Virtuix Omni preview: eyes-on with full-body virtual reality

Virtuix Omni, a Kickstarted treadmill for gamers, allows gamers to run around in virtual reality worlds--without walking into a wall. It may seem odd, maybe even silly at first, but seeing it in action has made me a believer.

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CES is home to a number of wacky gadgets, from the novel to the plain-weird. Virtuix Omni, a Kickstarted treadmill for gamers, allows gamers to run around in virtual reality worlds--without walking into a wall. It may seem odd, maybe even silly at first, but seeing it in action has made me a believer.

Described as an "omnidirectional treadmill," the CES demo has players stepping into Gordon Freeman's shoes in Half-Life 2. There's no keyboard, mouse, or controller. Instead, with Oculus Rift equipped, you walk on the treadmill to walk in the game, run to run, and jump to jump.

It looks absolutely exhausting--and that's precisely why we want it.

New for the CES version of the Omni is the integration of added sensors in the treadmill that remove the necessity for Kinect. Whereas the 3D camera previously recorded player movement, the upgraded version requires players to wear special shoes that work in conjunction with capacitive rings built in to the treadmill. By stepping, the Omni can understand not only where you're going, but how quickly.

Because of how much more immersive the VR experience is with Omni, Virtuix's Colton Jacobs told us that simulator sickness becomes less of a problem when using VR headsets for an extended period of time. And while Oculus is attempting to address those concerns in updated hardware, Omni is designed to work with any VR headset, meaning it will always be additive to whatever advancements are made to VR technology.

The Virtuix Omni is still targeting a release for later this year with a $500 price tag. That'll be for everything "from the hip down," meaning you'll still need to procure a headset in order to take advantage of what Omni has to offer.

From The Chatty
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    January 8, 2014 1:45 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Virtuix Omni preview: eyes-on with full-body virtual reality.

    Virtuix Omni, a Kickstarted treadmill for gamers, allows gamers to run around in virtual reality worlds--without walking into a wall. It may seem odd, maybe even silly at first, but seeing it in action has made me a believer.

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      January 8, 2014 2:08 PM

      My lord gaming is getting expensive....

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        January 8, 2014 2:23 PM

        Depends on how you look at it. Today we have full-cockpit racing simulators, and even fully movement racing simulators(those are expensive) but when you compare these to their real-life counterparts, the cost is cheap. For less than the cost of a beater car, I am able to jump in and race in many different vehicles that I would never be able to afford on tracks that are thousands of miles away.

        $500 vs the money spent on paintball, shooting ranges, equipment and travel is peanuts. Granted I do not think they are the exact same obviously but it's a good starting point for giving people ideas for the next iteration of virtual combat simulations that mimic real world encounters while not locking a person into 1 scenario like their local recreation centers might.

        This certainly isn't for everyone, I personally think the CEO is way overselling this machine, thinking it's going to be in 10% of gaming homes....uh no, but it has a market for sure. I think gyms would also be a good marketing place for a piece of equipment like this as an alternative to treadmills and would bring in more people who otherwise wouldn't bother.


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        January 9, 2014 1:09 AM

        $500 is a lot less than i thought that contraption would cost

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      January 8, 2014 3:22 PM

      How do you crouch?

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        January 8, 2014 3:54 PM

        You crouch by moving your torso down. You can't bend your knees due to the way the harness works.

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          January 9, 2014 1:12 AM

          You mean just bend forward at the waist?

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          January 9, 2014 7:24 AM

          That's... really lame. I'm not sure how I've missed that from what I've read. I want to be able to squat or bend down til I'm nearly on the ground. The oculus will allow it, but I guess there's technical reasons it won't work with this. The Virtualizor treadmill will allow crouching IIRC. Also, no special shoes.

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      January 8, 2014 3:58 PM

      This thing seems really neat. I'm going to wait until after retail oculus to buy anything like this or Sixense's STEM. I want it all to come out and see whats good. I figure I got my beta hardware fix with the Oculus dev kit.

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      January 8, 2014 4:36 PM

      So, kinda like the Sega Activator? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=780bIG6TXFk#t=25s

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      January 9, 2014 6:55 AM

      What's the purpose of the toy gun? He's still aiming with his face, like most Occulus games.

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        January 9, 2014 7:19 AM

        Yeah, that's the most important change for games that will use Oculus. Separate head and body. Get rid of gun face!

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        January 9, 2014 7:26 AM

        Wait, I didn't even realize what he was playing. This has to be old footage. HL2 VR has full separation.

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      January 9, 2014 7:16 AM

      Seems weird to move forward with a product that is useless on its own, no matter how cool it may be.

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      January 9, 2014 8:54 AM

      This won't be popular with the FPS Multiplayer crowd because controller movement would obviously be much quicker and much smoother. I also see issues with more complicated movements like strafing, using cover, or kneeling and prone. We'll have to wait a good while for a competitive shooter made just for this technology alone without controller support.

      However, it would certainly make playing Single Player FPS games a much more enjoyable experience, and it will be amazing to use these two things while playing some sort of atmospheric survival horror game where movement is always slower. Something like Alan Wake for sure.

      What's probably most exciting, and what might really make this technology bigger than anyone can imagine is the potential for use in exercising. Obviously it's not going to provide as intense a workout as a $1000-$3000 automated treadmill, but for around a little less you can buy this and the Rift and spend hours walking around a Virtual World, even if you don't plan to use it for gaming. I can see some really amazing virtual world software coming out for this in 2015. Hek, we can't be more than just a few years from Googlemaps provided a smooth Streetview experience.

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        January 9, 2014 11:57 AM

        I just came across someone on Youtube using this and Rift for Minecraft. While I wouldn't really want to create things in-game while using the Rift and Omni, I could see a whole new use for Minecraft as a creator of virtual exercise paths. Just one long stretch of flat road with all kinds of sites along the way.

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