Google Working On VR Shoes That Let You Walk Forever In Your Living Room

Google’s new invention has showed up in a patent granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office: shoes that allow you to walk forever in a limited space, the next step in immersive virtual reality experience (no pun intended).

Credit: USPTO

(Image credit: USPTO)

Right now, the main problem with VR’s believability is that you are stuck in one position. You can’t freely walk through a virtual room or open space unless you have a special VR rig like the Virtuix Omni walking platform:

This is too voluminous to have in a house, which is why the best VR experiences now are those that make the player stay still in one place. Flight or race simulators are a natural for VR, but any open arena game — like GTA or RDR2 — will be impossible to do right now in VR. The only way to “walk” in VR is jumping from hotspot to hotspot, which doesn’t require any real walking at all.

MORE: 6 Cheap VR Headsets (Under $45) Ranked from Best to Worst

This is what Google wants to fix with these special shoes.

Credit: USPTO

(Image credit: USPTO)

The patent — titled “Augmented and/or Virtual Reality Footwear” — describes a motorized shoe that can detect when you are running out of space to walk, activating a mechanism that will allow you to take a step in the virtual world without actually advancing in the real world (and smacking your face against a bookshelf).

The shoes, the patent abstract describes, “allow the user to walk, seemingly endlessly in the virtual environment, while remaining within a defined physical space in the physical environment.” In other words, you will think you are walking for real but, from the outside, you will look like Michael Jackson moonwalking.

Add the gloves that give you tactile feedback and a virtual reality horse, and we will be ready for that rumored VR version of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.

  • fotograma.descartavel
    you can certainly move around as usual in games: with an analog stick

    VR shoes and treadmills are a waste of money and physical effort. I'm already trashed in less than an hour playing real combat by swinging a virtual sword in my hand, let alone by actually running around with my own legs

    that's no way for forward for adoption of VR
  • dragon82390
    Welp, pack it up boys. This one guy on the internet is too out off shape to walk in place for a couple of minutes. I guess no one anywhere ever will want a fully immersive VR experience.

    Sorry but dumbing down VR is only going to kill the market. It's already a cheap gimmick in most people's eyes and there's virtually no money to be made.

    You need something innovative that people will actually want to spend money on, not "Oh hey look it's like a regular game but I move the camera with my head instead of a mouse/stick. Neat.".
  • vormina2
    I'd like to see VR head in the direction of The Matrix where I could lie down and "plug in".

    I can't imagine playing something like Fallout 4 with those shoes, besides the fact I don't want to walk the entire map of Boston, I'm pretty sure I can't outrun a Deathclaw IRL, or chase down a group of Raiders, which brings me to a point; how are they going to simulate running? Which you do in 99% of action, rpg, open world, or survival games.

    I don't want to rely on Jarvis stopping my Ironman shoes before I crash thru a window in my house, lol.

    Moonwalking in an adventure game? Sure.
    Moonrunning for your life in Dying Light? I'll pass.