Virtuix Omni VR Treadmill Headed to Kickstarter: Walk, Jump, and Sprint in Virtual Reality

virtuix omni treadmill virtual reality

The Virtuix Omni is a passive omnidirectional treadmill that looks like it could fill one of the last major missing pieces of the VR puzzle. The Omni, which is soon to hit Kickstarter, allows players to walk, jump, and literally sprint inside of their favorite games. Virtuix CEO Jan Goetgeluk tells me he thinks his company has “cracked the formula” for a consumer omnidirectional treadmill that will have players more immersed than ever before.

I will admit, I was absolutely impressed when I saw that the Omni will allow players to actually sprint inside of their favorite games:

For a long time I’ve been saying that an omni-directional VR treadmill will have major implications for games. It’s one thing to hold a thumb-stick or mouse button and have your character sprint at 20 MPH for hours on end. But when you are the one who has to do the sprinting, things change fast — everything from gameplay to game pacing is impacted by how quickly your character moves.

In a game like GTA IV (Rockstar North, 2008), you constantly run from one point to the next in a huge city. With a system where you actually need to run to run, game developers had better expect a lot more walking. Suddenly those blocky pedestrians will need to high quality assets to stand up to the scrutiny of a player strolling by down the sidwalk. In a virtual world where the player really has to walk and run, maybe an entire city isn’t the best environment. Perhaps a single, high detailed, city block would be better suited to the medium.

If the Omni succeeds in its mission it will take VR gaming to a new level of immersion.

Imagine a terrifying game like Slender: The Arrival (Parsec Productions, 2013) wherein you are pursued in a dark forest by a terrifying daemon and the only way to survive is to run for your life. With a keyboard, you simply hold the ‘W’ key to sprint away from that nightmare. With a VR treadmill like the Virtuix Omni, you won’t just sprint at one set speed — you’ll have to actually run for your life. As I imagine this scenario in my head (playing Slender with the Omni, Oculus Rift, and Razer Hydra) I can almost feel the terror coursing through me. Mark my words, people are going to be screaming and sprinting for their lives, anxiously peering behind them to see if they’ve gotten away. I’ll be the first in line.

Coming to Kickstarter, Endorsed by Palmer Luckey

As reported by 3D Focus, Oculus VR Inc founder Palmer Luckey will be officially endorsing endorsing the Virtuix Omni in the forthcoming Omni Kickstarter campaign which is expected in May.

“Palmer and others (Chris Roberts, Paul Bettner) tried the Omni at SXSW in Austin this past March and greatly enjoyed it.  We were allowed to film our demo night for Kickstarter, so we’ll have some fun footage to share.  Palmer is endorsing the Omni for our Kickstarter campaign,” Goetgeluk told 3D Focus.

Be sure to read the rest of the 3D Focus Virtuix Omni interview.

Virtuix is in the process of filming and editing their Kickstarter video materials. The Omni price has not been announced but the obvious aim to is to make it affordable for your everyday gamer.

Virtuix Omni and the Oculus Rift

virtuix omni palmer luckey Jan Goetgeluk oculus rift

Palmer Luckey (Oculus VR) and Jan Goetgeluk (Virtuix Omni)

Virtuix CEO Jan Goetgeluk recently picked up an Oculus Rift developer kit and tested it with the Omni for the first time.

“I tried the Rift with the Omni this morning, a magical experience… Walking around the Tuscany villa with the Omni must have been my strongest VR moment so far.  My brain started to believe I was in Italy…  VR users will want and need a natural interface to experience VR.  I am now more convinced than ever that the Omni will become a crucial part of VR,” he told me.

Thanks to the built-in headtracking and wide FoV, the Oculus Rift makes a natural companion for the Omni. Together they take care of two huge components of the VR puzzle. Along with the Razer Hydra or a similar system for 6DOF hand-input, the trifecta will comprise a highly immersive virtual reality system at a price that consumers can actually afford — the first time this has ever happened.

Comments

  1. Avatar of George says

    Looks cool, they will have to let the center ring move up and down though to accommodate ducking. My thought would a telescoping support for the ring, that attaches to the base, but is not fixed, instead would stay orientated to the back of the player. There would be a ball bearing plate that the telescoping rod would attach to, to allow such movement.

  2. Avatar of pizzy00 says

    I hope he waits a little while before launching his Kickstarter. So more people who ordered Rift have them and know to support this. I am low on fund from backing almost everything everything Rift related. It’s good to see Palmer backing this he has real cred now.

    I have an idea how to make it “heavier” and save on shipping possibly. Have the consumer fill it with water, a water reservoir. So you ship a lighter product and make it heavier. I am sure they have thought of this. My concern would be hitting my leg on one of the arms, but with tracking the software could tell the user when it is safe to run or not.

  3. Avatar of deadering says

    To me this looks much more promising to the wizdish. They are both awesome, though I feel this vituix is the right direction to go for gaming.

    As far as it shaking around and what not, I can not imagine this is the final design they are going to launch for the kickstarter. I imagine it will go through some evolution; you can even see it’s using plain wood for the harness/cradle thing. I’m sure a consumer version will be more polished. My biggest concern is first and for most durability. If I’m going to be jumping up mountains in game I want to know I won’t crush this thing after a few hours lol.

    This, with Occulus and Hydra… well let’s just say working out will be a hell of a lot more popular, since it will be as easy as playing an open world game or platformer.

    • Avatar of Paul James says

      Honestly, I think I can see VR bringing about a resurgence in public amusements and arcade style experiences. As Virtuality did back in the day, except of course wholly more successful and satisfying.

      It’d also be true for multiplayer positional tracking based stuff like Project Holodeck – where space and equipment cost is a high price of entry to play.

      • Avatar of kevin williams says

        @Paul – I have to agree (even though I am bias), I just can’t see this as home entertainment approach for the next five years? Even then – scaling down the needed components seems impossible to fit the post Crash consumer game sector?

        A VR entertainment system would have:
        - networked treadmills
        - networked player tracking
        - HD HMD / with spacial audio
        - network game infrastructure
        - updated content support

        No consumer game company (or individual) would be able to cover this cost with post 2014 hardware – just look at the PC specifications that are needed to run the appropriate HD HMD, tracking and interfaces (controls, treadmil, etc.,) needed for a accurate let alone adequate approach. The PS4 will not run this – period, so that is Generation-9 hardware (say 2016)!

        • Avatar of deadering says

          I’m not sure exactly what you mean. The Virtuix Omni, by design, is “the first omni treadmill that is affordable for household consumers”. Paired with the Occulus Rift, another great device being made to be affordable for household consumers, is another piece. Finally the Razer Hydra, an already affordable peripheral that is currently released, to finish the ultimate consumer-geared VR trio.

          All of these devices combined should have no problem running on any gaming PC made recently. For a hardcore PC gamer or enthusiast it would be even less of an issue.

          Besides, consoles are not even being targeted currently for any of these devices; they are solely PC for now. Not because they can’t run the hardware but because of licensing/costs/etc. They need a strong PC launch before they can consider moving to closed platforms like the PS4, 360, Wii U, and the like.

Leave a Reply