What if VR experiences weren’t constrained by the size of your play space?
That’s a question users and developers alike have asked themselves as they’re forced to adapt to real-world limits - limits that prevent us from exploring endless virtual environments as if they were real.
As such, it’s no wonder that VR peripheral creators have focused heavily on this area with gadgets like the Cybershoes and Omni One VR treadmill, and now the Ekto One boots.
The Ekto One boots were actually unveiled a few years ago - our friends over at PCGamer (opens in new tab) reported on them being shown off using Half-Life Alyx - though according to a DigitalTrends interview (opens in new tab), soon we’ll finally get a chance to try them out ourselves… sort of.
This robotic movement system looks like something out of a science-fiction film, but in actuality, it’s just a pair of boots with motorized wheels on. That said, they’re more than just a pair of cyberpunk rollerskates - the Ekto One is designed to track you while you move and gradually slide you back into your starting position so you can’t escape your play space.
It can do this - and translate your movement into VR - by using a pair of Vive trackers attached to each shoe to keep a real-time record of where you are.
As you can see in the video above the effect looks kind of trippy from the outside, but according to the creators, the Ekto One boots make VR worlds feel much more immersive and much less nauseated to walk through.
Now for the bad news though - following a trend we’ve seen with plenty of other awesome VR accessories the Exto One boots are currently relegated to business use.
Unless you have a spare $15,000 to $20,000 lying around (the price of between 50 and 66 Oculus Quest 2 headsets) then you won’t be able to take part in the upcoming partner beta program.
For now, these shoes will likely be reserved for industrial training purposes or dedicated commercial VR experiences like the ones you see at theme parks.
It’s not all doom and gloom thankfully, the Ekto VR team hopes that in a few years' time the price will drop to more consumer-friendly levels. That’s dependent on production scale and component cost though - so if these boots aren’t popular enough we might never get the chance to try them out.
With the range of VR walking tools out there though we hope something breaks through eventually. Moving through VR spaces can still be incredibly motion sickness-inducing for folks and serves as a huge limiter on the scope of games and Metaverse concepts.
If tech companies remain dead set on the Metaverse they’ll need to get to work on tackling immersion through movement - and VR-compatible boots are just the beginning of that journey.
- Check out: the best VR games you should play in 2022