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Disney Unveils ‘HoloTile,’ An Omnidirectional Treadmill That Solves VR’s Movement Problem

Image Credits: Disney

(TechCrunch) Remember the Virtuix Omni? I’ll never forget trying out an early version of the virtual reality treadmill in a hotel suite many E3s ago. The system, which features a concave platform and slippery shoes, was clever enough to influence Ready Player One’s take on the space. The electronics-free system finally started shipping earlier this year.

One thing you can say about VR is that it’s inspiring a lot of creative solutions to different issues around the tech. Movement is a major one, of course. You lose some of that visceral sensation when your FPV avatar is cruising around while you’re just sitting there on the couch.


For the foreseeable future, however, all solutions will have some key drawbacks. Price is one in Omni’s case, and likely will be for a lion’s share of these sorts of peripherals. Other issues are size (it’s huge) and sound (it’s very noisy).

HoloTile — which recently made its YouTube debut at the end of a video honoring Disney Research fellow Lanny Smoot — is an extremely clever and honestly quite elegant solution to some of these issues.

The system is composed of hundreds of small, round “tiles” that look to be about the size of a silver dollar. Each serve as a kind of mini, omnidirectional treadmill. Working together, their only task is to stop the walker from leaving the pad.

“I can walk on this omni directional floor in any direction I want,” Smoot says in the video. “It will automatically do whatever it needs to have me stay on the floor. 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.”

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