Cybershoes, a company that makes shoes for translating your real walking into virtual reality (VR) environments, is creating a new wireless version for the Oculus Quest. Previously the shoes only worked with wired headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
VR limitations — The dream of VR is to give gamers true immersion in a world where they can do things they couldn't in the real world. But one of the biggest limitations to virtual reality has been physical player space. Typically, players are limited to a small space in their homes which they can use to walk around in the virtual world. Any additional movement made in-game has to be done using trackpads or thumbsticks.
Games would be much more immersive if you could use actual body movements for all gameplay. That's what Cybershoes tries to enable.
The new Cybershoes connect to a Quest headset via Bluetooth and track a player's feet in order to control in-game direction and speed using their own movement. Players sit stationary in a swivel chair to change directions, and rollers on the bottom of the shoes track forward and backward foot movements. It's supposed to encourage physical activity while also addressing the motion sickness that's caused by the disconnect between movements in-game and in the real world in some users.
As you can see in the video above, there's a lot of hardware required to use Cybershoes in its current incarnation. But since the Oculus Quest is a totally wireless experience, the new shoes should make for a much less cumbersome experience.
VR treadmills — Another similar product, the Omni One, is a "VR treadmill" of sorts that functions like a low-friction, omnidirectional pad and allows you to run in place, keeping you in one spot using a vest connected to a weight-bearing arm. It's the same concept as the Cybershoes except much more high-end — and you can actually stand. Omni One is only in the prototype stage, however, and is expected to cost nearly $2,000 at launch, whereas Cybershoes already sells its original, wired product, and the wireless ones are due to launch soon.
Cybershoes bring the cost down by taking the rolling tracks of a treadmill and putting them in the shoes instead. Being in a seated position as you walk may ruin the immersion somewhat compared to standing, but, on the plus side, you don't have to be harnessed in to prevent yourself from falling.
The original Cybershoes are available on the company's website, and a bundle including everything you'll need except a VR headset costs $378. You might have noticed the circular piece of carpet — that's just to provide a flat surface that's easy for the shoes to roll on. It's like a mousepad, but for your fancy VR footwear. Cybershoes says it will be launching a Kickstarter later this week where it will accept pre-orders for the new wireless shoes. A software development kit for game developers is already available.
Cybershoes says many VR games support its product, such as Skyrim VR and No Man's Sky. Gamers need to tweak the locomotion settings in some games for the Cybershoes to work well, however, but that'll doubtless improve as they near launch.