We’re in the fourth week of the year, and another major company is stepping into the Extended Reality space, courtesy of Disney. The international media conglomerate is making headlines this week with its advancement, the Holotile, a prototype device that acts as a VR treadmill, allowing multiple users to walk through a shared virtual environment without the need for a controller.
Disney’s Holotile is an omnidirectional treadmill on which users can stand and walk, translating their steps as motion input for an Extended Reality application/experience. Unlike other omnidirectional treadmill products, Disney’s Holotile can support multiple users thanks to a non-invasive, modular, and expandable prototype.
It appears that Disney is creating its omnidirectional product for use in attractions at its theme parks; however, with its incredible reach, the technology may find other homes. In particular, Disney has been experimenting with Extended Reality services at its theme parks to explore new customer engagement modes, marketing, and advertising.
Disney Research, a group the company uses to develop innovative emerging technologies, highlighted the device in a YouTube video this past weekend. In it, Disney researcher and Imagineer Lanny Smoot showcased the device: “This is how I can walk on this omnidirectional floor, in whichever direction I want. It will automatically do whatever is necessary for me to stay on the floor, and the great thing about this is that multiple people can be on it and walk independently,” said Smoot.
Now that Disney is making a firm mark, in its own way and within its own bubble, in the Extended Reality device market, the outlook for Extended Reality will only continue to grow. Along with Apple’s debut in the market next week, Extended Reality devices could have their dominant moment in 2024.
While in the past, the Metaverse and Meta Quest held the title for the widest coverage of Extended Reality, the interest from Apple and now Disney in this space – not to mention other major companies directly targeting Extended Reality, such as Sony, Google, and Samsung – could lead to a whole new wave of investments in Extended Reality, with greater support for enterprise Extended Reality paths, as Extended Reality could become the dominant mainstream again.