CyberWalk: Enabling unconstrained omnidirectional walking through virtual environments

J. L. Souman, P. Robuffo Giordano, M. Schwaiger, I. Frissen, T. Thümmel, H. Ulbrich, A. De Luca, H. H. Bülthoff, M. O. Ernst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


Despite many recent developments in virtual reality, an effective locomotion interface which allows for normal walking through large virtual environments was until recently still lacking. Here, we describe the new CyberWalk omnidirectional treadmill system, which makes it possible for users to walk endlessly in any direction, while never leaving the confines of the limited walking surface. The treadmill system improves on previous designs, both in its mechanical features and in the control system employed to keep users close to the center of the treadmill. As a result, users are able to start walking, vary their walking speed and direction, and stop walking as they would on a normal, stationary surface. The treadmill system was validated in two experiments, in which both the walking behavior and the performance in a basic spatial updating task were compared to that during normal overground walking. The results suggest that walking on the CyberWalk treadmill is very close to normal walking, especially after some initial familiarization. Moreover, we did not find a detrimental effect of treadmill walking in the spatial updating task. The CyberWalk system constitutes a significant step forward to bringing the real world into the laboratory or workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalACM Transactions on Applied Perception
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov


  • Control system
  • Locomotion
  • Spatial navigation
  • Treadmill
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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