As head-mounted displays and motion controllers improve, the possibility of truly-immersive virtual reality in our living rooms continues to get closer and closer to our reach. However one of the big challenges is that you’ll still be standing still or walking in place in any game that involves moving around. While there are omni-directional treadmills that solve this problem, you won’t be able to afford one (or fit one in your living room) any time soon. Now, there’s an odd little gadget in development that aims to solve this problem without any moving parts at all.
Created by Julian Williams, the WizDish is a disc that you stand on, while wearing special shoes (called, of course, WizShoes), which enables you to move around in any direction, while standing in one place. The action isn’t exactly what I’d call walking, though – it’s more like shuffling. The 14 pound device relies on a small amount of friction between the bottom of the shoes and its platform to allow you to move around – without falling like you might do wearing socks on a slippery floor.
According to its maker, “The WizDish exploits the fact that you have 29 bones in each foot to balance with. You slide your feet over a slick concave surface in a simulation of walking that gives surprisingly similar proprioceptive cues to real walking. Once you can see where you are going [using an HMD] you take more confident strides and quickly forget it’s a simulated walk. The key advantages of the WizDish are that you can start, stop and turn with absolute ease…”
Personally, I’m not yet convinced, but then again I think that the cumbersome headgear and eye-strain inducing optics of HMDs still have some big hurdles to overcome before I’ll be strapping one to my head for a 3-hour gaming session.
(I have high hopes for the Oculus Rift HMD though. Please let it be as good as it sounds.)
[via Road to Virtual Reality]