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"Virtualizer" lets VR gamers walk on the spot to move in the game


September 25, 2013

Virtualizer inventor Tuncay Cakmak tries out the system

Virtualizer inventor Tuncay Cakmak tries out the system

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Remember when you were a kid, and you used to go sliding across the floor in your stocking feet? Well, researchers at Austria's Vienna University of Technology have developed a virtual reality gaming system that brings those sock-sliding days to mind. It allows players to walk on the spot in the real world, causing their character to walk across the ground in the game.

Known as the Virtualizer, the pulpit-like device incorporates a disc-shaped low-friction floor plate, and a belt that is linked to three vertical columns.

The player slides their sock-clad feet around on the plate, simulating the walking or running gait that they wish to achieve in the game. Sensors in the plate detect the speed at which their feet are moving, and moves their character around in the game at that same speed.

To change direction of movement in the game, the player simply changes the direction they're facing within the Virtualizer – sensors attached to the belt detect the orientation of their body. Real-life jumps or squats also make their way into the game, as arms extending from the belt to the columns allow vertical movements to be tracked.

It is hoped that by using the technology, players won't experience the feeling of disconnectedness that comes with standing still in real life while moving in the game universe – additionally, it should allow users to get some exercise.

The Virtualizer should be commercially available sometime next year, although a price has yet to be decided upon. It can be seen in use in the video below.

Source: Vienna University of Technology

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Looks a lot like the virtuix omni to me except not as aesthetically pleasing and without the cool omni only shoes.

Bene Bones

Nice. Well done Vienna University of Technology!


I think they have a good point about the exercise, they could really make games or programs that make people want to actually get up and walk/run.... play a first person shooter type game....

Or maby a program where you walk around and explore environments... slowly we are getting the point of full immersion virtual reality. I hope we get it before im an old man.

Nathaneal Blemings

This is an improved version of the omni. With the omni you have to buy shoes for everyone who wants to play on it (in different sizes) and eventually you have to buy new shoes because they will wear and tear.

With this device you only have to buy new socks... and everyone with his/her rocking socks on can play.

Also with this device you can jump and squat (close to a crouch), makes it more realistic to play. On the omni you can only do a weird kind of small jump movement and not squat at all.

Besides running and walking on a flat surfaces seem a bit more natural instead of running in a plastic bowl shape .. i cannot remember the last time i did that...

The exercise part ont both devices is really amazing. Can't wait!


Now if they could only simulate flying along with walking/running. That would be cool!

Brad Dean
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