back to article Mythbuster seeks cash for roller skates to wear in virtual reality

Former Mythbuster Jamie Hyneman is seeking US$50,000 to build a prototype pair of roller skates to wear in virtual reality. Hyneman's pitch video points out that when one straps on goggles and gloves to enter virtual reality, your eyes are occupied and you therefore run the risk of bumping into stuff if you try to walk in …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Field Commander A9

    There's already a solution

    It's called an Omni-treadmill.

    1. A K Stiles

      Re: There's already a solution (Omni-treadmill)

      Although that is somewhat restrictive on where it can be used and the cost might be a little restrictive too.

      A pair of shoes like this could work for most folks without commandeering an entire room.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan

        Re: There's already a solution (Omni-treadmill)

        A pair of shoes like this could work for most folks without commandeering an entire room.

        Right up until they take several sideways steps and fall over the sofa/coffee table/cat..

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: There's already a solution (Omni-treadmill)

          I have a solution, I'm going to go crowdfund a cat shaped sofa with integrated, flip down coffee table. Space clawed back for gaming.

        2. Jonathan 27 Silver badge

          Yeah...

          Your cat will learn eventually.

          1. Captain DaFt

            Re: Yeah...

            Your cat will learn eventually.

            But not the way you'd hope.

            Mine will carefully avoid getting under my feet, in daylight, when I can see it.

            But when it's dark and I can't see it? The murderous little bastard is right there in front of my feet, in the perfect pose to trip me.

            I'd expect any cat to soon learn that when you put on the VR goggles, it's the perfect time to trip you.

    2. DropBear

      Re: There's already a solution

      Oh no, not one. A smallish bazillion, rather. The problem is none of them seem to work all that convincingly, or permanently occupy a non-negligible area (not a big issue in an arcade, huge issue in a home) or both. Unfortunately I'm not all that sure this one is any different in that sense - at best, if it does work, it might indeed fake walking forward; how about any other type of movement? What about a simple side step...? What about needing to walk up or down an imaginary incline or stairs...? I'm pretty sure the disconnect would be quite serious. Not to mention that even as scaled-down as game worlds are compared to actual distances in the real world, there's still absolutely no way you could convince me to physically walk all the distance a game character routinely appears to in most games.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: There's already a solution

        "there's still absolutely no way you could convince me to physically walk all the distance a game character routinely appears to in most games."

        Especially since these characters have the necessary fitness to go everywhere at sprinting pace. I think that most gamers don't have that kind of fitness.

        1. j.bourne
          Trollface

          Re: There's already a solution

          > I think that most gamers don't have that kind of fitness.

          They will soon....

          1. Tigra 07

            Re: j.bourne

            Considering a lot of action games require you to roll to move faster this could end badly.

            And you though Wii-mote injuries were bad? Try diving into furniture with your face...

            1. hplasm
              Happy

              Re: j.bourne

              "And you though Wii-mote injuries were bad? Try diving into furniture with your face..."

              Finally a reason to watch those Youtube gaming videos...

            2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: j.bourne

              On the plus side it would finally put an end to dolphin diving in battlefield...

              Mine's the one with the odd orange glow as if it's on fire.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Facepalm

                Re: j.bourne

                "On the plus side it would finally put an end to dolphin diving in battlefield..."

                I just had to look up Dolphin diving, didn't I?

          2. horse of a different color

            Re: There's already a solution

            I, for one, welcome our new hair-trigger-reflexes-and-super-fit gamer overlords.

          3. Chemical Bob

            Re: > I think that most gamers don't have that kind of fitness.

            "They will soon...."

            Only the ones that survive...

        2. My other car is an IAV Stryker Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: There's already a solution

          > I think that most gamers don't have that kind of fitness.

          I think the upper weight limit of 215 pounds is a bit... unrealistic... given that demographic.

          Full disclosure: Yes, I'm over that limit. (No, I'm not "obese", but I could stand to get down there. For my height, it would be difficult to maintain anything lower than that.)

          But when I think of who has the extra dough (dosh) to waste on this, and the time, and takes risks to try new things, I think of a certain brother-in-law, who is even taller than I, weights more (all muscle), and has a size 16 foot. Mr. Hyneman's proposal as-is would exclude him outright.

          Nice idea, but without some scaling-up, this shoe just stinks.

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: Nice idea, but without some scaling-up, this shoe just stinks.

            >>But when I think of who has the extra dough (dosh) to waste on this, and the time, and takes risks to try new things, I think of a certain brother-in-law, who is even taller than I, weights more (all muscle), and has a size 16 foot. Mr. Hyneman's proposal as-is would exclude him outright.

            >>Nice idea, but without some scaling-up, this shoe just stinks.

            Sorry but "there are a few really big people who aren't just fat" is not a reason why such a product would fail. Any more than 3D movies or VR itself would be sunk by the fact some people don't have balanced enough eyesight.

            The vast bulk (!) of people are under 215lb - I own ladders with a lower weight limit than that!

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: There's already a solution

            > I think that most gamers don't have that kind of fitness.

            I think the upper weight limit of 215 pounds is a bit... unrealistic... given that demographic.

            it would seem to ME, at any rate, that those who DO have "that kind of fitness" often ARE above 215lbs. And that's not because they're FAT, it's because they're MUSCULAR.

            maybe not a lot of gamers doing that, though, but the exercise benefits of walking in VR might get them there.

            My biggest concern would be the balance factor. If your balance senses expect you to be moving, and your feet are sliding, what does this do for balance correction? The shoes would need to measure what your head is doing in order to compensate, and a rapid spin-around would throw THAT system into complete chaos. [humans use eyes for balance while the fluid in the ear is still spinning]

            I expect motion sickness, too, because what the inner ear says will differ ENOUGH from what the eyes see, that you'll get a sense of vertigo from it, followed by that funny 'headache', followed by the spillage of stomach contents all over those VR shoes.

            icon, because, you're spewing on a peripheral device

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: There's already a solution

          "I think that most gamers don't have that kind of fitness."

          Unless, of course, the force exerted could be magically and virtually magnified by, oh I dunno, some sort of computer?

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: There's already a solution

        "Not to mention that even as scaled-down as game worlds are compared to actual distances in the real world, there's still absolutely no way you could convince me to physically walk all the distance a game character routinely appears to in most games."

        Indeed, that's what almost all the fuss about VR seems to forget. It doesn't matter what clever gadgets you use or how immersive you make them, the fundamental point of games is to allow people to do things they're not actually capable of doing in reality. Most of the time that also means things that no human could ever be capable of doing, or even things that outright break the laws of physics. The only way that can ever work is by plugging things directly into our brains so that no physical movement is actually required. No amount of flailing our limbs around can ever come close to recreating the actual activities of most game characters, so there's absolutely no point in trying to introduce motion controls that at best run headlong into uncanny valley territory, and most of the time can't even manage that.

        The thing is, people are really good at immersing themselves in things (games, books, films, etc.) by simply focusing on them while ignoring everything else around them. Normal game controls allow that by only requiring minimal actions that are directly translated to in-game activity. Forcing people to awkwardly hop around their living room seriously breaks that immersion, but doesn't replace it with anything extra since the actions their taking aren't actually any closer to the in-game ones in any meaningful way. It's like telling people they could be more immersed in reading Lord of the Rings if they get up and go for a run every half hour so that their actions are closer to those of the characters.

        1. Tigra 07
          Happy

          Re: There's already a solution

          I'm predicting a plug-in add-on to simulate riding a horse for those large open world games...Hopefully it vibrates like the controller for, um, reasons...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's already a solution

        Unfortunately I'm not all that sure this one is any different in that sense - at best, if it does work, it might indeed fake walking forward; how about any other type of movement?

        IKR, this does not address any of the limitations of VR porn.

    3. Random Handle

      Re: There's already a solution

      Paintball?

  3. jake Silver badge

    $50K?

    Jamie, you make more than that on re-runs every week. Fund it yourself, cheapskate.

    1. DropBear

      Re: $50K?

      You forget that for a large portion of projects these days Kickstarter is merely a glorified cheaper-than-free market surveying tool. They just want to know if there are any actual punters...

    2. John 104

      Re: $50K?

      No kidding. Guy is a fucking millionaire and he's asking for money? What a tool.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: $50K?

        You don't get rich by spending money.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: $50K?

          JDX, I beg to differ. That's why the saying is "You've got to spend money to make money".

          1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: $50K?

            JDK, Jake:

            You don't get rich by spending your own money. You've got to spend money to make money. The trick is spending other people's money, but making yourself profit.

            FTFY, just wish I could work out how to actually do it.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: $50K?

      "cheapskate."

      cheap. skate. heh. grabbing coat.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As if you don't already look a tw*t when using VR they want to add roller skates?

    1. frank ly
      Gimp

      It's in the privacy of your home among likeminded consenting adults. Does that make it ok?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Only if I can wear daisy dukes and a crop top as well for that total immersive experience.

        Disclaimer: I'm over 40, fat and male.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Russell, is that you?

  5. SwizzleStick

    I'll but that for a dollar

    This could get some unreal inertia!

  6. imanidiot Silver badge

    Yeah... No....

    I don't see this working at all. Probably fine for straight line moves, but they running a curve and you'll probably be tripping over your own legs. Plus you miss the force needed to propel your mass forward, meaning it'll feel like you're running on ice and flailing your legs wildly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah... No....

      "I don't see this working at all."

      Well, it might work, if you dropped the electric motors, changed the wheels for castor wheels and used it whilst wearing a climbing harness attached to the four walls of your room with bungie cord. Then again, it might not work, but it will be funny watching someone try it out.

      1. PerspexAvenger

        Re: Yeah... No....

        That's... not the stupidest idea. BRB, off to set up a Kickstarter.

        *looks up -really- strong rawlplugs*

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Yeah... No....

      Good luck with strafing, too.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Yeah... No....

      Even more fun when the batteries run out.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Yeah... No....

        So its clearly not suitable for all VR environments - those where you sit down (driving sims etc) not required.

        Running jumping strafing sliding crawling FPS - I think I'll stick to the keyboard and mouse*

        These skates would be perfect though for that "Slow stroll in the country" simulator I've been meaning to check out.

        *anyone playing a FPS and not using keyboard&mouse is doing it wrong. If you're using a console controller you may as well be trying to play snooker using a subway sandwich.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Yeah... No....

          "Running jumping strafing sliding crawling FPS - I think I'll stick to the keyboard and mouse"

          Yeah, the last thing we nerds need is for our games, which we can excel at, be converted into a physical experience that only the jocks can excel at!

    4. Muscleguy Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: Yeah... No....

      Scene: really hard Dundee winter last decade, constant minus temps, all footpaths lumpy glaciers of trodden snow. Only option is to run along the beach. Except on this day there had been a brief thaw and the meltwaters had run over the sand and frozen. After I gingerly descended the concrete steps I stepped out and assumed I would break through the crust, I'm 90kg of muscle and bone.

      But this did not happen. What did was me flail around on the spot like Wile E Coyote trying not to fall over and stop trying to run. Yup, the beach was frozen solid. I gave up.

      I have deliberately failed to be able to run on a treadmill so I have no other option than to run outside in all weathers. Modern exercise clothing including lightweight breathable, wind and waterproof jackets make doing it much more feasible than it used to be.

  7. GruntyMcPugh

    I'd take quite a different approach,.... for one, I'd make it a boot with some ankle support, because the idea of something allowing my foot to slide says twisted ankle to me. Second, I'd replace the rollers and wheels with a bed of trackballs, so the boot can move in full 2D, and sweep and slide, simple pressure sensors will actually do the opposite of what usually happens, when there's pressure put down on the boot, the trackballs will unlock and slide to prevent IRL movement and signal In Game Movement, when it's lifted they will lock, allowing the other boot to move.

    Surely though some restraint of the torso is needed still, to react against, or people are going to fall over?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Surely though some restraint of the torso is needed still, to react against, or people are going to fall over?"

      Yes, that, plus a decent amount of rolling resistance. Free running trackballs would be like the frozen beach mentioned above. This probably the reason this initial design spec. is a half-track design. Ideally the rolling resistance would be adjustable under the games control to help simulate going up or down hill.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VR roller-skates ?

    They can have some virtual cash then.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      I'm sure they'll accept BitCoin from you AC.

      That was what you meant, right?

  9. Reue

    They way I'd do it

    Not comparable to playing on a console at home but a whole new untapped potential.

    Use an empty hall, court, field.. basically anything which is a rough uniform size/shape and empty inside. Stand in the middle, activate a camera on your headset and do a 360. The camera detects the walls/fences around the perimeter and adjusts the game map to have hard barriers along those edges. Play the game without fear of bumping into anything, just stop when you reach the 20ft high wall at the edge of the map.

    Could also be used for education, imagine taking a history class to the school field and having it generate into a complete roman town which they can walk around and interact with.

    Ah. one day..

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: They way I'd do it

      > Use an empty hall, court, field [...] Play the game without fear of bumping into anything

      So no other players? And just one large hall per player? That shouldn't be a problem then.

      > Could also be used for education

      The best use for VR in education is to have the kids remain at home while the VR experience is of them appearing to be well behaved and sitting neatly at their desks.

      1. Reue

        Re: They way I'd do it

        Current demonstration of hololens shows people about to identify where others (both locally and remotely) and located within the virtual area. Either have it augmented reality which would obviously show physical people or utilise that camera I mentioned earlier ;)

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: They way I'd do it

        "The best use for VR in education is to have the kids remain at home while the VR experience is of them appearing to be well behaved and sitting neatly at their desks."

        I like the idea, but can we have a reversed version?

    2. JakeMS

      Re: They way I'd do it

      I'd pay to be able to go into a VR roman village/town. It'd be great to see history like that. Even as an adult*!

      ** I'm an adult technically, but I don't want to get old.

      1. Mike Moyle

        Re: They way I'd do it

        Of course, to get the full effect of being there, you'd need a Virtual Aroma mask as well.

  10. handleoclast

    Headcrash

    Bruce Bethke came up with a similar idea in his novel Headcrash, a satirical cyberpunk novel.

    Next up: the procto-prod.®

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why does everybody else have to pay for his idea ???

    I really don't get fundraisers like this from somebody with easily enough capital behind them why should the masses foot the bill, I get it that it is voluntary, just some people don't think....

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      He's probably doing if for the publicity aka advertising. As plus.... there's pre-sales and he's not out of pocket if the whole thing goes south.

  12. gecho

    I always wanted a pair of moonwalk shoes.

    1. Patrick R

      ...I always wanted a pair of moonwalk shoes.

      Because you're BAD.

  13. Mystic Megabyte
    FAIL

    No thanks

    That graphic does not show the backpack holding an 80lb. tractor battery to power the stupid shoes.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't wait for the first vulnerability that makes the left shoe go forwards at full speed, and the right one backwards. Although I can't decide if that would make the wearer do a decent pirouette, or the splits.

  15. Stevie

    Bah!

    Three proofs positive I see in this article.

    Proof positive that this Mythbuster idiot knows nil about science, particularly the biology of human beings. Blowing up things on TV has convinced him otherwise.

    Proof positive that The Register cannot construct a headline to accurately reflect content too. The skates are to be worn in the real world while the user experiences VR. From the headline I thought we were about to be regaled by a tale of virtual skates for use in Second Life.

    Proof positive that I have not enough work on my desk right now.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't it feel like you are slipping backwards, with you ending up planting your face in the floor as your foot moves backwards but your upper body stays where it is.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      "Wouldn't it feel like you are slipping backwards, with you ending up planting your face in the floor as your foot moves backwards but your upper body stays where it is."

      you've described vertigo, in a way. THAT sometimes results in a 'technicolor belch'

      icon, because, spew on peripheral device (again)

  17. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Trollface

    Surely an accelerometer in the VR headset would do this? lean forward or tip head forward, ditto to turn corners. Do wonders for gamer's neck muscles.

    It could sense you crouch, get up or jump too. Gamers doing dynamic squats.

    A particular motion might also simulate sex. Gamers doing pressups.

    Surely that is a more obvious solution?

    Not to mention a decent fitness program for gamers.

  18. southen bastard

    explosions

    don't all things mythbusters go bang in a really big way???

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