Omni gaming treadmill really gets moving on Kickstarter
By Dave LeClair
June 5, 2013
When we first checked in on the Omni, an omnidirectional treadmill from Virtuix designed to translate the user's physical movements into a virtual world, the company was hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign in May. It missed that target, but only just, with a launch on June 4. The campaign target has already been exceeded many times over, meaning backers could be getting physical within virtual worlds by January 2014.
If you missed our coverage the first time around, the Omni is a motion controller that captures a player's movements using a sloped octagonal platform topped with a low-friction surface. This surface features grooves into which pins on special shoes worn by the user slot to prevent unwanted lateral movement. The device can also work in conjunction with Microsoft's Kinect to allow tracking of other body movements, such as jumping, ducking and arm movements.
The Omni will also work with the Oculus Rift and other head mounted displays to provide an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience. According to Virtuix, all Rift games will be supported as soon as that product launches. In addition, it can be used with any game that accepts keystrokes as the input method as the included software is able to translate the user's movements into keystrokes. This means gamers will be able to use it with almost any PC game on the market.
The team had mentioned that it planned to decrease the size of the prototype from the previous 48 in (122 cm) diameter, but it looks like it will remain that size, at least for the time being. It weighs in at 110 lb (50 kg), but it does break into pieces for storage purposes.
The creators of the Omni also talk about the device's potential fitness applications, with taking a jog through Skyrim given as one possible example that is demonstrated in the following video (although at more of a stroll than a jog). That certainly seems like a more enjoyable way to lose weight than simply staring at a wall or TV on a traditional treadmill. The software will also track distance traveled and calories burned.
Virtuix has also revealed what size user the Omni can accommodate. The safety bar adjusts to fit players ranging from 4 ft 8 in to 6 ft 5 in (142 cm to 195 cm) in height and can support weights of up to 285 pounds (130 kg). The belts, which come in different sizes, attach to the safety bar to prevent the user slipping and falling down.
Various pledge tiers are available, including some that add the Omni Rack, an accessory holder for devices like the Oculus Rift. An important thing to note is that all the packages are limited, with all the cheaper tiers having already been filled. At the time of publication, this leaves US$429 as the minimum amount backers will need to pony up to get the device. But those interested won't want to dilly-dally. Deliveries are expected to begin in January 2014.
The Kickstarter video pitch below provides some more information on the Omni.