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Google patents 'virtual reality footwear' designed to make you feel like you're walking

One step ahead?

Abrar Al-Heeti Video producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
Expertise Abrar has spent her career at CNET breaking down the latest trends on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, while also reporting on diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Credentials
  • Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has twice been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Abrar Al-Heeti
Google VR shoes patent application

An image from Google's patent application for "augmented and/or virtual reality footwear."

Screenshot by Abrar Al-Heeti

Have you ever put on a  virtual reality  headset but hesitated to walk around because you might smack into a wall? If so, Google may have a fix for you.

The search giant filed a patent application, published last week, that details "motorized footwear" for "augmented and/or virtual reality." 

Donning the roller-skate-like shoes will allow a person to move as if walking, motion that can be linked to movement in the virtual environment he or she is experiencing. In the physical world, however, the motors and wheels on the shoes will negate that movement and keep the wearer safe from walls and other obstacles. 

"This may allow the user to walk, seemingly endlessly in the virtual environment, while remaining within a defined physical space in the physical environment," the patent application reads.

Google's VR shoes aren't a real product yet, and it isn't clear if they ever will be. Still, something to keep in mind, ArsTechnica points out, is that the company will have to ensure users don't fall over while wearing the snazzy footwear. Otherwise, this won't be much of an improvement over blindly stumbling around with a pair of VR goggles strapped to your head.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.