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Disney Just Got Us One Step Closer To The Holodeck

A gif shows people walking on the tech holotile floor.
A gif shows people walking on the tech holotile floor.

A new advanced treadmill-like floor invention from Disney could solve one of the biggest problems with VR: movement. But, it could also bring the world one step closer to making Star Trek-like holodecks a reality.

In a recent video from Disney, we got a sneak peek at what the company is calling the “HoloTile,” an omnidirectional treadmill-like floor that multiple people can use at the same time. The first look at this new impressive tech was included in a video primarily dedicated to celebrating Disney research fellow and famous Imagineer Lanny Smoot’s induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Coincidentally, Smoot is the inventor behind this new impressive HoloTile technology. (He also invented that awesome and realistic-looking lightsaber, too.)

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Unlike some other, clunky omnidirectional treadmills, HoloTile can support multiple people, so you could theoretically have a family walking around a virtual recreation of a Star Wars planet or Disney castle and they could all explore it separately at their own pace. That sounds a lot like a holodeck from Star Trek to me. 

Speaking of Star Wars, another clip in the recently released video shows someone waving their hand around which moves a box that is sitting on top of the HoloTile floor. It looks a lot like someone using the Force to move an object around and let me tell you that 10-year-old Zack would have lost his mind at being able to do that. If this becomes a thing in the parks one day, letting kids move things with “the Force,” I’ll be so jealous.

As for what this tech will actually be used for, it’s not quite clear yet. Smoot says there are “many applications for this type of technology,” but Disney Imagineers haven’t figured out where the tech will be used just yet.

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