Former Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman is seeking US$50,000 to build a prototype pair of roller skates to wear in virtual reality.
Hyneman’s pitch video points out that when one straps on goggles and gloves to enter virtual reality, your eyes are occupied and you therefore run the risk of bumping into stuff if you try to walk in meatspace while simulating walking in a virtual world. And bumping into stuff is dangerous.
Previous attempts to sort this out have involved harnesses or slippery surfaces, but Hyneman and his collaborators now think “Vortrex Shoes” are a better answer.
The campaign aims to offer a VR walking experience that crucially reduces the pain points of owning an omnidirectional treadmill like Virtuix Omni or Kat VR; hefty pieces of kit that require a dedicated space.
“They’re not intended to be ‘ridden’ – they’re intended to be walked in,” Hyneman said. “Instead of vehicles that you ride on, these are amplifiers. So you can set the gain of the amplifier, according to your environment or what you’re doing. They’re like having airport walkways strapped to your feet. So you just walk naturally, but you happen to be going more quickly. Like, if you walk at 3 miles an hour (4.8 km/h), these things would be rolling at 4 mph (6.4 km/h) so you’d actually be traveling at 7 mph (11.3 km/h).”
The campaign will fund development of the seventh Vortrex prototype, and if it works, backers will be given first dibs to buy them. Price-wise, Jamie estimates that they might be “in the neighborhood of a premium electric skateboard,” so a couple of grand or so. At the time of writing, the campaign had made about US$5,000 of its $50,000 goal, with a month remaining.