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An omnidirectional treadmill is a mechanical device, similar to a typical treadmill, that allows a person to perform locomotive motion in any direction, allowing for 360 degrees of movement. The ability to move in any direction is how these treadmills differ from their basic counterparts . Omnidirectional treadmills are employed in immersive virtual environment implementations to allow unencumbered movement within the virtual space.

U.S. Army Research Lab's ODT with CAVE Graphics

An omnidirectional treadmill (ODT) is a mechanical device, similar to a typical treadmill, that allows a person to perform locomotive motion in any direction, allowing for 360 degrees of movement. The ability to move in any direction is how these treadmills differ from their basic counterparts (that permit only unidirectional locomotion). Omnidirectional treadmills are employed in immersive virtual environment implementations to allow unencumbered movement within the virtual space.

Advantages to pairing an ODT with an immersive virtual environment include:

  • Natural navigational movement of the system user within the enclosure while still providing contextual cueing which simulate physical traversal through the virtual terrain
  • Reverting immersive navigation tasks from hand-based (mouse, joystick) to mentally hard-wired whole body (leg) based
  • Enhancing immersion by providing a whole-body experience that begins at the soles of the feet and ends at the top of the head
  • Facilitating whole-body haptic interaction