Augmented reality feedback flooring

McGill University's Yon Visell and colleagues have been developing and presenting on a system for adding augmented reality effects to floor tiles by simulating (using haptics and audio feedback) different walking-surfaces, such as pebbles or grass. It's a clever system and I can believe that it would substantially and subtly improve the illusion that you're in a different place, or two places at once.
The modular "haptic" floor tiling system is made up of a deformable plate suspended on a platform. Between the plate and platform are sensors that detect forces from the user's foot. And the plate can give off vibrations that mimic the feeling of stepping on different materials. A top-down projection and speakers add visual and audio feedback.

Yon Visell, a researcher at McGill's Center for Intelligent Machines and first author of the paper, says the tiles could be used "either for human computer interaction or immersive virtual reality applications."

The floor could even function as a giant touch-screen controlled by feet, Visell suggests, acting as a way of navigating a giant map on the floor of a building lobby or public square. He says it could also be used in gaming and entertainment, adding more interactivity.

Augmented-Reality Floor Tiling (via Beyond the Beyond)


  1. It’d be cool to use for proprioceptive training/balance training in a physical therapy environment. You can do it much cheaper, but this is neat.

  2. Would this work while wearing shoes (or work well, anyway?) Wouldn’t it work best if your feet were bare, or at least socked?

  3. So I’ll get my holodeck, but where’s my flying car? Can I get a flying car in the holodeck?

  4. The floor is designed to be used with shoes. Since it reproduces cues about the texture (vibration) of a ground material, but not about the shape of the ground, the illusion works (ironically) far better if you’re wearing shoes. If the shoes are not too thin and flexible, you get a strong impression of walking on sand, snow, ice, or whatever the material being simulated happens to be.

  5. One more er- step, towards the holodeck.

    Can we have a new technology law please? As time approaches infinity, reality converges to the Star Trek universe.

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