When you think of accessories to use in virtual reality, shoes are probably not what comes to mind. But that hasn’t stopped one company from creating a set of sensor-enabled kicks from VR.
Part controller, part accessory, the Taclim shoes (created by Cerevo, the same company behind the app-enabled snowboard bindings) allow you to use your feet to interact with what you see in virtual reality.
Though Cerevo describes them as “VR shoes,” the design is really more Birkenstock than shoe. You place your foot in the “shoe” and two straps go over your foot. As you walk and interact with the objects and surfaces in the virtual world, the shoes vibrate in different patterns in response to your actions.
The shoes are programmed to emulate the textures of different materials you might walk on, like crunchy snow or sand or a textured path. The plastic prototype I demoed (paired with a Gear VR headset) felt a little clunky and unfinished, but the effect was noticeable. The different vibration patterns felt reasonably close to what you’d expect when walking through snow or sand.
The shoes do more than add texture to VR though, the Taclim shoes can also be used as a kind of motion controller allowing you to walk and kick in virtual reality. A game I tried with the Taclim shoes allowed me to kick enemies and walk down paths of different textures.
Whether or not this is even a good idea is another matter. There’s a reason why most virtual reality developers don’t encourage participants to get up and move around extensively while in VR and kicking while wearing a headset could prove disastrous for those with poor balance
There’s also the price: Cerevo’s new accessory isn’t cheap —the setup will cost more than $1,000 when it goes on sale, according to the company.