CES 2015: Virtuix CEO Talks Production-ready Omni, Shipping Expected in March (video)


We caught up with Virtuix who were exhibiting their final, production design for their omnidirectional treadmill, the Omni, at CES 2015. Ben Lang speaks to Virtuix CEO, Jan Goetgeluk to about shipping dates and on how this unit differs from earlier prototypes.

ben-virtuix-ces2015The first flush of early projects, inspired by the resurrection of the VR industry after the wildy successful Kickstarter for the Oculus Rift, are finally coming to fruition. The Virtuix Omni was one of the earliest such projects to appear and those who backed the company’s successful Kickstarter campaign can now put a date in the diary for when they can expect to receive their Omni’s.

See Also: Virtuix Closes $2.7M Investment, Finalised Omni Design to be Revealed at CES 2015

Jan revealed that the company expects to begin shipping the first units to ‘clear the backlog’ by the close of Q1 2015, specifically in March. He also went on to talk about the construction of the production-ready treadmill and how it differs to previous revisions.

The device is now constructed from moulded plastics with powder coated steel and anodised aluminium replacing the largely wooden construction of previous prototypes. The device’s fit and finish now matches the level that should be expected of a device in the Omni’s price range, but the device is ostensibly almost identical in terms of size.

'Moss: Book II' Review – A Refined & Satisfying Sequel That Sticks With What Works
The final system includes special shoes fitted with two removable tracker ‘pods’ which provide movement data (prototype pods shown).

One major change from earlier prototypes is the tracking system used by the Omni. Virtuix have iterated through various methods to track movement of your feet whilst using the system, but have finally settled on dedicated ‘pods’ which attach to special shoes worn by the user. These pods contain wireless, inertia sensing IMUs which feed movement data back to the system. These are the vital components that provide the input that’s fed into the game so as the player walks, so does the in game character.

The unit can now be stripped down, collapsed and transported too, another major change from prior prototypes that we’d seen at several points during the product’s development. This was a key promise of the company’s Kickstarter campaign and it’s great to see practical considerations finding their way into the final device.

Finally, the device is still available for pre-order at the original price of $499 on Virtuix’s site here, this price will rise to $699 on February 1st, so if you’re interested in snagging a unit, now’s the time to do it.

We’ll be delving in more detail into the user experience soon. Expect a hands-on at the proprietary game being used to demo the Omni at CES 2015 plus looking at the general user experience when operating the device.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

  • sponge101

    I’m sold. However, I don’t understand Virtuix’s decision to increase the price by 40 percent in February. Is it really because of production cost or the price of Cyberith Virtualizer?
    Can’t decide to either wait for Cyberith or get the Omni. Crouching is awesome and more lateral jump and squat is a big plus, but the Omni shoes look more comfortable than running in socks. 

    • Dev_Guy_Robert

      We have worked really hard to create a rugged, safe piece of equipment that will live up to our backer’s expectations. During that process we designed a platform which is indeed more costly to manufacture, and will stand up against the physical demands of our players.

      • proyb

        Do you have shoes made for Cavus Foot (High-Arched Foot)?

      • sponge101

        Of course safety is always top priority. That being said, there was an official video of a prototype of the omni titled “Flexible Support Ring R&D.” I know that was just an experimental prototype, but is there an news you can share? For example, do you envision people buying a new version of this omni or is it more of an upgrade purchase to the original omni; in which case it would be an add-on. Thanks.

  • Alkapwn

    This is awesome! Hopefully they ship them in the order that they were backed on kickstarter. Would be nice to be in that first initial shipment of Omnis. It will make having woken up so early to back it, that much more worth it.

  • leoc

    What kind of cable management are they using for VR HMDs? In the video here (and in other footage of the Omni) I can see a DK2 with the cable going up, but not what’s above that. Is there something like a slip ring, or some cable-winding gadget? Or just a ceiling hook for the cable? Is that the stock DK2 cable?

    And how effective is the solution? How many consecutive full turns in one direction can an Omni user make before cable winding starts becoming a problem? In practise, how many minutes of gameplay in one FPS or another can a user get through, on average, before cable winding starts becoming a problem?

    • Jacob Pederson

      Forget time before unwinding, I want to know how long before the Rift cable completely shorts out! hopefully Oculus goes for a cable that is unpluggable from the headset (even if you have to take out a few screws to “unplug” it). Otherwise we are going to be looking at permanently damaged headsets due to all that winding and unwinding.

    • Dev_Guy_Robert

      We used a standard boom that was L-shaped and connected to our monitor stand. We also had a special extension cable made that I hope will also be made available through the manufacturer soon :)

  • SuperDre

    To be honest, $499 was already a ceiling price, $699 is not something I’m even gonna consider buying this, especially because you also have to factor in shipping prices (which can be very high for a heavy contraption like this)..

  • Wmerr21

    If Cyberith released a stripped back version of the virtualizer, one that utilized a cheaper form of foot tracking (for example), It could quite easily become competitive with the omni in terms of pricing. It will be interesting to see how Cyberith responds when they start taking pre-orders for the ‘non-kickstarter’ model.

    • proyb

      As mentioned in KS comments, retail price will be significant higher than the prices in Kickstarters (excluded warranty as they’ve for backers), warranty may be vary across retailers and it should lasts 10 years or longer.

  • yomer

    What can you tell us about the possibility of hitting the posts with the ankles while walking or running?

    Thanks. Great overall coverage of VR.

    • proyb

      You do it wrong then.

  • Dev_Guy_Robert

    Capture the Flag eh! Thanks for the idea Ben. I’ll get a demo together for you to try out. Next time you see the Omni, we’ll have it ready :)

    • yomer

      Could you tell us about the decisions that led to having such thick posts on the Omni. Even on the promotional video, the guy that was running hit it with his ankles at least twice. Isn’t there a way to build robust posts with height adjustment, but scraping at least 3/4 of the thickness from the inside. That would help a lot to prevent such a potential problem. Thanks in advance.

  • Dev_Guy_Robert

    The Omni is a rugged piece of equipment, intended to handle some pretty badass gameplay. We wanted to make sure that when players really get after it on the Omni they are safe. This takes a substantial infrastructure, which includes the struts supporting the ring.

    The support towers containing the two struts needs to be the size they are in order to provide a system that is both strong and easily adjustable using the locking foot pedals.

    Your right, the towers on the base could be thinner, but then we would sacrifice the ease with which they are adjusted. Or, we would have to push them out further and take up more floor space…

    • yomer

      I understan and those are valid points. But what about the experience. If you told me, for example, that the towers would have to be pushed out 5 inches on each direction to guarantee no collisions with the feet, I would prioritize that over the Omni overall footprint any day. No matter how good the Omni is, if immersion gets broken from time to time when walking or running, then nothing else positive would matter.

      That’s just me. Can the towers be disassembled? If this is indeed the Omni’s final design and I do end up with my feet colliding with the towers, the I could modify it to add an extension to where the tower meets the base and a same length extension where the tower meets with the upper ring. That way, I can have more clearance for my strides.

  • proyb

    Just wondering, how do you get in and get out of harness with the walking platform with a height of a can drink in contrast to Visualizer? Won’t someone might trip and fall?

    • proyb

      Answer to myself, I recalled it can be open from the side.