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.
The 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.
Cyberith 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.
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.
One 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.