Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google

Never ones to let virtual grass grow under their feet, Googlers have been awarded a patent for Augmented and/or Virtual Reality Footwear.

The basic idea is mechanized footwear, kind of like anti-roller skates that keep you from going anywhere. Here's the abstract:

A physical position of motorized footwear in a physical environment may be tracked, and movement of the footwear may be translated into corresponding movement in a virtual environment. When a distance between the motorized footwear and a boundary of an operational zone defined in the physical environment is less than or equal to a threshold distance, a motor of the motorized shoe may be actuated. Actuation of the motor may in turn actuate a locomotion device of the motorized footwear, to move the motorized footwear back into a return zone defined within the operational zone. This may allow the user to walk, seemingly endlessly in the virtual environment, while remaining within a defined physical space in the physical environment.

The idea of an infinite landscape in a small area has been used in the Star Trek Holodeck. It feels like you're running all over the place, but it's an illusion.

The need for this kind of product has been apparent for some time; consider the CirculaFloor - Smart Tile Holodeck? (kind of like stepping stones), VirtuSphere Immersive Virtual Reality (kind of a giant hamster ball), the Holo-Dek - A Unique Real-World Virtual Venue, and Take An Infinite Walk In Flexible Spaces.

The earliest implied science fiction reference to this idea is The Veldt from Ray Bradbury. David Brin also contributes auto-treadmills from his 1994 story Natulife.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/11/2018)

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