‘Level-Ups’: the Motorized Stilts that Provide Vertical Force Feedback in VR (video)


Standing-up interactions are coming to VR sooner than we can pronounce ‘HTC Vive’ correctly (like ‘revive’ minus the ‘re’), and although flat virtual surfaces are a breeze to get around, what about stairs? ledges? curbs? You know, all of those little banal pieces of architecture that make streets, houses, and mountain pathways possible? Researchers at Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam, Germany aim to find out with their prototype device: ‘Level-Ups’

The prototype is based on the findings by a number of researchers from the Hasso-Plattner-Institut, a private research facility affiliated with the University of Potsdam that is primarily dedicated to IT systems engineering. Institute researchers Dominik Schmidt, Robert Kovacs, Vikram Mehta, Udayan Umapathi, Sven Köhler, Lung-Pan Cheng, and Patrick Baudisch have all contributed to the paper, which is traveling along with the prototype itself for a hands-on demonstration at CHI 2015, the upcoming human computer interaction conference taking place in April 18-23 in Seoul, Korea.

Paper Abstract: We present “Level-Ups”, computer-controlled stilts that allow virtual reality users to experience walking up and down steps. Each Level-Up unit is a self-contained device worn like a boot. Its main functional element is a vertical actuation mechanism mounted to the bottom of the boot that extends vertically. Unlike traditional solutions that are integrated with locomotion devices, Level-Ups allow users to walk around freely (“real-walking”). We present Level-Ups in a demo environment based on a head-mounted display, optical motion capture, and integrated with a game engine.

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