Omnidirectional "treadmill" lets you run through your favorite games

By on June 5, 2013, 12:15 PM

Using Kickstarter to help fund the project, Virtuix hopes to take virtual reality to the next level with Omni, an omnidirectional "treadmill". The company's innovative 360-degree base translates real-world steps into in-game motion as gamers walk and run their way through their favorite titles -- in any direction. When the base is combined with optional VR glasses (e.g. Oculus Rift) and Microsoft's Kinect, gamers can enjoy a truly visceral VR experience. 

With more than $500,000 pledged on Kickstarer at the time of this writing, the Omni VR system blew past its $150,000 goal in less than four hours. Pledges of $349 or more score project backers a full Omni platform with the necessary bells and whistles; however, contribution options under $429 are currently sold out. Keep in mind that Kinect hardware and VR glasses are sold separately.

According to Virtuix, its patented omnidirectional base allows users to comfortably walk or run using their natural gait. The base features a low-friction surface filled with grooves. Gamers are outfitted with a special pair of studded shoes which fit neatly into those grooves as they walk in place; this design provides stability, balance and eliminates unwanted sideways sliding.


Omni unboxing and hands-on

Because the Omni base translates movement into keyboard strokes, it's theoretically compatible with any PC game. Sorry console gamers -- this is a computer-only device (for now). Since it only tracks footsteps, Omni will be the perfect companion to other immersive hardware like the Oculus Rift (VR glasses), Microsoft Kinect (for body motion input) and Razer Hydra (motion-sensing controllers).

Most units are expected to begin shipping in January 2014.




User Comments: 25

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MilwaukeeMike said:

I think it'd be impossible to run in that thing. Slow jog maybe, but nothing that would require you to lift your knees. Not that it matters... you'd only need to jog to get your character to go full speed most likely. That's nit-picking though.. this looks pretty cool, and it'll probably be a huge hit at arcades.

At any rate, at least the kids of the future won't have to listen to their mothers nagging them to go outside and get some exercise.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I think it'd be impossible to run in that thing. Slow jog maybe, but nothing that would require you to lift your knees. Not that it matters... you'd only need to jog to get your character to go full speed most likely. That's nit-picking though.. this looks pretty cool, and it'll probably be a huge hit at arcades.

At any rate, at least the kids of the future won't have to listen to their mothers nagging them to go outside and get some exercise.

Apart from their video games, it seems that kids of today don't know anything about the games us older folk used to play as kids ourselves. Hell some of them don't even believe we used to crank down our car windows manually.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Thats a cool invention!

Great for a rainy day, other than that I'd rather walk in the park.

JC713 JC713 said:

Cool stuff. I dont see this being a fad until the Oculus sheds some weight.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Cool stuff. I dont see this being a fad until the Oculus sheds some weight.
Yeah, I don't fancy wearing a tablet four inches in front of my face.

Classified1 said:

I see great things coming in the future.

JC713 JC713 said:

Yeah, I don't fancy wearing a tablet four inches in front of my face.

Yeah, I hope they can thin it down.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

If I can get the whole kit (with a commercial Oculus Rift) for under $1500 I'm all in. This is very exciting for me. Might even be worth getting two kits so my kids/wife can play too.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Might even be worth getting two kits so my kids/wife can play too.
Why you selfish dog you. LOL

I think I should mention that was a joke.

Sorry @LNCPapa, I couldn't resist.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Ok.... now jump! :P

IAMTHESTIG said:

This is very exciting... still a ways to go but an encouraging start. This might be the first kickstarter project that I actually donate money to. There are still a lot of mechanics and stuff to figure out, considering each game is different. Yes they all have walk and run, but as mentioned above how do you jump, or crouch, or even go prone as in many games support. This certainly won't be a full on virtual reality as we all imagine and want it to be, but simply virtual walking/running.

The gun thing though is probably going to be impossible to come up with a solution for. It can't simulate muzzle climb and recoil, reloading mags or cartridges, working the action, etc. It would probably just end up being a crude pointing device for your gun in the game, and thats it. Makes your brain think about the possible solutions though.

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

Thank you for publishing this article.

Now that they have so much money, they should have no problem reaching volume manufacturing.

My only concern - in the video when talking about height adjustment they point at the base that uses bolts. This won't be practical when the device is intended for more than one user and height adjustment is to be done with ease and in seconds.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My only concern - in the video when talking about height adjustment they point at the base that uses bolts. This won't be practical when the device is intended for more than one user and height adjustment is to be done with ease and in seconds.
They did mention in the video, that was a prototype and the actual release would use some type of pins for easy adjustments.

lipe123 said:

They could change the waist support to be springs or something which allows more vertical movement for things like running and jumping.

Honestly this is really weird but it could lead a whole new revival of PC games where you have actual real body motion control of what you are doing in game. For example the looking around corners etc.

Also opens up a new frontier of if you are actually fit irl and can run fast you might do better in the game!

Combining fitness and fun! I think its a damn good idea.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

They could change the waist support to be springs or something which allows more vertical movement for things like running and jumping.

They already have a video on Kickstarter where they show both running and jumping in this thing. Either way, this is just the beginning, and by the look of there being no shortage of backers, this direction may see a bright future...

EEatGDL said:

I would gladly play a shooter while doing some physical activity for a while; I don't have much time to play as of lately, but that time would "kill two birds with a single-shot" [is that expression translated like that? I don't know if it's used there]. I walk a lot in my travels between campus-home (1-3 hours a day) and would certainly like some walk without the melting heat of summer.

MrAnderson said:

I'm sooo there...

My only fear is getting tangled in the cords and yanking the PC off the counter.

1 person liked this | misor misor said:

With part of the device looking like a baby trainer, I see apple patenting the first iCrib.

Guest said:

How will run the dog?

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

1. It looks like it's getting there, but It'll need a lot of options to be tailored to each individual. For example, the shoes. Assuming they work how they should, it still wouldn't work for some people that know that's not how to properly run. You're not supposed to bring all of your weight down on your heel like that.

2. I hope it has a bigger base that allows you to easily jump. It doesn't look like there is enough room for a full sprint, and the non-adjustable base probably wouldn't let the user jump.

3. The Oculus Rift also hopefully gets smaller and high resolution.

But I'm sure most of these will get worked out during development. This project will probably take a lot more work before it is actually ready. I wouldn't buy it until it is perfect though, because they'd probably release the first one as a type of trial run, then perfect it with the second generation model.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

I'll buy both - gotta give them enough resources to make a second version.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

Playing Battlefield with that...

That would be the greatest gaming experience ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SIGN ME UP ON THE WAITING LIST

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

This thing won't be popular until they implement the crucial feature of allowing the user to teabag.

Elian Elian said:

Looks pretty nice.

Guest said:

Everyone I see posting is only really mentioning FPS. I for one am excited for the possibility of real interactive VRMMO's. To be able to walk, run, swing weapons. Imagine walking around the world of Skyrim or God of War and such, where combat starts to fully use your entire body. Oooooooh I am excited :)

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