I Walked on the Weird Side with These Virtual Reality Shoes

As the virtual reality market continues to grow, there's a host of peripherals designed to enhance the immersion factor. Controllers, vests, backpacks-- I've tested quite a few of these gadgets, but this is the first time I've ever run across VR footwear.

At CES 2017, I encountered Japan-based company Cerevo and its Taclim shoes.

Why Should You Care

Imagine slowly exploring a dilapidated, haunted house with rotten, creaking floor boards or sprinting down a concrete sidewalk. Using some well-designed haptic feedback, the Taclim shoes can replicate those feelings and several more. The end result is a surprisingly realistic experience that could potentially add another dimension to your VR game or app.

After being fitted like a digital Cinderella, the Taclim shoes and their accompanying gloves took my feet on a journey without me having to leave my seat. Set to launch sometime in 2017, Taclim puts a whole new spin on taking a walk in someone else's shoes.

The feeling was at once familiar and surreal.

Key Specs and Features

  • Still in its early prototype phase, the techie footwear are currently available in one size: 11.4 x 5.5 x 3.9 inches.
  • The shoes and gloves are outfitted with eight sensors with the majority residing in the fancy footwear.
  • The gloves can be used to track hand movements in virtual reality.
  • Taclim SDK is available in the popular Unity game engine and can be developed to work with mobile virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear VR or PC-powered devices such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

First Impressions

Sure, they're not as sexy as a pair of Farragamos or Jimmy Choos. However, looks went out the window once I was strapped into the decidedly bulky shoes. Using a proprietary app, the Cerevo rep switched between several different surfaces including the aforementioned wooden floor and concrete surface.

The differences were immediately apparent. The wood setting felt somewhat bouncy, to the point I thought I heard the carpeted floor beneath me bend and flex. Switching to water delivered a slight tenuous feeling beneath my feet. The feeling was at once familiar and surreal.

Outlook

The Taclim shoes are a prototype, and a promising one at that. Using a series of well-placed haptic sensors, the fancy footwear can make you believe that you're treading across a grassy knoll or a poisonous swamp. Paired with the right virtual reality app or game, Taclim can help further the immersion factor, which is the optimal result.