Researchers Developing “Intelligent Carpet” for Virtual Reality Locomotion
Researchers at South Korea’s Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) and MIT SCAIL are working on an “intelligent carpet” that will provide virtual reality locomotion. The carpet could fund uses in fitness, gaming and healthcare applications.
According to the researchers, the foot-based VR locomotion system is a groundbreaking technology that offers a “seamless walk” in virtual reality. The “intelligent carpet” provides a natural and comfortable walking experience in VR without requiring cumbersome walking equipment or body pose video recordings.
According to GIST associate professor DR. Kyung-Joong Kim, institute’s collaboration with MIT saw the introduction of a new sensor known as “intelligent capital” which led to the development of a virtual reality game controller using the sensor that would be applicable in virtual reality gaming.
Intelligent Carpet Sensor and Machine Learning
By leveraging the “intelligent carpet” sensor in the “seamless walk”, high-resolution foot pressure imprints are captured in real-time. This pressure data is subsequently processed by a machine learning model deploying K-means clustering. This separates the pressure points into clusters that correspond to the left and right feet of the user. The body direction and foot intervals of the user are then determined for the estimation of the movement speed and angle.
The ”seamless walk” has a modular structure for cost-effective and scalable installation of the platform. In tests with 80 participants, the system showed a natural, immersive and comfortable virtual reality experience that outperforms the existing virtual reality locomotion techniques.
The researchers are envisioning a future where the “seamless walk” could be put into fitness and healthcare uses. Not only is the platform a virtual reality gamepad, it is also a gait recognition and analysis tool that could be deployed in health monitoring, fall detection or in gym-based assessments.