Locomotion in VR has been a problem since day one. How do you simulate moving a long distance, when you can't physically move a long distance due to space limitations or cable length restrictions? Many solutions have been proposed, including software methods like teleportation and hardware methods like omnidirectional treadmills. EKTO VR believes it has a better solution. Especially for enterprise-level training solutions.
EKTO VR's EKTO One is a pair of robotic boots that can transform a small VR training space into an infinite virtual environment that you can walk around naturally. The EKTO One boots use computer-controlled wheels that work against you as you walk to make it feel like you're moving forward when you're walking in place.
Each EKTO VR boot features four wheels, two in the front and two in the back, that roll against you when you walk and lock in place when you stand still. The system uses hip and ankle movement detection to determine when your walking, and the wheel react accordingly. The boots support forward and backwards movement, as well as side to side strafe movement. The wheels on the bottom rotate 90-degrees when you walk sideways. EKTO VR said the system uses four robotics-grade motors to control the wheels and four motors to handle the rotation. The boots are built from rugged materials, including a carbon fibre structure and industrial-grade electronics. EKTO VR uses the Vive Tracker platform to integrate the boots with HTC Vive or Valve Index VR headsets.
The EKTO One system is limited in its function right now. For example, the boots do not support running yet. The system is calibrated for a somewhat slow walking pace. The company prioritized maintaining a natural gate while walking over rapid movement, but faster speeds are on the roadmap.
Speaking of the roadmap: EKTO VR is currently targeting the enterprise market. The company said EKTO One is a good fit for medium to large scale businesses, particularly in the oil & gas, mining, and construction industries. However, EKTO VR does see a future for its product in the consumer market and suggested that a timeline of two to four years is not unreasonable. The company dreams of a day that its robotic boots become a pack-in item with future VR headsets. The hardware is already compatible with Steam VR games, the company demonstrated how they work in Half-Life: Alyx during the EKTO One product reveal event.
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