Called the Ecto One, developed by Ekto VR, the boots have two rotating plates which can twist to the direction that the wearer is walking in.
When the player puts their foot on the ground, a set of wheels pulls their legs backwards as they walk forwards, which allows the player to keep moving while also staying in one spot.
The company demonstrated the robot boots playing the game Half-Life: Alyx in virtual reality, walking up a staircase and onto a balcony with relative ease.
The wearer was also able to climb a ladder onto a higher platform, however this was done by approaching it and the game itself moving the player onto the roof, rather than the wearer mimicking the movement of climbing.
Crouching while wearing the boots, and holding the virtual reality handsets, also let the player reach a lower grate and walk through it.
The boots are made of a custom-designed carbon fibre material to keep them lightweight, and use HTC’s Vive Trackers to register movement in virtual reality.
In a prebriefing, Ekto VR CEO Brad Factor said that the system has been through rigorous testing to ensure safety, although it does not yet support the ability to run.
According to VentureBeat, the boots could be ready for consumer applications in two to four years.
However, for the moment, they are targeted at enterprise customers only.
Questions remain about the usability of this product; in many video games players are attacked by enemies or made to quickly escape dangerous scenarios, and as-yet it is unclear how the Ecto One boots would fare in such situations.
These are not the only virtual reality boots that could be entering the market. Japanese company Cerevo showed off a pair of motion controllers and shoes in 2017 which vibrate as the player walks or kicks.
Virtual reality sensors have also been used to train football players, tracking their movements in order to practice targeted shots on the goal.
In such instances, the physical feeling of a ball against the foot is created by the brain – similar to the placebo effect.