile to be made available to the public or to Disney itself. The company has several inventions that remain in laboratories for years before being applied commercially — and even without guarantees that this will actually happen.