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  • Voltaire Staff

Disney researcher creates 'Holotile', a tactile, omnidirectional floor for VR


Walt Disney Imagineering has introduced a new kind of floor called 'HoloTile' for virtual reality experiences in all directions, allowing several people at once to feel a real-life tactile sensation walking on it.

The HoloTile floor lets multiple people have a shared virtual reality experience. They can walk in any direction without running into each other or stepping off the floor. It's like a treadmill that lets you walk endlessly in a virtual world, Disney said in a press release.

The technology can be used in theatres too. Performers could use it to move in unique ways, and stage props could also move around or set themselves up automatically.

HoloTile has been developed by Lanny Smoot, a member of Disney's research and development team, and he's being honoured by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Smoot said, "So I can walk on this omni-directional floor in any direction I want. It will automatically do whatever it needs to have me stay on the floor. And what's amazing about this is multiple people can be on it and all walking independently. They can walk in virtual reality and so many other things."

He continued, “You know, imagine a number of people being in a room, being able to be somewhere else collaboratively and moving around, seeing, doing sightseeing. Imagine theatrical stages that might have these embedded in them so that dancers can do amazing moves."

Smoot, Disney said, is credited with giving Madame Leota her ability to "float" in the Séance Room at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland Park; crafting the state-of-the-art extendable lightsaber used by Disney Live Entertainment; inventing the Magic Playfloor interactive game experience on the Disney Cruise Line; producing the immersive Fortress Explorations adventure at Tokyo DisneySea; and designing the virtual and interactive koi ponds at the Crystal Lotus Restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.


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