Disney made a multi-user treadmill that lets you walk around in VR - here's how it works

Such a project could easily end up becoming a VR staple in just a few years' time.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Disney HoloTile

Disney has unveiled a new virtual reality project that solves one of the biggest problems with virtual reality, an omnidirectional modular treadmill that supports multiple users. The aptly named, HoloTile, allows multiple people to move around freely without the risk of colliding with each other. 

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As a modular treadmill floor, users can expand or reconfigure their HoloTile to fit different spaces or accommodate more users. The invention lets individuals walk in any direction -- or wherever their VR experience takes them -- without constraint, for a more natural and immersive feel. 


The HoloTile is the first treadmill floor of its kind, letting users immerse themselves in shared or individual VR experiences and walk an unlimited distance in any direction without colliding or walking off the surface. Just look at the demo!

The HoloTile is being developed by Disney Imagineer and research fellow Lanny Smoot, who recently made history by being the second person from Disney to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The first was Walt Disney for the multiplane camera.


"I was honored and humbled at being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame," said Smoot. "With all of the inventing greats, however, I caught a true lump in my throat when I realized that I was only the second person at The Walt Disney Company being presented with this honor, and the first person was Walt Disney himself."

Beyond its VR and AR applications, the HoloTile can be used for theatrical stages and filmmaking. It would allow performers or things to be moved around the area of the treadmill, like magic, while someone else controls the HoloTile. Such an invention could revolutionize stage design and bring new possibilities for performance dynamics. 

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"At Disney Experiences, we're committed to world-class storytelling, creativity, and innovation in everything we do, and Lanny Smoot embodies every one of those ideals," said Josh D'Amaro, Chairman of Disney Experiences. "As Disney's most prolific inventor, Lanny continues to amaze all of us with his artistic ingenuity, technical expertise, and endless imagination."

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