Robotic Steps Let You Walk Forward Endlessly Without Getting Anywhere

A metaphor for life, I guess. Jeremy Hsu writes in Popular Science that Hiroo Iwata of the University of Tsukuba in Japan has developed robotic tiles that sense what direction a user is going in and move ahead to provide a place to step. With further development, it could be used in virtual reality simulators in order to imitate movement over distance:

The robot tiles emerged as the brainchild of Hiroo Iwata, a virtual reality researcher at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. A touch-sensitive conductive fabric covers each robot and gauges the pressure applied by a walking person's foot, which goes toward predicting the next step.

Ultrasonic sensors also help relay position and orientation of each tile back to a central computer that acts as the conductor. It's an oddly serene robotic ballet, even when two tiles have queued up to move down the line.


Video at the link.

Link

Image: DigInfo Video News

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Every start in new technology is cumbersome, big and slow.

But if this idea really takes off I see a future where these blocks get so fast that you'll be able to run and jump on them without falling off. And then the first true outlines of the holo-deck become visible.

Coming years we'll see these blocks getting faster and faster. And they'll also get smaller and smaller upto a point where in the end after some decades of development you'll see a kind of nano-blocks that make kind of a semi-"fluid" surface that can accomodate multiple users on the same surface.

Combine this technology with virtual-touch-suits, VR-headsets and Wii-tech and you get a whole new sensation with those games and training-equipments that are out there...
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