January 31, 2022 3 min read

Google’s VR Motorized Shoes

Google has a new invention revealed in a patent granted andpublished by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This new invention is Google’s VR Shoes, designed to allow users to walk for a limitless time in the virtual space.

As published in the patent, the invention is called Augmented and/or Virtual Reality Footwear. According to its Abstract, this motorized footwear can be tracked in a physical environment. It is designed to move in the physical world into the corresponding movement in the virtual world.

Google’s motorized footwear shares a resemblance with a pair of rollerblades with treadmills in place of the actual wheels. These motorized shoes are used alongside aVR gaming headset, allowing its user to walk forward normally. At the same time, the foot treadmills will move backward.

With their unique design, these motorized shoes will allow users to walk in the digital world while they remain in the same place. Its design addresses the concern of most gamers of playing in a limited space. 

What is Google’s Augmented and/or Virtual Reality Footwear?

The design of Google’s motorized shoes gives its users the ability to move continuously and uninterrupted within the virtual environment. Doing so can enhance the user’s experience and immersion in the virtual world. Building such a system will also help users prevent any disorientation or discomfort that can occur when a user encounters a physical obstruction.

The motorized footwear is tracked by a system as the user walks in the physical environment. Any physical movement that the user does will be translated into virtual action in the virtual environment. Its motor mechanism is based on a detected physical position in the physical environment of the footwear. The footwear can be configured to move the user back into a defined place, allowing the user to continue moving or walking in the virtual environment while remaining in the physical environment.

Google’s VR Motorized Shoes

How Motorized Footwear Shoes Work?

To put it simply, these motorized shoes would respond to their user’s movements as they try to walk. But despite how hard you try to walk, its wheels will keep you in place. Instead, it tracks the user’s location in the room and ensures that the user won’t get outside of the boundaries that have been set. If ever the user manages to walk outside the set area, the shoes will automatically slide you back in place.

The patent of Google’s motorized shoes also covers several different designs. These include a design with round wheels, another with tank-like threads, and another motorized shoe with omnidirectional Mecanum wheels used on industrial equipment.

It is currently unclear if the motorized shoes will give the user a sensation of walking. But according to the patent document, it aims to prevent the user from experiencing motion sickness. The movements need to be as subtle as possible for this to be possible. Even the slightest movement won’t match what the users see in the VR can cause motion sickness.

But before you get excited with this motorized footwear, this is still just a patent. There is no guarantee that Google will start the project and build it. But for now, it seems that Google isn’t planning to make VR a priority. On the other hand, Facebook is paying a lot of attention and investment on its Meta platform, Horizon Worlds, while Google has been neglecting its own VR platform designed for mobile called Daydream.

The Future of VR Gaming

Researchers and developers in the VR industry have been creating a device and system that will enable users to move in the virtual environment by their body movement. Virtuix has developed a special rig called Virtuix Omni. This omnidirectional treadmill acts as a walking simulator for VR games and other applications. It uses software to simulate walking or running, which requires special shoes and a surface to reduce friction. It enables users to feel like they are inside the game by simulating their foot movement.

And with Google’s motorized footwear patent being published online, it’s possible in the future that gamers can experience more realism when playing VR games. Using a haptic bodysuit, VR gloves, VR gaming headset, and VR shoes will be a complete simulation. Players will actually feel like they are really playing the game. This will definitely increase the immersion and enhance the user’s gaming experience.

Whether Google will continue developing their Augmented/Virtual Reality Footwear may pave the way for the company to pay attention to developing their VR software and gears.


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Venture Beat

Extreme Tech

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