Remember when you were a kid, and you used to go sliding across the floor in your stocking feet? Well, researchers at Austria's Vienna University of Technology have developed a virtual reality gaming system that brings those sock-sliding days to mind. It allows players to walk on the spot in the real world, causing their character to walk across the ground in the game.

Known as the Virtualizer, the pulpit-like device incorporates a disc-shaped low-friction floor plate, and a belt that is linked to three vertical columns.

The player slides their sock-clad feet around on the plate, simulating the walking or running gait that they wish to achieve in the game. Sensors in the plate detect the speed at which their feet are moving, and moves their character around in the game at that same speed.

To change direction of movement in the game, the player simply changes the direction they're facing within the Virtualizer – sensors attached to the belt detect the orientation of their body. Real-life jumps or squats also make their way into the game, as arms extending from the belt to the columns allow vertical movements to be tracked.

It is hoped that by using the technology, players won't experience the feeling of disconnectedness that comes with standing still in real life while moving in the game universe – additionally, it should allow users to get some exercise.

The Virtualizer should be commercially available sometime next year, although a price has yet to be decided upon. It can be seen in use in the video below.

View gallery - 3 images