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.
The 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.
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.
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.