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HoloTile, by Disney's Imagineering

Disney's new omnidirectional treadmill, HoloTile, designed for virtual reality (VR) treadmill could have significant implications in VR applications across industries.

Image Credit: Walk Disney

Disney recently introduced an omnidirectional treadmill known as HoloTile, designed for both virtual reality (VR) and real-world applications. Comprising individual rotating 'tiles' that adjust to a user's stride, HoloTile attempts to simulate walking in any direction. Marketed as the "world’s first multi-person, omni-directional, modular, expandable treadmill floor," Disney envisions HoloTile as a platform for shared VR experiences, enabling users to walk unlimited distances without collision.

Developed by Lanny Smoot, a Disney Research Fellow and veteran member of Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development, a HoloTile prototype was featured in a recent video to demonstrate its capabilities. The video shows a user wearing a Quest Pro headset walking alone, two individuals walking in different directions, as well as objects moving across the floor. According to Smoot, the HolotTile can adapt simultaneously to various walking speeds and directions, meaning a user can walk, run, or even dance in a specific direction without physically moving more than a few inches.

While initially designed for VR, Smoot suggests HoloTile's versatility extends beyond virtual experiences. He envisions its use in theatrical stages, enabling performers to explore new movements and dance styles or facilitating dynamic changes in stage props and structures.

Although HoloTile is not the first omnidirectional treadmill, it distinguishes itself by incorporating a modular and scalable design. Previous motorized treadmills faced challenges of being expensive, complex, and unable to replicate natural walking, often resulting in awkward movements perfectly. 


 Addressing these limitations and successfully scaling up, this could become a prominent feature in Disney theme parks and create a new form of commercially available embodiment with VR.

Disney’s ambitions aside, the opportunities for this tech in other VR applications are vast. Pending the level of fluidity and the creation of a natural movement experience, this innovative treadmill could have significant implications in VR applications across industries from entertainment and healthcare to tourism and real estate.  

Disney has yet to share a release date for HoloTile.