Popular VR title Arizona Sunshine and two others are soon to get native support for the Virtuix Omni VR treadmill. Virtuix has also announced that the company has become a “formal hardware partner of HTC.”

Arizona_Sunshine_2Arizona Sunshine [our review] is one of SteamVR’s top rated games, and soon it’ll be compatible with the Virtuix Omni, a VR treadmill which got its start after a successful 2013 Kickstarter. In addition to Arizona Sunshine two other SteamVR titles—horror game The Bellows and cartoon-FPS Quell 4D—have also committed to native integration with the device. The games add to several first-party titles that Virtuix has created for the Omni.

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Virtuix President David Allan at the 2017 Vive Ecosystem Conference | Photo courtesy Virtuix

Virtuix also announced at the Vive Ecosystem Conference in China last week that it has become a “formal hardware partner of HTC.” Details on precisely what this means are limited, but Virtuix says it will “enable us to work more closely together with HTC on hardware and Omni content.” With the company’s shift toward the out-of-home VR sector, it’s likely that the move will help expose the Omni to businesses creating VR arcades and similar offerings where the VR treadmill could add to the VR experience.

virtuix omni vr treadmill heigh adjustment ces 2015 (1)
Photo by Road to VR

Virtuix got its start in 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign that raised $1.1 million. Following the campaign, the company raised several rounds of investment, including participation by Mark Cuban following Omni’s appearance on the popular US reality investment show Shark Tank and was one of the first companies to offer a crowdfunding investment opportunity following eased investment restrictions in the U.S.

Though the company got an early start (well before Facebook bought Oculus even), traction in the in-home VR space (where the product was initially positioned) was slim, no doubt due to the high price point ($700), significant production delays, and lack of native game integrations.

At the end of 2016 Virtuix announced they were canceling international pre-orders after finding out that shipping the large 175 pound box overseas was “proven naive and unfeasible.” Though they couldn’t deliver the product to their international backers, the company fortunately refunded all canceled orders, with interest.

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The Omni is no longer available for consumer purchase; with the cancellation of international pre-orders Virtuix has pivoted the Omni treadmill toward the out-of-home VR market, positioning it as a product to enhance the experience of commercial VR arcade spaces. There, the VR treadmill’s cost and size is perhaps more sensible, though supported content remains a challenge. The addition of a well-liked game like Arizona Sunshine is certainly a win in that regard, and perhaps a sign of more to come.

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  • Get Schwifty!

    I would hope that IF this takes off they would support a two tier market, where consumers can have a home model. If they don’t someone else will…

    • CURTROCK

      Others have tried. A large treadmill-like structure is impractical for many consumers. The Omni is way better suited for a dedicated “arcade” type space. Another attraction to bring people out to experience something they can’t have at home. HTC is pushing VR arcade spaces in China. Prob a much needed lifeline for Virtuix.

      • OgreTactics

        Who exactly have “tried”? I haven’t seen any home virtual-treadmill design.

        In fact the Virtuix or the Ciberith (the only two practical ones) could very well be if they had retractable poles and foldable branches.

        • CURTROCK

          Well, you mentioned Ciberith…. there was also Wizdish. Those are the “others” I was referring to.

          • OgreTactics

            Yup the Rovr looks good too, but again nothing practical for most household or events, just in term of pricing in fact, or the fact that you have to use shoes, which are the hand-tracking gloves of threadmills.

          • CURTROCK

            I’ve been watching a whole crop of products that were spawned in response to the success of the Rift Kickstarter. These include the Omni, Reactive Grip controllers, Stem System, etc. HMD’s, Gloves, Treadmills, a myriad of software like AltSpace, MakeVR, the list goes on. I think most of them are struggling due to the all-encompassing solutions that Oculus & VIVE are implementing for their respective ecosystems. The herd of Kickstarter VR boomers is being thinned out. Also, let’s not forget to add the “Katwalk” treadmill.

          • OgreTactics

            Well that’s the problem of open-standards vs integrate-standard, the problem being there’s a lack of standards because there’s not even a bit of common software engineering sense from corporations (why hasn’t any of them solved scales, lenses, cameras, locomotion etc…).

            But I don’t think they are struggling. Not every start-up, although admirable, made a good product. There’s a reason why the TPCast, VRGE and RevolvE are successful, but Reactive Grip or Stem, any Gloves or that huge Katwalk treadmill will struggle…I’m sorry but who exactly have the estate and will to put a huge overblown VR machine in their household or office? B2B events and arcades of course, and how many them prospects are there? That’s another problem. But not so far from the actual VR headsets problem…

          • BigKate

            One advantage RoVR has is that AFAIK its that the Omni is based on the same technology! The founder of the Omni having bought one of the first RoVR then reverse engineered and reimplemented it. I get the impression that the team at RoVR are rather more concerned with building a global replicable and interchangeable standard that worrying about who did what to whom.

            Having used a RoVR I can tell you that sense of immersion is greatly enhanced by being able to move around and unlike the huge Cyberith and Omni solutions I suspect owning RoVR is no more a hassle to own, or space requiring, than say a Rockband Guitar! I for one would happy to buy a RoVR tomorrow if I could. But in the meantime my next big VR purchase is likely to be an Ossic X http://www.roadtovr.com/tag/ossic/

        • veritas
  • Mike

    Seems to me the Omni will always be an extremely niche market. Extremely high price, and arguably less compelling than the recent “jog-in-place” locomotion schemes, which do not limit your ability to lie down / crouch / lean, and do not involve a ring that gets in the way of arm motion.

    • SimonH

      Indeed. I’m running a VRcade and have no interest in Treadmills. As 1 of about 20 VRcades in the UK I’m aware of, that’s a hard sell. They are an idea that predates Roomscale. TalariaVR is working on walk on the spot or swap to roomscale locomotion. So you can still jump out from behind a door or limbo under a tree, or lie down and snipe. Being tied at the waste unable to sidestep incoming is pointless, especially when these things will cost €¥$£’s.

  • CazCore

    one of the worst product ideas ever.

    • Veraxus

      I own one and beg to disagree. It’s a fantastic piece of engineering and works really well. Sure, it’s more like ice skating than walking… but given it allows you to walk and run in VR without any motion sickness whatsoever, it’s worth it.

      Also, it’s great exercise.

      If developers would stop intentionally disabling keyboard/gamepad input when VR controllers are in use (seriously, what are people smoking?) it would work right out of the box with just about anything, since it has both keyboard and gamepad emulation built in.

      • CazCore

        engineering? you mean the software emulating other controllers? how does that work?

        • Veraxus

          I mean literal, physical engineering. The software side of things leaves a lot to be desired. A current pet project is fiddling with a pi so that a physical “master” controller can have one it’s signals replaced by the Omni’s “slave” signal and passed through to the PC as if it were a native XBox controller.

          The real problem is that the Omni doesn’t emulate the Vive Wands or Oculus Touch controllers, which most games have been updated to use exclusively. This means that developers need to use the Omni SDK. Sure the SDK is dead simple to integrate (takes a couple hours if the game already supports full locomotion)… but why place the onus of support on developers if a software solution can instead be found?

          If we can figure out a way to get the Omni’s input to read as a Touch thumbstick or Vive pad, that would make it work with anything that supports full locomotion right out of the box.

      • CazCore

        in case you are interested in alternative, non-exercise forms of getting rid of sickness, basically any 1 to 1 physically based analog motion takes care of it. see Minecraft’s “VR wheel” optional rotation system. works in both smooth, and more limited degree turning modes. (they don’t have a 1 to 1 movement control, but yawing causes even more sickness than movement)

        in my game, i let you do practically instant 360 spins just by rotating touch controllers on the Z axis. i discovered this by analyzing why mouselook is totally comfortable in VR, even tho the motion is pretty abstract.

  • Mane Vr

    Never understood the excitement of things like this it just seem like so much work to play a game. For me i want to do as little movement as i can when gaming… it’s my relaxation i have found way to play seated for most games

    • That’s because you’ve never yet had the chance to be the guy in the nanosuit.

      • Mane Vr

        nanosuit? what?

  • bladestorm91

    For god’s sake, STOP. Treadmills are NEVER going to work, they aren’t going to solve the movement problem of VR, period. Everyone that’s making these things are wasting all of our time and theirs where they could be making something that’s much better and less limiting in too many ways.

    If someone really wants to make movement in VR work and make it GOOD then all you have to do is look at AxonVR for the right direction to go towards.

    • I used to have the Kinect prototype, some years ago.

      The Kinect made it awkward by moments, and the movements were directly mapped to keyboard strokes, so…

      But it was nonetheless awesome. Playing Crisis 3 using VorpX, a DK1 upgraded to 1080p (some Czech guys made this upgrade kit) and an Asus WAVI, powering everything with batteries in a backpack… it was just awesome.

      Setup was long and annoying, the Wavi’s wireless USB throttled when heating (and it heated way too fast), but it was nothing short of awesome.

      I’ll never forget it.

      Don’t take my word for it, go have a look at page 110: http://dl.canardpc.com/CJV016.pdf

    • BigKate

      Have you actually tried a RoVR? In my experience the difference in immersion is immense! My only issue right now is waiting for them to launch the product so i can buy one. And whilst I accept that other solutions seemed to be hemmed in by the ‘need for safety’, I am fairly certain that I will be able to strap my dish to the back of my VR rucksack and take it with me. it should certainly be no more hassle to carry than a musical instrument

      • SimonH

        I watched a bunch of kids at EGX last year falling over in this, narrowly missing smashing their chin on the bar. As a commercial operator i just saw “insurance claim”. A friend of mine runs a soft play centre and a kid managed to get into back of house, caught his arm on a nail and got a £14,000 payout. I wonder what you’d get for a bloody mouth from biting your tongue as you fall ?

    • SimonH

      The AxonVR is interesting, but a very long way from commercial product. I think walk/run on the spot will be the cheapest simplest system for home use and provide freedom to move in roomscale or worldscale. Add lighthouse foot tracking for kicks and you’ll be able to do streetfighter VR ;) Try that on a treadmill!? The first company to market can expect at least 4 orders from me ;)

  • nejihiashi88

    vr wont be successful if there is no walking and running, where is the fun if your movement is limited in a small room in the game.

  • Veraxus

    I have an Omni. It takes up less space than a traditional treadmill and it’s a damn good workout… so there’s a solid argument to be made for home use as a piece of VR exercise equipment. It also works fairly well with the new Serious Sam VR games via the Omni’s native keyboard emulation. If so many VR games hadn’t started intentionally disabling simultaneous input from multiple controllers over the last 6 months or so, it would work well with just about everything right out of the box.

    So until developers start allowing their games to once again accept simultaneous input from a gamepad or keyboard at the same time as VR controllers (Vive Wand/Oculus Touch), Omni owners are left waiting for developers to add native Omni SDK support to their games. It’s really unfortunate, and easily avoidable.

    Let ME choose what controllers (or combination of controllers) I want to use. Don’t decide for me, and don’t disable my keyboard or gamepad input just because I’m also using Touch or Vive Wands. Good god, people, PC gaming is about options.