Kat Walk, a VR treadmill from China based company KatVR, can now add its name to the list of omnidirectional treadmills currently in pre-order, which includes the likes of Cyberith Virtualizer and Virtuix Omni.
KatVR has yet to release any news of stretch goals, but considering the team is currently on tour at ChinaJoy, an annual digital entertainment conference and expo in Shanghai, they will hopefully have plenty of time to devise some interesting goals with their remaining 3 weeks in the campaign.
Securing funds on Kickstarter can be a daunting task, where often times good execution and a good ideas don’t always guarantee immediate funding. Commonly known as ‘Kickstarter fatigue’, even the most innovative of projects can struggle to obtain funds if their potential userbase are already invested in similar campaigns. Virtuix Omni celebrated a tripling of their $150,000 funding goal within only the first 24 hours of the release of their Kickstarter, while Cyberith Virtualizer cleared their $250,000 goal within the first two weeks. As a first-comer on the scene, the Omni secured over $1 million in funds, with the Virtualizer garnering a respectable $360,000.
Admittedly, Kat Walk does present a different approach to the problem of translating physical locomotion into in-game movement, which may have well contributed to the quick fulfillment of the project’s initial funding goal. Sporting a high-friction walking surface—as opposed to Omni and Virtualizer’s low-friction surface—that requires special wheeled shoes to operate coupled with an open support structure, we’re eager to see how the device handles natural walking gaits and how accurate the body sensors are at translating movement to virtual spaces.
Although we have no reason to believe that Kat Walk isn’t anything but well designed and rigorously tested, there are some reservations to address. Durability of devices like Kat Walk are a concern, as other VR treadmill counterparts don’t feature any overhead components that could potentially wear out or limit the operation of the device. Making these singularly important parts robust enough to occasionally act as a load bearing structure and hopefully letting it fade into the background as you are immersed in gameplay is of special importance, because feeling safe while you are essentially blind to the world is paramount to enjoying your time in VR. There’s nothing worse than a loose screw or creaky piston to break the delicate phenomenon of presence—or at very worse a support bar that malfunctions during gameplay.
We can’t wait to try out the new addition to the list of VR treadmills, and will report back as soon as we get our hands (or rather feet) on it.
Until then, we want to congratulate the team at KatVR on their speedy success!