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Is Microsoft working on a vibrating mat for better VR?

A newly filed patent suggests Microsoft is upping its VR game with a… vibrating floor mat. 

Seemingly this is an evolution of the fairly simple technology, the vibrating game controller. We’ve had those since the Nintendo 64, but vibrations from the floor could offer an even more immersive VR experience.

Related: Best VR headset

The patent submission includes an image that shows what appears to be a Kinect-style camera and a large matted playing space (via Variety).

“The floor mat may include one or more vibration devices integrated into the floor mat to generate vibration at the floor mat,” according to the patent. “The virtual reality experience may be augmented by generating vibration at the floor mat via at least one vibration device of the one or more vibration devices.”

The mat would also act as a useful boundary for the playing area, helping users keep track of their location within the room − which can be much trickier than it sounds when wearing a VR headset.

This does seem like a fairly logical step for the development of virtual reality gaming. A vibrating floor could add to the immersion of many gaming experiences, for example, imagine playing your favourite first-person shooter, taking cover as a grenade lands, and feeling vibrations reverberate through the floor when it explodes. There are many possibilities for employing the technology and advancing VR gaming.

However, this filed patent is just that, a filed patent. It doesn’t guarantee any product will ultimately emerge, but it does raise the possibility.

Especially when we consider Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will be bringing hand-tracking powers to Oculus Quest. It seems that, together, the product releases could represent an investment in the immersive qualities, and future potential, of VR gaming.

Related: Read our Oculus Quest review

Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the news during the Oculus Connect 6 keynote in September. The hand-tracking powers won’t require additional sensors, with the Oculus Quest headset itself capable of detecting and tracking your hands alone.

This new technology will mean you won’t need to press buttons or use a controller to interact with objects in the virtual space, making the whole experience feel more natural and less intimidating for gaming newcomers.

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