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What are treadmill shoes?

Answer: Exactly what they sound like.

A blue and red sneaker on a white background.
Virtual reality gaming is fun, except for the part where you can’t walk or run through a space that you’re seeing without bumping into things in real life. An omnidirectional treadmill can counteract this. But they’re expensive, take up a lot of space, and not everyone likes them. A mini treadmill on the bottom of your shoes would be a lot easier, cheaper and smaller.

That’s essentially what the Freeaim VR Shoes are. Electrically powered, these shoes just need a roughly 6.6 foot square area of hard floor for the wearer to operate them. Each one is equipped with omnidirectional wheel modules on the bottom. When you take a step forward, the wheels on the other shoe will move it back, so you stay in place. Should you still end up at the edge of your designated walking space, the shoes will gradually take you back to the center.

The current developer version isn’t commercially available, but corporate clients can get their hands on a pair for $4,999. Freeaim co-founder Alex Evans told New Atlas that a consumer model is in the works, with a potential launch of next year for about $1,000 a pair. Those should be able to allow the user to also walk backwards and sidestep indefinitely.