Cyberith has been teasing us with the Virtualizer, an omnidirectional VR treadmill, for what seems like ages. Today the device, which promises to allow you to physically walk around virtual worlds, finally launches on Kickstarter starting at $599.Over the last year we’ve watched the Virtualizer evolve from prototype to a slick looking device that’s nearly ready for developers and enthusiasts.

virtualiser-3-1The Virtualizer uses a low-friction surface, vertically moveable stabilisation ring and motion sensors to provide the user a flat traction surface and the ability to detect both crouching and jumping actions as well as offering a supported seated position. Those last three features in particular differentiate it well from its only real direct competitor the Virtuix Omni which currently only offers player control in the standing / walking / running position.

Staggeringly, it’s been less than a year since we first came across Tuncay Cakmak and his team at Gamescom in 2013. Back then they’d made it to the venue after completing the show prototype the the previous day with supporting software being coded en-route to Cologne. Since then, the team have been all over the world, gaining well deserved attention and plaudits from the industry. Now, the Kickstarter that Tuncay hinted at in his very first interview with us has launched.

tuncay-jumpingCyberith have clearly paid careful attention to their pledge tiers and, knowing that their device was never going to be cheap, have given potential backers a bewildering array of tiers to choose from. The first tier including the device itself comes in at $599 without motion detection and is targeted at developers who are interested in developing their own tracking solutions to work with the Virtualizer. There are 100 early bird units on offer at $699, although at the time of writing only one remained – once they’re gone a fully functional unit will require the $749 pledge.

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Cyberith have also added a new model to their line. Known as the ‘Virtualizer HT’, it’s the same as the standard units but with added ‘tactile feedback’. By adding vibration plates under the base of the walking area, the Virtualizer can provide haptic feedback linked to in-game actions, such as nearby explosions etc. This is a great touch and another differentiator for Cyberith and affirms the company’s dedication to try and drag you into the virtual world. The ‘HT’ is available at $949 for early birds and $999 from thereon in. We can’t wait to give this one a try.

virtualizer-apart-1One of the primary concerns for omnidirectional treadmills is the not insubstantial footprint they leave in your home. I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t have dedicated virtual reality gaming areas just yet. Again, Cyberith have this covered. The latest prototype is fully modular and can be disassembled into its 5 component parts with relative easy ready for stowing away. Another nice touch. And as the Virtualizer is targeted at virtual reality enthusiasts, they’ve designed a special ‘Arm’ assembly to help the user stay untangled whilst immersed in a wired VR headset, the arm attaching to the main unit. Yours for an additional $79.

Cyberith’s Virtualizer Kickstarter goal is a healthy $250,000 and as of writing had already reached $83k after only 3 hours live. No sign of stretch goals just yet, but if the campaign’s current momentum continues, Tuncay and the crew may want to give those some thought.

The Virtualizer is clearly a labour of love for the Cyberith team – that much was clear when I talked to Tuncay last year. That passion has manifested itself in a product that includes numerous thoughtful touches. The Virtualizer arguably offers VR enthusiasts their most versatile option for locomotive immersive control and we wish Cyberith the best of luck with the campaign.

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You can find the Kickstarter campaign page here, and visit Cyberith’s homepage here.

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  • elecman

    “There are 100 early bird units on offer at $699, although at the time of writing only one remained”.
    Are you sure about that?

  • sponge101

    Virtualizer vs. Omni — “sounds like a damn monster movie.”

    I’m really conflicted about which to get because they each have their strengths and weaknesses. It will be interesting to see how well the Virtualizer kickstarter goes when compared to Omni.

    • kijutsu

      I really hope that one day an unbiased person with a background in VR (news, developer or whatnot) tries both and give his/her opinion on them. So far it’s just people looking at videos or people that’s only tried one of them. One day.

    • Farfar

      I dont want to start a heated but what advantages does the Omni have over the Virtualizer?

      • Farfar

        *heated debate

      • Farfar

        *I mean heated debate

      • kijutsu

        Haven’t tried either but…
        OMNI:
        -The Omni is way cheaper.
        -No moving parts should mean less maintenance.
        -Shoes (I actually tried that one, running with sock on a hard floor continuously really hurts!)
        -So far, money wise, the Omni is more likely to succeed.
        -The bowl design was shaped that way because, threw research, it was found that it emulates real walking better then a flat surface.
        -Safer.
        -Better known by developers.

        CYBERITH:
        -Haptic feedback.
        -Smaller (easier to put away.)
        -Crouching is a position the Omni cannot emulate but the Cyberith can.
        -Lots of customization.
        -Socks (Much easier to have friends try it.)

        I think the Cyberith is the more open platform (movement wise and customization wise) and the Omni is the safer choice (safety wise and maintenance wise.)

        • Layneways

          to add on,,,

          GAME REVOLUTION
          Cons: Not all games e.g. MMORPG and limited movement speeds are designed for Virtualizer.

          FLAT BASE PLATE
          Cons: Subjective, some people are comfortable with it within seconds whereas some others needs several minutes to walk smoothly.

          NO SHOES NEEDED
          Cons: Virtualizer HT tend to be unsteady and discomfortable with slippery socks, why do you backed without tried and tested? Try putting some screws and smartphone on the same ride on a skateboard.

          STRONG MATERIALS
          Cons: Does not protect from excessive dust, dirt and water spill, may cause damage or fries the hardware components.

          SMART SENSORS
          Cons: Need to manually re-calibrate the sensors very often

          PSSST … NO NOISE
          Cons: It clearly shows these annoying balls bearing in the 3-posts are noisy

          AFFORDABLE HIGH-TECH HARDWARE, MADE IN EUROPE
          Cons: 699/749/999USD is not cheap for a motion controller peripheral

          BECOME A GAMING PIONEER!
          For the 500+ early backers compared to Oculus Rift with whopping 60,000+ DK2 testers
          While 400+ backers are not exactly game developers, you must be daydreaming to be pioneer.

          FULL USB COMPATIBILITY
          Cons: Not compatible with USB3.0, speaking on the durability for USB 2.0 port is unknown, can they lasts 5-10 years?

          Virtualizer Arm that holds your messy cables is shaky, for another 79USD to Virtualizer

          Go get it if can live with the cons or noting that further improvements is needed in Virtualizer before running a proper fund-raising but I appreciate why some backers want to back Cyberith campaign.

  • paul middleton

    i think the original price was not too bad still expensive $599 but something you would be willing to pay that money on. then an extra $100 goes on top for customers and then final price seems to be $999 almost $500 rise from the original price. i wont be buying one any time soon at that price. sadly