XR startup Freeaim raises £250K for VR shoes

Freeaim, the startup designing wearable tech for virtual reality, announces the closing of a £250,000 pre-seed round.

The round was led by Nikolaus Oldendorff, through the Oldendorff family office, part of a global shipping and maritime firm based in Germany. Freeaim’s new pre-seed round will support the immediate launch of a developer version of the company’s flagship VR Shoes and enable the startup to scale production for a full, consumer-level release in 2025.

This is a key moment for virtual reality. Its market value related to gaming is projected to grow from $16.86 billion in 2024 to $105.22 billion by 2032. Despite this, attempts to improve the physical motion aspect of virtual reality have stalled. VR companies working in locomotion tend to develop versions of sliding treadmills, which allow the user to walk in place while held on a platform that is synced up to a VR program. These treadmills and similar devices are cumbersome and often prohibitively expensive. In the enterprise market, motorised omni-directional treadmills (ODT) tend to be more effective but can cost upwards of $50,000.

Freeaim is subverting the status quo by developing wearable tech instead. Rather than requiring a large and expensive machine to move a person, Freeaim’s omnidirectional motorised technology is built directly into the sole of its shoes. These shoes require less hardware and material than treadmills, and can go to market with a price point far more accessible in the rapidly growing VR industry. Easily stored in a box or carried in a backpack, the shoes can sync with any VR headset supported by SteamVR and will work with most PC VR games that have walkable environments. The VR Shoes feel more natural and stable, similar to walking on a gym treadmill, but in any direction while being immersed in VR .

In addition to the announcement of its pre-seed fundraising round, Freeaim is today releasing their VR Shoes developer kit to businesses for only $4999. The developer version of Freeaim VR Shoes will offer many important benefits to businesses – in addition to more advanced hardware, Freeaim will offer an SDK to enable the use of terrain- and event-triggered haptic feedback, kinetic feedback, and foot visualisation. The pro-level VR shoes will also offer data capture and analysis tools aimed at medical applications and training evaluation.

Ashley Foxcroft, Founder & CEO of Freeaim, said: “We’ve created a more portable, sleeker, and lighter alternative to current walking-related VR tech, and we’ve done it by thinking in the opposite direction. We focused on people’s feet and natural motion as opposed to trying to manufacture a special platform for them to walk on. This funding round is going to accelerate the launch, and with a consumer version set to follow the developer version, it’s going to be an enormous year for Freeaim. This kind of wearable tech is going to start getting a lot more attention.”

Freeaim’s VR Shoes are pioneering use cases beyond the obvious gaming applications. Hinted at by its maritime investor, Freeaim’s VR Shoes demonstrate serious potential for safety and job training in companies and government entities that require personnel to be in remote environments, such as oil rigs, submarines, and even training to work on other planets. The developer version supported by this pre-seed round is of particular interest here, and Freeaim is offering certain customisation options expressly for organisations of this nature.

Lead investor Nikolaus Oldendorff said: “In recent years individual pieces of VR hardware have started to look more alike. Freeaim and these VR Shoes are an intelligent antidote to this problem, and that’s why we’re supporting it. The potential that Freeaim has identified and, in some ways, helped create outside of the gaming sphere is enormous. We’re eager to see Freeaim take bigger strides into this new space. An XR or VR experience that includes full mobility, which can also be shipped in relatively tiny packages, has tremendous potential in many industries.”

The pre-seed round will additionally support various hardware improvements, further scaling, and preparations for the consumer version. The consumer version of VR Shoes is expected to be released within a year, coming in at a price point comparable to, if not more affordable than, existing VR treadmills. The Freeaim team will offer a playground experience and demo slots at the upcoming edition of Augmented World Expo in Long Beach, California.