Why do we need this?
It's always a good question.
Intuitive navigation of virtual space
The primary need that the VR Walker addresses is the need to be able to navigate virtual spaces without having to think too much about it.
We want future users of virtual environments to be able to operate by using the very same skills that they use for getting by in the real world, by putting one foot in front of the other.
The VR Walker frees the user's hands. You have plenty of better things to do with your hands than push buttons to get around.
This will enable virtual environment technologies to be used by a much wider range of people, including, eventually, people who consider themselves incapable of using traditional computers.
Here is an interesting article from IEEE Spectrum that outlines the basics of the need for locomotion interfaces.
Walking is more healthy than sitting down
Sitting down is actually really bad for you. An article in the New York Times reports on studies conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic have shown that sitting on a regular basis is associated with a higher death rate.
This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects.
Many companies are redesigning the way that their staff interact at work, to encourage more movement around the work place and less sedentary sitting down. Some are experimenting with treadmill desks.
The VR Walker is precisely "on trend" with these innovations, and will become a part of the movement towards more active work practices. The VR Walker, when integrated with useful and sophisticated business information systems, will have the advantage of being useful for a host of other reasons, rather than being a healthy add-on to legacy systems and work practices.
Plus, it will get many gamers off the sofa.
Put an end to Sim Sickness
Tightly coupling voluntary activity (the feeling of walking) with visual motion (the visual experience of walking) greatly improves the experience of virtual reality. As well as increasing the sense of immersion and making the experience more believable, this is also known to reduce the effects of simulation sickness.
Inadequacies of Existing Systems
The systems that currently address the need for virtual locomotion are very limited in terms of their applicability to the consumer market for VR systems, and even most industrial settings, because of their size, weight and complexity.
The system shown in the image to the right is the CyberWalk Treadmill, made in Germany. It weights 6 tons and is one of the few commercially available systems.
Read more about existing systems ...