KAT Loco Sensors Provide a Complete Wearable VR Locomotion System
Virtual reality controllers and headsets now easily track head and hand movements. However, the last terrain that has proven difficult to conquer is foot-tracking. The games hardware company KAT is solving that by creating a virtual reality locomotion system that is designed to offer users a complete wearable locomotion system that will allow them to walk in virtual reality devices by attaching sensors to their ankles and hips that transmit data back to the VR game.
The new games company had crowdfunded for its wearable tech, christened KAT Loco, on Kickstarter, a fundraising initiative that has been massively oversubscribed, raising $182,000 out of the targeted $50,000 so far. The device will consist of a set of three sensors that will attach user’s ankles and hip and then translate the real movements of the player such as walking, strafing or running in the virtual reality game. It is a foot-based virtual reality locomotion system that provides the user with the full physical control over the actions in their lower-body thereby enabling them to perform any other foot action in virtual reality be it walking or running.
Now the company’s early-bird pledges are almost ready for shipping for prices ranging from $95 to $119. Worldwide shipping for the product is expected to start next month, in August 2019. The demonstration video below provides an overview of how the system works and how it can be deployed in games to control the player’s in-game character.
By bringing the user’s lower body into play, the KAT Loco wearable locomotion system will free up the user’s hands from the need to control body directions, allowing the user to walk with their feet. It is one of the last frontiers to a wholesome immersive VR experience allowing for the development of a complete virtual reality system where the head control will be for the vision, hand control for the manual interactions and where the foot will now be in charge of locomotion in the virtual reality environment just as it should! By incorporating foot-based locomotion into virtual reality, the KAT Loco system will increase the depth of immersion while also helping reduce space limitations and motion sickness in VR experiences.
KAT has previously been involved in the development of KAT Walk which is an omni-directional treadmill that the company released a few years back. While the KAT Walk system was immersive, it was also too bulky for use in most living rooms and was also eye-wateringly expensive.
Its latest product, the KAT Loco, is a more streamlined version of the company’s original KAT Walk. The system works with the virtual reality headsets and controllers in each hand to track the player’s entire body.
This means that players no longer have to rely on the old teleportation methods or the traditional controllers to move around virtual reality worlds. With the wearable VR locomotion system that KAT Loco provides, the player can simply walk to the spot, just like in the real world. You will look a little goofy on the outside with the tiptoeing but the immersive experience is first-class.
Tiptoeing around a blank vault may also get tiring so the KAT Loco system offers a Cruise Control mode where the players simply have to stick one of their legs forward and their virtual character will move that way in the virtual environment. They can also steer by just moving their hips. The KAT Loco wearable locomotion system will also decouple the head and body movements which allows the players to look around them in VR without changing the direction they are walking to.
The locomotion system also allows the player to move backwards or sideways by stepping to the side or back. This might get tiring and that is why the KAT Loco system includes the Cruise Control mode.
The Loco system will have seamless compatibility with most virtual reality systems including PlayStation VR, Oculus and Vive devices. With the PSVR, you will need an extra adapter and KAT may be planning to build and sell these adapters too. The batteries also last and will go for up to 10 hours on continuous usage.
KAT’s fundraiser on Kickstarter has so far raised more than $182,000 against its $50,000 goal with five days to go in the campaign. The company will be shipping its devices from August 2019 if everything goes according to plan.