One of the big problems facing VR
is the issue of mobility -- how do you allow users unrestricted movement in virtual reality, while keeping them relatively static in real
reality? Omni-directional treadmills
have been tried in the past, and now researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan have developed something called CirculaFloor. The system uses four robotic tiles that constantly shift position, ensuring that there's always a tile in the direction you're headed. Additionally, the entire assembly moves slowly backwards, giving one the impression of movement while they're actually standing relatively still. The tiles also incorporate lifts, for simulating staircases and the like. While this research is promising, there's still plenty of work to be done -- for instance, the tiles still move awful slowly, and while they seem sturdy enough for a leisurely stroll, a Left 4 Dead implementation is not likely to happen any time soon. Video after the break.
[Via Tech Digest