Strider VR uses a novel approach to omnidirectional treadmill design, using a rotatable ball array positioned above a traditional linear treadmill, combined with a Microsoft Kinect 2 sensor. The system is currently available as a development kit from German company Pathbender.

While most omnidirectional treadmills allow the user to physically rotate through a full 360 degrees, Strider VR’s Kinect-based system actively keeps your body facing the sensor, while giving the impression that you can turn freely. As described on the developer’s website, rotational and linear displacement generated by two DC motors ensure the user remains in the centre of the platform and in the same orientation. They claim this results in a “near perfect illusion of walking in a virtual world”.

The Strider VR concept is an interesting one, as it combines full-body tracking and unrestricted walking using a fairly simple mechanical solution, but the execution appears to have some drawbacks. One of the main challenges of this type of hardware is the interpretation of virtual movement. The system has to provide responsive virtual movement (based on what your legs are doing) while not misinterpreting the corrective ‘recentering’ motions as inputs, which could be particularly difficult in this case as it relies heavily on Kinect’s motion tracking.

As explained in the FAQ, the result of constant orientation correction is that movement is limited to walking, and the device is not suitable for fast-paced first person shooters or anything that requires strafing or quick turns. Multiple side-steps are not possible, as that would require an uncomfortable, fast rotation (through 90 degrees) of the top section to align with the conveyor belt. The user appears to be walking fairly gingerly in the footage above, particularly when attempting to change direction, despite having assistance from a harness, and the tracking accuracy of the feet seems shaky. However, this footage appears to show more confident (if still somewhat awkward) strides.

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Omnidirectional treadmill solutions for VR have struggled to gain traction in the consumer market, with even the successful Virtuix Omni becoming more relevant to the commercial sector. It appears that Pathbender is also positioning Strider VR towards commercial applications. Whether its motorised platform offers benefits above the low-friction surfaces of products like the Omni, Cyberith Virtualizer and Kat Walk remains to be seen.

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The trial version of Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness probably had something to do with it. And certainly the original Super Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. A car nut from an early age, Dominic was always drawn to racing games above all other genres. Now a seasoned driving simulation enthusiast, and former editor of Sim Racer magazine, Dominic has followed virtual reality developments with keen interest, as cockpit-based simulation is a perfect match for the technology. Conditions could hardly be more ideal, a scientist once said. Writing about simulators lead him to Road to VR, whose broad coverage of the industry revealed the bigger picture and limitless potential of the medium. Passionate about technology and a lifelong PC gamer, Dominic suffers from the ‘tweak for days’ PC gaming condition, where he plays the same section over and over at every possible combination of visual settings to find the right balance between fidelity and performance. Based within The Fens of Lincolnshire (it’s very flat), Dominic can sometimes be found marvelling at the real world’s ‘draw distance’, wishing virtual technologies would catch up.
  • VR Geek

    I have a Virtuix for sale in Vancouver Canada. PM me for details.

  • Walextheone

    Haha maby not a girl magnet but if it works, it works.

    • dmbfk

      that’s right Ed Sheeran

  • NooYawker

    Anyone ever see the Michael Crichton movie Disclosure. There was a lot of theoretical VR tech in that movie including a device similar to this.

  • Ted Joseph

    Looks like he slides when he is trying to stop walking.. That would get me sick..

    • striderVR

      The “sliding” is a reaction from the PID controller driving the conveyor belt. This movement is necessary to bring the walker back to the center position. It is a very gentel and soft movement. You can hardly feel it when you close your eyes and it is not visible in VR due to the fact that all correction movements are subtracted from the VR environment displayed by Oculus/HTC Vive.

      • Lucidfeuer

        How do running and crouching fare on your treadmill?

  • Ninjai71

    Looks not very promising!

  • iUserProfile

    Maybe this could work with proper tracking of the feet – vive adapters or similar. It seems small enough for a living room enviroment but the movement tracking is shit and there seems a lot unintentional rotation so I guess there’s a interesting approach from the hardware side but oberall it’s lacking in most key departments.

    • striderVR

      we do not track the feet, it is not necessary, please see comment above

      • iUserProfile

        Thanks for clarification.

  • striderVR

    To clarify the working principle of the striderVR drive control (which is quite simple in fact): the kinect is just providing the body distance and the shoulder/hip angle of the person walking on the platform to enable two PID controllers to run the DC drives. That’s all. There is no kinect data used from leg or feet tracking in this context. Of course the kinect body tracking data is used to move the avatars limbs and body, but that is a completely differnt story…

    • Max

      Brilliant solution, combining the normal treadmill with a rotatable plate of bearings! I understand that it’s functional without foot tracking, which is impressive.. But surely with it, you could make it even more responsive, and if not at least greatly improve the sense of presence by not having janky glitchfeet. ;)

      Will there perhaps be a ‘deluxe’ version that incorporates this?

      • striderVR

        This is indeed a very good point, but unfortunately the kinekt is not even able to detect a feet angle (kinekt only knows parallel feet, no matter in which direction your feet actually points). Besides that, the kinect is quite unprecise in tracking the the feet position constantly and correctly what results in the jumping avatar feets. But you are absolutey right, a better feet tracking probably could enhance the immersion in VR a lot. On the other hand we should not forget that a kinect 2 changes owner for less than 50 bucks which makes it a best buy regarding the features per money ratio.

        • Yoan Conet

          Strange you call it 360°. Is 360° direction everywhere on the surface or just in front ?… In the front zone, there are two direction combination possible mixing speed variation between the belt and rotation to obtain instantaneous omnidirectional. Great idea i gotta tell ^_^.
          But when we approach the sides, it seems the ball can’t go left or right but strictly in the parallel direction of the belt orientation…Am i right ? Good job.

          I have found the solution to keep the orientation of the feet while treadmill rotates but keeping 360° capabilities everywhere in the treadmill surface hiihi. I’am actually building a prototype.

          • striderVR

            No. We don’t. We just call it striderVR.

          • Yoan Conet

            Ha ok sorry, but people do.
            So can we walk toward the side of the treadmill ? Or only in the front zone with slight deviation ?

          • striderVR

            You can walk straight or in curves, forward and backward, or rotate in place. One step to the side is OK as long as you walk straight or in curves afterwards. Several successive side steps can not be compensated and result in leaving the ball grid array.

    • Duane Locsin

      are there plans to sell this to home users after all said and done?

      Apologize for sounding curt, but kind of had hopes risen and dashed by the likes of Virtuix and Cyberith for home vr treadmill solutions.

      • striderVR

        Sorry. At the moment we are not thinking about selling to home users, but this may change in the future. One of the big road blocks is the missing applications for this kind of devices. You can’t just plug it to your PC and walk inside your favorite game. You have to produce your own VR content to be able to interact with the striderVR.

  • > Strider VR uses a novel approach to omnidirectional treadmill design

    It’s not a novel approach, the Cybercarpet did the same thing almost ten years ago :

    • striderVR

      StriderVR is canceling the rotation of the person by means of a platform counter rotation (which is indeed new). The device shown above is not able to do this.

      • There is also a rotating platform underneath. It’s not visible in this video, but it’s visible in this one :

        • striderVR

          Very good video to explain the difference: The Cypercarpet has a fixed ball grid array and a rotating conveyor belt. The striderVR consists of a rotating ball grid array and fixed conveyor. On the Cybercarpet you can physically turn in any direction and the conveyors direction of transport will follow if you start to move forward. Watch the little truck turning and the conveyor following him. In fact the Cypercarpet is not even detecting the rotation, it is just equipped with an x-y-position control. So in case the truck standing in the center of the platform and turns there, the Cybercarpet won’t react. On the strider VR you can not turn physically (!) due to the rotating platform always and immediately compensates for your rotation by means of a counter rotation.

  • Duane Locsin

    If these vr treadmills are being sold to enterprises, what relevance do these specific vr treadmills have to consumers then?

    Do I have to make a vr treadmill myself and distribute it for home users?

    I have thought of an elegant solution, but my problems are possible infringements and the money/resources to mass produce and distribute it.

  • All designs have their pros and cons. This looks interesting and well engineered. Well done.

  • Raphael

    Presumably it plays that music when you walk on it.

  • Don’t like it that much, it’s not natural. And having worked a lot with VR and Kinects, I can assure you that Kinect is not perfect for VR: tracking trembles too much and is only 30FPS. The real issue is that Kinect is also dying and this means no updates and no ease to find a sensor on the store.

    • Xilence

      I’m 99% sure this is all in development and testing, why would they use a Kinect in the final version?

  • CoffeeBuzz

    wouldnt the inability for your torso to turn be counter intuitive to how you want to move in VR ? I am all for affordable treadmills but.. what if I want to turn around? or the game expects me to be able to use the headset for turn tracking.. I almost expect treadmills as they are now to be obsolete once hardware devs start utilizing the vive tracker on shoes etc.

    • striderVR

      Of course your torso turns in VR, but not in the physical real world.

  • Lucidfeuer

    Wow never expected to this kind of no-harness treadmill. I hope it retails for an affordable price, but I’m also wondering how it fares in running movement (my guess: probably not well).

  • Anupam Sharma

    Hi.. Where can i get it from.. I am in Dubai