LAS VEGAS -- Why walk around in a video game with a keyboard or gamepad, when your feet can do it for you? That's the idea behind 3DRudder, a unique motion controller that lets you navigate 3D environments using your own feet. I spent some feet-on time with the 3DRudder, which is available on Indiegogo for $110 and will be shipping in May, and came away excited about its potential to change the way we play games.
The 3DRudder unit I tested looked like a circular scale, with a thick plastic base and two sandpaper-like foot grips on top. The controller rotates on a central axis, allowing you to move around by simply applying pressure with your feet in any direction you like.
After a quick calibration process in which I simply had to keep my feet still for a few seconds, it was time to play. I "walked" around a 3D environment filled with various blocks and figures, tipping my toes to move forward, pushing down my heels to move backwards, twisting my feet to turn left and right and putting pressure on a single foot to strafe in either direction.
Using my feet as a controller felt surprisingly intuitive and natural, and I was able to control the speed at which I moved around by simply applying different levels of pressure.
3DRudder has a ton of potential to shake up the way we game; I immediately imagined how fun it would be to use the controller for wading through a first-person shooter or bouncing around a high-speed platformer. It also has a range of use cases for professionals and creatives; for example, an architect would able to get a sense of how his or her creations would look and feel in real life by virtually walking through them.
This novel foot-controller seems like an excellent complement to VR headsets like Oculus Rift, and could help disabled gamers and creators get more use out of 3D apps without having to use their arms.
3DRudder isn't the only motion controller that utilizes your feet; Virtuix's $499 Omni is a much larger platform that lets you stand up and physically walk around virtual-reality games. However, the $110 3DRudder is a more affordable and space-saving alternative, and allows you to navigate 3D worlds in the comfort of your own chair. We look forward to stepping onto 3DRudder once more when it arrives this spring.
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