Forward-looking: Omnidirectional treadmills for VR, such as the one seen in Ready Player One, are the next big thing in VR immersion, at least that’s what Virtuix thinks. The startup already has much invested in VR sports and arenas. Now it says it is preparing to launch a treadmill small and simple enough to use in your home.
A virtual reality startup called Virtuix is developing a treadmill that aims to make VR gaming even more immersive. The Omni One is not your traditional treadmill, though. That is to say; there is no “tread.” Instead, the octagonal platform has a smooth surface that becomes slippery when used with the low-friction shoe covers that come with it. The base is similar to its first treadmill concept, the Omni, but departs in the way it holds the user in place.
A harness secures the user from behind, rather than encircling them, so there are no obstructions impeding movements. As the player walks or runs on the platform, the motions become input for the game in real-time. Walking and running is not the only thing that gets translated into an input. The harness is attached to an arm-like appendage that can move up and down and rotate around the platform. So crouching, kneeling, ducking, jumping, and turning can all be mimicked in the virtual environment with corresponding motions in the real world.
The one drawback is that the Omni One will not work with just any VR game. Like many other specialized peripherals, developers have to program their titles to be compatible with the device. Virtuix says it will have a dedicated store for Omni One compatible games. It says 30 titles are currently ready for launch but didn’t have a list to divulge. However, the company did say that it plans to work with other developers to bring games like Fortnite and PUBG to the platform.
The Omni One is an all-in-one VR setup that includes the treadmill and a VR headset and accessories (no PC or tethering required). The company is currently testing it using the Pico Neo 2 but said that it would finalize a headset decision in the months before launch. Virtuix plans to release the Omni One sometime in the middle of next year for $1,995. Developers can pick up a developer kit that only includes the treadmill (bring your own VR) for $995.
It has also initiated a Regulation A funding campaign. It is seeking $65 million in seed capital at about $3 per share. Investments of $1,000 or more also receive a 40- or 20-percent (depending on how early they get in) discount on the Omni One’s retail version when it releases.