What is Virtuix Omni?
With the rise of virtual reality (VR) opening an entirely new realm of innovations in science, medicine and the realm of gaming, mankind is only a few steps left from leaping off their couches into worlds of battling spaceships, swashbuckling pirates, thrilling rides and nerve-wracking horror all from the comfort of your home.
Now, with the arrival of products such as the Oculus Rift and the Playstation VR into the market, virtual reality is paving a way to new and innovative technologies like Virtuix Omni.
Immerse yourself in a full virtual reality experience with the Virtuix Omni, the first-of-its-kind "active virtual reality motion platform" where your virtual reality experiences can be taken to a whole another level by allowing dynamic movement and crisp precision while staying in one place.
The Omni brings players into "full body virtual reality" by allowing walking, running, strafing, even jumping in 360-degrees without restraints (a.k.a."omnidirectional", hence its name). Its full set of devices can fully convert a small corner of a room into a gateway to a whole new gaming experience. This is exactly the kind of tech that takes us a step closer to the future of fully immersive, virtual reality gaming experience while improving and augmenting the virtual reality technology itself.
With its capability to offer complete maneuverability and comfort regardless of its clunky appearance, the Omni is not the sort of virtual reality “add-on” that will consume too much space, especially in the urban areas where housing space is a commodity that not many people can afford.
How Virtuix Omni Started?
Virtuix, founded in Austin, Texas in April 2013, is the pioneer of active virtual reality technology. The funding for Omni initially started as a Kickstarter campaign, with a virtual reality enthusiast Fred Wood being one of the first to receive a copy of the device given his huge support to the campaign.
Virtuix CEO Jan Goetgeluk said it was with supporters like Wood that made the Omni endeavor possible.
“We feel that active VR is the best and most immersive way to explore virtual reality and perhaps the only way to experience popular gaming genres like first-person shooters and exploration games safely and comfortably in a virtual environment,” he said.
Virtuix raised $1.1-million via Kickstarter during the summer of 2013, and raised an additional $8-million from private and institutional investors. The funds they have received are mostly channeled into the improvement and development of the virtual reality motion platform, and from what we can see from Virtuix Omni today, the funds have indeed been put to very good use.
Being a pioneer in its field, Omni is unsurprisingly innovative. The Omni's concave, low-friction platform upgrades your VR headpieces and joysticks by giving room to various movements. Players can walk, run and turn smoothly without being constrained by fear of tripping or slipping with the help of a support ring which will move smoothly as the player moves.
The Omni software also has gesture recognition akin to keyboard or analog gamepad input that allows avatars to move the way players do in real life. The platform even tracks data on players' feet to render their position accurately in the game while matching their movement speed in real time.
Called "de-coupled looking," this ability to walk in one direction while looking around provides the player a sense of "control" while exploring his or her selected game, creating a richer environment for observation, clue-spotting, and exploration.
Omni's capability to provide motion to gamers while they are playing a virtual reality game finally disproves the negative health notions frequently associated with video games. The company states that an hour of intensive gameplay on the Omni can burn 350 to 400 calories. It is as if the player walked a distance of 3 to 3.5 miles despite having not to physically leave his or her home. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone - Gamers can now stay physically fit while enjoying their favorite games in a more intense fashion.
Controls and Compatibility
Players using the Omni can use a handheld gamepad or a special prop gun to interact with the in-game environment. On the other hand, the waist harness not only can give them the fluidity of motion, it can also allow them to "sit" and "drive" vehicles. Due to this, Omni works best with first-person perspective games or shooters to provide the most immersive experience, giving players a chance to actually come face to face with intergalactic aliens, survive against zombie hordes, or fight giant dragons... or in other words, games that require a lot of motion.
The Omni is compatible with PC and mobile virtual reality devices via bluetooth, and is compatible with almost any wireless PC controller or gamepad. However, the Omni does require an external head-mounted display (HMD), which will run and display the virtual reality games you play; and a VR-supporting computer – sorry, your mobile VR device just won’t do.
The Omni also comes with the Omni Software Development Kit (Omni SDK) and the Omni Application Programming Interface (Omni API) to support developers into making Omni-compatible games.
Specifications and Costs
The Omni platform is 5'5'' (or 140cm) wide, 5'5'' (or 139cm) long, and 3'5'' (or 89cm) high when fully assembled. The ring and vertical struts are easily disassembled, and the noise level of the Omni is comparable to a regular treadmill, eliminating fears of complaints from angry neighbors.
The support ring is adjustable to accommodate heights from 4'8'' to up to 6'5'', and weight up to 285 pounds. The ring itself has a 20'' diameter.
For $699.00, customers can purchase a Virtuix Omni gaming platform and a pair of Omni Shoes specially designed to work with the platform. It also includes a pair of tracking software, a harness for support, and a year’s worth of warranty. This Omni set will also include free demo games that can fully demonstrate the Omni’s full capabilities. Aside from that, there are other supplementary items, such as the Virtuix VR Rack to hold all your gaming accessories such as gamepads, keyboards, mouse, cellphones, even water bottles, and a Virtuix VR Boom, available for individual purchase as well.
Those interested in availing their own Omni can go to Virtuix Omni’s website to place an order. If you can’t afford Omni, you can still “window shop” at their website and browse through the products they have on offer.