Moving around in VR environments usually means you’ll need to press down on a thumbstick or a touchpad. That’s all well and good for now, but it’s really not the most immersive way of getting around in large virtual spaces. Enter Brilliant Sole, a North Carolina-based VR startup working to bring VR controllers to the soles of your feet.

The company’s titular device includes nine axis IMUs for each foot, haptic motors, and Qi wireless charging. “Everything is embedded in the shoe insole,” Brilliant Sole CEO and founder Jeff Guard tells Hypepotamus.

It’s also said to emulate button presses from standard 6DOF controllers such as Oculus Touch and Vive motion controllers, letting you play seated, standing, and walking in-place while leaving your hands free for other tasks.

Image courtesy Brilliant Sole

The device’s internal sensors are also said to track the foot’s force at specific pressure points to allow users to walk in place or in whatever direction they want to go.

Two haptic motors for each foot let users ‘feel’ the virtual world beneath their feet—something that could really up the immersion depending on the size of the T-Rex you’re hiding from.

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“With Brilliant Sole, we ultimately want to be able to have you positionally track your feet (be able to look down and see them), then be able to control locomotion and feel the different ground surfaces underneath your feet through haptic feedback. It feels more natural than moving around with a joystick,” Guard says.

The company plans on launching Brilliant Sole to consumers in a crowdfunding campaign scheduled for early 2019.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Michael Slesinski

    that is definitely pretty clever, i do wonder how often it would have to be replaced and about oddly shaped feet though.

    • Thank you for commenting Michael. We have some early prototypes I built years ago that are still used regularly for testing. The interior sensors definitely last. As to oddly shaped feet, I guess that depends on how oddly shaped those feet are. While they are size dependent due to sensor placement, our software will allow for significant input variation.

      • Michael Slesinski

        i was thinking flat feet, wide feet, or long feet. not club foot or anything.

  • Albert Hartman

    I’m thinking unobtrusive AR camera glasses looking at my blackjack cards as well as those on the table around me. Then recalling the prior hands and computing the odds and informing me with these haptic buzzers in my feet on whether to hit or not.

    • jj

      shhhhhhhh just shhhhhh dont ruin it for us!

    • Albert, thank you for comment. Brilliant Sole will be an open platform. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for creators to create with them. Making it work well for VR required a really flexible system. Many possibilities…

  • oompah

    What if ur human body is a 5 sense deception
    i.e VR

  • shaggytherodgers

    Oh God is this gonna be like Kat again. Where they say its gonna be $300 then it costs $3000.

    • Shaggy, thank you for commenting. We’re planning to charge around $200 per pair through a crowd fund campaign early in 2019 and deliver product around mid-2019. Of course we have higher costs initially but we chose to make an insole because it’s the most cost-effective, simplest, and most flexible form factor. We’re developing a mass-market solution.

      • shaggytherodgers

        I hope your right cause this does look like a good cheaper alternative to the vr treadmills.

  • Alan Harrington

    Can you strafe in them? Strafing is an essential part of movement and if missing is awekward as hell (check out Oculus Home for proof of that; I can’t believe they haven’t implimented sidestepping in Home yet!!)

  • Brettyboy01

    Cant say ill be sharing the experience by sharing my shoes around with other people. Perhaps a sole with a velcro strap to attach underneath your actual shoes would be great.

    • Thank you for your input Brettyboy01. Velcro strap underneath shoes unfortunately will miss intricate intentional foot movements. Our insole is a development kit version as it’s the most flexible (for other use-cases) and most cost-efficient form factor.

  • Michael Sherman

    This is a step in the right direction. Pun intended:)

  • Michael Sherman

    We need some sort of foot thigh brace with stair stepper on an axis. This could essentially mimic the full motion of walking. I wish I was an enigineer

  • Vegeta2988

    Combine this with the Infinideck and you have a solution to the motion-sickness problem.