Steppingstone VR thinks its new approach to VR locomotion might be the one to solve simulation sickness.
The company is working on a motion platform that uses electromagnetic propulsion to physically move players around as they stand/sit on a platform. You can see it in the early prototype video below; the platform gets its power supply from a specialized floor, a little like bumper cars, allowing it to quickly adapt and move in response to the player’s input in VR. The sensations of physically moving that the player feels should help to combat sickness in games with smooth locomotion such as Skyrim VR.
But this is just the first step (sorry) for Steppingstone VR. Over emails, CEO Samy Bensmida tells me that the consumer version of its product aims to include multiple moving platforms that users will be able to step onto. Tiles will move backward as you step onto them, in theory allowing you to physically walk around a massive game world without ever leaving the center of a space. You can see a similar concept in the video below, though Bensmida explains that this system uses wheels, whereas Steppingstone’s electromagnetic propulsion will allow it a greater deal of autonomy.
“You will walk all day long in Skyrim with your legs, no harness, and get all the congruent inertial cues,” Bensmida said.
And, yes, as expensive as it looks, Bensmida says the product is “100% consumer” with the aim of streamlining it to be viable for homes. Based on the prototype, there’s a lot of work to be done to get Steppingstone towards anywhere near something we’d consider making space for it and we’d still be concerned about the safety of navigating multiple moving platforms when essentially blindfolded in VR.
Still, Bensmida seems confident the team will pull it off, and is preparing a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to help it get there. It’s currently estimated to utilize a “consumer safe” 12V voltage and the campaign will likely run for around $150,000.
Would you put down electromagnetic flooring in your house if it meant complete and utter VR immersion?