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Microsoft Files Patent for VR Mat

Credit: Microsoft/US Patent and Trademark Office

I think Microsoft is overestimating the size of my living room.

I always get a little worried when it comes to using virtual reality headsets. Not because of my eyes or anything like that (no sir, those are already fried to a crisp), but because I have a bad habit of bashing my toes against things. If I have a headset on, it’s pretty much a given that a soft part of my foot is going to have a meeting with the hard part of a chair. Microsoft is, apparently, sympathetic to clumsy folks like me, and have a new idea in the pipeline that may help.

Earlier in the week, Microsoft filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office for what they call a “virtual reality floor mat activity region,” the point of which is to keep your dumb feet away from hard objects while playing VR games. So what exactly is the difference between the mat and a throw rug? The patent mentions the mat featuring a network of markers and pressure sensors that would gather data about where you are on the map. This would, in theory, allow games to shape the world around you more accurately so as not to steer you into a wall. The patent also mentions vibration points in the map to give you a bit of haptic feedback while you move around.

Interestingly, the patent clarifies that this mat could be used for any kind of VR-supporting hardware, from a game console to a PC. Though, the included diagram also clearly shows a Kinect in front of the mat, so Microsoft may have a scheme in the works to revive the poorly-received motion peripheral in tandem with VR tech.