Lanny smoot showcasing disney's holotile at the launch event

March 29, 2024

Disney's HoloTile: The Next-level Virtual Reality Treadmill

Disney's research wizards have conjured up something enchanting - a sneak peek into the future of entertainment- a VR treadmill! They've christened it as a HoloTile floor, a creation by Lanny Smoot and his visionary team, promising a 360-degree virtual reality extravaganza.

What is the idea behind the VR treadmill?

Man experiencing disney's holotile at the launch event
Holotile's locomotion easiness

Virtual reality's locomotion puzzle remains unsolved. Physical movement can lead to obstacles, while artificial locomotion risks causing discomfort. Disney's innovation, though intricate and yet to be consumer-friendly, offers a captivating glimpse into new technological possibilities. The HoloTile's sleek design and multi-user support do intrigue, but beneath its surface, it's worth wondering about the role of sensors and cameras in motion tracking.

With Holotile in the mix, Disney may ride the XR device wave. While others join the race, Disney's focus on omnidirectional treadmills could carve a legacy amidst the crowded XR landscape.

How does a VR treadmill work?

Disney holotile is world's first multiperson omnidirectional treadmill floor
Working inticracies of holotile

The video uploaded by Disney shows Lanny Smoot walking on a floor that they describe as the “world's first multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable treadmill floor.”

Picture this: You walk on it but don't move forward. It’s like a perpetual treadmill to nowhere. That's the HoloTile floor, an optical illusion that defies the laws of physics.

Unlike conventional gym treadmills limited to forward motion, Omnidirectional VR treadmills allow users to navigate in all directions – forward, backward, left, right, or any conceivable combination. These innovative devices revolutionize virtual reality experiences by providing an immersive and dynamic way to interact with virtual environments. Whether exploring a virtual world, engaging in physical fitness, or training for various applications, ODTs unlock a new dimension of movement and interactivity.

What are its use cases?

Holotile sensory movement
Visible pressure points and flow in Disney's Holotile

Now, why is this tech useful? Let us tell you a couple of its potential use cases.

There's more. Even without a mixed-reality headset, the HoloTile floor dances to the tune of its user’s desires, making it perfect for games and varied dynamic experiences.

💡Did you know?

Lanny Smoot, the inventor behind this tech, has about 106 patents to his name. He's making history as the first Disney Imagineer to join the National Inventors Hall of Fame, with only Walt Disney himself preceding him.

Future outlook

The recent unveiling of Disney's Holotile technology brings to mind the Oasis from the movie "Ready Player One," suggesting that we are edging closer to realizing the full immersive potential of virtual reality. Unlike previous attempts at omnidirectional treadmills, such as the Virtuix Omni One, which were often criticized for being bulky, noisy, and expensive, Holotile offers a more minimalistic and practical approach. However, its availability to the general public remains uncertain, and it's likely that experiencing it would require a visit to a Disney park.

Combining a system like Holotile with a full-body haptic suit, such as the Teslasuit, and a VR headset could potentially create the ideal VR setup. The critical question, however, is the compatibility of these devices. For instance, the Virtuix Omni One had its own set of games, and the Teslasuit has a dedicated Studio software for app development. The real breakthrough will occur when these devices become software agnostic, allowing for seamless integration and a more unified VR experience.

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