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.