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One Small Step for Technology, One Giant Leap for Virtual Reality: Disney’s Holo Tile Floor Invention

Image Credit: YouTube

American Engineer and Inventor Lanny Smoot has recently received induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame after 25 years working for the Disney Corporation. In a video released by the Disney Research team, Smoot reveals that the only other person to receive this honour was Walt Disney himself.


Smoot’s creativity at Disney is well established, his inventions ranging from electromagnetic eyes to the most realistic lightsaber invented since Star Wars. However, his most recent invention has caught the eyes of gamers internationally. In the demonstration video, Lanny Smoot walks on the mat whilst explaining what the technology underneath is doing.


The floor itself is made up of individual circular tiles that rotate and shift accordingly when users stand upon it. By using motion tracking and sensors, its omnidirectional movement means that users can move completely independently. The treadmill-like floor is connected to Quest Pro headsets, which provides users with a unique VR experience that beats all others. 


Lanny’s innovative career began at Bell Communications Research, advocating for diversity in innovation and striving to inspire young creators. His main goal in his career has been to “use technology in the service of making people happy,”  with Disney providing the perfect outlet for his motivations. 


As Lanny demonstrates, the floor uses virtual reality spaces to allow users an immersive experience into other worlds whilst walking on the autonomous floor. Its multi-dimensionality means that multiple people can use the technology at once, right from the comfort of their own home. The implications of this suggest that perhaps families unable to travel abroad can stroll down the streets of Vienna just before attending a concert in the Musikverein.


Smoot also believes that the Holo Tile will come in handy for dancers, whose routines may become easier at concerts with the technology assisting movement beneath them. The Holo Tile is one of many innovative technologies that are almost ready to break out into the market attempting to make life and travel more accessible. Although its practical solutions may not be tried and tested, Lanny Smoot’s invention is a unique and fascinating representation of the step-by-step development of virtual reality.


With his induction into the Inventors Hall of Fame, Smoot and his VR creation hope to pave the way for Disney Innovators to inspire young people to make technology an inclusive space in such an ever-changing world. Perhaps this is where it all begins. 




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