Walt Disney Imagineering has introduced an innovative technology known as the ‘HoloTile’ floor, designed for omnidirectional virtual reality experiences. The creative mind behind this groundbreaking invention is Lanny Smoot, a Disney Research fellow and member of Walt Disney Imagineering’s research and development (R&D) division. This unveiling coincided with Smoot’s induction into the prestigious National Inventors Hall of Fame, making him the first Disney Imagineer to receive this honor and only the second individual from the Walt Disney Company to be recognized—following Walt Disney himself in 2000 for his contributions to the multiplane camera.

Described as the “world’s first multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor,” the HoloTile floor allows numerous individuals to partake in a shared VR experience, enabling them to walk unlimited distances in any direction without colliding or stepping off the surface. The technology also holds the potential to serve as an insert in theatrical stages, providing a platform for performers to explore new movements or for stage props and structures to move around or seemingly arrange themselves.

In a Disney Parks video, Smoot elaborates on the HoloTile floor, stating, “It will automatically do whatever it needs to have me stay on the floor. What’s amazing about this is multiple people can be on it and all walking independently. They can walk in virtual reality and so many other things.” Smoot, renowned for his contributions such as giving Madame Leota the ability to float in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion attraction and creating the extendable lightsaber for Disney Live Entertainment, emphasizes the vast applications of this technology.

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Experiences, commends Smoot, stating, “At Disney Experiences, we’re committed to world-class storytelling, creativity, and innovation in everything we do, and Lanny Smoot embodies every one of those ideals. As Disney’s most prolific inventor, Lanny continues to amaze all of us with his artistic ingenuity, technical expertise, and endless imagination.” The HoloTile floor stands as a testament to Disney’s ongoing commitment to pushing the boundaries of storytelling and technological innovation.

By Impact Lab