by Rasmus Wærling Riiser,
Social Media, Cadpeople

VR can be an incredibly immersive experience. One problem, though, is that it is very difficult to design an experience where the user can actually walk around in the virtual world. You really mostly have to stay still or teleport around. So, the question is: how can we change that?

In this blog post, we will take a look at emerging VR treadmill technologies.

There are two obvious problems with walking around wearing a VR headset.

The first is that you will inevitably walk into something like a wall, furniture, other people, or maybe even traffic. This is not really ideal for the user experience, to say the least.

The second problem is that without the right motion tracking, the VR software does not know the direction and speed of your movements, so it can’t move your character in the VR environment accordingly.

So, to solve these two problems, we need a technology that 1) keeps you in the same place relative to your surroundings, and 2) can accurately measure your movement. This is where the treadmill makes its entrance in this blog post.

Most VR treadmills are passive, which means that they have no moving parts and rely on the user walking on a low-friction surface, while the movements are tracked. This technology is relatively easy to manufacture at a reasonable price, which is why Virtuix Omni, the world’s most popular passive VR treadmill, is actually the most widely distributed VR hardware that is not an HMD. We are already seeing them at more than 500 locations around the world, and even a few in Denmark.

There is an issue, though, with the user not actually walking but rather sliding across the surface that hurts the degree of immersion to an extent. That being said, right now passive VR treadmills, like Virtuix Omni, are by far the best solution to walking around in a VR experience.

In the future, we may see active VR treadmills with moving parts. An example of that vision is VR startup Infinadeck. They have created a prototype of an omnidirectional VR treadmill that uses two dimensions of moving tracks underneath the user’s feet to create a more realistic sense of walking. It’s still very much in the early stages, but it could be the future of VR treadmill technology. See a demo of the Infinadeck prototype here:

Another product that attempts to solve this problem is Alto100. It is not without its problems, but as a solution that thinks out of the box, it is pretty exciting. You can see a promotion video of it here.