A revolution in virtual reality is underway – consumers can now explore virtual worlds with the natural use of their hands and eyes thanks to affordable devices such as the Sixense STEM and Oculus Rift. The Virtuix Omni™ evolves virtual reality one step further, allowing anyone to stand up and traverse virtual worlds with the natural use of their own feet. Walking and running in virtual reality creates an unprecedented sense of immersion.
Virtuix has completed a successful $1.1 million Kickstarter campaign thanks to more than 3,000 backers, and has raised more than $8 million in funding to date. From Kickstarter to kickoff, Virtuix has led the way in addressing locomotion in virtual environments. The Omni blazed the market trail for ultimate immersive gaming, attracting the interest of both indie and market-leading game developers. With no moving parts, the Omni is not only the first, but also the most compact, easily assembled, and affordable gaming system of its kind.
True virtual reality cannot be experienced sitting down. The panoramic visuals offered by head mounted displays need corresponding natural movement to maintain our sense of orientation and feeling of immersion.
The Omni will free gamers from passive, seated gameplay, unleashing the full potential of virtual reality gaming with the Oculus Rift and future head mounted displays. Gaming on a keyboard, mouse or gamepad while seated pales in comparison to the intense experience and fun that comes from actually walking, running, and jumping in games. The Omni transforms the gaming experience into a highly interactive, energetic battle royale between players fighting for virtual supremacy.
Omni players can walk and run in 360 degrees, resulting in a natural interface that works with any game or application that uses keyboard or gamepad input. Walk, run, jump, strafe, or even sit—movements mapped to the keyboard or gamepad can be mapped to natural motion with the Omni. The Omni works with PC or even mobile devices, thanks to its integrated Bluetooth connectivity.
Shoes, on. Belt, connected. Leg straps snapped under my crotch. I’m ready to go for a run in VR.
The Virtuix Omni has been one of the weird-tech poster children of the last couple of years: you’ve probably seen videos of people wearing a VR helmet, strapped into one of these rings and running in place. It’s reminiscent of those old VR arcades from the early 90s that popped up in shopping malls.
What, exactly, is the Virtuix Omni? I used it years ago when it first launched on Kickstarter, in an early prototype. It’s now finally for sale direct from Virtuix for $699 (if you want to buy internationally you have to have it shipped: Virtuix goes over the prices by territory here.) I just tried the final version that’s shipping out.
It’s a gigantic game controller for your feet
The Omni is basically a multidirectional treadmill — a giant circular structure you stand in with a sloping concave bottom. You slide around inside, trying to walk up the sides of any part of the bowl you’re placed in, holding onto the side guardrails for support. For all its high-tech looks, you’re basically slipping around on a smooth surface with low-friction shoes. And it’s the shoes that are tracking your motion.